It was the third night in a row.
The third night they’d awoken me with their singing.
The third night they’d awoken me with their unnecessary praises.
The third night I’d sat up drinking myself to sleep and being unsuccessful each time.
No matter how much I tried to block them out, emotionally and physically, their words pierced through my walls, through the fibres of my pillows and into my ears. I hadn’t slept for months, this year pushed me around and I just let it do it without a fight. But I wouldn’t dare to let them keep making a racket as I tried to find myself in my own microcosm. I grabbed the Jack Daniels, which stood beside my alarm clock showing the time 6am. I never needed the alarm as I never slept, but it always felt normal to have it there, set to that time, because one day, maybe just one, I’d sleep into a blissful dream and be awoken by the ring of the alarm clock. I sat and stood up on the right side of the bed, with the alcohol in my right hand. I grabbed my battered boots, roughly slipping my feet into each shoe, then walked to my wardrobe. The lyrics continued to attack my bones as I tried to get a coat, my saviour…the protector….Jesus, the almighty, I love you. I quickly grabbed a coat and rushed out of the room. It was rubbish, how dare they sing things that meant nothing. Tears pricked the corners of both my eyes. I shrugged the grey trench coat over my shoulders and hurried down the stairs. Left foot, right foot, tenth stair, ninth stair – rushing to put a stop to the abomination that soared from the church building.
Once I finally got to the bottom of the stairs, I grabbed the house keys, which hadn’t moved since… every glimpse I took of those keys the air suffocated my lungs and squeezed my heart involuntarily.
I left my house, slamming the door behind me; ready to face those who were oblivious to reality. With the Jack in my right hand, I placed the keys in my coat pocket, and unscrewed the cap of the bottle. I took one swig, then another and another until the streets of Tottenham blurred ever so slightly. I trudged down the steps and pushed the gate, then took another swig of Jack. The choir continued to soar through the air, blowing loose strands of my hair backwards, seven hallelujahs… I took another gulp of the drink, soothing my throat. I closed the bottle and walked towards the entrance of the church. I reached the entrance and without hesitation pushed the doors open. There, in front of me stood the choir swaying left to right, whilst the choirmaster coordinated them. The pastor smiled, joyful of the song the choir sang. In the centre of the church the alter faced me, taunted me with candles, bibles and dreams. The anger mounted through my body, was all too much, all too false, and I was prepared to stop it.
Without thinking I threw the Jack Daniels bottle onto the ground, smashing it into pieces, each shard of glass flying around the church removing the smiles, the singing, the hope. The choir’s singing came to a halt, heads turned all to face me. I stumble through the church with my fist clenched and words slurred.
“Shut this music up! Shut it up, it’s all false, y-y-you all are false!” I started walking, ignoring the cuts the glasses were making through my boots. “He can’t hear you, don’t you get the message!!! He’s not listening anymore, so all of you shut up! It’s bloody three in the morning, let me drink in peace, instead of shouting false praises through my walls!” I clutched onto a nearby seat and took a deep breath, looking straight into the pastor’s eyes.
“Excuse me my daughter-”
“I am not your daughter!”
“I can see you’ve come in anger, what is truly upsetting you?” The pastor stood, watching me attentively waiting till I spoke.
“You, you all are upsetting me, you’re liars! Preaching false words!”
“False in what way?”
“If he, the big man upstairs loved us so, then why did he let the world take my sister? Huh! Explain that? Because…if, if, if he did “love” us as you preach about, why would he let that happen?” The pastor was about to speak when I raised my hand, cutting him off. “I loved her with all my heart, I watched over her, I wanted the best for her, so why did he take her! Explain that!” The lump in my throat arose, tears cascading down my cheeks. “I just want my sister back, I want my life back, she wasn’t meant to be taken from me, she was young, had energy – so why her? Why not me? Why did he leave me to suffer like this? There’s nothing left for me here on this world anymore.”
I wiped the tears away from my eyes, clearing my vision when I realised the pastor had found his way in front of me. He held my shoulders delicately and closed his eyes, trying to find the words to say that would relate most to me. But then he opened his eyes, and said nothing. He took an audible sigh and looked up, at the ceiling.
“The Lord taketh and the Lord giveth, there is a reason for all. Just because you may not be visible to the reason now, doesn’t mean there’s none at all…have faith young child, as the questions you have will be answered.”
And there, before my eyes I broke, similar to the pieces of glass on the floor, I broke down, remembering Edie’s face, her smile, her laugh and remembered how much I’d missed her. We used to go church together when we were younger, half listening to the sermon and half giggling at the words we didn’t understand in the Bible. Missing her was an understatement, I needed her, she’d been my life, my faith, my happiness, and just like that she’d taken everything with her. The thought of her made me weak. I clung unto the Pastor and cried, hoping that if what he had said was true, then I would find a reason as to why the world took my sister before her time.