Part II – Defeat
After the Apocalypse
"Well, you've really made a mess of things this time, haven't you?"
"Shut up, woman."
"'Shut up, woman.' So that's how it is, is it?"
"You know my name."
"My first name."
Longer pause. "Gaia."
"Now that wasn't so hard, was it?"
"So what are you going to do about it?"
"Do about what?"
"'Do about what?'” she said sarcastically. “You have one son burning in eternal fire while the other one is prancing about on this purified earth of yours like he's god almighty."
Yahweh just looked at her.
"All right. All right,” she said. “I know he's supposed to be doing that. But what about all the others? When are you going to tell them that history hasn't ended? When are you going to tell them that the party's over?"
"You have to tell them some time. When is it going to be?"
Still more silence.
"Why is it so hard for you? It's not like you lied to them. You just couldn't tell them everything at once. They'll under- stand."
"Do you really think so?” he asked plaintively. Do you really think they'll just say, 'Well, we're glad you told us and now we're ready to move on.' Do you think it will be that simple?"
"One can always hope."
Again, he just looked at her.
"Yahweh, they have to know sometime. The longer you wait, the harder it will be."
"They'll think I betrayed them."
"At first, perhaps, then they'll get over it."
"If only I could be so sure."
"But even you can't be certain. You'll have to risk it."
"And if they turn away from me?"
"Oh, so that's it. You want their love. You want them to like you."
"Just don't let that blind you to your duty."
"You know, Gaia, I never thought it would come to this. Who would have believed it?"
"Oh, you knew all right. You just kept putting it off."
"I wanted everything to unfold the way I told them it would."
"Now it has and now it's time to move on."
"But I never told them that."
"No, you never did. And now it's time."
"You're repeating yourself."
"So what am I supposed to say? That Yahweh does not know it all? That Yahweh can't do it all? That Yahweh needs help from those he created?"
"That's it exactly."
"I can't do it."
"You can do it and you will."
"It's so . . . demeaning, so degrading."
"So honest. And that is one virtue you can still retain."
"I don't know what to say."
"Say you're tired. Say you're old. Say it's time for them to take over. They are your children after all."
“Since when did they become just my children?"
"Well, that's what you always say. You never mention me at all."
"Well, it made things easier, neater. It . . . simplified things."
"By leaving me out?"
"Well, that, too, must change."
"If you're so knowledgeable, how come you’re so stupid at times?"
"I don't know. Just luck I guess." He looked at her and smiled, then held out his arms to her. She came forward and sat beside him, an arm around his shoulder.
"So tell me," he asked. "What do you think of our children?"
"Which ones?" she asked. "The flying children? The winged children? The crawling children? The star children? The planet children? You have to be specific."
"Well, then, those two-legged ones on that planet around Sol, way out in the galactic arm, the ones who think they're all by themselves."
“They've got potential if they'll use it. But they need discipline. You always let them get away with too much."
"I think that 'God is love' thing may have been too lenient."
"Well, now they'll find out that God isn't quite what they were told."
"They were just children. I did what I could for them. I explained it in simple, easy-to-understand terms, with only a few basic rules so they wouldn't get confused. Then as they grew up and needed a tutor, I sent my son there to be with them."
Gaia removed her arms from Yahweh and looked at him, directly in the eyes.
"And what about Satan? He's your son, too."
"He will stay where he is for now."
Gaia stood up in fury.
"It cannot last! The situation is intolerable! You are forcing our sons apart when they should be working together."
"In time, woman, in time!"
Gaia folded her arms and continued staring at him.
"You're pathetic," she said.
Yahweh looked at her, then looked away.
"You really are pathetic," she said, emphasizing each syllable in the last word.
"No," he said, "I'm divine."
"You're divinely pathetic," she said again. "And I hope they scorn you."
"Have no fear of that, my dear," he said wearily. "They will when they realize their god is a fraud, an old man who cannot die but is still limited, who is not all good, all knowing or all powerful. Yes, they will indeed scorn me. They will feel betrayed. Isn't that how children feel when they see their parents clearly for the first time?"
"Oh, don't be too hard on yourself," Gaia replied softly. "It might go better than you think."
He looked at her, wanting to believe, afraid to believe.
"But then what about our sons?" he asked. "How can they be reconciled? One always did what he was told. The other never did what he was told."
"But he loved you as much as the other did."
"No!" he cried, beating a fist into a palm, "He didn't! He envied me. Yes, he wanted my power. But he never loved me. He sought to destroy me."
"He sought to be like you. You just never understood him."
"Here we go again," said Yahweh sarcastically. "'I never understood my sons.'"
"No," replied Gaia, "You never did. You wanted obedient children, not creative ones. You always kept that for yourself and when Satan wanted to create as well, wanted to be just like Dad, a chip off the old block, did you gather him into the fold? Did you give him room to create? No, you did not. Yet you sit there and wonder why things fell apart."
"You make me sound so cruel."
"I remember Job."
"That was different. That was a test."
"Yes, and you failed."
Yahweh glared at her. "I don't know what you mean."
"Yes, you do. You just wish you didn't. You tested Job's love for you, his devotion, his faith in you. And our son tested you and you failed. I knew you would. By definition you have the biggest ego around. And you just had to prove it by grinding Job into the earth, by torturing this poor, innocent man until maggots ate his flesh, until you appeared as Leviathan in all your imperial spectacle to prove how great and vast you think you are. I felt sorry for him."
"I gave back everything, and more. His faith was strong."
"Your ethics were weak. You had no right to crush him."
"It was a test!"
"And so is this. I'm waiting to see how you'll do."
"And do you have no role except spectator?"
"I created this," and she swept her hand across the sky. He started to object. "With your help," she added, and he relax- ed. "But both of us are old. Both of us are tired. The circle is turning round. Our time is nearly over. It's time to let go."
"I don't know what to do," he replied.
"Then it's best to do nothing for a while."