There are things that I can't write about. I'm trying....but....there are things I often don't know how to say. Sometimes, being....me or maybe anyone, means that there are things too big and close to who I am to make a string of words to describe them. I think, where do I start? And I go back and back and back until the only conclusion I can gather is...everything is connected.
But you know that. You said it to me, once. Maybe that's all anyone is ever saying. Here's this string I can add to the web. Here's another. And here's another.
Like everything else in this world, I was born to die. And like many things in this world, I am too proud to die. The limits of my pride...I don't know where they lie, Gone, but I'll tell you when I've found them.
I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong. I don't mind looking foolish when the moment of my wrongness is proven. I don't mind saying to someone I love how very much I might need them. But in places--in strange places inside me--there are reserves of pride that make me distant, uncompromising, and sarcastic. One of them, is in the face of death. Another, is in the face of God. And still another, in the face of Clyde. My attitude becomes, as you WELL know by now, one of "Give me another one. The first one wasn't hard enough." Because fuck you (and that's where Brad and I intersect. Just there, where my twin hides. Because fuck you).
I never gave much thought to it, but something Weez has always marveled at about me is the church and the surrounding graveyard. To me, the explanation was simple enough, but it was one she couldn't understand. It's not an expansive graveyard, Jack, but big enough. All but a handful are me.
Past lives, maybe. Former selves. Differing names. But I know me when I know me. Each one laid lovingly to rest here, in the garden where it would seem nothing gets forgotten.
Weez used to ask me, "What are they there for? Why would you keep them?" (Because fuck you). And I would say I don't know. Clyde says it's to wear everything I've ever considered a defeat as jewelry. Adam says it's to remember. Me? I say, in true John Bender fashion, it's because I never throw anything away.
The first Valentine's Day I was home, I dug up one of the oldest graves and found the bones inside small and solidified to a kind of resinous quality. Goldish-brown. Heavy. Not crumbling or ancient. I fashioned one of the arm bones into a knife and wrapped leather tight around the base and left it on the kitchen table in Brad's house with a note saying I loved him, and I wanted him to have every part of me. When we go hunting (and not for animals), that's the knife he takes. It's name is Red, like anything else between us that we've ever attempted to name.
The church...that fucking church....Jack, I swear to God.
When I discovered it's existence, I was in my early 20's. Weez was gone from my life after our initial meeting and I found it to be such a peaceful place. Peaceful of course because every window was vacant of glass, shattered in colors across the floor. Peaceful because there were no monuments to God or country, no altar pieces, no statues of Christ, no crosses. Nothing. It was a stone building full of benches where a strong wind blew in the leaves. In the chapel on the back right hand side, there was a room in which there were 3 interred knights that I didn't care to investigate.
Gone, do you suppose everyone is so disinterested in their own secrets? But that's pride for you.
I...got the name Evelyn from a grave there. I liked it, and I began to....see, what happened was....
See? It's all connected. I'm trying to cut it out, to trim it off in some way that sums up what happened.
I used to play this game. It may as well have been called, "What's Evelyn doing?" In the game, there were 2 versions of me. Me, and Evelyn. Evelyn made all the good choices I never made. I would try to imagine where she was and how her life was and how it was different than mine and I...hated her so fucking much. When I began to call myself that name it was almost in defiance.
Out of pride. Because fuck her.
But accepting that name as my own was a cakewalk compared to the aftermath inside me when Adam called me Eve.
Yes, I'm Eve, wonderful. Lovely. I have an Adam, now I know that. The search is over for the end of the fairy tale. Yes, ahem, of course, but Eve? Yes? You seem to have forgotten something.
After the first week or so, I ended up in that church, staring at nothing. Did I once love God SO MUCH as to put up a damn shrine to him inside me? I wouldn't have any Jesus on the cross, not being Eve. I would have stayed Old Testament, surely. And then what? When I looked around, I got no answers, and averted looks. The only one who looked back at me was Clyde.
Feet up on the pew in front of him, smoking a cigarette in the cold air of late winter, he waited for me. He was wearing his Master of Puppets shirt and black converse and a jacket that was green camouflage. He was staring at the ceiling when I went in. I had not had ANY positive interactions with him to date, and so I waited for him to talk first.
Master of Puppets. Fuck you, Clyde.
"Nice place," was what he opened with. I sat down, far away from him, where I couldn't make out the difference between his pupils and his irises. He stared at me, like he stares at everyone. That's the trouble with Clyde. Every interaction you have with him, he's had before, with a thousand people, 500 of them, you. Sometimes, with Clyde Barrow, I'm sure I'm someone, anyone, everyone on earth, and of no importance at all. This was the first time, and it wouldn't be the last, not by a long shot.
"We used to hang out in churches," he said to me. "Till you got soft."
"Soft?" I asked him. He dragged, nodded, and stared.
"Used to say shit like, 'Think if I spit I could nail that Virgin Mary in the alcove from here?'" He reached down and emphatically scratched himself to underscore his blasphemy, and I looked away. Imagining myself committing that kind of trespass wasn't hard, nor any other desecration with my feelings toward the church; less so specifically with God. I didn't answer him.
"We'd break in, sleep on the altar, fuck in the pews sometimes. Had a lot of fun that way."
I cast my eyes around for somewhere less dangerous to look and he went on talking.
"Well, sheeet, Fox, this place is looking a lot better than it used to. I don't know how many times it's burned down, but you sure got a hard-on for sticking it to the Old Man."
I glanced at him, and he pinned me to the rest of his sentence with his glare.
"Sometimes I don't know which daddy you're so mad at. I'd be pissed too, for burning this whole place down."
I glanced at the raised pulpit, maybe expecting God himself to be looking down at me. No one would talk about the time we got kicked out. No one said anything about the thing I'd supposedly done. No one would talk about what happened. But of course, if anyone would, it would be Clyde. I didn't love him then. I hated him more than I've ever hated myself and he made. My skin. Crawl.
My eyes startled back to the heavy doors as they opened and Adam came through them. He looked from me to Clyde and back to me, and without pause, walked in, and put a heavy hand on Clyde's shoulder.
"Clyde," Adam told him. "Get your goddamn feet off the pews in here."
Since my arrival, their relationship had been strained (because of the wolf shit), and I was not at all surprised to see Clyde silently oblige him. He stood, slapped Adam's chest with the back of his hand in some gesture of male affection, and left us alone. Clyde's attitude toward me and Adam since I came home was one of, "Have her man, she ain't worth the trouble."
Adam, my momentary knight in shining armor for his first (and be sure, his last) defense of my honor, came and sat down next to me, and explained the purpose of the church. Our relationship was a week old, if it was a day. He'd told me he was in love with me, and I'd promised him everything I could promise, knowing a man only a week. He sat close to me and took my hand and stared straight ahead, as if he were listening to a sermon I couldn't hear.
"There were no churches, when we were children," he said. It would have echoed, his voice, if the windows were intact. Now it had a vibrating quality that shivered just over our heads in the stones. When we were children. I knew what he meant. He didn't have to say; I knew what he meant.
"There were no churches because there was no God of belief. There was no morality to worship. There was only you, Evelyn. And I. And the Word. Me, the earth. You, the animal. And the syllables that drew out our existence in the sun, and the trees, and the strength of your heartbeats. I used to be able to hear them, if I stood close at hand to the Great Tree and looked down at the fields at sunset when the grass was the color of your hair."
He glanced at me.
"And you, Evelyn, you moved so quiet through the green woods. You were made of flight, and I would follow you. Eve. I would follow you."
I heard his voice break, and I turned. His eyes were brimming and I was terrified to see him cry for the first time.
"Eve," he said. He was trying to stay a man about it, I could see. Trying to keep himself from betraying something. "Do you...can you imagine a world where there is no...redemption? That was our world, Eve. A world where sin was unknown. There were no churches in that world because we were God, the masters of ourselves, and there was nothing that told us...that for the joys of our lives we must be made to...crawl. Beg. Be...SERvile."
He spat the word. Servile. He dropped his head into his hands.
"Oh, God. Evelyn. I remember the sorrow I felt, the first time I saw you kneel in prayer. My Eve, my wife, begging for forgiveness. My Fox. I lost my faith that day, Eve, and every ounce of my devotion to a God that would put the woman I love on her knees."
He looked up, his eyes distant, looking at a place removed 10,000 years in time.
"This world is such a prison," he said, to himself more than to me. "And the sin, Eve. The sin was always mine. It will be mine, until my soul is destroyed."
His eyes darted back to me, bright, livid brown and glittering. Defiant.
"Pride," was what he said. "That's my sin, Eve. Pride."
He stood up and walked slowly toward the altar, and turned back to me.
"I built this church as atonement sometime in 1349."
I looked around. Built it where? Here? Or really? Does this church exist, somewhere in the world, and I don't know? I opened my mouth to speak, and he went on, ignoring me.
"I built it as a place to remember you. To remember an innocent world. To..." he dropped his hands at his sides, at a loss for his own words. "To feel fucking YOUNG again, Eve. God's never been welcome here."
He circled the church, slowly. I watched him, frozen still, my heart pounding. He paused at every empty window. There were 10 of them.
"These all depicted our lives together," he said at the end. "Every one of them. Snakes, fallen angels, wolves, Axemen. It was all here, Eve. And there."
He threw an arm to the front.
"That's where we kept a branch from the tree."
He came back and sat down beside me.
"The worst of it, Eve, was watching you believe you deserved it. Watch you tear this place down, with fire after fire. With every broken window, watch you believe you are what was said you are. Guilty of sin. Worthy of destruction. Anything, Eve, but the most perfect creation I have ever witnessed."
He took my face in both his hands.
"You never committed a sin, Eve," he said. "You simply couldn't live in a world that was also a prison. You were never made for that. And they....hated you for it. Every. Last. One of them."
If you ever think you might need to rid yourself of your own pride, Gone, build a church to yourself. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me. No one would ever go inside and understand the measure of humility I feel once within it. They would only see me enshrining myself, and miss the point, altogether, that in those walls, away from the eyes of God and the world, I will only ever be a girl with an apple, in a world without sin.