Excerpt from Mythos: Genesis, a novel in progress by Helen Noakes.

CHAPTER ONE
ANDRES AGONISTES

 

A life, once lived, need not repeat itself. Lessons, once learned, need not be taught again. But a life half-lived, because of fear or sloth, where crucial teachings are ignored and gifts not mastered, must be repeated, or the soul shall be forever lost.

Verse 1
The Gindran Mysteries

Andres knows the odds of making it to a venerable old age, this time around, and the thought drives him deeper into himself. Comfortably curled up on his window seat, he is watching the deep grey fog of a moonless night roll over the bay, a fog as dense and incandescent as the sun-tipped memories of dreams.

He has been dreaming a lot lately and there are times when he wonders where the line between dream and memory lies.

“Come on, little fella, let me read to you from The Bible. It’s time you learned about God,” his nanny’s voice shatters through his reverie.

Time?  What do you know about time? he thinks, but says, “What’s The Bible, Bertie, a fairy tale?” He turns to see her Pillsbury doughboy face turn scarlet.

“No!” cries Bertie. “No! No! No, honey bunch!” She shakes her jowly head, as if witnessing a tragic event. “I knew your parents wouldn’t…” she has the presence of mind to stop. She needs this job. Where will she find anything so easy? Andres is such a quiet child, so self-sufficient for his age. “It’s God’s word!” she says conspiratorially. “God’s word!” she repeats for emphasis.

“God’s word!” he mimics, his grey eyes large and luminous, are trained on Bertie and her exuberantly patterned tent-like dress.

“Yes!  Oh my, yes!  Now listen!”  Bertie settles her ample behind deeper into the cushions of the easy chair. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void…” Bertie reads, too theatrically.

No it wasn’t! he thinks and glares at her, becoming irritated at Bertie’s high pitched voice exalting in the majesty of the biblical tale, and in her misguided pride at her own dramatic range.

“And God said, Let there be light…”

“God had a mouth?” He regrets the words as soon as they pop out.

Bertie, stunned, can only manage a weak, “What?”

Well, he started it; he might as well finish it. “You said, and I quote, ‘And God said.’ This implies that God spoke, which naturally leads one to conclude that God had a mouth with which to speak, which presupposes therefore that God had a physical body and so on and so forth. I see all sorts of problems in that phrase, ‘And God said,’ you see?” He knows that she doesn’t see, can’t see, and enjoys her discomfort at the fact.

“Um!” gulps Bertie. “Um…who are you? I mean…what…?”

“Look, I may be five years old but I’m not stupid!”

“N…no!”

Waterstars (2010). Photograph by Barbara Burghart-Perreault.

Waterstars (2010) Barbara Burghart-Perreault

“The creation was a very complex synchronicity of micro events which converged into an immensely explosive moment that was simultaneously an implosion; an arguably singular occurrence when destruction was the catalyst for construction.” Andres heaves a great sigh and nods at Bertie, willing her to understand.

Bertie, however, drops The Bible and stares at Andres in abject horror. Because of her size, her breath is normally labored. At this second, as she trembles slightly, it seems to have stopped.

Andres pulls himself up to his full forty-one inches, and draws a deep breath, perhaps the one that eludes Bertie. He holds up his beautifully formed platinum-haired head.

He knows for a fact that his head is perfectly shaped because his mother, a sculptor, takes pride in what she considers her achievement. It was she, after all, who took such pains in turning him at one hour intervals as an infant, to ensure that the soft bones of his skull would take a pleasingly perfect form. He levels a sharp, probing glare at Bertie. You sad specimen, he thinks, but says, “As for God creating the world, Bertie, you will be pleased to know that you and The Bible are correct. But not in the way you think!”

Bertie backs towards his bedroom door, knocking over a globe and a star map in her clumsy progress. Her aubergine colored hair, the result of a Clairol mishap, barely covers her scalp, which has turned the beet red color of her cheeks.

Before she makes her exit, Andres walks up very close to her and says, “You won’t speak of this, Bertie, not to a soul. Because, as you know, I can act a good five-year-old. And then what? Hmm? What will they think of you? A bit touched in the head? Unfit to be a nanny, certainly! You won’t even be hired to baby sit!”

“No, Andres, I won’t…” she sputters in terror.

“Wait!” he commands, as he picks up The Bible and holds it out. “Put your right hand on it, left hand up in the air, and swear!” He’d seen this in old movies. Apparently adults put great store by this act.

She complies. “I…I swear,” she says, on the verge of tears.

He takes pity on her. “Sorry, Bertie. It’s not that you’re a bad person, you’re simply a fanatic. You’ve been nagging at me about religion for months!  And, you know something about fanatics?  They are so…well…annoying comes to mind!” She rushes out the door, pounds down the stairs and dashes into the night.

Andres, locks the front door and sighs with satisfaction. What is it about humans? He asks himself. They have such a need to worship. And poor overbearing Bertie, well, he couldn’t stand another moment of her idiotic baby talk! He’ll have to talk to his parents when they get home. They’ll understand. Besides, he doesn’t need a nanny, not Andres Leonard Spencer.

He returns to his room and looks at The Bible that he’d tucked under his arm. Sitting cross-legged in the lounge chair, he begins to read: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The pattern of ponies, painted and plain, forever chasing each other in the print of the chair’s slipcover distracts him for a moment. I love ponies! he thinks. “Stop it!” he says out loud. How like an ordinary five-year-old! He returns to himself and The Bible, reads for a second. Sighing with slight annoyance he picks up a felt tip pen, from the elegant little cup of pens he’d placed on the small table at the chair. This needs some serious editing!

Again, he finds himself distracted, staring at the pen. ‘Sharpie,’ he reads, ‘Ultra Fine Point’. He prefers the precision of this ‘ultra fine point’. Amazing! The ink contained within the neat white cylinder of the pen. No messy dipping into leaky inkpots, no interruptions to one’s train of thought to do so. How far these humans have advanced!

These humans? he chuckles. Can’t refer to them that way any more, now I’m one of them. “Again!” he exclaims and can almost hear, or imagines he hears, the gods and angels of his fate snicker.

He looks around the cozy room, decides it was only the wind sighing at his window, and returns to his editing, driven by memories or perhaps memories of memories of dreams.

The armchair cradles him, its soft cushions warm against the fog-bound night. Andres feels the sweet languor of sleepiness creep into his limbs. He lets the pen slip from his fingers onto the table, hugs The Bible, and curls up, ready to surrender to… The arms of Morpheus, he thinks. He read that somewhere. Morpheus, he thinks again, when a phrase pops into his mind. ‘My last death…’

He tries to open his eyes, but can’t. The words come back, ‘My last death was the result of an inexcusable breach of etiquette…’ He wonders at the words, their meaning, their origin. He tries to discover their source, but finds himself floating deeper into the brilliant landscape of a new dream.

 

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