Them’s the Breaks

It’s a funny world, this one. Things humans subject themselves to under the guise of civilization, strife born of the terrible prevalence of ego and desire, the subscription to concepts and norms set to perpetrate the status quo that keeps the mighty on top and the commoner down in the mud. Great injustices start with small ones, quite often, and that is one of the many tragedies of this world. So many injustices start out cruelly only to become blessings in disguise… but then, well, what does anyone know about anything at all?

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There was something wrong, Jonas knew. For years he’d felt this oppressive sense that all he ever did would fall to pieces. His life up until his fifties offered no evidence to counter this assessment of his own accomplishments, or lack thereof. He was washed up, a failed architect who at one point in his life had been poised to make something truly great of himself. Projects of magnitudes colossal lined up, sudden connections to influential circles, visions of abundance and wealth… they had all come to nothing.

He would often blame himself, for who else was there to blame? God? Ha! No, it was nothing from fanciful fabrications of the human collective – he would think often; nothing but his own folly. He had been foolish often, and had committed the same mistakes over and over, as if he couldn’t help it. He often wondered what was wrong with him, what made him be that way, why, when it came to defining moments, he always made the wrong choice.

But now there was this, this… this new piece of the puzzle, one that had never before been considered in seriousness…

His fourth wife was next to him, Clara, mother of his three youngest daughters. They were there with him, as well, in the living room of their home of twenty years. With were his children from the previous three marriages, three more daughters, one for each failed partnership. The only one that was missing was his firstborn child, his only son, Robert.

It was fine, however, he was busy with his own family, his own failed marriage, his daughter, his job… he was very diligent and had to take care of a lot of things and couldn’t make it, but it was not necessary for him to be there.

The parish priest sat at a tall chair opposite the large sofa where Jonas, his wife and his progeny sat. It was time to begin the cleansing. Another woman, a purported witch, was next to the priest. She held a felt pouch within which was rock salt, spices, and another component which she had been rather taciturn about discussing.

No matter, Jonas thought, there was a time to question and a time to follow blindly. This was the latter.

It had come to his attention, and that of his immediate family, that he had acquired, through his years of philandering and terrible decisions, a curse. An erstwhile lover, jilted, bitter, had threatened him once, wanting him to divorce from his then first wife. He had, like many men before him and since him, held onto his marriage and deflected his mistress’ please to marry her by saying, falsely, that his wife would not accede to a divorce no matter how much he asked. This created a long episode of harassment against his then-wife on behalf of his mistress. He had been a coward, he knew, but he didn’t help one woman or the other.

Somehow, despite the duress in those days, his wife eventually was with child, that which would become his son Robert. At the news of this, his mistress had gone positively berserk, the threats escalating to a maddening degree, eventually forcing Jonas to act and cut her off. But his mistress would not leave without the last word, and she said she would curse him and his descendants. His lineage would come to dust, it would be nothing, and all his efforts and creations would also come to nothing.

He had lent this no ear, no mind, as would any reasonable person. But the years had been unkind in great part with Jonas and his children. Perhaps, it really was a curse. He knew he himself deserved it, certainly, but not his children.

In church just a few days earlier he had become distraught, racked with paroxysmal convulsions that would not relent. This was the culmination of a long period of depression, of finding no avail or succor in anything or anyone. He had been looking down a dark tunnel with no light at either end, and that apparent attack during mass had been the beginning of an end.

The priest that presided over the parish was an old, knowledgeable and experienced missionary who at one time dealt with the darker, more hushed subjects that the Holy See was expected to contend with, despite the efforts to change the public’s perception of it as an organization. He had immediately recognized the forces at work, or so he had told Jonas.

And that was why they were here: To rid Jonas, and in turn his children, of the undue consequences of his own folly.

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Robert was tired. He was only thirty years old, but he felt a hundred at heart. He was jovial, often enough, and a kind person, but he felt a terrifying vacuous darkness inside. He often wondered, for good reason, if he might be a bad person.

He was, after all, his father’s son, wasn’t he?

He had not been the level of philanderer his pops had once been, but his evils lay somewhere darker, at times. These were not known to most, and he had certain impulses that could irrevocably change his life and that of those close to him beyond any point of redemption.

And now there was this thing, with his pops, the witchery, the church… he didn’t know what to make of it. This was not what he had ever considered to be the cause of his misfortunes… no, he had always blamed himself, and maybe his father and mother, naturally, but mostly himself.

At night, for the past twenty years or so, he would always lie there in bed, unable to summon the sandman, unable to turn off his mind. He would review his motivations, his wrong turns, and rights-turned-sour, and wonder at the horrible person that was his innermost soul. He was astounded, always, at how corrupt he could be, and how his corruption could spread despite his honest efforts at being a good person. But then, he would also question his own honesty, his own desire to be good… how could he possibly be sure? Did he really know himself? Could he, ever?

He had done regrettable things… to people… to persons who had at some point confided in him. He had taken liberties with affections, with trust, and for that he was now alone. He had chosen to be alone, knowing that he was, in some integral part of his being, broken. He forsook building a new family – he had bungled that one up, already, once – and donned the mantle of solitude… solitude with the sometimes bitter drink of loneliness.

All that was left to him was his daughter. That he hadn’t fucked that up, that was his miracle. She still looked at him with eyes of love, like he was the hero that could never possibly fall. That was all the light in the world, and it was all the light Robert needed. If only he could find a way to have more time to spend with her…

In the end, that’s all life is… regrets and struggle, struggle and regrets, and a few ephemeral moments of respite.

Who knows, maybe this cleansing or whatever it is they were doing at his pops’ place would yield something good for him, too.

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The cleansing had been frightful. Jonas had felt his heart nearly give up on him and the toll the ritual had taken on his body had been dear. But he was now free.

He felt liberated, light, like a feather floating idly in the wind. He was, for the first time he could remember in decades, happy, at peace.

He hugged his wife and children, all his daughters, and was keenly aware that Robert’s absence was all that wasn’t right at that moment. No matter, his son, his pride – had he told him he was proud of him despite it all? – would eventually come.

He thanked the old priest, who was sporting a lukewarm smile, and shook his hand. He went to the witch-woman, who had been a boon in the ritual, and embraced her. Her look, however, the expression on her face, was sad. This puzzled him for a moment, but he wasn’t ready to dwell on it. He was hungry, famished! He would cook for his family. They were all together! This, he mused, was a good day.

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Robert had been driving, going down the lane to the parking lot of his workplace, when the heart attack struck. By the time his car crashed against the wall of the building he was already dead. In a freak explosion his remains were burned to ashes. It was merciful that he wasn’t there to feel the fire destroy his body.

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No matter what we do, in this life, in our dreams, in our hearts, we will all be dust. It’s quite pointless, to follow these accepted norms, this social contract, this net to keep us all down and docile.

And our mistakes, how do they take form? Do they become tulpas somewhere in our psyche? Do they become egregorial manifestations in the physical plane?

The sins of the father. The sins of the son.

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