Maddie Thompson

I Believe in God Because I Was Punched in the Face

We were sitting on the roof of your car when you asked me if I believed in God anymore. It was sticky and bugs were biting my legs, but we shared slushies bought from that rundown gas station at the end of Carowinds Blvd. the one we pass on your way home.

When you asked me if I believe in God I told you about the first time I ever got punched in the face, it’s funny that I don’t remember why. I know it was in the third grade, walking on the trail behind the elementary school, the one we aren’t supposed to know about. The one that leads to a sewer, trailing toward the creek, framed by Spanish moss and patches of sunlight that sneak their way in through the leaves. I know I did something stupid, the type of thing you always chide me for, and my friend landed her fist square in my nose, just on the bridge. I cried at first, because that’s what I tend to do in these situations and —

she pulled me in for a hug, whispering “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry” in my ear like a prayer. I was caught between her arms, her head stuck against my neck, and —

I just stood there and cried. When she detached from me, and I wiped off my tears on a muddy sleeve, we kept moving through the wood silently, onward, always. It was only when she went home and I got back to my house with a bruise on my nose, a small ache remaining, that I realized that I couldn’t even be angry. As much as I tried, the feeling wouldn’t come. When she wrapped her arms around me, her own tears spilling onto my cotton t-shirt as she whispered apologies that soaked into my skin I could only think —

How can I never stop feeling like this? Feeling this human? That isn’t a feeling that man can create. That is something entirely beyond. So —

when you asked me if I still believe in God I could only tell you that. That feeling, that thought. A far off hope that you could understand something that I can never fully understand myself.

"Xanadu," through Broadway experience, by Lauren Frame. Digital illustration. Female posed with arms above head, foot pointed to the side. Colors of teal, red, pink, blue, purple, white, black.
“Xanadu,” through Broadway experience, by Lauren Frame

“Where are you going?”

When you see me I’ll be on my way

Hitching rides on the blimps that fly over football stadiums
Or kites that got lost on their way to heaven

I’ll be there when you call my name
And you’ll see me in the rearview mirror of a pickup truck
Like a roadside attraction in a thunderstorm

Where I’m going has neon lights and angels wearing eyeliner
Baptist preachers and suicidal poets line its walls

As Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (“Spring”) plays a quarter-note too fast
And a glitter-covered eyelid begins to stick to the brow
I’ll find my way back home

Maddie Thompson is a current student at South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and has been published in teen ink magazine and as a columnist for The Milking Cat: Teen Comedy Magazine. She has won numerous Scholastic Art and Writing Awards including one silver key and two honorable mentions as well as the SCSPA best news feature award. She enjoys video games, watching Netflix, and vaguely religious poetry.