The Leaving (prologue to an unwritten novel)

The day came when he’d finally had enough. Enough of the fighting, the tears, the bitterness burning like bile; the resentment that turned his blood cold and his heart black. He’d had enough.

Simple fact was, he never really loved her – not the way she expected a man should love a woman. And for her, that was the only thing that mattered.

If he was honest with himself, he might have realized he could have tried a little harder; that she hadn’t been any better equipped to face the challenges of being together than he had been.

But his emotional antennae had been damaged by years of denial and self-hatred for trying to birth feelings that would never live. Like the mother of a baby that always arrived stillborn, he kept expecting a different result from the same painful process.

She was in love with Jesus anyways, and didn’t have enough to give anybody else. He thought the idea of religion in the 21st century was quaint.

But churches and gods and truths were only a few of the things they fought about – and they did fight. It even got physical sometimes, but he took solace in the fact that he never hit back.

They’d bicker about money, of course. He would smoke his away, or spend it on books. When she complained that the children were starting to grow out of their clothes, he said, “Put it on a list.”

It wasn’t that he was a bad man; he just shouldn’t have been with her. He was selfish, it’s true, but so was she. For wanting him for herself; for coveting the gifts he shared freely.

They shouldn’t have had to taken on so much responsibility at such a young age. “Such is the weight of destiny,” they would say, before fucking each other into oblivion.

Nobody is one thing all the time. For every side of himself that he revealed, she somehow found a way to accept all of him. Beneath the conscious patter that filled her mind with daily lists and duties, bills and meals to prepare, she wondered why they had been brought together.

She dreamt once that she was an androgynous, beautiful youth, a page, serving a mighty lord. When she approached her master in the dream, his back was turned, and in a moment of lucidity, she wondered who he was.

Overwhelmed with a sense of familiarity and fondness, she approached. The lord rose and turned, and only then could she see he had no face; more accurately he had all faces, but no clear identity. She woke suddenly and looked at the clock – it was 4:07am.

When she roused him to tell him about the dream, all he could say was, “We’re only a million years away from monkeys – don’t be so hard on the human race.”

Clearly, the relationship was doomed from the start but they tried because they were alone. In a vast desert of ideas that was indifferent to the expectations of either of them, the two knew – somehow – they had to find their way.

Even though her faith in Jesus was unshakable, she had never witnessed a miracle. And she didn’t expect to.

When she told him about her crisis of faith, he said the Bible was like a manual for a piece of technology you already know how to use. But she felt guilty leaving Jesus behind; he was so beautiful and sad.

Instead, the two refined a science which would allow them to see the world from within. It wasn’t a method either one could teach the other.

They developed it secretly, like alchemists or initiates in an ancient mystery religion. A code to lay bare the secrets of the universe; to spark a fire that would consume everything, leaving only what was true. Apocalypse.

Both of them memorized The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake. They would recite passages to one another. In particular, they were fond of one section in which the poet claimed to have dined with prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. It read,

“For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed and appear infinite and holy whereas it now appears finite &  corrupt.”

They would recite this passage, then remove their clothing. Warm and naked, they lay together, and whispered.

“This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.”

Within this visionary state, they apprehended how reality was built on internal structures. After all, everything that is, was once only a dream. When a person realizes the invisible configurations upon which the world is formed, they're never quite the same afterwards.

But just because the two were enlightened didn’t mean life somehow became easier. In fact – as he astutely observed – the way necessarily became narrow with the more wisdom they acquired. She said he sounded like Jesus when he talked like that, and not to stop.

Together, they set fire to Eden. Now exiled from paradise, it was clear what they had to do – there was only one way forward: evolve or die. But the unintended consequences of their research into universal mystery returned to them and darkness crept into their hearts.

At night, he would leave her and the children – but she didn’t mind. The further they moved away from Eden, the more she feared she had made a horrible mistake. And that fear started to make her love less perfect.

Meanwhile, he just couldn’t let go of the past; couldn’t figure out how to move on unless he left her. What started as abstract restlessness started to manifest as resentment, until he could bear no more.

In the distance, Eden still smouldered. She looked back over the terrain they had already traversed, transfixed in memory. He decided the time was right.

Now that she was looking the other way, he could finally be free...