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April 2017, vol 13 no 1

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Melissa Allen

After Converting to Fahrenheit


To make the missionaries at the door go away, I tell them, apologetically, that I’ve just converted to Fahrenheit. They don’t get it until I close the door in their faces, and then I hear them laugh. Not humorless missionaries, then. It’s a point in their favor, but not enough of a point. The last time I let missionaries talk to me, I felt like I could have given the spiel better than they did. John 3:16? Please. Let me recite that backwards for you.

daybreak
not quite hiding
the scars

Back in my overstuffed chair, I work out the tenets of Fahrenheit. It’s polytheistic, naturally. I’ve always felt a single god was unnatural. I’m pretty sure God would go crazy if he were the only god in the universe, trying to keep an eye on everything with no one to talk to. A lot of gods makes more sense from a logistical and mental-health point of view, and also – this is key – from a storytelling point of view. Every religion needs a book of stories. When I get around to writing mine, I want more than one character to play with. Also, as far as commandments, I’m going with, “Don’t take yourself too seriously or other people too lightly.” And, “Take a few deep breaths. There, doesn’t that feel better?”

and yet, and yet…
the lightning strike
illuminates the iris

Fahrenheit churches are simple and calming, except when they’re Byzantine and surreal. There aren’t ministers or regularly scheduled services – people just wander in and out, make things, play games, sing songs, tell stories, have very long conversations, and refrain from being jerks to each other. Being a jerk is the one thing that can get you excommunicated. The excommunication only lasts a month, though. Then you can come back until you’re a jerk again.

the disaster
relief appeal fades
into birdsong

There is no Fahrenheit afterlife. Not officially, anyway. You can believe whatever makes you happy in that regard. Or in any other regard, really. After you die we’ll come up with some great stories to tell about you, some of which will be true and some of which won’t. After a while, which is which won’t matter. Take a deep breath. Doesn’t that feel better?

early dark

the particle collider

restores my faith


First published on Red Dragonfly, 2/4/15


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