You don’t believe in God, only an indifferent universe. I know this because, one night, under invisible stars, I asked you what you thought happened to our souls when we die. And you told me souls were merely constructs invented by humans as a way to keep pretending our lives possess any real importance. I told you that was stupid before you could keep philosophizing, tearing apart every possible creation myth like the Devil’s most infuriating advocate. Picture it now: a self-righteous atheist lying next to a girl raised on Sunday school and plastic rosary beads. Textbook polar opposites, flip sides of coins, conflicts of interest. I fell in love with you because you were everything I could not stand.
When you went backpacking across crowded tourist spots in foreign cities I could hardly pronounce, you flooded my phone with photos from the insides of grand cathedrals. Stained glass windows, gold crucifixes, gothic architecture so dramatic it could make nonbelievers believe in something. I never asked for those pictures, not even one, but you sent them anyway, perhaps knowing subconsciously that I would feel something sacred stirring inside of me. From behind the lens, you were not contemplating the shape of God, but the shape of my wonder upon receiving what you could capture.
You, standing awestruck by martyrs carved from ancient wood. You, a skeptic, rejecting all notions of a life apart from this one. You, contemplating the illusion of heaven, and somehow thinking only of me.
I’m not sure what or Whom I believe in anymore, apart from the gallery of images I can’t bring myself to delete. I flip through them one-by-one, imagining your gaze finding something beautiful enough to steal, for a moment, and send across the ocean to a wholehearted believer shifting quietly in her sleep.
Textbook polar opposites, flip sides of coins, conflicts of interest. I fought you in the twin bed we shared until I went red in the face and cried at my lack of ability to change your mind. I fought you on a park bench in January during that record-breaking blizzard until our shoulders were covered in pearly white. I fought you in front of our old friends after you brought up your stupid politics and conspiracy theories and when you looked at me and said Facts don’t care about your feelings and actually meant it.
But back when it was simple, you were just an atheist in a cathedral praising God without meaning to.
You thought of me. You sent me photos. You were an icon of irony.
To remember it now, though we were anything but holy.
That once, I believed in God and you, in me.