Nights of Mercy

Today is the last day here. I knew it when I woke up. I have waited so long for this day that without the wait I feel itchy, full of static.
I get out of these ragged ragged sheets that never stay tucked and though I hate doing this first thing in the morning, I am on the computer.
On the forum it tells me there are three things I must do before Midnight. I must close all accounts, get rid of everything that cannot fit inside two paper grocery bags, and wait just a little bit longer. I look through my messages – people have written me in congratulations, wishing me luck in the upcoming weeks. I sincerely thank them, really I do, but I know that I won’t be needing their luck.
Outside, it is golden light and scoured air. Mom always said: meek and apologetic in braided buns, a pathetic sight to behold. But despite that I was chosen above all the others.  Evenings will no longer be my loneliness watching the clock sweep and slog forward, observing each new day tide into same old past day. No. After today, all my days will be spent in Midnight.
The first errand will be the easiest. I am going to the bank to liquidate my identity. Make it run through my fingers, watch it slink down the drain. The steps of the small bank are solid, sloped and dull, the landscaping twigged and craggy. Inside, it is a Friday check cashing energy and everyone looks fevered. The line is long and full of people I’ve known. Marnie’s here in her purple leggings and shampooed hair with the children she never wanted. She’s talking and swaying towards Bill and his big check.
I know they heard my heels echo. I know because the tellers smile commercially at me. But they, those people I grew up with, ignore me. Have been ignoring me for months. This is why I’m leaving. To get away from this town of small-minded people softened by the keyboards, envelopes and receipts of life. People who’ve touched so much paper their fingerprints have worn off smooth like beach glass.
In anger, I think of salvation, always in anger. It is a place of near perfect darkness, a clock that reads as all zeros. It is love. The thread I have been most active in, Paradigms: Making Them Work For You, is inapt. And no other posts have addressed this problem. This maw opening up between me and the linepeople.
At the end of the line I plan my final post.

 

I have finally been asked to join the associates at MH. I am very blessed for your years of support and true friendship. The invitation to MH comes at a perfect time because the situation at home is now a FULL BLOWN CRISIS. Old friends and neighbors talk to me with their cardboard feelings. And I know that today I am supposed to leave these people (and memories, thank god) behind, but I am not sure how to. I have tried to address this, but they don’t seem to understand. I think they are TOO FAR GONE. Many people have started avoiding me because they want to avoid this conversation. My question to those of you who are at Midnight Harmony now: should I make one last effort to heal these relationships, or leave and never look back? I still feel compassion for many of these people, but I don’t know if it’s just some form of weak nostalgia. Thoughts and advice are welcome from people who are not being aggressive or rude.

fire_mother will pounce on this post, because fire_mother is insufferable. Everything she has posted on the forum this month has been pointed negative energy against me. And I can’t say it’s unjustified. Joel posted the list of New Associates last month and my name was there while her’s wasn’t. We all know that fire_mother’s jealously makes her spiritually ugly, and though I’ve wanted to point it out, it seems petty to publicly address it.
The light above the teller’s head changes to green for go. I will take my money back. I will be respected on the forum.
I walk up, but the teller cannot hear me and demands, they are always demanding, that I step closer. I am taken to a small desk in the back room where the bankers hover over me, their sharp ties dangling, fingers pointing at whirring numbers, and I say no, no thank you and yes, I know what I am doing, yes, I know I can come back anytime, for what passes as hours.
When I leave the small bank, the sun is nearly gone. I have all my cash-worth stuffed in my purse. I feel like I am bringing my desires into fruition. I have wanted to liquidate and give everything to Midnight since I read plutoman45’s post two years ago in the Teachings thread.

 

Midnight Harmony is an oasis of sanity in a world begotten by outmoded doctrines and our message is one of hope and preservation. In order to be saved we must do it ourselves. God will not be there to help us along the way. And indeed, there is much to be done. The most immediate force in our lives that we can alter is our outlook towards our financial circumstances. By stewarding your assets and applying them towards works that benefit ALL of MH, we guarantee that you will become free to pursue your desires without worry.
There are religious teachings that claim money is too material a concern for spiritual well-being. We do not believe that. At MH it is anticipated that in a few generations we will all live like millionaires. The formula is simple. You do not actually need millions to be a millionaire. On the ranch, a positive mental attitude is all you need to thrive.

I sat staring at the screen shaking, my eyes watery because I had been crying all day. During that time I cried all the time. Now I am strong. But back then, I kept losing my jobs and became one of the marginally under-employed to be avoided. They evaporated my house, impounded everything I ever loved. I thought, without money everything will be good again. Midnight will take my money and I will live happy on the ranch.
When I get home from the small bank I unlace my shoes and place them against the wall. It is a habit from my childhood spent in carpeted-rooms . I leave my socks on because my apartment is unheated. There is little left here now, mostly blank walls – my twin bed, non-stick frying pan, a smooth shell for a soapdish.
That is the second task: throwing away, cleansing.
Joel says it is difficult to discern truth from falsity and that many people spend their lives pursuing promising, but ultimately erroneous philosophies. I had been one of those people. Wasting years trying to make a home in a ruined land.
Years ago I wanted a house with large open windows – blinding shafts of light. A garden of succulents – plants so swollen and alien and in need of love. A bed asphyxiating on pillows – two entwined bodies sleeping in love. After these last jumbled years of heating bills and creditors’ messages, of lentils, of doubting, of losing the jobs and the small home, I found Midnight where I learned to give up, as Joel said, on the illusion of permanence.
Today, I will sell my computer and move what little is left into trash bags. I have already burned my photos and journals in the building’s gravel lot. The children’s charity has taken my furniture. I am unburdened. Flush with cash.
My guest is arriving soon and I should make something to offer him. Sandwiches, because everyone loves to eat with their hands. Sandwiches because I can eat while posting what I have drafted onto the forum. I stop in front of the fridge and it tells me, If you do not take charge of the events in your life, then other people may take charge for you, or worse yet, you may drift without end. Only the best of the forum makes it onto sticky notes in neat slanting capitals.
There are only a few members online, so the risk of posting now is low. But I will leave the computer on just in case someone wants to chat, or congratulate me, before the Craigslist man arrives.
There are only few emails I can reread without the intention of steeping in some forgotten pain. One of them is from Joel. Sent only to me. I read it one last time to give me strength for this journey. No doubt, he says, that you are a special case. Nonetheless, when you arrive we will have much work to do together. When you are here with me we will be able to express our unity and integrity with each other. Through this I have faith that you will be able to find the joy you have been searching for all these years.
When I first received this email I knew that I chose the right path for the first time in my life.
It’s Jason! Jason is [email protected] Why didn’t he say who he was when I gave him my address? They’re all trying to walk away from me. What is that line, quit before you’re fired? It’s the little quits that help you gather strength for the big quit. I will quit you, Jason. I quit you.
Katherine, Katherine. He’s calling my name and ringing the doorbell in-between. Katherine, Katherine. I have a nice name. This is what desire must sound like – my name ringing like a bell. Joel, do you ring for me?
I forgot that I opened the door and so Jason and I both stand bulking and leaning and waiting.
Just here, everything is in perfect order, original box an everything. Do you want coffee? I have some on the pot. If you’re hungry, I made sandwiches. My hands flutter and he backs off; I was always told warm hands brought people in. My body tries to do the thing it’s told to do, but I never get the results. So, Jason backs away from me. He tells me he doesn’t want coffee and doesn’t want to linger. Once the computer has been looked at he will box it up, give me cash, and leave as quickly as possible.
It is 7:35. The sun has set, but marks of the day still linger – deep lasting sunset-purples like the sky’s been punched over and over again. I have been instructed to wait until midnight when Joel will drive up in the van and we will load my bags into the back seats. I have finally come to understand my faith – the ability to discard at will, to peel off and abolish all that seems excessive, to give up on explanations.
It’s 9 and the wait is grating on me. I pray this day of impatience will be claimed by emptiness in my memory. When Joel comes I will ask him, where are you coming from? And as I have rehearsed this many times, he will say, as he always does when I speak for him, I’ve been driving up and down these highways looking for you. And I will go towards him for the first time, but it will feel like a return. That’s when you know there is love. We will touch hands, and I will remember what might have been over and over again.
And it is midnight.
It is past midnight.
It is well past midnight.
It is the new day. And still he is not here, the van is not here. Midnight draws equally from days of judgement and nights of mercy. It is an imprecise thing. The slight shadow cast by passing cars. A vigil I keep for the van.

 

Analeah Loschiavo lives in Chicago where she sells used books.

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