Chapter Seventeen

 

That evening, Jacques was hoping for a quiet night to think. The leaving hadn’t really affected the Slope all that much. It had never been a very politically active area. Even Jacques hadn’t cared much about what happened outside his house until the draft.

When a knock sounded on the name board outside, he jumped up, thinking that maybe it was Sheen or Nora or even Zena; the only thing better than a quiet night would be one spent talking with someone else in the same predicament. It was kind of like thinking out loud.

His shoulders drooped so much when  he pulled back the canvas that even the Laios missionary saw it. “Jacques, isn’t it?” he said kindly, “well, don’t worry, things might be falling apart, but Hyn is always there.”

“I’m not interested,” he said shortly.

“We all yearn for the love of Hyn, even if we don’t know it. I am here to help you find Hyn.”

He sighed. “Can’t I find Hyn by myself, in my own time?”

He smiled. “Sure! Here are some guidelines and beliefs. I’ll be back tomorrow to see how it went.” He kept smiling until Jacques took the sheet of paper and dropped the canvas.

Inside, he tossed the paper into the corner. Then he remembered Sheen’s words from earlier. So he ripped it up and put the pieces in the little fire he’d made in the other corner, grinning as they burned.

He’d listened to them once. His father wasn’t religious unless he was drunk, and then he prayed extensively, lifting his hands to the sky until he collapsed, begging and bargaining and sometimes crying. This was usually at night, and Jacques would sit outside until all was quiet again. He plugged his ears and hummed every song he knew, every lullaby he could remember. One time he had actually listened, and it frightened him. It rocked everything he thought he knew about this man he called dad, the man who had never let the missionaries in. If he was sober he politely said no and turned away. If he was drunk he would give them a blank stare and until they left. If they talked he shouted. One over-enthusiastic man got a fist in the face for his trouble.

So when Jacques heard his father pleading for the things that the missionaries believed in, at once admitting humanities flaws and begging for them to be saved, he was shocked. Laios thought that there was another force, another element to human existence called Hyn. They described it as the force of love, which they said was woefully lacking in the world. They believed that when one sinned or did wrong, they not only neglected their Hyn pieces, they killed them. Their message was one of discipline, but a discipline between people, as that would give you more Hyn.

Jacques wouldn’t have a problem with this if it wasn’t for the prayer. They told you to pray as a way of cleansing yourself, and that Hyn wasn’t a god, but they talked about it as if it was alive. It didn’t make sense to Jacques to have something invisible inside of him dictate whether he was a good person.

All of this flashed through his mind as he watched the paper burn, and suddenly he stood up. He knew the missionary would have walked away slowly, hoping to be asked in or run after, and that is what he did.

“Sir!”

The man turned around. “yes, Jacques?”

“My father was a good man.”

“Your father was…Stefan Deptishun?”

“You wouldn’t bury him. I wanted his grave here, where I could see it. But you wouldn’t bury him.”

“We bury anyone for free.”

“You told me you had to cleanse him first, hold a meeting for him, send him off with enough Hyn to nurture the world.”

“He had been of our religion at one point. He was born to it, and the Hyn he wasted had to be restored.”

“WHO CARES?” Jacques shouted. The man stepped back. “Who cares what had to be done for your god? It should have been about him. Or me maybe. And don’t give me that crap about love. He loved. I KNOW he loved. And maybe he made a mess of his life, but that was for him to decide. But you forced your own thoughts on him until he didn’t think of himself without thinking of you and your beliefs.”

The missionary said tactfully, “I think maybe this is an issue for you to resolve with yourself. With your Hyn. Let me know how it goes.”

Furious, Jacques went back to his lean-to. He dropped face down on the bed. They may have been said to get out of a tricky explanation, but the missionary’s words made just a little bit of sense. I don’t have an issue, they do,  he reassured himself, telling me how much love is worth. My father loved me. I know he did.

“He loved me,” he said aloud, just to solidify the words.

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