Master Peace- Audra
Nathan Stanton has spent the last 10 years as a pastor, church planter and artist on the West, South and Northsides of Chicago, and is an Interfaith America Racial Equity Media Fellow.
The following short story and poem are a part of a series of vignettes from Stanton that we will be publishing each month and are connected to a larger narrative called Master Peace. The narrative is about characters seeking personal solace in a time of unrest. You can find the earlier installments using these links: Celeste, and Darnell.
It was if the resolve had come at one moment. Well actually more like a rush of several. She’d settled it, she would leap from the apex of her drug-riddled apartment building and hurtle down towards the pavement with a speed that no unencumbered elevator could match despite the weight carried trip after trip to the top. All Audra knew was there wasn’t much she could do to end the weight she’d carried since her mother had orchestrated a similar tumble from a similar apex only months ago. Yet we all know anyone who has lost someone has to wade for miles and miles through a grief swamp while the friends and family of those close only have to visit. Their concern remains maybe as long as the season does. Soon enough just as the chill grows in the air signaling autumn, so does the empathy grow cold. All that is left is the loneliness Audra sits with and the compassion from others she’s exhausted not on purpose as she’d been very unaware of the limits. All she knew is she was hurting and hopefully help would always be on the way. Now at her best friend’s gathering that realization was beginning to unravel.
Early in the morning or late at night she’d stared down long at the intricate flowers that covered her Doc Martens. Once while her friend Malik was over, and looking for surfaces to paint he’d seen her brand new shoes in a corner. Those were the last gifts from her mother and took on a whole new meaning covered with various kinds of flowers that were surely still present in her garden back home. Now this impromptu party had run out of “fuel” and as such had run out of steam as the proceeding spilled out into the lawn adjacent to Melinda’s building. It was the moment where everyone knew it was time to go home but were waiting for the mass exodus to be initiated by another. The exposure of loneliness that lurks at a gathering can be even more deafening in the ungodly hours of the morning. Her mother had warned her that only the devil could be found after midnight. But like all well placed warnings it just served as a slim reminder of all of the dangerous adventures she was missing with the early turn in. The small groups of 2 and 3 did not even turn at the sight of a young woman with an old fashioned nightgown floating by barefoot. She seemed transfixed with some purpose and for a moment Audra forgot all about her earlier resolve. What would looking forward to something look like? Yet she stood amongst the crowd yet all alone searching for some kind of human anchor to hold on. Just then Melinda approached and asked Audra if she wanted to spend the night. With reluctance she began sensing a large wave of the grief that had encapsulated her as of late. With a waving off of her hand she untethered her anchor from the populated land and eased off down the road back to the place she’d call home for the rest of eternity. Like those moments when one sees everyone else full of purpose and the happiness from her heart begins to flee for that grace had not still been afforded to her nor would it be. Upon returning to the five story building with no working elevator she slowly trudged to the top past another place she had used to become shit-faced on many occasion. It was as if the massage therapist there provided gifts of illicit drugs for her “children” these were the artists and musicians who’d hung around looking to speak deeply about subjects and generally waste time according to the rest of the world who bustled about. The fluorescent lights illuminated all of the scars and scratches that lined the walls all the way up to the place where she was destined to fall. Upon opening the door to the roof there was a rush of fresh air that reinvigorated her but could not stem the tide of thoughts of how she could be better if her sleep unfolded into eternity or even the distinct possibility she could join her mother somewhere anywhere but here. Her close cropped hair shone under the moon as all creation seemed to hold it breath in anticipation of how this all would end. She approached the place on the roof closest to the window of their living room and stepped upon the parapet ready for the final descent. Unexpectedly her eyes drifted toward the horizon and saw a slightly imperceptible blinking in the distance. This persistent light filled not only her eyes but also her heart in a way that replaced the empty longing with a place of passionate desire. Like a wisp of smoke from a smoldering fire she found the last vestiges of dreams to inspire.
The speed gathering as ones wings touch the
air I sat on the ground wondering there
would soon be some sort of flock
Caving the dive that others collected into assault
Rifles in spite of the non violence
practiced by the mob of onlookers
for there always are pieces
Apportioned for the times are changing
for the love now of freedom
made from the imprisonment of many inside
their own minds
but of salvation that is yet the false kind
for none may be brought with the restriction of another
on long account of a beauty that creates
the age old sage saying that says
into the lonely void contains the peace that saves
in flight off floats the resistance
paged yet once upon time written
creatively called yet one smitten
gifted all the same by a i=universal concern
Earned the hand up and away apportioned
for the vision of display not
recognizing the era and season we
are guaranteed to be on
flipping through the annals of history
searching for the widely held lexicon
In flight the hesitation floats and
abandons the fear splitting the issues apart
learning to think of ones passion from the heart
#Interfaith is a self-paced, online learning opportunity designed to equip a new generation of leaders with the awareness and skills to promote interfaith cooperation online. The curriculum is free to Interfaith America readers; please use the scholarship code #Interfaith100. #Interfaith is presented by IFYC in collaboration with ReligionAndPublicLife.org.
more from IFYC
The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.