256 Words

Dancing on a Pin

Gary E. Holland

We had never talked of religion, but we often talked of marriage.

She was an old world princess whose ancestors had been guillotined in the center of Paris. I was a new age fashion designer whose ancestors had been machine-gunned on the outskirts of Cracow. What did we care? We were in love.

Somewhere near the mellow end of a bottle of Beaujolais the bells of the Cathedral of Notre Dame suddenly sounded. And, as if in reply, she said something about the "infinite power of faith."

"Hey," I said from my new age innocence, "one man's religion is the next man's nonsense."

It happened so fast I didn't see it coming. Something slammed hard against my arm then landed belly up before the gaping balcony doors. Her family Bible lay flat on its back opened somewhere between the Old and the New Testament. Its tissue-thin pages flipped and fluttered aimlessly in the summer night's breeze blowing off the river Seine while she cursed me in low French using words I had not yet learned.

I remember laying alone on the sofa that night trying to fall asleep with a throbbing wrist while pondering the surprising force behind those fragile pages filled with all the precious answers for which millions had fought to the death: Is God one, none, or many? Here, there, or nowhere? Who are the righteous? Who are the damned? And how many angels really can dance on the head of a pin?

Next morning we never spoke of religion or marriage again.

Copyright ©2001 Gary E. Holland. All Rights Reserved.

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February, 2001
Issue #58

256 Words