When is it too late to say sorry? By Ellen Mae Franklin

‘We were happy once? Weren’t we?’

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Diablo asked herself this question every day. But nothing ever changed. It always came back the same… a burning anger, so bright that it matched his strutting brilliance and that only made her angrier. God, the almighty, sanctified divinity and his constant holier than thou lectures. Her husband was a pompous fool, whose faults were even greater than the obedience he demanded from everyone.

She smiled despite this, for she had to admit there was great satisfaction in upsetting him. A single finger raised and from the shadows came a man, not nearly as perfect as she, but darkly handsome none-the-less.

“Baal, General of my armies, my devoted and faithful servant. I have a small task for you. Not the most pleasant I admit, but then you never shirk your duties, do you my pet.” She ran a well-manicured fingernail down the side of his face.

Baal looked at her, his black eyes never changing, never blinking. “Mistress, on your word I would take out my own eyes just to remain in favour” and he touched her finger with his.

“Go upon the Earth my Baal, move amongst my husband’s followers and remove their souls from his care. A score or more to create a diversion, linger long enough so that I may enter his room without notice. After all, it wouldn’t do, not to turn the other cheek.” She smiled cruelly and her face twisted into a glorious mask of savageness.

***

This was the premise. It began as an argument, just one of many. ‘No!’ She thought,  ‘Just the one of many I’ve had, for he refuses to argue.’

What was a union without a few bumps along the way? She stretched. Pleased as punch for the mischief she had caused. Diablo sighed and walked to one of the many windows in her favorite room. It looked out across a glittering expanse of endless universes, stars winked and she thought of the diamonds around her slim neck. She liked diamonds and had insisted, that upon the world they had created – a world called Earth – that they be sprinkled deep within the ground for their children to find.

Her children! It pleased her to think of humans as children, and that was the crux of it all. Her nature ran to the darkest of all things, revenge and spite, greed and in this instance – pride. He had hurt her pride and for that, there would be no mercy.

She could still remember the day he had turned his back on her, dismissive to the point of being rude. Everyone saw it, the smug lifting of a lip here and there, the flutter of wide eyes and the whispers. Yes! Let’s not forget about those whispers. How she hated him. How she hated all those that stood in awe of his brilliant presence. God…. That’s what he called himself – God! He was a puffed up bastard and he was dead to her. This she swore as she left the room. The swish of leathers in that deliberate way she walked piqued him. She saw his disapproval in everything she did. So, the more he disapproved, the tighter the leathers she wore.

Time ticked along, but for Diablo, it meant little. How could it, she stood apart from this mantle, not a single line marred her face, for she never aged. She was beautiful, almost too beautiful. Yet, inside that perfection lay a growing evil, and she nurtured it, as he did his beloved Earth. How could he love it more than her – his Diablo, his spitting devil?

***

He stood, as he always did looking fondly at the rotating sphere. It hung in a glass jar of darkness. A small bubbling ball of fire hung in one corner, a sun and those winking stars she loved so well, dusted the blackness to form it’s own galaxy. Other small spheres formed this separate universe and a moon oscillated this Earth, as though it was the most natural of all creations.

“Are you not tired of it yet?” She had snuck up on him, but he still turned and smiled. “Oh that’s right – turn the other cheek. Isn’t that what you preach to our children. That all wrongs should be forgiven, that all blame should be dissolved. It’s disgusting, that’s what it is.”

His eyes were sad of late when they met hers and the anger, that bubbled inside her heart, made her feel sick just to look upon him. She turned and walked to yet another window. This view offered nothing but calm. The sea was almost still. The crisp white sand and a bright blue cloudless sky reflected a natural paradise. With a sighing thought, Diablo changed it all. The sky darkened, thick bloated clouds covered a turbulent sea and the crisp white sand changed to a soggy mire of seaweed and gasping fish. She smiled, for she knew her actions hurt. A single tear fell upon her cheek. “Now that’s better.”

“Diablo, I do not understand the why of your heart.”

She turned on him, curling her lip into an exquisite sneer. “You know damned well as to the why of it all. You wanted our children to adore you. To cherish you and if it wasn’t enough, you wanted them to OBEY you! You disgust me.”

God smiled, benevolent in that saintly gesture he displayed when addressing his wives sharp tongue, “You’ve been in here.”

She didn’t answer, but instead rolled her eyes at his soft chastising.

“My dear. How can they be trusted not to harm themselves? Or the world we created for them. Surely, this infraction of yours was just a careless act – something that I know you will put right. Anything short of this is, well let’s say irresponsible.”

Diablo made a snorting sound. She wanted to hurt him, to create such an injury that not even the luxury of time would heal her wound. “I don’t know what you have against free will. It separates the weak from the living. It motivates and offers the kind of freedom you could never understand. What? With all, the holy thee and thou crap, I’m surprised you haven’t birched yourself silly.  Your preaching is tireless and it bores me to tears. Do you hear me? I can’t take it any more. No, I won’t take it anymore.”

She folded her arms across a perfect set of breasts, shaking her head and the diamonds nestling in her dark red hair, only added to her striking presence.

God calmly crossed to the window and glanced at the angry weather outside of the pane, and in that instant, the tempest became the paradise it was before.

What he said next was not spoken in anger, for the demeanor of his saintliness denied such emotion. “You came in here wife while I was gone, didn’t you? Spreading what you call your ‘Gift’ of free will upon the Earth. What were you thinking?”

Her eyes widened at the chastising. How dare he question her?

“Diablo. I can hear them in their homes. I hear them at work and in play. Their minds are in turmoil with what to do next. Already the Earth turns and the years pass while we argue. And in that time corruption, seeds contempt and revenge, nature bends back upon itself and free will, as you so fondly put it, cripples our wonderful children. How can you not see this?”

“I don’t need your permission to give our children gifts and free will is mine. You’re not exclusive God – you never were.” The words were meant to hurt but again, he looked at her with those sad eyes and she fought not to vomit onto his white robes and bare feet. “Forever the martyr.”

“Forever the doomsayer. Always the Devil.” This was the closest he had come to an insult.

“Bravo.” She clapped, soft jeweled hands furthered the rooms tension, “at last a little spirit. I had been so sure that any kind of free will in you was nothing more than a decaying husk. That you loved yourself so much, that in your mind you worshipped yourself like you wish our children.”

“Enough!” God was becoming irritated by the conversation. “This is getting us nowhere. You push and push Diablo. Stretching that tongue of yours till it becomes a lashing whip. You have us bickering like our poor children. Because of your deception, our world won’t last.”

Diablo stood very close to the glass jar. It seemed such a small thing to her but from the inside and upon the Earth itself, as far as we were concerned, we were alone. The bickering between God and the Devil was not taking place, could not take place. As far as man was concerned, these two were but a figment of our imagination.

God’s children toiled under the sky – watching each season pass and the years, as they rolled by. We lived and slept, we went to war and made love and through Diablo’s touch, we wanted more, always more. Her gift had an insatiable taint, pushing humankind to the brink of no return.

Smiling, she ran a finely sculptured finger across the glass surface. “I agree, we can’t go on, so let’s agree to disagree and get on with finding a solution.”

Two glasses appeared on a tall pedestal, its marble surface pleased even Diablo, for she liked the finer things. God picked up a sculptured cup and handed it to his wife, who with a knowing smile took the glass.

The saintly entity chuckled, little did he know, “What do you suggest dear? Shall we divide our children? Those whom I will make blessed with obedience in my image, allow them to live among your rabble – who in all your wisdom have gifted with free will. I fear it won’t work out.”

“Oh no! I have a far better way of dealing with this once and for all, my Godly soul.” She sipped the cool white wine, licking her red full lips, as she made ready to spring the trap. “Let’s as you say, divide our children into two groups. You may do with yours as you see fit. A sorry lot, for they will live on their knees in prayer no doubt. Whipping each other into a frenzy of worship and whining about how unfair life is for them in a world where their betters live a life worthy of being called human. It is obvious to me dear God! Lord of saintly preaching; it won’t be the free that will lose, on this bet. I wonder if you ever get tired of the God botherers you have created.”

God frowned for the first time. What was she playing at?

“My solution husband is this. For a thousand of their years we will let them live together and upon the ending of that time, we will see which of our children are left. Your woeful brood, or my shining example of living proof that free will’s charm. One of us no doubt will end up smiling. I’m sure.”

God didn’t often look puzzled, it was an expression quite alien to the majesty of his features. She could tell he was thinking on her plan, looking for the error of her ways in it. She hated him all over again – bloody hypocrite. Eventually God raised his eyes, unclasped his praying hands and smiled. Satisfied that his children, ever obedient to his righteous will; would rise in splendored glory above the ragtag lot that Diablo had tainted with her blackened heart.

“So, let it be done Diablo, my Devil – my wife.” He lifted a hand, palm flat onto the glass jar. Several stars exploded and a comet raced off across the galaxy. “I will see you soon my dear and we will finally end this needless bickering.”

Diablo left him with his boring views and martyrdom smugness. Oh yes! They will certainly see. Her laugh was as clear as a freshwater stream, but the meaning behind it was cold as the snow she looked upon, as she passed yet another one of their many windows.

***

Mankind took ownership of the Earth, farming the ground to feed its many people, mining its belly to satisfy their lust for shining rocks. With an enthusiasm to match Diablo’s demons, humans established towns that soon turned into cities, expanding and overpopulating with decaying ignorance. They dug and paved roads, lacing the world with tracks of heat. Shit and fucked themselves stupid and remained oblivious through it all.

God’s children, devotees doing their best to spread the word, designed beautiful churches, and sang his praise. Day in and day out, the good prayed and populated, breeding rules and morals into their followers. And through it all, God watched on. Hands clasped in prayer he would visit his favourite room to marvel at the toy he had created.

But Diablo’s children, inspired by her dark gift did as they pleased. Abandoning all rules, seeking only to please themselves in ways beyond imagining, humans reveled in cruelness. They perfected the art of self-gain, and the building of empires, as men and women sought to secure a little more of everything.

Years passed, decades rolled on and soon centuries took the form of man’s history. Corruption spread across the Earth like wet rot and soon large pockets of mankind fell to the hopeless of starvation, disease, violence and poverty. The few, ruled the many and God fell to despair. The weather grew as angry as Diablo, and pollution covered every corner of the earth, a reminder of her touch and as black as her heart. It began to tip the balance of Earth’s once healthy sphere, God not usually angry could only watch and wait for the thousand years to end.

Diablo entered the room. She had for this occasion decided to wear a dress. With a sway and a swish of soft silk, she stepped up to stand by God. Bestowing upon him a smug and satisfied look, she was the perfect picture of innocence.

“It has ended my husband. The thousand years are over and it is time for us to see whose children are triumphant in their domination of this world you so love. The only question left to end our argument is. Who is fit to rule the Earth?”

God already knew the answer and his sad eyes took on a glint of hard light. He could hear the billions of thoughts from his children inside the jar. There was so much crying and despair, so much so, that the prayers from his many followers were lost in the wailing of Diablo’s dark hopelessness.

“I concede Diablo – you are a most wicked creature, full of spite and malevolence. I can see that it pleases you to find me at a loss. Is there no pity in you?”

Diablo laughed, this time not the tickling of water, but the full onslaught of a gusty wind. She clapped her hands and this time, thunder pealed up high in the air above. “You have no idea husband. Your insult to me was the last, and now they are mine to do with, as I see fit. You have lost and cannot in anyway hinder my actions with this Earth, most beloved thing of your heart. It has become your ruin, for you sought to insert martyrdom upon its people and the collar of such a suit has proven too stiff.”

God looked on – speechless in the face of such fury.

“You turned your back on me God. You shamed me in front of the others. You dared to shame me for who I am.”

He remained quiet, head down and hands clasped in that annoying praying way of his. Her anger threatened to choke the air from her lungs.

“Even now you have nothing to say. Even now, you stand here, so self-righteous in your sainthood. It makes me sick to look up you and my fury: this black heart of mine needs to be sated. So, dear husband, the wounding of my pride must be made right and there is only one thing I know that will satisfy this need.”

She stepped up to the glass jar, smiled and spoke a word. It was of course, unnecessary to speak it out loud, but she wanted him to hear it –“Burn”.

“NO!” God cried word and tears fell as the sun in the corner of the jar flared. His sphere caught and began to burn. It didn’t take long – in a blink of an eye, the Earth was no more.

“Husband, now I am satisfied. Apology accepted.”

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8 thoughts on “When is it too late to say sorry? By Ellen Mae Franklin

  1. Okay, this is going to be a difficult one:
    1. I like your story concept, but
    2. There are editing issues that got in my way. Misplaced commas that changed the meaning of several sentences (causing me to have to go back and re-read, which breaks the flow) and a lack of possessive apostrophes in a couple or few places. Also, possibly, some incorrect pronouns? Those were the most bothersome because the context didn’t make it clear what you meant.
    3. Also, there is a change in perspective in the middle that is jarring and didn’t work for me, especially since it switches back almost immediately. It seems out of place.
    4. The lack of a time frame also leaves me uncertain about how I feel about the piece as a whole.

    I do really like the concept, though, and the presentation of Diablo is interesting.

    And, just so you know, I wouldn’t offer the critique if I didn’t feel the piece has potential. I mean, it’s pretty good, but, I think with some cleaning up and a bit of expansion in areas, this could be a really great story.

  2. This blew me away.

    It was a unique take on the God/Devil relationship. While I wasn’t crazy at first about the idea of free will equaling greed, it worked in the story. I liked the little details — God botherers, especially. I liked how you made Diablo at first seem sympathetic before revealing just how terrible she was. I liked God as both helpless and all-powerful. This was a WONDERFUL story.

    And Andrew? I think the timeframe being vague works very well. These are gods, after all: they exist in a different timescape than us, entirely, before and after and during and around our time. So I disagree about that.

    Very, very good story.

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