God finished developing a cure for cancer in the backyard lab late one night. The calendar on the wall was full; it would be 2022 until the cure could be unveiled on Earth, for in between were floods, elevated sea levels, and one very nasty dirty nuclear bomb incident. The decade ahead was going to be busy.
God was tired and sat in a recliner. A burnt out star served as dinner; an ocean of sulphur was a bedtime drink. Leaning against the bed, God prayed, words in a thousand languages that had the voice of the Father, the Mother, and the Others, those who had imagined the Heavens and then gone to them. But God did not sleep; eyes that had seen the bellies of supernovas remained open as a roof made of purple clouds moiled overhead.
God sighed. And when time moved, there was Earth again – Earth of 1468. And God stood on a stream bank, hiding behind a poplar, as a woman walked along the other shore. Her name was Alaine, and she trod the route with a basket of apples. Today was warm. Today, the sun immolated her hair and bled blue from her eyes. Her only flaw was her teeth, which were crooked and starting to rot; otherwise, she was more glorious than anything that flew the skies or swam the seas or crawled through the tunnels of space. For God, a hundred visitations had passed behind the shade of the poplar; in that time, a new sun had formed and planets had begged for creation. And yet in all that time, God had remained hidden from Alaine.
Today, God finally stepped from the shadows and went to her. She put down the basket of apples and said something across the water as God stepped over the rocks. It would have been easy to modulate the function of Alaine’s mind, to implant there the wonder of the God that held her hands, that drew her close, that lay lips upon hers. But God resisted, and merely spoke the uncertain poetry that had been practiced on the other side of the moon where no one would hear the words – would hear the halting uncertainty of the prayer. In the sunlight, the words came and Alaine’s blue eyes bled light. Skin pressed close, voices fled. And the only time God interceded was when a cloud threatened to block the sunlight, but a wave of the hand turned the vapour into drops of atom, and when the sun returned, God was atop Alaine, precious Alaine, beautiful Alaine, naked on the sand of the stream bank, clutching God’s back as her legs shifted, her body dug into the bank until water streamed into the depression. Alaine cried as she asked for God’s name; but poetry was good enough to answer her, always was the equal of stars and how they came to be, and will suffice when stars cease to be.
That night, God slept. Dreams of Alaine were mixed with draughts of sulphur. A star collapsed too early, but God knew nothing of it.
The morning shone, and God worked with chisel and hammer to perfect a statue in honour of the Father. A million years were not enough to finish the work, but God laid down the tools when the morning upon Earth began. Alaine walked the stream bank. Today, her eyes searched the poplars, and she waited in the stream to see if God would come.
“Resist,” scribbled God in a diary. With a pencil nub made of a meteorite, God wrote the reasons, the “only a mortal” followed by “she will cease” and the “you could change it, you could free her, you could bring her here if she wanted, she could live, she could go on, she could be by your side forever if only you were brave”; but those writings broke as the meteorite snapped, and after that came the reality, the unattainable things, the “Father would not approve”, and the “Mother would never allow a mortal to touch you…”, and then the final point that stood in the way, the one that both would enunciate as they stood shocked at the doorway to the cosmos, looking upon God’s choice. “Mother, Father,” wrote God, until the meteorite degraded into stardust, “is this so wrong that you must concern yourselves with it from Heaven?”
God went to Alaine again anyway. God stood in the poplars, and could find no ache in space to stand in the way of how Alaine cried when she saw God striding from the shadows, how Alaine ran across the stream to hold God, to kiss God, to have God underneath the branches as birds sang the words of poets and moons. God went to her. Again and again, though the folds of Heaven roiled with anger, God went to her.
And then a world of creatures in the farthest stretches of space’s expansion took God’s attention away. The filthy beasts crashed at each other in a war that spat clouds so thick against their sun that God coughed in passing through the haze. God stood on a mountaintop, watching the carnage, judging it while allowing it, seeking for any spark of redemption, any sign that salvation was forthcoming for these creatures. “Father, Mother,” prayed God, “is she so wrong before this? Is she so aberrant in the face of this sickness?” God stayed upon the mountaintop, the prayer a song of salvation that was heard by so few; and yet God did not move until the song was finished.
On Earth, two years had passed. Alaine walked in the morning but God waited and watched, and that night saw Alaine speaking God’s poetry again, this time in the arms of a bearded man who kept her within a wooden hut and made promises to her that were so much smaller than what God had brought. This man spoke no poetry. This man had no grace. This man bid Alaine close her lips so that Alaine’s rotting teeth were hidden; and then he took the rest of her, claimed it all. God could have disintegrated him instantly, could have wiped the memory of him from all humanity, could have eradicated the echo of him from the universe altogether. Yet God watched the writhing of limbs before the sooty fireplace. God listened to every word and sound.
On a bolt of light, God streaked to the fringes of the universe, where the first matter had gone to age and expire. There, God destroyed. Planets erupted, stars contracted into shards of gravity, and nearby galaxies shuddered before the chaos. When God twisted the physics of reality, the universe shook; and though this was pleasing to God, a rumbling in Heaven started in that moment, the distant din of the Father and the Mother. God went to the purple clouds that night and drank of sulphur and starwine; and that night, God dreamt of nothing, not even of Alaine.
The next day, God grew a beard. God fashioned a trident. God went to the lab and created a creature designed to penetrate the mists between this universe and the Heavens where the Others had gone. But God strayed, for God watched Alaine on the stream bank with her basket of apples. God could have struck her down. God could have filled her heart with regret and shame for what she had done, such shame that she would have lived alone the rest of her years with the ache of it. But in the end, God watched her sleep, and as she dreamed, God visited her a final time. When Alaine awoke, she went to the stream, and when she bent down to wash her face of grime and dirt, she found that her smile gleamed with the perfection of a thousand diamonds.
At night, God prayed to the Father and the Mother and the Others too. Heaven roiled far away, and God strode the universe alone, alone but for memories and poetry, the Brothers gone, the Sisters too, those who had comforted Her long ago. Long ago, when She had been born, when She had dreamed of love and then created it, when She had loved a mortal and then tried to forget it.
God soared through space. It was 1791; it was 2006; it was the future and the past, and She had work to do on the fabric of the cosmos. But at nights, She went to the lab and chiseled at the statue of the Father, and then She worked on the creature that She hoped would find a way through to Heaven. And sometimes, as She worked, She made words that sounded like poetry; and without knowing it, a few of Her words floated past the purple clouds into a place that Heaven could not see, where judgment is just a word, there to create a world where no one yet lives.