The Hashtagging Prayers

The following entry may contain triggering material.

It can’t have been fifteen years already. It’s not something that passes and then everything goes back to normal. I was barely a teenager when I saw the news on TV. The reporter was saying that she’d never seen anything so horrible in her whole career as a journalist. I thought it must be bad, but it was happening awfully far away: live news reports showed a bright, sunny day in New York City. My family and I watched this in the evening. Then a bomb lobbed over the walls of the campus graffiti telling foreigners to go home and my white classmates did because it wasn’t safe (I was foreign, too, but passing—whoever our attackers were, my mother seemed sure they wouldn’t care that I wasn’t Muslim, why, they hadn’t cared that so many of my schoolmates were actually Muslim and a lot of the teachers too, or that my classmates and I were kids) and the administrators thought there would be another attack—we students stayed home on a good few school days while the teachers drove around, delivering homework; they called an assembly to mourn a student from a sister campus in another island when the nightclub there exploded, I didn’t know her, one of the upperclassmen in front of me fainted and I wondered if he knew her and a classmate caught him and a teacher helped take him to the clinic and I never asked. We had an extra security detail on campus. They didn’t dress like security guards, and I remember how long their guns were. Some other upperclassmen set off firecrackers to prank them. And I thought it was funny, too, because I didn’t know what adolescence was supposed to be like. Maybe we weren’t that far off, for our generation.

As an adult, I get far more upset about what would come off as far less traumatic or even noteworthy matters. I’m not adulting; my schoolmates grew up without me just fine, which is actually fine, there’s only so much one can blame the world for.

~

For a while, this year, the one most common prayer I could manage would go something like:

Clarene Ophelia Laetha Dierne
Darene Liathane Laethelia Ophelene

Kill me now.

This I can’t.

I guess I’m alive to write that because the gods aren’t vending machines. I found one of the old notebooks from when I first started with the Otherfaith almost two years ago, and I’d written to the Ophelene: How can I believe in you? I can only believe that the world needs you. And I can never quite manage to stop believing…but I never really know what to do.

~

Before sleeping—when I remember, more than anything to do with my mood—the prayer goes:

Clarene Ophelia Laetha Dierne
Darene Liathane Laethelia Ophelene

My words honor you. My deeds, even better.

This I pray.

I’ve never had any of them barge into my Othereal or Surreal to say, “Are you serious?! You messed up so bad with—” Or, “You did fine. You did great!” But it gives me something to ponder.

~

Upon waking, the original litany went (and I still pronounce Darene the same as way as Darren) :

Clarene Ophelia Laetha Dierne
Laethelia Ophelene Darren Liathane

I wake to thoughts of you. I go about my day with you.

This I pray.

I didn’t keep that up for long. It felt like an awfully long way to say hey g’day, even though wondering first what the Clarene would like me to do would usually be light years more constructive than what I personally would be inclined towards.

Kill me now. I can’t.

Another dry spell with the job search, another month Cecilia shells out for our groceries and my part of our rent, and then off to her job that she balances with Master’s classes and it’s Thesis Year, and then still spends evenings binge-watching Steven Universe episodes with me that she’d already watched before and we geek out with, and stockpiling dark bitter chocolate bars because those have stimulant opposite-depressant effect.

So, I’ve been well-fed, but it’s not mine to offer.

Except when I cook, I feel. Today it was cocoa-powder pancakes with chopped-up bits of orange gummy candy that I am proud to say did not taste like too much baking soda…and the kind of coffee that leaves you wracked with anxiety and acid reflux but that goes away and leaves a mind so clear that you can almost see the whole universe.

~

(Hold up the drink cup)

“Clarene Ophelia Laetha Dierne
To each a fifth of all the good offered through this here.”

(Sip, set aside; hold up the container of food)

“Darene Liathane Laethelia Ophelene
To each a fifth of all the good offered through this now.

This we share, I pray.”

(Consume as you do.)

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