“But the light killed the moth.” Dane leaned forward into the lampglow. “It’s not alive, it’s stupid. Brainless.” Fiona wasn’t sure if Dane was aiming this last word at the moth or at his brother.
“The light did, kill it, brainless, dumbful, innocent, regardless. Moths dying of light is evil. Evil is light is the opposite of ‘live.’” Chance leaned back but then rocked forward abruptly, pointing his cigarette at the lamp. “Light is the problem. Light is not life; light kills. It’s hungry and it pulled what was living in that little bug right out of its body and made it into a no-body, a nobody.” He began to rock more steadily, gathering force and Fiona knew he was moving through that building that he said was inside him, a building full of a thousand rooms, joined by short hallways that branched off in a thousand directions. Voices emerged from some of the rooms, Chance said, but he could never find their bodies if he looked for them. The voices were no-bodies.
Fiona could picture the building and what she saw was a hospital in the form of a maze, a place cold and sterile. Dark, too, she thought it, lit always just ahead of where Chance was in it, and the halls and rooms filled to overflowing, obscuring whatever it was he was hoping to find. So cluttered that his thoughts were sometimes difficult to follow, but still he would talk and talk his way down those halls and through those rooms, but he never stayed in one place too long. His thoughts tumbled out of his mouth as if every step in every room was a different thought. Word salad is what the shrinks call it, Dane had told them, but if she just listened, if she didn’t try too hard to make sense of it, Fiona found herself understanding exactly what it was Chance meant.
“Switch off the light and turn on life,” he said. “Don’t you see, unlit candles avoid moths. God doesn’t live in light; God does not kill brainless moths because they're dumbful; God blows the dust back onto their wings when it rubs off on our hands. God loves moth life.”
From the look on Strep’s face, Fiona knew the word “trippy” would come up again at some point this evening.
“God doesn’t live in light. He lives in the dark, out there.” Chance gestured at the yard beyond the table with his cigarette hand. “Churches sell light, sell candles, put everlasting lights on their altars and they do it to kill God and the love that is God. God was a moth that turned to ash in the church light.”
|moths die here|
He put his finger on some of the cigarette ash that had fallen on his knee. “This ash is God. Taste it.” He touched it to his tongue delicately at first but then smeared it on hard, the way the priests did to the Catholic kids on Ash Wednesday. “It has no flavor of light. All the light went out of it when I tapped it loose from this little fire.” He flicked the tip of his cigarette and the embers flared into tiny fireflies for a moment and then disappeared in the cool night air. “God is trapped in the light.” He flicked sparks from his cigarette again. “God is love. A moth in the dark lives and in the light love dies. I loved that moth.” He stopped rocking. “I am that moth. We are all that moth. The love we need is all around us.” He wound the wick back into the lamp until it went out. Fiona thought the dark seemed darker as she adjusted to the absence of light. “This is love,” Chance declared.
Fiona imagined him spreading his arms wide to show them all the darkness.