Friday Fiction – Breaking the backs of angels

It’s Friday again! this week has rushed by, and I can’t believe it’s already time for 100 words in response to Madison‘s prompt, this week photographed by Lora Mitchell.

I looked at this picture briefly yesterday and a few ideas came to me then, but this morning, one phrase came to mind and I felt I had to use it. Just for the record, the views of characters in this piece are not necessarily my own and it is not intended to be incendiary.

Breaking the backs of angels

“I’m praying for you,” she said, locking her eyes onto mine so that there could be no mistaking her vigour.

I thanked her. I don’t believe, but if it makes her feel better, what’s the harm? My brother doesn’t agree.

“There she goes again, breaking the backs of angels. How can people be so credulous?”

“Religion’s been around for millennia, Jacob; it’s still more popular than atheism, even in this information age.”

“Doesn’t stop it being wrong. If I were God, I’d come down here and tell them all to take charge of their own lives, instead of bothering me.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

30 responses to “Friday Fiction – Breaking the backs of angels

  1. This one grabbed me and held my attention. I thought the incongruence in the brother’s comments added to the conflict. He doesn’t believe, he says, but refers to angels, and says “if I were God” and he has a bibical name. Very intriguing story. Ron

  2. I enjoyed it, Jen. Lately, athiest have been posting billboards to tell us they are fine without God. This puzzles me. If they don’t believe, why bother with the billboard?
    P.S. – I really love the title 🙂

    • Glad my [characters’] cynicism counterbalanced the humour of yours. I’m not sure about billboards for atheism – what’s the point in converting people to believe nothing?
      PS Me too, it’s where the whole story stemmed from.

  3. i really enjoyed the complexity of what’s occurring. the only thing i wonder about is possibly a better word than “credulous.” it doesn’t fit the “feel” of these characters. what about “gullible”? i dunno.

  4. I agree with Ron that the brother displays incongruence in the things he says, which is probably the way a number of people feel about God or not-God. In his case, it sounds as though Jacob’s still wrestling with God.

    I’ve always thought the most busy angels are those in charge of traffic because if they weren’t working overtime, there would be so many more deaths!!

    • Personally, I don’t think Jacob’s wrestling. He may even have a spiritual side which simply doesn’t fit in with the religion of praying to God over everything, although I think he is more dealign with his own lack of faith in the context of a religious discussion.
      And you can’t blame the guy for his name! Consider this: the woman who says she’s praying is Jacob and the narrator’s Mother, hence the biblical name for her son and his vehement resistance to her religion.
      But you’re welcome to read the story however it works for you! Thanks for stopping by, I’m comign to read yours now.

  5. John Hardy Bell

    Jen, you had me at ‘incendiary’! 😉 I applaud you for tackling a subject matter that is still consider taboo by so many. Good writing is meant to be incendiary. At the very least, it is meant to make you think. To that end, you’ve succeeded admirably! Kudos!

    Love the title too!

    • Thanks John – I’m glad you liked it. I guess my non-confrontational-ness (is that a word? Should an author use a real word when a made up one will do? Is that another incendiary question?!) showed through. This is one of those rare pieces where I suspect different readers will empathise with and / or condemn all three of the characters. I think I’m kind of proud of that!

  6. Interesting piece you’ve got here. I’ve got to wonder where Jacob’s hostility toward religion comes from

  7. I liked this. Mainly because I like to see people examining what they believe, and I think Jacob has done that.

  8. vigor = vigour is wrong spelling and very fragmented sentence structure. Credulous would better serve as it’s definition..lack of judgement or believing with little evidence. Still enjoyed the post very much, interesting anger on Jacob’s part. Liked this piece very much.

    • I’ll stick with my British spelling of vigour – it was our language first! – but I totally agree about credulous. Needs some thought, that one. Glad you enjoyed the rest of the story, and Jacob’s anger.

  9. I can only echo at this point, Jen. I agree with Rich on “gullible”. I see in Jacob some people very close to me. Thanks for sharing this story. And it never hurts to pray. Right? Of course right.
    I’m 19 on the list.

    • Thanks Rochelle, I’m definitely going to have to think some more about what to substitute for gullible today. I’m pleased Jacob was recognisable for so many people.
      I’ll stop by yours today.

  10. Religion is a fascinating topic and I love where you take your story. Well done!

  11. That’s the great part about being a writer, you can write — even really convincingly — things that you don’t necessarily believe. You can put yourself in someone else’s mind, and you did a great job of all of that with this one.

  12. Very thought provoking and a bit sad…

  13. If we could take charge of our own lives, we wouldn’t be bothering Him, would we?
    It seems like an oxymoron to me.
    BTW: I’m incredulous, or maybe I’m just someplace else.
    And like Jacob, I’ve wrestled with angels and now know that with God we persevere.
    Besides, if God told us to manage our own lives, He’d be out of a job like almost the rest of the world.

  14. Dear Jen,

    What a perfect story.

    For the record, most atheists I know will quite readily admit that they might be wrong, a distinction lost on most believers. There could be a god, but there’s no plausible evidence and until there is, no amount of finger waving or bible bashing or circular ‘logic’ is going to change their minds. That we live in a time where humans are slowly emerging from the darkness of their own minds, a cultural eddy in the development of our species, is evidenced by the disclaimers you used in your prelude.

    The folks putting up bill-boards espousing atheism are probably, like me, sick of living in such backward conditions. (Can a person be elected President of the United States without professing a belief in god? Can Salmon Rushdie ever sleep in peace? It’s a sad backwater we live in and i wish more people could see it. Their all too busy with their supernatural idols; worshiping theirs and badmouthing all the others.)

    Good story, Jen.



    • Glad you came by, Doug, and I have to say I agree with a lot of what you say. I guess religion will always be incendiary, even in a purely fictional format like this. The story was not intended to be a criticism of any of the characters, or the beliefs they represent, merely a reaction to the picture and the ideas it sparked in my head.
      And yet, I felt the need to put the prelude in precisely because of the nature of a world where people are willing to kill and die in the attempt to impose their beliefs on others. My strongest belief is live and let live – I wish a few people would put up billboards in favour of that one.

  15. Very powerful image, the title, and its use!
    I hesitate on how to take the last phrase. In a way, yes, I see why other posters have mentioned that, in the context of the anger he’s expressing, Jacob seems to have a problem of his own with a certain idea of God still meaning something to him.
    Yet, on the other hand, I see him using easily a term of ‘God’ in a reflex, perhaps sarcastic manner. A rough idea of God is part of our culture, he can have a concept thereof and use this concept (regardless of religious beliefs or inner wars). His anger seems to be targeted to people (his mother?) more than to it… At least, this is how I took it at first.

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