My 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. Woo! Note: since I am posting as I go along, the storyline is backwards. To read this, start from the oldest post and read to the newest.

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

chapter 5

"Ok, continuing our discussion on holiness." Dr. Kendall's voice cut through the assorted noises of our class filing into the chapel. "I assume you all did today's reading: who can tell me why we're using this text in particular?"
Katie raised her hand. "Yes, Miss Ward?"
"Well, it's the Beatitudes, so each one tells a little bit about being blessed...and I guess...that's kind of like holiness?"
"Close enough, Miss Ward." He smiled at her, then turned to the class as a whole. "So, we can use these statements as data on blessedness. Who can tell me what the different Beatitudes are? Don't just read them off, tell me what you remember."
"Blessed are the peaceakers."
"Blessed are the poor in spirit!"
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
"Blessed are the pure in heart."
"No-one remembers any more?"
A few mumblings, and then silence again.
"Ok, well, let's put them up on the board then."
Dr. Kendall turned to the blackboard and bega to write. A few moments later, he stepped away, so we could see:
"Blessed are: why?
"Poor in spirit theirs is the kingdom of Heaven
"Meek they shall inherit the earth
"Hunger and thirst for righteousness they shall be filled
"Merciful they shall be shown mercy
"Pure in heart they shall see God
"Peacemakers they shall be called sons of God
"Persecuted for righteousness theirs is he kingdom of Heaven
"Persecuted when men revile for Christ great is their reward in Heaven"
"Ok, so, what do all of these have in common?" He underlined the final couplet and turned to face us.
Blank faces.
Dr. Kendall sighed, and crossed his arms over his chest. He didn't seem to notice the white streaks his chalk-covered hands left on his shirt. "Ok, I'll start to give you the idea. All these things," he waved at the board, "indicate a person outside themselves, a person not concerned with their own interests. Now. Anyone else?"
Another silence. A muffled cough. More silence.
"Yes, Mr. Johnson?"
Isaac stood up, clearing his throat nervously. "Well, isn't it also that they all become perfected in the end?"
"Hmmm. Interesting comment, Mr Johnson. Care to elaborate?"
" seems like the rewards match the states of being in some sense. Either they meet some need, or carry the state to its obvious conclusion."
"Good, Mr. Johnson. Anyone else?"
"Yeah, over here."
"Mr. Tyson?" Dr. Kendall glanced at Luke, Mandy, and me, and snorted. "Doesn't anyone but you five have opinions?" Silence. "Why is it only a few in every class who ever speak up? Ah, so be it. Yes, Mr. Tyson."
"This whole list looks like the description of someone who's had everything interesting beaten out of them. Nothing in there about 'blessed are those who stand up for their beliefs," or 'blessed are those who do good things.'"
I raised my hand, and stood up after Dr. Kendall acknowledged me. "I think we're missing something key here. Mr. Johnson, I think it may mesh with your idea of completion. Each of the groups mentioned here are completely outside themselves in one way or another, giving up what they want and their own interests...and in the end, they get what they want. The third grouping makes that the most clear, see? 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.'"
"But who wants those things? What, is it like, 'Oh, I'm just not good enough, I won't be happy until I'm completely good!'"
"Miss Thompson, care to elaborate?"
"No, actually, I think I made my point."
"Anyone else? Yes, Miss Ward?"
"Well, I think Miss Thompson missed something. It's not like they'd be thinking that. They wouldn't be thinking anything remotely like that. That's why they get it."
"I'm sorry, Miss Ward, I'm not sure I understand. Get what?"
"Oh, um, the reward, the 'filled' part. If they were thinking of themselves and what they wanted, they wouldn't get it."
"Ah, yes, thank you for clarifying. Anyone else care to weigh in? No? Alright then, on to the regular lesson plan. Next week, think about how holiness is connected to selflessness."
I walked up to Stephan in the cafeteria. He looked very intent on the wall in front of him, but I was pretty sure he wasn't focused on anything in particular.
"Hey Stephan, mind if I sit here?" His head jerked slightly, almost as if he was awaking from a dream. "Huh? Oh, um, yeah, here." He reached to move several napkins, bearing hasty ballpoint sketches, out of the way so that I could set my tray down.
"You sure you don't mind?"
"No, no, go ahead. I was just sketching out some ideas for my show." I caught a glimpse of a scribbled cityline, and another of a small bird.
"Cool. What's the show about?"
"LA, I think. But only sort of. Well, no, mostly LA. But LA as most people think about it."
"Ah. I see."
"No you don't. But you will once I paint it."
I laughed. "Ok, true enough." I pushed around the food on my plate; the beef stroganoff was the only thing that looked remotely appetizing, so I speared a few noodles with my fork and began to eat. Stephan continued scribbling on napkins, his thick black hair falling over his eyes and onto his plate. I watched, fascinated, torn between feelings of envy for his obvious talent, and feelings of scorn, amazed that anyone could be that unaware of their surroundings. He seemed to be completely unaware of himself; I was suddenly very certain that he would have remained sitting there as long as his muse was speaking, if the cafeteria staff didn't chase him out.
"So, Stephan, do you mind if I pick your brain for a minute? You don't have to stop drawing, just give me whatever comes to mind first."
"Oh, sure." Scribble scribble tear scribble
"Ok, first of all, what makes life worth living? I mean, not why we should keep living, but what makes it worth it to go on."
"Um...Well, there's Beauty, of course. But I'm not sure that's it..." He looked up, eyes startlingly bright. "I'm sorry, I'm not that great with words. More images, really. I wonder if I could draw it..." He began shuffling through the ever-growing pile of napkins on the table. "Let's see....." He leaned over and rummaged through his backpack, pulling out a rather battered looking sketchbook. "Like this." The pages fell open to a rough color sketch of the city skyline, at dusk, the first few stars appearing; a lone figure stood on the horizon, robed in blue with a star on her shoulder. Behind her, the buildings, trees, and birds of the city streamed for ward into the fading light.
My heart leaped at the first sight of it, but I couldn't say why. I wasn't even sure what it was I was looking at. Who was that standing on the horizon, and why did the City follow her?
"I wish I could explain myself better. But this is it. That crowd following, there, they know what makes it all worth it."
"Oh." I finished my lunch, and gulped down the rest of my soda. "Ok, I should go, I've gotta study. See you around?"
"Yeah, sure! Hey sorry for not being more help, if I think of anything else later, I'll email you, ok?"
"That'd be great, thanks. Good luck with your drawings!"
He waved a hand that was smeared with blue ink, and I noticed that his face had several blue smudges as well.


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