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Talking to God

Written by

Collective Culture
June 1st, 2021

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Author Bio 

Tania Peralta is a Honduran, Toronto-based writer. Her first collection of prose COYOTES was centred around her immigration story as a child and the traumas that it left behind. Currently, she’s building itsmebella.com, a digital theatre for cross-genre arts that are created for performance. She leads the home department at PUPIL.

Talking to God

Written by Tania Peralta 

Photo: Sam Liacos

Note on Text:

A trinity of voices, existing in one body, from the minds of three beings or three states of mind – performed by one, Tania Peralta (GIRL). A conversation piece intended to be received digitally. Characters deliver one prayer simultaneously. NARRATORS (1) and (2) to be read as, or performed by, the prerecorded voices of GIRL, or a similar sounding person, indicating the trinity in the form of monologue.

Pauses in speech and breath are indicated by “—”

“The Path” may be replaced by other well-known public spaces, if performed outside of Toronto.

GIRL

(as a matter of fact)

Falling out of God came easy. All it took was a trip down a rabbit hole of links and YouTube videos of High Seniority Mormons doing what they deemed worthy in the rooms of the temple. White men in white robes chanting and greeting each other with handshakes scared me – scared God out of me.

NARRATOR

(in defense)

What happens at the temple is sacred.

GIRL

When you grow up religious you grow up imbued with fear. Fear of being unworthy. Fear of karma. Fear that your dog died because you drank at the school dance. Fear of being gay. Fear of shame. Fear of your own thoughts —

NARRATOR

— fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

GIRL

(pensive)

I’ve never been afraid of hell. I’ve sinned my whole life. I’ve sinned with my chest. I’ve made a career out of doing everything I was told not to do: I swore a lot. I drank a lot. I drink a lot. I smoke a lot of weed. I let myself be gay… a lot.

I’ve never been afraid of hell. Not the one I was warned about. When I was little, I would try to imagine it. An underground world with me covered in flames. They say the feeling is inexplicable but I know how to describe it.

NARRATOR

In that place there will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

GIRL

(resentful)

They warn you about being sent to hell in the afterlife, but the real hell is needing God when you don’t want to anymore.

NARRATOR 2

When did you need me?

GIRL

Like the time in The Path when I lied about my scars, or last week when I couldn’t remember two years of my life. In December, when I couldn’t recognize myself in who I’ve become.

NARRATOR 2

I was right there with you. Who you are, you are still becoming; who you will be is who you need.

GIRL

When I hear your voice, I feel you with me. Speak to me again, I want to be near you. This is everything I need.

NARRATOR

GIRL

Are my good thoughts from the Holy Ghost?

NARRATOR

GIRL

My God, come relieve me. I have forgotten how this prayer is supposed to go. If my daughter wakes up sick in the morning, I’ll need this prayer more than you.

NARRATOR

GIRL

(weeping)

When bad things happen, I believe I deserve them.

NARRATOR

GIRL

When I need God, I remember when I did it. I was seventeen with nowhere to keep it. When I got home, I was still bleeding. I pray, God, you’ll forgive me. I pray to God that I’ll forgive me too. My God, please forgive me. My God, show me that you’re listening.

NARRATOR 2

I forgive you. What you can do is transform.

GIRL

(hopeful)

What I will do is stay calm. I am more than my fears.

NARRATOR 2

You are more than you know.

GIRL

I am more than my shame. I am more than my inability to pray. In the morning my daughter will be healthy. I believe in my words. I am more than my shame.

NARRATOR

(Taunting)  

In the morning I will be with you.

GIRL

It’s the morning and my daughter is still sick. I shouldn’t have done what I did when I was younger. I shouldn’t have done what I did just last week. Just last night. Just a moment ago, when I thought “how absurd of me to pray to a God I’m not worthy of.”

NARRATOR

The word of God is always with you.

GIRL

I carry religious shame wherever I go. When my heart is breaking, I need you with me, and then I remember religion is not a safe place for girls like us.

NARRATOR 2

What you feel is nothing short of magical. What you’ve been is a portal for new life.

GIRL

When my daughter is sick, I remember what I did. I pray to God, I say please forgive me. I am not what I did. I am more than my woes; I am also my words.

When my words arrive, they come with a voice.

God is that you?

What I have to do is repent before I need a favour.

  • I need a favour, grant me your favour.

NARRATOR

Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above.

NARRATOR 2

What you need is already within you.

GIRL

I need a sign. I need something more than my thoughts, something more than my words.

NARRATOR 2

Think good things.

GIRL

I will think good things.

NARRATOR 2

Follow your own rhythm.

GIRL

I will follow my own rhythm, my own voice, my own tone.

NARRATOR 2

Think good things.

GIRL

I will do as I think. I will try to think healthily.

NARRATOR 2

Make things.

GIRL

I will make things bend for me. Move for me.

NARRATOR 2

Let go of control and your power will present itself.

GIRL

I will make more things open for me. Close for me.

NARRATOR 2

Follow your own voice.

GIRL

I will follow my own voice. I will tell her it is okay when I’m loud.

NARRATOR 2

It’s okay when you’re quiet.

GIRL

NARRATOR 2

GIRL

I forgive myself. Please forgive me.

NARRATOR 2

I forgive you.

GIRL

Is this prayer almost over? I’ve been in my head for several days.

NARRATOR 2

End it with your words.

GIRL

I don’t know how. I won’t say amen.

NARRATOR 2

What you can do is be thankful

GIRL

I am thankful for today. I am thankful for my words. I am thankful for this prayer.

NARRATOR 2

In the name of your own power, your own voice, your own thoughts…

NARRATOR 2 and GIRL

Amen.

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