Belief Systems

by Kristen Csuti (Malone Univ.)

"Do you believe in anything?" she asked him. "Anything at all?"

"I believe that Freddie Mercury was the greatest singer to ever live."

She tired to drink her coffee with a straight face, but he saw th corners of her mouth turn up.

"I believe in post-it notes. And gravity. I believe that racoons are my spirit animal."

At that, she almost choked on her coffee. "Raccoons? Really? Do you dig through the garbage too?"

"Sometimes. You'd be surprised." He winked at her and half his face scrunched up. She tried not to smile as he thought about what to say next. "I believe that duct tape can fix any problem."

"Okay, now you've got to be shitting me." She pulled the blanket up closer to her cin with her free hand, coffee mug coming to rest on her knee. "Everything?"

"Got a leak? Duct tape. Book binding falling apart? Duct tape. Need a photo background? Dut tape. Need to hold a flashlight while using both hands? Duct tape. Name me something duct tape can't fix." He raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips in a challenge to her that he knew he could win.

She thought for a minute. "Something's stuck together that needs to come apart."

"Pshaw." He pronounced it in two syllables. "Too easy. Wrap it around the part that needs to move and make a handle for leverage."

"Be more specific. No one ever just has a broken relationship--there's always a reason or twelve."

"Fine. A broken heart." She sipped her coffee serenely, never taking her eyes off him.

"While I believe that it technically could hold together a human heart that was legitimately broken, ripping open someone's chest could be hazardous to his or her health. So assuming you meant figuratively, it'll hold his mouth close and his hands together until you get over it. Or, if you're feeling particularly vindictive, it'll hold shut the door of the basement you throw him in, too."

She rolled her eyes.

"Can't think of a comeback, can you?" His eyes sparkled, reflecting the Christmas lights decorating the porch. "It's becaume I'm right. And you know it."

"Whatever." She stared out into the dark yard, hands unconsciously cluthing the blanket tighter.

He couldn't help laughing at her. "Well, if you don't like that, you could tell me what you believe in." He crossed his legs under him, bony knees sticking out under the wooden armrests of the chair he was sitting in.

She started to say "God," but changed her mind. "I believe that the world is at peace when the snow falls." She stared at the downy flakes falling gently from the blackness. "But then I remember all the people dying in car crashes because some idiot or another doesn't know how to drive in the snow." She laughed bitterly. She had her knees drawn tightly up to her chest almost as if, he thought, she could fold in on herself. She laughed. "I believe in coffee, that's what I believe in. Coffee, laughter, and pain."