Since I once again don't know what to post, I'll share a short story I wrote. A prompt nudged me in the right direction, then my muse just chucked the rest of it at me and I wrote it out in a half-hour.
Laughter echoed through the halls of the house a second ago. Now, with my youth pastor looking straight at me, the room seems to have gone silent.
He watches me with concern. "Are you sure?"
I nod and force my lips to turn upward and a hopefully realistic spark of happiness to come into my eyes.
He relaxes. My ruse must have worked. I turn away, then slip down the hallway.
The laughter intensifies. I roll my eyes at the silliness of it.
Since when was it considered a good idea to bring the youth group to an empty house on the beach for an outing? Fun, of course. Fun places aren't my thing.
The door to a back bedroom creaks as I open it. A gentle breeze stirs in the room and my nostrils fill with the smell I can only call "old house," mixed with salt. Waves crash just outside the window.
A sigh of relief seeps out of my lungs. No matter what everyone says about youth group, I don't enjoy it. The ache at the back of my mind suddenly turns into a sharp stab.
Waves break against the rocks, creating a sound that should calm me, but instead grates across my brain. The room smells like loneliness. Loneliness smells like hell.
I chose it myself, though, didn't I? I came here to get away from a different type of hell. The torture of empty laughter. The false feeling of friendship I so easily settle into.
All I hear is my own ragged breathing and the taunting crash of waves. Will it always be this way?
Hell is forever.
Every "Christian" bone in my body screams my error to me. Heaven exists. Christians go there. But it all seems so shallow. Yeah, great. Heaven's fine to believe in. But all I've ever seen is Hell. It's all I can believe in.
A sudden urge grabs hold of me. I cross the room and test the window. It sticks and squeaks, but opens with enough pressure. A slinter jabs into my palm as I climb through.
Outside, the ocean is even louder. The wind is stronger, too, beating against me and blowing my hair into my face. I swipe it out of my eyes and move toward the water. I scramble out onto some rocks reaching out into the edges of the water.
The wind rushes around me and whips the water into white-capped waves. My loneliness still stabs at me. No matter how many walls I put up to keep myself from being hurt, I can't keep out something that lives inside of me.
"God, where are you?"
The wind sweeps my voice away before I can hear it. Something about opening my mouth unleashes something.
"All the promises in the world don't make up for anything! I'm still lonely after you yank every friend I have away with divine acts. Stop calling everyone I care about to something else, all right? But why would you do that? You don't care. I don't care what everyone says in church. All I can see are acts of cruelty in your name. Why do you promise christians heaven, yet force me into a living hell? If hell is lack of your presence, then I think I've gotten there."
I gasp for breath, but I'm not done.
"Everyone says you have great plans. Some plans. I don't care how great they are. I can't live like this. What did I do wrong? What did I do to earn this? Why do you play games with me? I feel like a cat chasing a laser. The friendship I'll never get."
I have to breathe again, but the words keep coming. Years of pain and frustration. I couldn't stop them if I tried.
"I've been a good girl and gone to church. I know what the Bible says. That Jesus went through everything we possibly could. But you haven't! How could you have? You are God! You understand everything you do! You never had to deal with unexplainable "acts of God." You knew why. But I don't! And I'm starting to doubt that there's actually a reason."
I sink to my knees. I can't take this. I can't spend sixty-some years in this screwed-up world trying to blindly follow a God that only shows himself by playing sick jokes.
"I'm done. You've proven your point. If you're gonna show yourself, this is your last chance!" I shout to the empty wind. My muscles tense as I prepare myself.
"Could you trust me?"