Basic Elements (Flash Fiction)

“Jesus loves you.”

“There is no God.”

The grandmother showed no sign of dismay. She stood there on the porch in her outdated Sunday dress and silver curls plastered to another era and watched from behind as the little girl gently stroked her dog.

“Sparky is going to die one day, you know. Long before you.”

“So?” She did not even look back.

“Who will you pray to then if there is no God?”

“I won’t pray.”

“Will you pray for your father?”

“He’s gone mad.”

“Will you pray for your mother?”

“He’s gone mad because he studied the universe and confronted thoughts much bigger than the human brain can handle and you package this enormous thing in a three letter word called God so you won’t have trouble carrying it around in a book.”

“Will you pray for your mother?”

“She’s dead. She’s gone back to the universe. She’s basic elements now.”

“You’re a precocious young lady.”

“I’m just sane.”

“Are you really now?”

Sun beams flickered as leaves swayed in the gentle breeze. There were voices of children playing in the distance. A cat strolled lazily across the empty lawn.

Sparky lay still, tongue extended, sometimes looking at the girl expectantly when her hand stopped stroking.

“I sang for the church choir at your age. I looked just like you.”

“I don’t care.”

“We are made of the events that passed before us. Even if you don’t believe in God, your mother did. She loved to go to church and watch me sing, back when I was still singing. If you can cherish those experiences, keep it burning in your memory, the lives live on.”

“I’m not going to church.”

“You should go meet your mother.”

“My mother isn’t there.”

“She smiled there. She had fun there. She met your father there.”

The girl turned to look at the old woman.

“My father doesn’t believe in God.”

“But he believed in humanity. He was there for the same reason you should be there. He was taking the torch passed on to him. And for that, he met your mother.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I know you don’t. You heard this before you heard this from me. From your father. You thought he was rambling. But he was not.”

“He’s mad.”

“Go to church, hun. For me.”

The girl turned back to the dog. The dog gurred softly as in sympathy.

Church bells rang in the distance.

“The service has started. Cookies are in the kitchen,” said the old woman. “I have to go now.”

“Please don’t go.”

“You know I can’t stay. I’ve long since been gone, to basic elements.”

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