Perceptions

We all only one true version of ourselves. And we are that person. We cannotbeanyone else. That’s all we are. For eternity. You…my dear…will never escape yourself. Ever. You can lie about it to yourself but it’s only a myth. Only a lie.

And that…is why we all need to be excruciatingly careful with our souls and spirits. You must take care of yourself. You must be honest with yourself with God’s love. There’s no way out…and the holier and healthier you get the less that’ll bother you. You might even start to genuinely love yourself.

“Upon further reflection…I think my former crush…really was far more like Joe Jr. than Lem.” says Lacey.

“Why is that?” asks Lem.

“Joe is and was incredibly sweet. Excruciatingly kind. Genuinely loving. When he wants to reveal his heart. And he knew how to be charming. And he liked women, but he had deep disdain for their most foul weaknesses.” says Lacey.

“Did you possess any of those weaknesses?” asks Lem.

“Unfortunately for him, I worry that I don’t and didn’t.” says Lacey.

Lem laughs.

“He was out of luck.” says Lacey.

“Because he counted on you being weak in the ways he’d always seen women be weak?” asks Lem.

“Yes. And I can’t be. It just isn’t me.” says Lacey sadly.

“You wish you could be capable of crumbling so he could love you? Really love you?” asks Lem.

“Yes. But I don’t break in the way he counted on.” says Lacey.

Lem goes to sit next to her.

“So, you irritate him. And he feels like you’re being lordly and superior. And…pretentious. And…he wants to accuse you of being homosexual. And withholding.” says Lem.

“And it’s agony. Because I don’t have those traits or weaknesses either.” says Lacey.

“Well, maybe you’re a little lordly and superior at times. But not out of egotism so much as actuality.”

Lacey looks at him concerned.

“No! Let me be insanity or a ghost. I’ll say things about you that will send narcissists into turmoil.” says Lem. “Your parents didn’t protect you enough. If they did at all. I refuse to be that evil and dumb.”

Silence.

“Why is that all so disturbing to you?” asks Lem.

“Who loves them?” asks Lacey.

Silence.

“The women who hate me but love them?” she asks.

“Why would it be those women?” he asks.

“Because they hate me…and…yet somehow I think often by virtue of hating me that much…a good number of them aren’t bad hearted. And they…if you do the math right, so to speak, might be his equal.”

Michael contemplates it.

“I mean…I think he might want an equal.” says Lem.

“Yes!” says Lacey. Michael nods in agreement.

“I think he longs for an equal.” Lacey says.

Lem looks at her and smiles.

Michael finds it possibly beautiful too.

“For the readers: He assumed she had weaknesses she didn’t have. And the women who hate her couldn’t handle that she didn’t have those weaknesses. Either because they have those weaknesses…or because they just barely don’t and didn’t want to be tempted to feel jealous. Or some variation on that concept.” explains Lem.

“And you think him assuming you had those weaknesses was a weakness of his?” asks Michael.

“If I’m being daring…yes.” Lacey answers after too long of a pause for waking life in 2022.

“Do you think he’s stupid?” asks Michael, cutting through to the bone.

“It’s a stupid thing to assume. And that embarrasses me for him. Because I thought and still hope that he’s better than that as a man.” answers Lacey.

Lem laughs.

“So you’re embarrassed by his stupidity?” asks Lem.

“No. No! I’m not that stupid.”

“But then that means that you think he’s stupid enough to be embarrassed by his own stupidity?” asks Lem.

“Yes. It does. Because if he’s that conniving he’s less intelligent than I thought. Much like how if he cheated on me, which he did, he’s less intelligent than I originally thought too. And I’d guess, empathetically speaking, that he’d be embarrassed by his stupidity then.” Lacey says.

An Irish aristocrat from 1800’s Ireland says, “I see what you mean!” to Lacey.

“Yes, because we’re all that stupid.” says a Frenchman from the 1800’s.

“Yes! And that’s why you should be excruciatingly careful. Because it’s so easy to make a mistake. A horrible mistake.” says Lacey.

“And it takes trust in God to bother living at all, considering.” says Joe Jr..

“Too true.” says the Irishman.

“So you think you’re stupid or you don’t care?” Joe asks Lacey.

“I care. But it’s impossible to fix. So I just have to trust that God created for some good reason.” She thinks. “It’s not that I don’t love myself or love Him. It’s just…why am I here and not dead and in Heaven?”

Jack laughs.

“Like why weren’t you born in Heaven?” asks Joe.

“Because at heart, you’re like me.” says the Irish aristocrat. “Not through reincarnation unless God says otherwise, but just…you can’t figure out what the point of Western Civilization is anymore. And they haven’t sold you on modernity.”

“Yes. It’s so cold and ugly as a concept.” says Lacey.

“But I’m not cold and ugly.” says Lem.

“And you feel modern?” asks Lacey.

He looks concerned. He closes his eyes.

“I just think we should strive for perfection, God’s perfection, but…realize our weaknesses humbly before then. Humbly. Not hatefully. Disdain evil, but not our brokenness.” says Lacey.

“Do you expect Joe to be bored by now?” asks Jack.

“Yes. Is he? Or would he have been?” asks Lacey.

“Yes.” says Michael. “But you’re really, really pretty.”

The Irish aristocrat laughs and so does Lacey. Then she breathes deeply.

“You’re not enough for me because you’re too deep and smart.” says Joe.

Lacey breathes a sigh a relief. Considers painting her nails a golden, ugly mauve.

“Is that really true though?” asks Lacey.

“Not entirely. But…I would have struggled to be that vulnerable with you.” says Joe.

“Men of the future…never make the mistakes of the past! We had to be vulnerable all the time… But progress!” says the Irish aristocrat.

“Well, I’d be nicer but I’m too hurt. I’m sorry.” says Lacey to Joe.

The Irish aristocrat nods his head in understanding.

Joe cries. Privately.