“I know you probably get a lot of these requests, so I hope I started the email interesting enough for you to continue reading. It’s about a school project I got, I have to write an essay (and read it in front of the class) about the differences between atheists and Christians. To be more precise: about the differences in their quality of life. I know what you think about religion, so I’m aware of the fact this request is a little out of the ordinary, because my school is Catholic.
I really like your blogs, even though I’m religious myself. I don’t always agree what with you say, but I like reading about your opinion. I think everyone – even religious people – have to at least consider there are people with another opinion than theirs. My school doesn’t think that way and I believe almost no one likes your blogs. Now I can imagine you not caring about that, because there are plenty of people who do like what you write about, but I do care. These are my friends, my teachers, my parents. The whole community I live in needs to wake up. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but don’t blame me, you do the exact same thing in your posts, a lot.
I was wondering if you maybe could write a post about the topic of my essay, so I could use it as a source, showing everyone that you in fact, have something to say that’s worth listening to. In other words, can you maybe agree with the religious people for once? My email is already getting much longer than I hoped it would be, but I assumed you needed many words to be convinced.
Can you, even if you decide against my idea, at least respond when you read this? That way I don’t have to wait patiently for a response I never get.
An anonymous reader.”
This is indeed a long email, I think, while reading it another time. The anonymous reader is wrong about one thing though. I never get requests like these. Many people read my posts, but I never get a request to write about a specific topic. The funny thing is, this story reminds me about my own school, where also no one accepts what I write about. So even whilst I don’t want to be forced to write about a specific subject, I feel like I have to. If only to prove to myself and my teachers I don’t always disagree with religious people.
I wonder who wrote the letter. Last week I couldn’t even imagine someone attending a Catholic school liking my stories and then I find out about this anonymous reader. Not forgetting about Seth, who admitted the same thing to me. Maybe there are more people like me, the reader and Seth; trapped in a Catholic school, being in a place they do not belong.
It’s pretty clear, I’ll write the blog post. The subject isn’t that boring either, so he didn’t only help himself, but me as well. He… maybe it’s a she? I should not be that narrow minded.
I start by replying to his email.
“Dear anonymous reader,
I decided to make the post you asked for. If not to help you with your project, than to be certain to have a good topic to talk about.
Lately I do not have many good topics to rant about, so thank you.
When I look at my clock, I notice it’s already time for my mother to get home. Now I think of it, I should’ve been surprised when I didn’t find her at home in the first place. She told me she called in sick, so why wasn’t she at home?
I looked at my phone. I don’t have to grab it to be sure it’s not charged. Unlike the others from my age group, I don’t like to have technology within reach all the time. Normally I don’t mind having to depend on real communication instead of the online version of it, but I can’t help but wonder if maybe something's happened. When I left for school this morning she wasn’t there. I expected her to be upstairs or something, I never even considered the option of her leaving to look for Tyde.
I check to make sure my charger is connected. I wait another minute to make sure it’s powered up enough to be able to start. I glance another time at the email I received today, wondering if I should’ve been more personal in my reply, then I call my mom.
“I can’t find him,” I immediately hear when she picks up the phone.
“You’ve been looking for Tyde the whole day?”
“Where do you think he went?” my mother avoids my question.
“I don’t know, mom. He is 20 years old, you shouldn’t be that worried. I’m sure he is at one of his friends.”
“Already checked them off my list. He’s not at Dean’s or at Dillan’s. Those are his only friends.”
In other circumstances I would’ve laughed at that statement. The moments I can’t avoid Tyde, he always makes sure to hurt me, or at least he tries. Often he tells me about my lack of friends, but in reality, he isn’t the most socially skilled person either. At least in my case it was a choice to be left alone.
“Mom, you really should relax. If something's happened I’m sure he would’ve called you.”
“Unless something happened and he's not able to contact me.”
“Mom! Come home. It’s getting late and you have another boy to worry about, a hungry one. We can cook together?” Sometimes I need to be more direct with her. She is so busy all the time. She is a teacher at an elementary school and a single parent to two boys, one of whom is autistic. I can’t imagine a more stressful life.
“I didn’t have time to think about dinner, Adam, nor time to get the ingredients. I think I’ll get some French fries on my way back.”
“That’s good as well. You probably didn’t forget, but I…”
“Want a croquette,” my mom laughs. “I know, that’s why I am on my way to this Dutch place to get the best.”
After hanging up the phone I direct my attention to my computer screen again. How should I start a post about the differences between quality of life in different religions, because yeah, I’d like to call atheism a religion as well. Most of my readers are atheist and even though the anonymous reader asked me to give the Christians the upper hand in this post, I can’t let all my readers down. Because that’s what it’s all about. It’s not really about my opinion, it’s about giving the readers the feeling they’re not alone. They want to know someone agrees with them. I just got lucky that my opinion has most in common with how others think.
“Life is scary.”
Wow, this is actually the first time thinking of a sentence to start with doesn’t take me long. It’s like it just appeared on my screen. Is that because the anonymous reader gave me this topic?
“Life is scary. Not only to me, but to all of us. No, I should take that back. Not life, but the thought about the lack of life, that’s what scares us. That’s because we, the human race, are not able to comprehend limitation. We’re not able to comprehend the fact everything has an end. That’s logical, because nothing ever really ended in our lives. Before we were born, we didn’t have a conscience and we didn’t make any memories. But if you really think about it, isn’t the part before our lives started exactly as scary as the thought of a time after our lives ended. Just the feeling of not being there anymore, scares the hell out of us. At least, it does to me.
That’s why I like to state the next thesis: people within a specific religion that takes this limitation away and replaces it with infinity, are living a better life than people who live with this fear every day.
I may be very negative towards religion in my last posts, but that doesn’t mean I can’t envy those who believe. I recall I even said something like that once in an earlier blog. If anything, I wished I was able to believe in a god, a heaven and a hell. Because that does take a lot of fear away.
But on the other hand and I need to point this out as well, religion does cause a lot of hate as well. That is simple to explain, as long as you really believe in something whose existence isn’t proven and won’t be proven in a near future, you can get disagreed with. Everyone who is stating something else, everyone who says there is a god, but not the same one as you are believing in, is attacking your belief, whilst an atheist won’t feel offended. An atheist believes in something as well, but when a Christian disagrees with him, he doesn’t replace the belief of the atheist with his own.
I know it looks like I’m rambling at this point, so I’ll try to explain myself even further. Another example is a Christian disagreeing with a Muslim. No wait, I shouldn’t go this way. I’ll keep with my statement: religion does cause a lot of hate, but it gives its believers a level of security as well. So does religion make someone's life better? Yeah, it does, but the hate makes other’s lives more miserable.
People are selfish, that’s just a part of evolution. So according to evolution it’s not a wonder religion was made up. And who am I to disagree with religion?”
Okay, maybe this isn’t exactly what the anonymous reader hoped for, but I can’t help myself. When I reread my post, the only thing I can think about is, is how right I am. I never thought about it this way. And of course this is a little bit of an extreme version of the real story, but it’s what my readers like. Without a second thought I upload the post.
As if god planned it this way, immediately after I uploaded the post I hear the front door opening.
“Adam! Food is here. Ow, and if you’re interested, I’m here as well.”
“Okay mom.” I call back to her. “I’m on my way.” I check my inbox a last time, as if the anonymous reader was able to respond already, after I just posted the blog.
“So, do you have any plans for this summer?” my mother asks me when we’re eating dinner.
I have to be honest, I totally forgot summer break was approaching. I made plans long ago, but I haven’t told my mom about them yet, because I fear she wouldn’t allow me. But why don’t I confront her now, after all she asked about it herself. “I do,” I say. “I want to go travelling on my own. I was thinking to leave here on my bike, without much money and see where I’ll end up.”
My mom was just moving her fork to her mouth, but she suddenly drops it. She doesn’t say anything yet. I know her, she wants to think about her reaction first. Finally she asks: “On your own?”
“I asked my friends,” I begin and silently corrected myself. The others… If I call them my friends I’ll soon feel that way. That can’t happen. “But they are going with their parents.”
Okay, maybe this isn’t the nicest move I could think of, pushing the cause of the problem on to her. She works her ass off, but still isn’t able to afford a vacation for us. I don’t mind, I don’t want to be with my brother anyway.
“You know I can’t pay for a vacation,” she says quietly.
“I know, and I don’t blame you. But I really want to go away, I need time on my own.”
She smiles, still not totally convinced. “You really are like your uncle, Adam.” We’re quiet for 5 minutes, until she suddenly says: “Okay, you can go. But I need you to call me every day, okay?”
“Of course, mom, I will.” I smile, success! I’ll have all the freedom I could wish for. Who knows, maybe I won’t ever return home, I hate school and don’t want any friends. I want time to think and the only thing I need in order to get what I want, is freedom. Maybe, if I start supporting adds on my blog, I’ll be able to earn enough money to survive.
“I think you should go to bed early today, because I’m not going to write a letter for school tomorrow, I don’t want you to fail your year.”
This, ladies and gentleman, is my mother trying to be a good parent. She knows I will get through high school without any difficulties, but still she wants to tell me she fears I’ll fail. Maybe others would think of that as offensive, because in fact she is ruling herself out of having anything to do with me not succeeding at school, if that ever happens. But I think it’s sweet she’s trying to be a normal mother. I smile at her and respond with a smirk: “I will, mom, I already missed a lot today, if I skip tomorrow as well, it’ll cost me a year of my life.”
That night I managed to fall asleep pretty quickly. As promised, I got out of my bed early and decided to go to my first class.
It’s history. I really hate history, because it doesn’t matter how quick you are with learning new things, it’ll always cost time. It’s not like math or physics, when you understand it, you won’t have to practice with it a lot. The only fun part about it, is that I’m in the same class as Marc, Seth, Samantha and another girl from the others, with the name Luca. She is a nice girl. She is the neighbour of Samantha and they spent almost their whole life with each other. Sometimes it’s like they’re sisters. Samantha is my best friend and so I like Luca as well. The only less nice thing about this class is the fact that Todd is with us as well. It’s funny, I think, because he is part of our group. So in fact, you could call him my friend, and we do tolerate each other, but I won’t ever be a real friend to him. That maybe is related to the fact I don’t want to have friends.
Okay, I have to admit, even though I always said I didn’t want to have any friends, I’m still human. I need them as much as everybody else needs friends. Samantha became my friend as soon as I started high school and we've shared a lot ever since. Of course I never shared anything about any of my secrets, but I bet she doesn’t have any secrets for me. That’s a good thing, right?
Sigh. I know I’m such a difficult person. Most of the time I don’t even understand myself. It’s like one day I’m this person and a day later I changed into a totally different one. I learned to live with it, but I can imagine if someone would’ve decided to write my story down, my whole persona would be messy. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to read about a person they don’t understand, hell, a person that doesn’t even understand himself.
I’m sitting next to Sam as she suddenly pokes me in my side. “Hey, Addy, I can’t see you today, I’m busy studying.”
I don’t say anything, wondering when I made plans with her anyway.
“It’s no problem,” I assure her, “I’m busy as well. “
She smiles, right before the teacher centred his eyes on us to warn us to be quiet and she whispers to me: “Yeah sure, you are busy.”
Thank you for reading! Feel free to give me feedback: Stannie
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