‘The gentlest characters love war, desire war, and go to war with passion. At the first call, this likeable young man, brought up with a horror of violence and blood, rushes from his father's house, his weapons at hand, and seeks on the battlefield what he calls the enemy, without yet knowing what an enemy is. Yesterday he would have been ill if he had accidentally killed his sister's canary; tomorrow you will see him climbing a pile of cadavers ‘’to see farther’’, as Charron said. The blood flowing on all sides only inspires him to shed his own and that of others; he inflames himself by degrees until he reaches an enthusiasm for carnage.’ - Joseph de Maistre, St Petersberg Dialogues
Sebastian hadn’t cried when he was born. Everyone guessed there was something wrong with his breathing, and that he wouldn’t leave the hospital. So there he was: his father hiding his face in his palms, his mother almost tearing her hair out, and all around him, the nurses, like horseflies, quietly hovering over the bed - but then Sebastian, still wet, glistening in his mother’s arms: a little white pearl, guiltless and serene. There was nothing wrong: he simply refused to cry. Sebastian hadn’t died in the cot, but neither had he come to life. His mother looked at him filled with such betrayal: after nine long months, she had pushed out a stone. He was already nine years old the first time she heard him speak. She always felt so humiliated walking him to school, his limp little hand in hers, imagining herself as a feckless mother hen, fretting in vain over a dud egg. Once, picking him up at the end of the day, she overheard him joking with a friend; at the gates, she grabbed him by the shoulders - ‘Why won’t you speak! Why won’t you speak to me?’ - her voice was so sharp, almost yelping in pain. He said nothing but, very quietly, started crying. She pulled him to her breast and, as he sobbed, felt his face quivering against her stomach, and she smiled because she knew she had won. After nine years’ grueling silence, he had finally confessed to her that he was alive, and in this way, had given himself up to her. The wait was over and, at last, she had a son - a living, crying son. When I went to visit him for the first time, 12 years later, he hugged me in just the same way; I arrived and he fell upon me at the door, laughing like a child. I had only met him once before, at a dinner party last spring, and was more than surprised by how eager he had been for me to come and see him that night. He pried his arms from around my shoulders and looked me in the eyes and I was scared he was going to start crying. ‘I’m so happy to see you!’ The situation was like this; a month ago he had left university. His parents didn’t know yet. They had a family friend, Andrea, with an elaborate townhouse in Chelsea: a gallery curator, and a widow, in her 60s, who travelled a lot for work and so was rarely home, and he had decided to stay at hers. He’d noticed that, as he’d gotten older, she’d developed a certain unsavoury fondness for him, always, after she’d had a few glasses of wine, quietly running her fingers through his hair as she passed behind his seat when she’d come over for dinner; it never failed to make him sick, but he knew she’d wouldn’t tell his mother and father if he was to stay for a while. When her husband had died, the longer part of her life had come to a close, and she had planned on spending whatever was left wafting around an empty home, setting the table for breakfast, taking holidays, smiling faintly. She wore hair down now, so it fell thin and white over her shoulders, like a wedding veil; life had been kind and it was time to relax. She never wore shoes and her dresses tickled the backs of her ankles. When Sebastian had arrived, she threw herself around him, burying her face in his neck, and he’d had to resist the urge to push her to the ground. He looked at her hands, so much the hands of an old woman, the veins almost breaking through the skin, and noticed a wave of disgust pass through him - already, spreading like grey mould, death was getting in at the fingertips. Very quickly, he taught himself to hate her with a passion, and took a cruel pleasure in how terribly he would treat her home in her absence, smoking indoors, tracking mud across the carpet, leaving his dirty plates scattered about the living room, and, as he worked his way through her drinks cabinet, even drawing on the walls, scrawling the dark outlines of miniature wild animals, chasing each other in circles around the house, which, since the lights were always off, gave the whole place the feeling of some ancient, painted cavern, buried in the womb of the earth. Over the fireplace floated an ugly caricature of Sebastian’s absent host, as a harpy, dark wings unfurled, talons clawing at the stale air; on the mantle, a daffodil plant, petals turning brown at the edges, and which, I thought, smelt faintly of piss. As he showed me around, he bragged that the house was so big that once, he woke up to find that, having drunk himself to sleep, he’d vomited all over the bed, and hadn't bothered changing the sheets since, but simply got up, washed himself down, and fell back to sleep in another room; in his voice, the sneering pride of the Infante, taunting his chambermaids with a dead bird, unburied from the palace rosebeds. Though he made quite an evil houseguest, he really was an immaculate host, and it was quite charming watching him scampering through the clutter, back and forth from the kitchen, bringing out the plates for dinner - he’d made ossobuco. We ate off of the coffee table, sitting cross legged on the carpet; outside, dusk was falling cool and heavy over the pavement. I was taken off guard a little when I heard him ask: ‘Arthur, do you mind if I say grace?’ He closed his eyes to pray; watching another person in prayer is a strange feeling - there’s something cruel about it; sitting there on his knees, eyes shut, whispering to God, he looked so small: totally defenceless. The silence that fell over the room before he started felt like the silence before an ambush: the silence in which a crime happens. Out of shame, and also kindness, I shut mine too. Listening him rattle off the first hard lines of the Our Father, I felt I was starting to understand him a little better - in letting him stay at her home, Andrea, extending a bony hand, was inviting Sebastian into the same life that she, ever so meticulously, had built around herself like a mausoleum - marble countertops in the kitchen: dead flowers on the mantle: breakfast in an airport lounge - and which, if he allowed it, threatened to entomb them both. Andrea lived in the long and happy tedium of a honeymoon: the contented silence that falls over the table after a good meal - but what thin gruel there was to eat! Instead, over the faint perfume of death, Sebastian was raising the thick and heady odour of life. God put a heart in his chest, and He made it to beat: He put breath in his mouth and He made it to stink. ‘...and lead us not into temptation..’ Sebastian, living in filth, had the look of a man plotting suicide, but here he was, making ossobuco, drawing on the walls, praying the Our Father, throwing him arms around me at the door - fully, happily alive! So that filth - that living mud - was the proof of an invisible war, which he had thrown himself into with the flair of a gladiator stepping into the ring: in open revolt, he was raising the proud banner of wild and awful life, the banner of sweat, and diabolical joy, against the hungry mouth of the grave. ‘..but deliver us from evil…’ Opening my eyes again, and looking over his shoulder, out of the window, I felt, like a sharp pang, how real and how cruel that war had to be; above us rose the city, the Great Beast, skyscrapers lined up like a firing squad, quietly taking aim, and hidden in that silence I saw, for a second, The Prince of the Air - in that darkness, the long shadow of the cloven hoof. The world was so cold, and he was so alone. But, as Sebastian was announcing to me, that cold dark could not be half so total unless, at the same time, there were not, lying in wait, deep in the bowels of the earth, a real and living fire: heat and light - against the ‘No’, a strange and intoxicating ‘Yes’. Mary told the angel, ‘Be it unto me according to thy word’; she said, ‘Yes’, and after that came Jesus, who cried, ‘I have come to set the world alight, and how I wish it was already burning!’ ‘... Amen.’ And like a full stop, the prayer finished with a dull thud, as he set down a bottle of wine in the middle of the table - something from Andrea’s cellar he told me he’d been saving for a guest. It punctured the space between us with the firmness of a church steeple. We didn’t talk all that much over dinner. I was still a little confused as to why he’d invited me over, but thought better of asking, afraid that the answer might be too embarrassing for him so say out loud - I wondered if he was getting lonely - but there was nothing uncomfortable about that silence between us; neither one really quite knowing how to talk to the other, we were both offering each other the same happy and unconditional friendship that one offers to a dog. Andrea had kept quite an impressive library, which Sebastian, armed with almost nothing but free time, was steadily pushing his way through, and was glad to have someone around to discuss his new favourites with: an anthology of Greek tragedies, a handful of Joyce’s more vulgar love letters, and his dearest of them all, a collection of heavy, leather bound volumes on military history from the 1800s. ‘And about here is where Sobieski’s Hussars first broke the Ottoman line…’ He told me, arranging our dirty cutlery into a makeshift map of the Battle of Vienna, guiding his index finger along a coffestain on the table, and, mid-sentence, plucking the cork out from the second bottle of wine, topping up our empty glasses. We went on like this for a while; by the time we got to the third bottle, Sebastian’s excitement at having some company for the evening was getting harder and harder for him to disguise - he was standing up now, gesturing wildly, spilling wine over the carpet as he spoke, while I, my face an unattractive shade of pink, could only watch on, sinking deeper and deeper into my armchair, and giggling softly under my breath. Suddenly, he was reading to me from the Oresteia: ‘’I sing how the flight of fury hurled the twin command, One will that hurled young Greece and winged the spear of vengeance straight for Troy! The kings of birds to kings of the breaking prows, one black, one with a blaze of silver Skimmed the palace spearhand right and swooping lower, all could see, plunged their claws in a hare, a mother bursting with unborn young - The babies spilling, quick spurts of blood - cut off the race just dashing into life! Cry, cry for death, but good wins out in glory in the end! But the loyal seer of the armies studied Atreus' sons, two sons with warring hearts - He saw two eagle-kings devour the hare and spoke the things to come, 'Years pass, and the long hunt nets the city of Priam, the flocks beyond the walls, A kingdom's life and soul - fate stamps them out. Just let no curse of the gods lour on us first, shatter our giant armour forged to strangle Troy. I see pure Artemis bristle in pity - yes, the flying hounds of the Father slaughter for armies their own victim.. A woman trembling young, all born to die - She loathes the eagles' feast' Cry, cry for death, but good wins out in glory in the end!’’ And as he carried on, I felt my soul retreating into my bowels, and my body still sinking further and further, like a whale carcass, slipping through the ocean, quietly pickling in brine. Noticing I was only half-awake, Sebastian broke his monologue for a moment and, with such real warmth in his voice, told me for the second time that evening: ‘I really am so happy to see you..’ Very slowly, but nonetheless taking me by surprise, I realised I was passing out in my seat, disappearing below the waves. When I woke up, Sebastian was lurching over the balcony railing, as if about to jump. I leapt out of my chair, stumbling over myself, and ran over to grab him, but no sooner than I’d gotten up, he’d turned around, and, reassuring me with a smile, shouted: ‘No! It’s okay! Listen!’ And there it was - the sound of the piano; the balcony overlooked the garden of the Czech ambassador’s residence, and his daughter, Katarina, a girl a little younger than us (Sebastian let me know that she had, in fact, been at the same dinner party where the two of us had first met), at two thirty in the morning, was playing the piano. From her window escaped the sound of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring: rising through the dark, an arpeggio in G-major. ‘Listen!’ He repeated, leaning further and further over the balcony, until he was balancing over the railing on his gut, his feet floating an inch above the floor. I almost grabbed him again, afraid that he’d topple over, but he was shaking violently in the cold, and I got the feeling that, at a touch, his body, too little for so great a force as he had conjured up inside him, threatened to shatter into a thousand tiny pieces. His eyes were watering. The piano, Sebastian explained, was the gentlest of all the instruments - at the Apocalypse, the trumpet would sound, and like a hunting dog, the Angel Michael would be set loose on the Devil, driving him out of his foxhole, and into the burning pit. The trumpet meant force; but it would be the lightness of the piano, and not the heaviness of the trumpet, that would welcome us into Heaven: Heaven, said Sebastian, was an arpeggio in G-major. At this point, a little drunk but sober enough to make my way home, I decided to take my leave; Sebastian, still entranced, didn’t seem to notice. I left him folding his gut over the railing, with the piano ringing in his ears, and, suddenly, and at nothing in particular, starting to laugh: as I left, I heard him giggling like a toddler, happily splashing around, and happily sinking, in his own dirty bathwater. After I’d gone, at about four in the morning, Sebastian - now half asleep - awoke to the faint sound of whimpering. Outside, a fox had snuck over a low portion of the wall into Katarina’s garden, and the guard dogs, two great black Rottweilers, were on it in seconds, quicker than the Furies, charging through the grass - but it had managed to slip free, drag itself out onto the pavement, collapse, and not knowing what to do, had started crying. Immediately, Sebastian had his shoes on, was out of the house and tearing down the street. Just as when I had watched him say grace, he sat over the poor creature on his knees, and with infinite tenderness, was scooping up the fox’s head to rest on his lap, feeling its body quiver against his thigh. Out of its back, emerging from the wound, the shoulder blade, like a pure white egg, was breaking through the skin. Sebastian, running his fingers through its fur, was so overwhelmed with pity that soon the two of them were crying together, sitting alone on the pavement, shivering in the cold. Suddenly, with the last of its strength, the fox twisted her head around and bit him on the hand - Sebastian, stunned at this little betrayal, and more than a little hurt, shot up and raised one of his feet so it hovered in the air, pausing for a moment, then, half for the sake of mercy, half for the sake of revenge, brought it down hard, and took himself back inside to wash his boots.
When war was fought with swords and shields, in order to bring down an enemy, it was necessary, first, to bring one’s own body within his striking range, and second, to watch him bleed out on the edge of one’s blade. The Greeks managed to extend this distance, between an attacker and his prey, only by a little, by fixing their blades to the tips of long pikes; the invention of the rifle stretched that distance even further, with added bonus that, after making a kill, a soldier no longer had to deal with the unpleasant business of cleaning his victim’s innards off the end of his weapon. Drone warfare represents the most recent development in this endeavour - from thousands of miles away, it is possible for a drone pilot to bury a whole village under fire and brimstone, without ever risking his life, even for a moment: it has perhaps never been so easy to fight a war while sitting down. In short, as warfare becomes more and more technologically advanced, each generation of soldiers is demanded less and less that they be willing to spill blood, their own and that of the enemy, and at the same time, is provided the tools to do so with ever greater, ever more terrible efficiency. There is, however, at least one glaring exception to the rule: the Kamikaze pilot. A Kamikaze pilot is not made deadly by the strength of his body, or the superiority of his arsenal, nor by his proficiency as a marksman or his skill with a blade; a Kamikaze pilot wields no material or tactical advantage over his opponent whatsoever - he is deadly simply because he is willing. The Emperor has asked him to die, and he has answered, ‘Yes’; at that moment, he becomes something deadly. Yukio Araki, World War II’s youngest recorded Kamikaze pilot, writes in his last letter to his family: ‘as the war situation is becoming more and more intense, it is necessary for me to crash my 17-year-old body into the enemy’ - but it cannot be his own body he refers to; it is not his gawky 17-year-old body which has the power to sink a 2000 ton destroyer in a single blow. It is the embodied force of the ‘Yes’, that obedience to fate, that perfect willingness unto death, which, on May 27th, 1945, between Heaven and the face of the ocean, would transform him into pure spirit, pure kamikaze - kamikaze, which means, ‘divine wind’. In Europe, thousands of young Germans and Italians would fall under machine gun fire, poured out in the mud, condemned not just to death, but lower, to the kind of unheroic, unremarkable type of death that war reserves for the losing side. Among the Axis forces, it is the Kamikaze pilot alone who would manage, out of the monotony of war, to create for himself a death that was something precious, and throw himself towards it with the elegance of a gladiator stepping into the ring. It was November - a few months had passed and I hadn’t seen Sebastian since that last evening at the end of the summer; he’d spent the autumn trapped in the house like a bad smell. One morning he called to tell me he’d seen a rat the size of a terrier, shuffling across the kitchen floor; it had looked him in the eyes for half a second, and then fled back under the counter. Its fatness made him uneasy, because it implied hunger. Hunger in turn implied feeling. If it had felt anything toward him at all, it would be that kind of primal, unconditional hatred only animals ever possess, and which it was impossible for him to return. It saw him and, judging that he was too big for it to kill, had made its escape in silence. Sebastian, not satisfied that it could retreat like that, apparently so un-humiliated, without committing some type of revenge, imagined it must’ve placed a curse on him, and had carried his name down with it, lower than the mud, into that secret world-under-the-world, where rats give birth in darkness and get fat gorging on their own blind children. One night a couple of weeks later, Andrea came back late from the airport and found him passed out on the couch. He woke up with her hand - that awful hand made of soft bones, like one reaching out from the grave - resting on his thigh. Fast in him is the fierce and quivering heart - all he has to do is say ‘Yes’ and the world dissolves in front of him at its breath; a Yes which rises out of him like a hunting cry, at which, in the roar of cymbals and trumpets, he overtakes himself like a wolfhound into the thicket. With the flair of the conductor, he inflames himself by degrees, and finally, in the glory of the crescendo, the Yes emerges out of him fully formed, already hungry, clawing its way out of the womb: the Yes which has the terrible force of an allegro con brio. There is a mouthful that fills his whole body: the taste of metal; a lion who eats the poacher. He springs upwards, lutching towards her; Yes. His teeth are in her neck; Yes. It gives way under his jaw like wet mud; Yes. She raises her fingertips up to the wound - two little red dots. She looks down at him, coiled up on the sofa, hackles raised, and realizes she is looking at a stranger. She had left him alone in her house, and in her absence, some prowling she-wolf had snatched him from the nest, and replaced him with one of her own. For the first time, she had seen him the same way he had first seen her, with the same disgust, and could feel the acid surging up inside her like a flood: a flood that would carry him away from her for good. Tears brimming in her eyes, Andrea took a glass from off the coffee table and struck him across the face, sending him scurrying upstairs to the bedroom, laughing softly under his breath. The shock had made him sick, and half-way up, he found himself clutching at the banister, belching thin vomit over the carpet - with sweat, and blood, and bile, his little body was overfull, and pouring itself out in waves, surging fast over the rim. In his palm, speckled with blood, three perfect white teeth, clasped tight like something precious: a cluster of pearls. He woke up sometime the next afternoon, and found that, while he slept, she had set about tidying the house, scrubbing the walls, collecting all his empty bottles, clearing the dishes in the sink, and then had left before he’d gotten out of bed - he was alone in the house again. A note on the coffee table read: ‘I CALLED YOUR PARENTS BEFORE I LEFT. THEY’RE EXPECTING YOU BACK BY THIS EVENING. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. ANDREA’ I got a call from him that evening, telling me what had happened; he felt no guilt at all, and I could almost hear him smiling through the phone when he recounted the terror he had put in her eyes when she saw the blood on her fingers - that rotten old pervert with those rotten, prying hands! In the face of what had happened, he could only bring himself to laugh. Above us, the satellites sang his voice light and sunny, beaming through the air to reach me; he sounded so happy again. I invited him over for dinner. It snowed that day, for the first time that winter, and the whole city was falling asleep under a thin, white blanket. He said he’d be over around eight and I went out to buy ingredients; outside the grocer’s the produce was piled high, rich like a war chest, spilling over into the street; oranges - so many oranges! - bright and plump, the proof our Indian summer, and pomegranates, so ripe they burst themselves in two, and the split was a crooked smile erupting across the skin, full of little red teeth - and inside, on the butcher’s counter, the lamb’s heads, lined up in rows, all quietly grinning at me; also smiling: also even laughing - the whole world, swirling around and bulging with excess, unable to contain itself and splitting open and pouring itself out and spilling over and laughing. Today, November 21st, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, and with church bells ringing through the cold, I imagined the Madonna, not with that faint and distant smile, like in a Raphael, but also, laughing - laughing like a child, singing with the pomegranates, singing at the temple steps, singing with Sebastian over the phone, pregnant with joy! So I walked home with my arms full of food, plastic bags straining to carry the haul, and the snow settling gently on my back, and I thought about Sebastian, and the Madonna, and the pomegranates, and about the row of grinning lamb’s heads - and I remembered that November is beetroot season, and that under the earth, they too were swelling, fat and happy in the mud - all of a sudden I, also, was laughing. I got home, flung open the door, started cooking and was so excited that I totally forgot about the time. By the time I checked, it was half past nine and he still hadn’t arrived yet. The phone doesn’t ring. It gets to ten and I clear the place I had set for him, and finish dinner alone. The food is cold. I can hear the clock ticking in the boiler. It hurts a little. It’s impossible for him to surprise me: he had come into my life very suddenly, and was always ready to leave just as quickly, and, as with everything he did, without warning - I got the sense that, if I didn’t see him tonight, I wouldn't see him again. Another hour passes and, a little forlorn, I decide I’m not waiting for him anymore. Outside, in perfect silence, the snow keeps on falling through the dark, softer than the wicked angel, swaying gently in the wind. In a little while, I’ll take myself to bed; in the morning, the sun will wake up with me, born anew out of the dark, perfect golden egg yolk, breaking on the horizon and poured out warm over the pavement and the cars and over the tops of the houses, and just as quietly, the snow will disappear again, retreating under the dirt. I’ll make coffee and I’ll sit in the kitchen and look out over the garden and I’ll watch it happen, every blade of grass lit up: candles prepared for a vigil. There is a part of the morning which is wider and deeper and colder than the ocean, and it beckons to me in just the same way. December approaches on a grey horse: the solstice; the low rumble of the choir on Midnight Mass; root vegetables out of the cold mud, and tangerine season; at last, inescapably, the new year. The phone still won’t ring; so be it. I hoped he was well.
The moment I got off the phone with Arthur, I threw a toothbrush and a bottle of wine (I’d sooner walk into traffic than show up empty-handed) into my overnight bag, ran my head under the cold tap, and, wrapped in wool, headed straight for the door. I’d go home tomorrow, or the day after, or something, it didn’t matter: they knew where I was and if they really wanted, they could come and get me - I wouldn't put up a fight. Anyway, it’d be bad manners to say no to an invitation so graciously extended, and at such short notice at that - and he seemed so excited to see me. I stood out on the stoop outside the house and I really did intend to go over. It was snowing that evening. You can hear rain but you never hear snow - snow also falls slower than rain, because the weight of a snowflake is closer to the weight of air; and unlike rain, sometimes, caught in the wind, a snowflake pauses mid-descent, swaying a little, floating above the air - for a moment, the upward force wins out. And, hovering atop the dusk, I can hear it again: an arpeggio in G-major. Again, Katarina is playing the piano; Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Over the silence, over the weight of dusk, the upward force wins out. And there is something in me which overtakes me, running naked through the world, and turns back smiling and takes me by the hand, and I say ‘Yes!’ and let it carry me along behind - I let the upward force in me win out. The noise of the piano has me; I let it have me - the noise of the piano which welcomes us into Heaven - and it draws me ever onwards. There is a low section of the wall which surrounds Katarina’s home, and, with my heart straining against the inside of my chest, I throw myself over it as a gladiator stepping into the ring. And all about me loom the birch trees, jutting out of the earth, thin white limbs dissolving in the wind. I place my foot on the ladder and set the world behind me; each step carries me higher - Paradise is so near to me. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. The upward force of an arpeggio in G-major. And something pulls me to the ground; a sharp pang; a low snarl; two sets of gnashing teeth, clamped around my thigh. The dogs are on me, and that angel in me which grabs me by the hand and pulls me onwards is quietly letting go and carrying on without me. Without remorse, without respite, the dogs, chunk by chunk, are unburying the bone from under the muscle. The blood that wets the earth clots hard. Pain hits like a searchlight and fixes me in position, paralysed, quivering, splayed out in the dirt. I can feel myself getting faint - my hands are so cold; the piano carries on. And I remember the two eagle-sons of Atreus, talons buried in the belly of the pregnant hare - the mother-carcass torn asunder and here I am - shining red rabbit-foetus jewel, the long cruel race cut short, whole blind and gasping litter wasted in the mud - and we cry, cry for death but know that good wins out in glory in the end. And I smile my pink gummed smile because good wins out in glory in the end. And because of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. And God is the One who rescues us. So here it comes; for the last and also for the first time, I’m screeching desperate animal joy - delirious rabbit hearted joy - one last mangled and triumphant howl. The scream that is my incontrovertible proof of being alive, just as my spilt blood - so much blood! - dashed out purple in the dirt, is my proof of a body full of life. Throbbing with life! Of a heart, which gives itself to me totally and beats me into living, singing: ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, etc’ and the long ‘etc’ pulses over and over until that last convulsion which shakes loose the ghost. But at last there is my toothless cry that shatters the navelstone of the earth because God is the One who rescues us. He has always been my father and I surrender myself to Him as His son: His living, crying son. ‘AIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!’ And I scream without words because I surrender my right to call for help. I shriek diabolical joy and I push myself beyond pity: to the furthest point from God from which it is still possible to return. In museums, they pile up the dry bones of dinosaurs struck down by fire and brimstone, and we do not pity them. The Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Natural History Museum died with his mouth open. In the face of the meteor, hurtling towards him, exploding silently in space, he was grinning. I receive what is allotted to me; no more and no less, and I greet it with a grateful hallelujah, coughed up out of the bottom of my lungs - my ugly hallelujah which I spat out like a loose tooth. I put up no resistance; I let the dogs have me, and in this way, I am saved. God will not pity me, but I know He will be kind. A snow-drift is falling out of Heaven, and covers my body like a wedding veil: it prepares me to meet my groom. He knocks and I throw myself upon Him at the door: I’m so happy to see you! And my hands have turned so pale. AIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! and Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah and Amen. I spent this year as a clam, under the waves, cloistered inside my own oily womb; it made me so filthy and so cruel - poor, rotten Andrea, I never should’ve meant to hurt her! - but, at the last hour, God split me open, and out of my liquid entrails, was plucking something hard and round and perfect - a little white pearl. Already, I can feel myself slipping away into the topsoil; He will make of me the living mud which feeds the humus, and November is beetroot season. The snow keeps falling through the dark, piling up on my chest; winter is so cold but springtime is burgeoning in Heaven. Paradise is so near to me; softly in the grass, the angels are singing me to sleep. My birth pangs are at hand. The piano starts again. Yes and Hallelujah and Hallelujah and Hallelujah and Yes and Amen.
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