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Mixed Messages

by AMZ 4 months ago in Young Adult

It's me God, are you there?

When I was younger I used to play these little games with God. I wanted to prove to myself that he was real. I would stand in my living room alone and summon God to move the door if he was real, waiting for hours to see if he responded to me, looking for the smallest hint that my request was acknowledged. When the wind suddenly moved the door I would declare that as evidence.

This is where my obsession with the esoteric began, I wanted a clear explanation of the unexplainable, I needed God to be real. At ten years old I was going to church alone every Sunday, no longer needing or wanting to go with my parents. The priest of the church was thrilled when I eventually decided to become an altar girl, I thought the higher I got on the altar the closer I would be to tricking God into doing something that showed himself to me.

My parents were thrilled I had found this outlet. Instead of playing with my friends I was at church three times a week constantly searching for answers. Walking the hot streets of my tropical hometown for months on end, in hopes that God would see what a diligent servant I was being. I read the bible for leisure, thinking the secrets were hidden within the pages on how to live the perfect, pain-free life. I was going to be the one to crack it, I was going to have the answer to the universe if I just studied and read and paid attention long enough. I felt this desperate need to outthink life. I didn't know it at the time but these were the first stages of my anxiety and depression. I turned to abstruse theories as a way to cope with feelings of abandonment and loneliness, God was the cure to me feeling misunderstood and secluded.

Don't get me wrong, I had a great childhood with loving parents and a few great friends. Whenever these feelings would creep up, they would usually be dismissed as unimportant. I figured out, with my family, my feelings weren't a high priority. I used God to close the gap on the affection I was lacking. An omnipresent being was a safe haven because He would understand and hear me, even when my support system didn't. I found solace in prayer and jubilation in choir praise. I connected with something spiritual in those childish peek-a-boo games I played in my living room. Something took root.

On one of those brutally hot days, walking to church while blasting my walkman, I heard it, the first hoots.

"Hoooot hoooo, Hoooot hoooo. Hoooo, hooooo."

At first, I thought it was part of the song on my cassette. I pushed the stop button and turned around. There was nothing behind me so I shrugged it off and kept walking. Then the sound cut into my ears again.

"Hoooot hoooo, Hoooot hoooo. Hoooo, hooooo."

I stood perfectly still, expecting a barnyard owl to fly out of the nearby brush at any moment. I did a quick mental inventory of my knowledge on owls. Did they attack humans? Were they vicious? Should I call someone for help? I stayed in place for a solid five minutes but nothing happened, no more sounds, no attack. No owl.

After speaking about this encounter for weeks on end to my friends and family, I was firmly reminded that owls don't live in tropical climates.

"How would an owl make it all the way here to Barbuda?" My mother asked. "They would never survive in this climate."

"You're just making up stories for attention," my oldest brother scoffed. "Stop lying."

I knew I wasn't crazy, this owl was another sign from God that I needed to pay attention to. There was a message here just for me. I walked past that spot for weeks, even if I wasn't going to church. I left nuts and berries out on the sidewalk for him (I'd named him Tito) as a peace offering , still nothing. After three months, I started to lose hope, and then I heard it.

"Hoooot hoooo, Hoooot hoooo. Hoooo, hooooo."

I walked a little closer to the bushes, waiting for him to say something else to me. "It's ok Tito, I don't mean any harm, you can come out," I tried to coax him. "Just come out so I can see you." I stuck my hand into the bushes quickly, feeling and searching around for something. All I felt were twigs and leaves. There was no movement for a while, I got impatient and frustrated, why wouldn't God just tell me what he wanted? Why these games?

"God if you're real, show me the owl," I said loudly into the bush. "Show me that Tito is real."

Nothing.

I walked back to my house, wiping away salty tears from my eyes. My parents were right, I had just been making it up in my mind this whole time. Maybe God wasn't real at all and those "signs" are just my imagination getting the better of me. I wanted so badly to be right, to prove that God and I had some kind of special language, but I couldn't refute the evidence. There was no owl.

I lay awake that night for hours staring at my ceiling, planning my spiteful revenge on God. No more church, no more daily prayer, no more bible reading. If He wasn't going to show up for me then why should I care about Him? I kicked off my covers and walked to my window, turning the small plastic handle to open the glass shutter windows. I stood there for a second with my eyes closed, taking in the fresh air.

"Hoooot hoooo."

I opened my eyes to see Tito, sitting on my windowsill, starring straight back at me.

Young Adult

About the author

AMZ

Currently working on my first book. Read chapter one on my website aminalovell.com. I come here to get stuff out.

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