I have posted selections from my novel in progress before here and here and here…I am again. My last post here at FAR was about women and silence. Silencing women—from the powerful (Hillary Clinton) to the obscure (this girl that in this novel excerpt is now a teenager) women are silenced.
In this novel, as you can read from the previous excerpts a journal is found by a brother who is twin to his sister. The journals he finds are addressed to him after his parents’ house sells. Upon reading them he begins to discover that they are written by his sister when she was younger and in all likelihood she does not now as an adult remember having written them. She does not remember what it looks like happened to her. Incest. What must he do? This grown up person that he now is finding this information out? She has been silenced and he is holding the key to the only voice she had at the time. I have been working on this novel for over ten years and am currently immersed in trying to pull together all of the pieces I have written over the years. What I have posted so far is excerpts from the journals he, Chris, finds. This excerpt continues that story line.
excerpt from: That Christmas Morning Feeling
Book Number Nineteen
Just in case anyone is wondering I have kept very careful accounts. I mean, nothing, nothing has been left unrecorded. You won’t find it here – ha! Of course not. But I have revealed where the records are, and I certainly won’t leave until all the accounts are dealt with. I just wouldn’t do that. They are legible and in good order and should be of use – when the time comes.
I’ve been thinking about this – what you do to the least of me business. I mean I don’t think Jesus meant it in any sort of revenge way. Because of course I considered that. No. I don’t think that’s what he meant. I think he thought it more as an admonition to the people to be kind to the least among them, because if they weren’t they were also being unkind to God. But you could take it to mean, not that I am going to do this but I did think about it, as I said, whatever you do to the least of me, you do unto me, and in this case the “me” of course is God. God is all powerful, ever loving yes, but also vengeful, I mean and righteous, right? The whole onward Christian soldiers thing.
So, if what you do to the least of, you do unto me, and I am God, well, then…. That should scare some sense into those who are doing these things to the least of me. Not that it does, but it should, if God is vengeful. I’m just saying this here. I mean as I said I’m not sure that’s what God meant. I mean God as Jesus when he said it to Matthew. But…one could interpret it that way.
And therefore one would have to be scared after one did something bad to the “least of me,” that is in fact me, or rather God. A vengeful God.
I think that person doing something bad should be scared. Actually. I mean could be, would be, if he or she thought about it, you know played out all the logical possibilities of what they did and how they did this to this least of me, Matthew records that. Because as I’m saying here, it’s also God you would be doing it to, who we all know as a vengeful deity as well as loving, but also vengeful. I mean, you know, casting the angels out of heaven, etc. etc.
I would be scared if I thought all this out and I was the one that was doing bad things to the least of me group, rather than the other way round, doing good things or being the least of me having good or bad things done to them. If I was in the former category of this theological construction as Sister Therese would say, I would be scared. I would really.
You know this whole thing might be different in my head if I could find one person who spoke Incest. All this time learning a language. How stupid! I mean I don’t regret it, no one ever regrets an education, right?
I’m not talking about the actual hardship of the learning curve of the language, I’m talking about after that…learning to speak it, having a conversation. No one regrets learning to speak a language even if the lessons were horrible I mean…usually they don’t and I certainly don’t, no, I don’t regret the end product. But I would like to meet a Martian soon. If you don’t speak a language, then it dies in you. And I have put a lot of time into learning this. A conversation would be just great. I know I don’t have advanced language skills, just you know… just the basics: “Hola! Que pasa?” “Muy bueno, gracias.” “De nada.” “Pace lo bien.” “Adios.” Even that kind of thing with someone would be excellent.
And I know that Spanish is not right. “De nada” is “I’m sorry,” and it means the same thing as “It’s nothing, don’t worry about it.” Sigh. That wouldn’t work in Incest. But, whatever. That’s not the point. The point is I don’t think you’d use “De nada” at all right there in the sentence. But and however it would still be a conversation of a sort, a halting conversation, but talking to each other none the less. As you can see from the above, that conversation would be weird with an actual Spanish speaker, but it would be a conversation. So I’m prepared for my conversations in Incest to be also weird, and halting. But at least we would be talking, and that would be cooking with gas, as my father/Dad/…?!! says. That’s all I want. Just a conversation.
I went to the school nurse. She’s not a Martian. Has no idea that planet even exists. She lifted up my skirt – saw the bruises on my thighs and just dropped the skirt back down…without saying a word…told me to go home. Back to Mars. No knowledge of Mars, no desire to know Mars… nothing. But apparently felt she knew enough to send me there.
I talked to my grandmother and it was like winged words flew from my mouth. She slapped me so hard I fell down; she slapped me hard as if to stop the flight of words tumbling from my mouth, like they were bats, or large mosquitoes, or some kind of alien dangerous pest, or the devil, winged and flying right at her.
She told me I had the devil in me and to be quiet.
Now only in retrospect mind you, that seems at least that that was sort of a conversation. Someone was talking and someone was listening. I mean, as far as she was concerned I was the devil talking but at least she heard me and acknowledged me. The school nurse acted like I did not speak. If she hadn’t have patted my leg and I didn’t get sent home that day, I could have sworn I never said a word. So the devil thing was not as bad as it might be imagined. At least she heard what I was saying. She never actually disagreed with it either…And I’m not actually asking for agreement or disagreement.
I mean I was there– I don’t need anyone to agree with me. What’s the question, what’s the argument? There is none. I was there. “This happened to me.” I just want to have the conversation. Argue with me, for God’s sakes. Call me the devil. But just talk to me.
I read in my mother’s Amnesty International book, yes she’s very political…that the cruelest thing you can do to a person is solitary confinement. They’ve proven that. See? Not talk to them, see them, or hear them…that’s it.
I just want a conversation in Incest, but I don’t anticipate trying with anyone else anytime soon. The whole school nurse thing did not get me anywhere, and that was years ago when I thought people would want to know.
And talking to my grandmother was just opening and closing a door. In some ways it did feel good, just to open the door, let in some air, that sort of thing.
But…to be called the devil? Well…it doesn’t leave much room for a return visit, now does it?
Not really. Not unless I want to be met with an exorcist. And no, I don’t think so, I don’t need to have the possibility of conversation stopped in me for all time.
So, I figured I would wait… Find a Martian.
Marie Cartier. Dr. Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine. She is also a published poet and playwright, accomplished performance artist, scholar, and social change activist. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) and an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting), both from UCLA; and an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University. She is co-chair of the Lesbian-Feminisms and Religion session of the national American Academy of Religion and co-chair at the regional level of the Queer Studies in Religion session, founder of the western region Queer Caucus, and a perma-blogger for Feminism and Religion. She is also a first degree black belt in karate, Shorin-Ryu Shi-Do-Kan Kobayashi style, and a 500 hour Yoga Alliance certified Hatha Yoga teacher.
5 thoughts on “Novel Excerpt III: That Christmas Morning Feeling by Marie Cartier”
I really appreciate this take on Matthew 25. Brilliant. Right on, write on!
Such beautiful prose! I am looking forward to the entire novel and reading it! <3
I am looking forward to you being able to read the whole thing, too!
And I also am looking forward to reading this novel. Keep writing!