I chose to title this blog post “Divine Intervention?” for two reasons. The first is that I was struck by an incredible flash of inspiration for my story. Over the weekend, I was hitting some pretty intense writer’s block. No matter where I tried to move the story, it ended up feeling forced. I tried a couple different continuations, but everything felt unsettled. I couldn’t figure out where to move the setting, what to do with Arash, or even whether to involve the townspeople. It didn’t help that I had decided to include a Fravashi (deatiled in my previous blog post), which had started to feel like an impossible addition. Even worse, it occurred to me that, were I to include all of those things, this story would become a book, and as you all know, senior year doesn’t provide the time to write a novel.
That’s when it hit me; all I had to do was scrap everything. Just toss it all out and start from scratch. This is where the Divine Intervention comes in. Like a gift from God, I started to think outside of the box, and outside of the parameters of the project. To clarify, in my original proposal for this Independent class, I had decided to write about mythological characters from four specific religions, those being Norse, Zoroastrian, Mesopotamian, and Mayan. Rather than help me focus my narrative, that restriction turned out to be a tether. Without a fundamental understanding of those religions, I was essentially writing in the dark. I had to revised constantly as my research uncovered inaccuracies in my writing. Now, I realize that in order to write a powerful and effective story, I have to let myself be unbound by by the project’s parameters. Instead of writing specifically about Zoroastrianism, I decided not to include it at all.
*Note: Spoilers ahead. If you would like to read my story after it’s done, stop reading here.
Here’s what I now intend to write: John and Arash drag the body out of the ocean and onto the beach, where they get into a heated discussion about what it is. Both of their religious backgrounds come out, providing the context for why they feel so strongly about whether or not it is an angel. John is a dedicated atheist, and is at first ashamed of Arash for suggesting that, perhaps, it is an angel of Allah. However, both of them soon reconsider their opinions, leading to a climax in which they both have to face their religious backgrounds in order to decide what they believe. This whole time, the angel remains dead, rather than come back to life as I had originally planned for the previous version.
So as you can see, I have broken the rules of my project by not including any of the aformentioned religions in my first story. While I do intend to include them in my next story, this one addresses the fundamental concepts of religion. Is there a God? What form does He take? Or She? Or it? What would you do if you found proof of the divine?
This is where the second reason for the title of this blog post comes in. The question of the hour is now, Is this creature that’s washed up on the shore Divine? To find out (maybe), read the next excerpt:
“Arash, give me a pulse,” I said urgently. “Arash? Arash!”
I paused for a moment to look at my assistant, who was staring motionless down at the great black wings. His wasn’t moving a muscle, despite the clear need for immediate medical attention. I had trained Arash myself. Never in four years had I seen him freeze in a crisis. My eyes shifted to his face, which stared blankly down at the body, his mouth frozen in a surprised “O”.
“Bi-orzeh,” I yelled, trying to get Arash’s attention over the crashing waves. “This isn’t an angel, man. I trained you to be a scientist. There must be some logical explanation. Snap out of it and give me a pulse!”
For a moment, I thought he would continue to stand sit frozen while I continued with CPR. Instead, he shook his head and pressed his thumb into the man’s bloated wrist.
“I’m… I’m getting nothing,” he muttered.
“Rescue breaths every thirty compressions,” I said clearly.
I began pumping, applying as much pressure as I could onto the rib cage. The sounds of the waves hitting the shoreline just a few feet away receded to the back of my mind, replaced instinctively by Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust. I adjusted the compression rate slightly to match the beat of the song. After every thirty pumps, I paused, allowing Arash to blow two rescue breaths between the lips.
I cannot be sure how long we continued. The deep aching in my arms soon became background noise that pervaded my brain, but remained unheard. I hoped desperately to hear that familiar sharp intake of breath as lung sucked in air, but every time I looked over at Arash, he shook his head firmly, telling me that there was still no pulse. After what felt like thirty seconds but could easily have been ten minutes, Arash grabbed my hand and shook his head sadly. This time, he was telling me it was over. There was no telling how long the body had been out there, floating on those great black wings. There was no telling whether he had even drowned, or whether he had been dead before he was dumped into the water. In either case, there was clearly no pulse.
For several minutes, we sat on the sand silently, staring at the body. I eased myself onto my back, the constant sounds of the sea once again flooding my ears. The bone-weary aching was no longer background noise; it coursed throughout my body in throbbing waves of pain. I eased my weight down onto my right arm, feeling as though I had just been tossed into an industrial drying machine.
“What do you think it is?” Arash asked, his question catching me off guard.
“I… I’m not sure. But it’s not an angel. I don’t know. But there’s a medical explanation,” I replied.
“Look at the wings. They’re… fused to his back somehow.”
“What do you mean? That’s… that’s impossible. There has to be something attaching them,” I said confused.
“No, look,” said Arash. “They are. Like they grew right out of the skin.”
Coffman, Drew. Writer’s Block II. Digital image. Flickr. Flickr, 19 July 2010. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/drewcoffman/4815205740>.
McCoy, Dan. “Norse Mythology for Smart People.” Norse Mythology for Smart People. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://norse-mythology.org/>.
“Religion in Mesopotamia.” Ancient Civilizations. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://www.dl.ket.org/humanities/connections/class/ancient/mesopreligion.htm>.
Gomez, Maria C. “Maya Religion.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 29 July 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://www.ancient.eu/Maya_Religion/>.
“Frequently Asked Questions on Zoroastrianism and the Avesta.” Avesta – Zoroastrian Archives. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://www.avesta.org/zfaq.html>.