Fiction: Ideal World
By Daniel Schulz
Father forgive me, for questions of morality have kept me awake at night. The question of the difference between semblance and truth, right and wrong, the good shepherd and the xenophobic racist that only looks at the facts that suit him; the question about what your name actually stands for, an ideal world, and if we, if at all, can have that ideal world. For only the blessed enter heaven. Father forgive me, but these questions have kept me awake at night as I have been staring at them every morning, asking myself what the right thing to do may be, pull the trigger or let it be. Father, forgive me, for questions of morality have kept me awake at night, the cries and sorrows of my mother when I was a little child, and the question, if, looking into the mirror, I am not actually gazing into my own abyss, the likeness of your face.
It was when he wanted to be there for her and she held him in her arms. It was when he wanted to be there for her and she wiped the tears from his face, hand on his heart, his heart a giant wound. He wanted to prevent it, but it was too late. It was too late when he wanted to be there for her. It was then that he realized how powerless he was. Standing at the bus stop every morning, staring at the other side of the street, he looked into his face and the abyss looked backed. – The police had said that there was nothing they could do. And he had promised her that he would not do anything. Could both these statements have been a lie? – Sometimes when you are fighting with monsters you are actually fighting yourself.
I only understood that sentence when I was standing there in third person. And while I was standing there I remembered all the women that once had told me that they had been raped, but stopped counting at 32. The volume was loud enough. There are days in which I want to know why men do this to other people. There are days in which I can hardly bear the knowledge of what happens to so many people, days on which I wish I could end everything with one simple act of violence. The shaft of a gun down his throat… suck it... What kind of justice is this in which you become what you condemn?
I have heard women talking about sexual assault all my life, the violence that they experience, the stories they told me in confidence. And every morning, when I stand here on this street, I cannot help but think of them. Melissa once compared it to a game. Her uncle stroking her and her, in turn, stroking him, when she was in bed as a child. Julia, heavily drunk, once asked me, if I would do everything my father told me, if I was eight years old. He stopped when she was sixteen. Fathers, they say, know what is best for their family.
Father is the head of the family. The head hits down the body. Mother lying on the floor. – “Don‘t make yourself defenseless by consuming alcohol and drugs,“ the police president says, in a paternal tone. One roofie for him, please, I say, so we can take a sober look at the facts. – “Don’t wear such provocative clothing,” father adds, “I can’t see your flesh, when you are wearing a sweatshirt and long pants.” – More security for our – possessive pronoun – daughters and wives? Who is going to make this happen, Papa?
We used to play a game in my old neighborhood when I was five years old. I would stand in front of the other kids and let them throw stones at my body. You need to be able to take a hit, if you want to live here, in your skin. All the people that ignore you, because you don‘t measure up to their expectations and stone you, because you, despite everything, make yourself heard. No one believed Julia when she testified against her father in court. It was not authentic enough. It wasn‘t a melodrama. It was a routine. And what can you do against something that is routine? – Every morning, I stand here and look into his face. My heart still a wound. Sometimes when you are fighting with monsters, you are actually fighting with yourself.
Control. He told her, he had lost control. Was that before or after he pressed her hands against the floor? Older men have more experience, he said, it was just a game. – She believed him, when he said that he had lost control, but he never stopped loosing. So she stopped seeing him. He never wanted to do that to her, he said, crying. He never wanted to do that to her, father said. If he had his way, he would have spared me the truth to see how he hit my mother. He wished, I never experienced this trauma. But then I would not know the truth. The truth… who has claimed the truth for themselves to say no one has a right to claim it?
The only reason that I know that it was him was that I promised her to not do anything to him. Should I abuse her trust? Half an hour from now, I have to go to work and smile. That is my job: to create an ideal world. I can’t let the kids I work with at school see me cry. I can’t tell them about what happened here. She held me in her arms, when I wanted to be there for her. – “We have to protect our wives and daughters,” someone says in outrage like a headline. We have to know that people like that will do things like that, because they have been socialized that way. – Papa batters Melissa’s face in with a bible: firstly, because it is the only book he has at home, secondly, because she is together with Fatma, an immigrant, a Muslim, a woman, turning her into a triple sinner, and, thirdly, because children still are the property of their parents.
Father forgive me, but questions of morality have kept me awake at night. The question of the difference between semblance and truth, right and wrong, the good shepherd and the opportunist, who leads others astray; the question about what your name actually stands for, an ideal world, and if we, if at all, can have that ideal world. For only the blessed enter heaven and I, who have seen your work first hand, reject all the blessings that you have given me. I, who have seen your work first hand, embrace the truth.
Daniel Schulz (he/him) is a U.S.-German researcher, writer, known for his editorial work Kathy Acker in Seattle (Misfit Lit 2020), and publications in Mirage, Fragmented Voices, Versification, The Wild Word, Word Vomit, Cacti Fur, Outcast Press Journal, Dipity, Flora Fiction, Steel Jack Daw, Vocivia Magazine, and anthologies such as Heart/h (Fragmented Voices 2021), The Clockwork Chronicles (Madhouse Publications 2022), and the catalog Get Rid of Meaning (Walther König 2022). He was short listed for the Mono Fiction Poetry Prize in 2021, and is a pushcart nominee for 2022.