Blessing Lost

By Erika Rae

Memoir

She was unapologetically beautiful with ocean damp hair and breasts that pressed two dark spots into her pink camisole.Light freckles on her nose matched her sand crusted toes and she walked the leaf-shadowed path as if she bore the weight of a hidden royal past.

Around us on all sides were the spinning dementia of cicadas and the love affairs of bullfrogs.Obscenity saturated the damp air.We passed from the trees into the cane forests and out past a chicken yard where the hens bickered openly and the cock was king.

We spoke of love and culture and sex and God.She had been raised in the same British boarding school as Cat Stevens.Oh yes, she remembered the old schoolyard.

Love is a battlefield.

Culture is a club.

Sex is natural.

God is a DJ.

We passed under a cicada mist and our faces moistened with their sticky insanity.She told me that she loved me, without shame.She had love to spare.She was beautiful -is beautiful still – in my memory.I took her arm and called her sister.She made me feel beautiful by association.The kind of beauty that doesn’t care if every hair is in place or whether blemishes show.That kind of beauty is rare.From the soul.Within.

She didn’t believe in God, I remember that.She told me that she used to ask the nuns at her school to explain things.She got rapped on the knuckles by a wooden ruler on more than one occasion.Got assigned penance once for peeking in the windows of the church.Couldn’t conceive of God.Refused to even consider.

Later that night, we stood together on the shore of the South China Sea.Before us, the ocean hushed on the downbeat while we practiced the forms of our art. Slowly, we speared and parried our energy into the breeze and then back upon ourselves.

Tan sau.Fuk sau.Bong sau.

Others in our class spread out around and behind us.Before us was the inky green of the ocean at night, rhythmic and regular in its white-tipped entropy.

Tan sau.Fuk sau.Bong sau.

Take energy.Give energy.Round and back again.

My eyes focused beyond the black over the water, not understanding what they were seeing at first.It was the crest of a wave.A piece of trash.An angel on the breeze.It floated toward me, drifting with design.

Upon realizing that this other-wordly thing was alive, I moved toward it.Was compelled toward it.Its glowing wings flowed and rippled as if slack on their frames.Tassles hung from them, bigger than the diameter of my hand spread wide.It was beautiful.My God, it was beautiful.It was not from this earth.Who would believe me? I wanted to touch it. I wanted to be blessed by it.I reached for it.Inches from my hand, I could see it.Our souls connected and my blood paused in its channels.I felt it then – its energy, its purity.Its eyes large and dark.Black as the night sky.My hand withdrew and I cursed myself for my own weakness.For the blessing lost.

Many years later I would visit my friend in her London home.She would take me around.We would get pasties and beer; would go to a few bookstores.She would take me to the tower where we would stare at the flightless ravens and dare them to say to us the only word they knew. At night, we would lie under her pink satin bed cover and listen to an Indian guru she had studied under while he chanted in a language I could not begin to understand.She would turn to me to tell me she believed in God now.Maybe not completely, but she was trying.She was still beautiful.By then, she had wrecked my life and I hers, but she was beautiful.

When we would part, we would leave with open wounds.

But she was still beautiful.

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ERIKA RAE is the author of Devangelical, a humor memoir about growing up Evangelical (Emergency Press, December, 2012). She is editor-in-chief at Scree Magazine and nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Erika earned her MA in Lit­er­a­ture and Lin­guis­tics from the Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong and to this day can ask where the bath­room is in Can­tonese, although it is likely that she will not under­stand the answer. In her dream world, she fan­cies her­self a kung fu mas­ter clev­erly dis­guised as a gen­tle moun­tain dweller, eagerly antic­i­pat­ing dan­ger at the bot­tom of every latte. When she is not whipping one of her 3 children and denying them bread with their broth, she runs an ISP with her husband from their home in the Colorado Rockies.

One response to “Blessing Lost”

  1. Erika Rae says:

    Original Comment Thread Below:

    20 Comments »

    Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
    2008-11-21 13:07:51
    “Our souls connected and my blood paused in its channels.”

    “Light freckles on her nose matched her sand crusted toes and she walked the leaf-shadowed path as if she bore the weight of a hidden royal past.”

    I could pick lines that took my breath away forever. You write so well, Erika Rae.

    But I NEED to know more. Please write more!

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
    2008-11-21 13:09:56
    Thanks, Irene. That means a lot to me.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by jmb |Edit This
    2008-11-21 22:09:10
    Ah a song of Solomon in itself, to itself, about more than the moment and the girl
    and God, too big to miss.

    I stand to my feet and kiss the air m’lady.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
    2008-11-22 08:33:10
    Ah yes – how easily best girlfriends can destroy each other. A miracle when it doesn’t turn to hate.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
    2008-11-22 08:38:43
    Erika Rae,
    Is this part of a novel? (Please say yes.)

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
    2008-11-22 11:52:06
    Nope – sorry. Just something I pecked out yesterday. It had been brewing in my head for quite some time now.

    (Comments wont nest below this level)
    Reply here

    Comment by reno |Edit This
    2008-11-22 10:28:40
    great imagery. simple as that. great story. kinda like amy hepel. anyhow, great snapshot. i adore short tales.

    (and big tails…hey!)

    thanks.

    r

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
    2008-11-22 11:53:25
    Hey thanks, Reno. And tales/tails are great in every shape and size. I am going to look up Amy Hepel now…

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
    2008-11-22 12:17:11
    I think I have to read this again and again. I have a friend who lives on an island far away. I often imagine her reality to be like your story: sorrowful, beautiful, poetic…a sort of tidal life of ebbs, flows, starry nights, hand holding and old records from a youth only people in our generation can share with its peculiar tugs of pop culture…

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Kimberly M. Wetherell |Edit This
    2008-11-22 17:58:23
    You push me to write better.

    More significantly.

    Damn.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
    2008-11-23 12:22:20
    Oh Kimberly – you are a beautiful writer! You have inspired me on many occasions, too. Glad we can push each other. Thanks for the compliment.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Cayt |Edit This
    2008-11-23 11:10:37
    Your writing is so beautiful that it makes me hurt a little.

    I wish I wrote like this.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
    2008-11-23 12:22:52
    Aw shucks – thanks, Cayt. I was really nervous posting this.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Garrett |Edit This
    2008-11-23 12:57:57
    Wow!

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Rich Ferguson |Edit This
    2008-11-23 18:37:00
    Damn, Erika:

    I step away from the computer for a few days and you go and put up a new post on me. Sorry I’m slow in responding. This was absolutely wonderful. Took my breath away at times, in fact.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
    2008-11-27 14:27:33
    Thank you, Rich. You are way too sweet. And now…what more is there in life? I have managed to take away the great Rich Ferguson’s breath, if only for a moment.

    ( ;

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Aimee |Edit This
    2008-11-25 15:23:16
    As I was reading this…I was totally thinking it was part of a novel, maybe it should be then. It sounds like a good story. Can you tell I am missing my schwiegerschwester?

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
    2008-11-27 14:35:27
    …und ich, dich! Heute ist so einsam ohne du. Und mein Mann ist krank. Kein Truthahn heute. Ich hoffe, dass du hast viel zu essen und dass mein kleiner Neffe osterreichischen Truthahn mag. Ich liebe dich!

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Gina Frangello |Edit This
    2008-11-26 20:07:18
    Erika, I’ve been away from TNB for a bit and just came back to this lyrical and sensual emotional kick-in-the-teeth. Fuck all, girl. What a vivid fragment of a much larger, compelling story. You should expand this and submit it to magazines. Seriously. I edited one for 12 years, and this would definitely make an editor’s eyes stop glassing over and really READ.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
    2008-11-27 14:28:56
    Wow – what a compliment, Gina. Thank you so much. I must admit I’m a bit of an idiot when it comes to submissions. No, really. I haven’t a clue.

    Reply to this comment

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