"I'm surprised we haven't talked sooner," said Donald. The cathedral was dim, empty. He and Dahlia sat in a pew near the back, their voices echoing softly.
"I didn't know what to say, really. And I felt like I didn't need you to say anything, either. God is just ... apparent in you. Too obvious for words. But for me, there are complications."
"What complications?" asked Donald.
"The Church, basically. And I'm not even Catholic, but I'm all wrapped up in it. This is more than the presence of God. This is the unraveling of an arcane plan the Church has been studying for centuries. And I was part of that study, too. I mean, I remember writing this book. I wrote prophecies."
"Um about the end of the world?" asked Donald.
"Well, what's going to happen? Did you publish it?"
"I wrote it a long time ago."
"What? When you were a kid?"
"When I was someone else," said Dahlia.
"Someone else? Who?"
"In Latin," she answered. "I can remember it all if I write it again. I know I can. I was Saint Catherine."
"Saint Catherine? Are you in Rota Fracta?"
Dahlia was stunned, but God knows everything, right? No matter how naive he may appear. "No, I'm not. You know them?"
"I just know they blew up that disk jockey."
"But why did you ask me if I was in it?"
"The name," explained Donald. "It's a reference to Saint Catherine. On the wheel. Multi rota fracta interfecti sunt. From the Acta Sanctorum, I guess."
"No. I wrote that. Or, I'm going to write it. It's in my head, the memory of an autobiography I was going to write after I was dead, only I didn't have a pen. But not an autobiography, really. A prophecy. But I wrote most of it. But it's lost. I don't know how it showed up in your Latin class. Who was your professor?"
"I don't remember."
"Maybe this is how your omniscience works. You know everything, but only as it comes up. Each answer seems to come from some memory ... maybe your subconscious can't comprehend this divine knowledge and creates a new memory to explain it."
"Then what about my past, the past I really had?"
"Maybe you don't have a past."
"Oh, yes I did. It just bit me in the ass."
"That woman? Who sat with us?"
"Rose. My sister."
"But your sister is dead."
"I guess not. And I guess the past isn't dead either."
"Oh my God. Your sister. That kind of fits."
"Well, I ... have to write about it," said Dahlia. "But that's what I have to ask you."
"Ask me what?"
"Should I write this book? Is there any reason for me to write this book?"
"Why wouldn't you?" asked Donald.
"Why would I? What purpose would it serve? What do we need to know, really? Does anyone need to know ahead of time about the end of the world?"
"Well, maybe someone. Maybe it will help people live now."
"But I'm afraid," said Dahlia. "What if it's the prophecy that causes the events?"
"You mean, people will be influenced by the book? It'll make them destructive?"
"Or worse. Maybe the world will be influenced. The Universe will shift. Or I will be influenced."
"I don't know what this book is," said Donald, "but the only good reason for silence is to listen to God. Don't be silent to avoid listening."
"But what if it's not God I'm listening to?"
"There is nothing that is not God."
"What if it's Satan? You know, the voice that tells you to hide from God. I don't want to cast a murky Nostradamus shadow over the world. Shouldn't life be spontaneous, without worry of the world ending? Besides, what kind of prophet talks about the present?"
"I think they all do," said Donald. "All their visions are just commentary on the time they're in."
"Or in the case of Daniel, the Book of Daniel was written not in his time, but in the time he was prophesying about." She didn't know how she knew that. She didn't invent a memory for it like Donald would. She was just floating in these facts, losing herself in them.
"So, write the Book of Catherine," he laughed. "Her predictions for today. Imagine the uncanny accuracy she'll have."
"Is that your answer?"
"Write the book. Keep God with you as you write it. Then it will be God's book. Not Satan's. There is no such thing as an evil book. There are bad books, books that are contrived, forced, certain books that have bad effects on certain people, but Satan doesn't write books."
"What about Mein Kampf?"
"Well, I can't say I read it, but I'd guess it was just the ravings of a sick mind. The evil isn't in the book."
"Well, maybe this is my sickness." Dahlia stared at her bleeding palms. Donald grabbed her left wrist and the wounds seemed to swallow themselves. The pain disappeared, and this relief of pain seemed as profound as its first onset.
"If it is, then let it out. Look at it. Bring it to me if you want. Let me give you an e-mail address."
"I know how to find you," she said. She was afraid, so afraid that she couldn't hesitate. She said good-bye and went home. On the way, she bought a notebook. She began writing, translating in her head to English. A book of the future in past tense.
a dog's life
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