Home > prose and poetry > the number you have dialled is no longer in service

the number you have dialled is no longer in service

This is quite personal.

          “God . . .”
          You utter his name as if you believed in him. It’s often said that people forget God when they’re happy and things are going well and only remember him when things get bad, but that never applied to you. God was never really a huge part of your life. You hardly ever thought of him and you hardly ever prayed to him, even.
          But tonight’s different. Tonight’s one of those nights where things are so bad that you just have to turn to him. Perhaps you’ve turned from him, you think, but you still feel that it’s not too late. God gives many chances.
          So you sit on your bed and you pray. Pray to him for help, for relief from the pain, for a good night, free from all the demons haunting you.
          In the distance, cars honk amidst the hubbub of Kuala Lumpur at night. Somewhere outside your apartment you hear two cats start fighting, screeching and wailing like demons. Your neighbour suddenly decides it’d be a good time to blast some music at obscene volumes. You hear Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ la Vida Loca” starting up. You groan.
          But you shut all that out, and you pray. You feel odd doing it, as if it was wrong, somehow. But you’ll try anything just to see if it’ll help. You can’t remember the last time you prayed to God, and maybe that’s what’s bothering you. Awkwardness was never something you liked.
          And in your head, Steve Albini starts singing.
          “To the one true God above
          Here is my prayer
          Not the first you’ve heard, but the first I have wrote . . .”
          And then you shut him up as well. You never liked Shellac, but your old roomate used to play that song over and over until it got stuck in your head. You were even forced to play that song once, on drums, for a university battle of the bands competition.
          Your band didn’t get past the first round.
          And when you’re done praying, when you’re done with pleading and making requests, when you’re done prostrating yourself to a higher power you may or may not even believe in, the cats suddenly stop fighting, your neighbour suddenly decides to turn the music down and Kuala Lumpur suddenly becomes silent.
          For a moment, at least. And then everything starts up again.
          You look up at the ceiling, waiting for an answer, but soon realize how futile it is. So you turn off the lights and go to bed.
          Tomorrow’s another day.

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