Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Line Between, a short story.

There was a time before this, what we have now.  This separation of Church and State.  At least, that's what I've heard.  I don't know if I believe it, though.  It's always been like this, with Church on the one side of me and State on the other.  The line that I work, the only place where there is no Church and there is no State, is a place of absolute grey, The Line Between.  A place of paperwork and red tape, of taking vows and rescinding them. 

The State is a drab place, all black and brown and other colors of emotional repression and absolute unconditional black and white justice. In the State the laws are the laws of man, made without emotion, pure justice for all.  Absolute law.  A jury of your peers is always available to judge you for any matter, big or small, and the streets are curfewed diligently.  Crime is low and murder is unheard of, mostly because nobody is allowed to talk about.  Justice is a cruel mistress.

 The Church is flamboyant, colored in blues and reds and yellows to hide the shame of a missed prayer or a wayward glance.  Emotion and God preside and reside heavily in daily life.  Prayers are offered, sheep are sacrificed, and bibles are continually thumped to the rhythm of The One True God's beating heart.  There is no law save the law of God, which can be translated differently depending on the crime and who might have committed it.  And God forbid anyone to commit a crime against religion, for God does not forgive, for The One True God is not a forgiving God, not as much as anyone would have you believe.

Then there is the Line Between.  The way on the path to salvation or damnation, depending on your view.  Any person may petition to cross the Line Between to enter into The State or The Church.  Rescind your faith and swear to follow the laws of man.  Reinstate your faith and swear to follow the laws of God.  It's a 45 day waiting period either way.  And 63 pages of forms, all filed in their own respective departments in triplicate. 

Mine is a day of hearing petitioners and filing claims, of hearing vows destroyed or renewed.  My cubemate, whom I call Sixty (though her full name is 60101210012), was born in The State, hence her name.  I was born in The Church, the 15th daughter of my family, thus predetermined to enter into the life of a public servant.  First through 7th born children are offered into service of The Church, 8th through 14th are offered into trade services, carpentry and farming and so forth.  Any children past 14th were offered for the lowest of all jobs, public service.  My older siblings, the ones groomed for a life devoted to The Church, all received names from the holy book, randomly picked out by the birthing Parishioner.  The children born to craft receive a name from a tool of their trade, Nail or Taco or something of the like.  A child past 15th does not get a trade name, they get named after common items like Table and Tree, just something to label them with, to be filed on 616 forms in triplicate throughout their lives. The State names all of their children with unique identifying numbers, as all children of the State are considered equal unless proven otherwise.

My cubemate Sixty tells stories that her mother told her when she was just a junior citizen.  Stories of people of the Church and the State living together, worshiping God and voting, all in the same place.  Where people had the right to chose what color to wear and weren't required to wear different colors depending on the day of the week and their current status with God.  (Once, when I was smaller and still living in my religion family's hovel, I had to wear orange for a whole week to pay penance for stealing a bite to eat before saying grace.  Orange is the most shameful color you can wear and no one may talk to a person wearing orange vestments.  I was 5 cycles old.) 

I think that Sixty's mother was just telling her urban myths as some parents do on the side of the State (for they do not have the bible to teach them true stories).  There was never a time before the separation of Church and State according to the Authorities That Be.  How could there be something so chaotic and unpredictable?  It's much easier to follow the edicts of the Authorities That Be, they tell you what to wear, what to eat and what is truth from what are Evil Lies.  Everyone is happy.

She asked me what I mean by "everyone is happy".  Apparently that isn't a common chant performed in unison by people living in the State side.  I told her that it means what it says, everyone is happy.  We must be happy, for God is loving and kind and graces us with The Church to take care of us and protect us from Evil Lies.  We have the holy book as our shield and if that's not enough, we can go to confession and take our pills of penance and happiness, washed down with the blood of our savior once a week.  Sixty doesn't get it, for they don't have the blood of any savior to sustain them through a week, or the pills of penance and happiness to keep them emotionally and spiritually balanced.  I feel bad for Sixty.

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