Harold M. Brathwaite School
I would like to call God to the stand. There is much needed to be explained.
In this debate of creator vs. creation, he must testify in front of the universe, swear to speak the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the holy book of the sun and the moon. Our purpose as the jury is to sit in this courtroom and hear of his crimes. Is God guilty?
I would like to call God to the stand, first and foremost, for making it so my bathwater fogged up my bathroom window. How dare he ensure that the only temperature warm enough to mimic elementary school summer days left my skin scalding and dry to the touch? He must defend the manner in which he has made this bathtub grow too small for me. It was once an ocean I refused to enter for fear of drowning. I found safety in the kitchen sink, where the soft hands of fresh parents scrubbed me with velvety soap. I must ask God what prompted him to invent the passing of time. What gun was held to his head? What love of his was threatened?
Most importantly, I would like to call God to the stand for his most heinous crime: keeping my arm one mole away from the Little Dipper.
He has clouded the bright stars outside my window with steam, but, as I wipe the fog away, I see the sky in all of her Mean Girl glory, mocking me. She stands beautifully, with the perfect number of freckles arranged perfectly.
How many things do we do for the last time without noticing?
At some point, my mother picked out my clothes after a warm bath for the last time, not realizing that the next day I would complain and insist on doing the task myself. Not realizing that this change was permanent. One day, I rolled my freshly-washed body in the playground sand after a game of Cops and Robbers, not realizing that it would be the last day I would ever be that excited to see an ice cream truck. At some point, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I responded with “princess” for the last time, not realizing that the next day I would scoff at the politics of monarchies. There was a time when taking a bath was not a burden—my body the size of a small stack of dinner plates, the kitchen sink a swimming pool. There was more rubber ducky than water, more bubble than soap. Once clean, the only expectation of me was to jump into bed and dream of the next day being as fun as this one. At some point, I fell into bed without realizing that sleep would become a rare commodity and dreams a priceless luxury. Everything we ever know rushes down the drain with the cold bathwater, and nobody notices.
When I was a child, the near-constellation on my arm was an obsession. I used to draw the missing mole, flaunted it at school as though the sky had chosen me as its representative on Earth. I was a piece of heaven.
One day, I picked up the black pen for the last time. I drew the faintest of dots and reveled in the nature of owning the universe for the last time. I sat quietly as I saw the abduction of a star by bathwater. It was the last time I believed in the breathlessness of it all; the last time I believed that I was made of the galaxy and it was made of me. The last time I picked up the black pen, a million yesterdays and more disappeared, and I didn’t notice. Like a comet streaking from the heavens, I grew up. I blinked and missed it.
I would like to call God to the stand. What prompted him to invent the passing of time. What gun was held to his head? What love of his was threatened? Did he act alone? I wish I could travel back in time, not to change anything, but to feel certain moments twice.
My bathtub is my favourite place. It is where I reminisce, where I cleanse, where I purify myself by stopping time. Sitting in the bathtub, I used to think that I could swim in this river until my fingers wrinkled and the salt burned my eyes. I thought I could grow old here, look on as the creases from my fingers spread to my face, watch my body evolve like the colours of the sky that kept me company from the window. But, water has always been known for its continuity. I have become part of the flow of the tides, positioned with the will of the moon. The water has pushed me into parts of the land I have never seen before, forcing me to abandon the islands I once surrounded. This is the act of growing up. Losing facets of yourself, leaving them behind so you can move forward. Realizing that I cannot remain stationary has become one of the greatest revelations of my life.
Growing up has brought me great sadness. As I think of elementary school summer days, I allow my tears to meet their kind in the water of this river and find solace in the solidarity of the salt. Salt is a medicine that makes your stomach churn: it reminds me of the illusions of life. Drinking saltwater makes you more thirsty. Letting the past consume you will force you to miss out on the present. I cannot be in two places at once. I cannot be two people at once. I must find myself in the same manners that stars find each other, convoluting to create breathtaking constellations. I cannot sit in this bathtub forever expecting growth. I must move, collide, separate, intertwine. I must swim.
The hands on the clock only turn one way, but the holy water dripping down the edges of the tub has seemed to change time’s mind. Even if only for a second, is it possible for me to see a glimpse of all that I was? Perhaps, this will be the greatest form of liberation from the past.
My parents have always told me, if you want to travel back in time, look at the sky. Because of the limitations of light, looking into space is the same as looking into the past. When we look at the Big Dipper, we see it as it was a hundred years ago. It may not be present in reality, it may have exploded decades ago, but light has given us the opportunity to revel in its beauty even after its death. When I look at the sky I only have the person I am today, but, she flaunts everything I’ve ever been. She stands beautifully, dressed in the million yesterdays that I have lost, the rubber duckies and the kitchen sinks, the warm sand and the softness of sleep. It is difficult to not get lost in her mesmerizing stare. It is difficult to not fall in love with the people that you’ve been. It’s even more difficult to not fall in love with the act of growth.
As I stand opposite the witness box, feeling an overwhelming sense of diminutiveness, I begin and end my case with a single question.
Why have you denied the exhibit of a constellation on my skin?
His testimony rings loud, like a tsunami or an asteroid. His words make the stars fall to the ground and the ocean leap into the sun.
How dare I allow the sky to consume you when there is so much for you in the moving tides of the water?
Simran’s poetic voice imbues the piece with a sense of universal poignancy. The piece sums up the thoughts that drift across my own mind as I lie in bed, from “how many things do we do for the last time without noticing?” to “what prompted [God] to invent the passage of time?” A poetic and poignant rendering of what it means to grow up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simran Kapoor is a student at Harold M. Brathwaite Secondary School in Ontario, Canada. Expected to graduate in 2021, she strives to make the most of every moment by documenting her favourite times in writing. Simran hopes to continue to develop as a writer as she pursues the craft further.