The Godless Boy

December 12, 2022

Father, I hope you understand this is not the life for me. 

I wake every morning before dawn. Exhaustion pounds against my head. I am bathed by the hands of women who dote on my every step. They have seen me since the day of my birth, before my mother. I have not tasted the milk she provided for me. I wear clothing woven from silk and nothing else. My hair is always neatly managed, but I prefer my unruly curls. For breakfast, why must it always be the same? It is the same unripe fruits and the same grey porridge. The children of the earth sometimes enjoy a mixture of eggs and cheese in a tomato-like paste. It was the meal I often requested. But you have stated because I am not a God, I do not get to enjoy such finery. 

Oh heavens, do not get me started on studying. I read countless tedious books caked in dust. They are historic tales that only speak glory upon the Gods before us. I have read and learned them well. But must I have to threaten catastrophe because the people of earth do not listen to me? Why do they contain a list of rules on how they must honour me? I feel as though forcing how someone  must live their life is not my place. I do not think I know how to dictate how an individual chooses to exist.

Our spacious yard is gated by the tallest of brick walls. I am told not to climb over since I am the protected son of the King. But Father, I do not like the guards watching my every move. In fact, they blocked the entrance to the forest. There is not much space to do as I please. The only space I get is by the gardens. I often spend my free time just observing the tiny insects. I sometimes offer them a crumb or two because who said they shouldn’t be allowed to take from us? At least I had control over something.

I am only allowed a half an hour of outdoor activity a day. I acquire more freedom instead of being forced indoors for more studying. 

Then, there is this talk on how I must converse with human beings. I have to show little empathy and use proper posture to appear bigger. They are already miniscule compared to us, so why must I intimidate them further?  I would hate to imagine them cowering in fear as I discipline them for impractical mistakes. The lessons also include methods on torture. I was told you much prefer the idea of striking one with lightning. Mother liked to drown villages underneath their oceans. But I do not like either of those things, or any other method my instructor had taught me.

If I thought breakfast could not disappoint me enough, it is lunch. I am served a stew of lentils, stale crackers and a sandwich that contains little to no meat. The other Gods get to feast upon roasted duck or pork, buttered potatoes and honeyed carrots. But because I am not yet a God, I have to eat like a human. Whatever that means. 

I hardly ever see you or Mother. You are either near the fountain of wishes or travelling across the skies. I brought this up before when I was much younger. You told me taking care of humans was already such a tough job. But then why do you only rejoice in their suffering? Why do we force them to beg for a happier life on earth? I notice in the way you strip them of the simplest pleasures. You claim they are not humble enough to receive it. They must bow down before being given a sliver of peace blessed upon them. I find this way of thinking quite unfair. Just because we have everything, it is entertaining to see them suffer?

By the evening hour, my next duty is to study the book of life. I flip through a list of names to decide who must be rewarded immortality or who will become my uncle’s concern. He is the lord of the under-earth after all.  But every time, my choices are deemed incorrect. My instructor sighs in discontent as he shows me that giving a lonely farmer immortality over a successful “family” man was not correct.  I did not understand as the farmer had no choice but to give up his children for a better life. The family man sacrificed his own family to further his own riches. 

At dinner, I eat whatever was not consumed at lunch. My plate has a cold half eaten leg of pork, unsalted potatoes and discarded carrot tops. My mouth could barely chew through the half-thawed meal. I am almost certain these days my teeth might give up on me before I have become a full-fledged God. My soul sinks to the bottom of my chest as the weary cries of humans rumbled below my knees. This meal is harder to consume. I know why I have to eat it though. You told me it is to teach me what I would rather do. Would I rather live as a human or as the son of a God, destined for greatness? 

Father, there is much hypocrisy in our system but you refuse to hear me out. Our self-centred ways will catch up to us soon. I reflect upon it the entire night. I think I will revoke my status and live without my godly upbringing. If it means I will not have to continue the cycle of unbearable pain, then so be it. I do not expect you to understand my wishes but only that you grant it upon me. 

If becoming a godless being is the only way out then to you, I hand over my crown.

Rachel Barduhn is a freeverse poet and fiction writer from Ontario, Canada. She has previously been featured in publications such as Issue 8 of Big Art Book Of Scarborough Arts, PITCH mag and first issue of Pinhole Poetry’s online publication. Her hope is for her words to touch readers from all over and to bring them into unseen worlds.

Featured Image by Leandra Rieger on Unsplash