Distractions (Josh Vigil)

I met God. I mean, God is here. She lifts her hand, rolls her palm into a small, lumpy potato-colored heart. God, she is saying, is curled within her fist. He isn’t some big man up in the clouds looking down on us. He is here. He is energy. Vibrations.

Black ink snakes along her shoulders and into her back. A tiger. Cherry blossoms. Geometric shapes that could be tribal. A map of the world. Atop her head, ribbons of matted hair are webbed together with string and beads and a tatty scrunchie. Loose strands, which had been knotted together into dreads, drape across her back. They look like rattlesnakes coming for the bird nest that is the top of her head.

At least, that is what I saw when I met him. She brings her left arm down, swings her other hand across the air, looping it around into the small vibrations, which criss-cross the space in front of me like the hills and valleys made across the sheet of a lie detector test. He is vibrations, she repeats. Energy.

Raised scars like old cat-scratches mark her arm. The scars are no worse than my own, which I realize I am thumbing, had been for a while now. It is fat and purple, and sits vertically across my wrist like a large slug. I am ashamed of it still, embarrassed, but seeing her many smaller ones as opposed to my one large one makes me feel less alone—the world is filled with stupid people after all.

The mind is crazy. But the heart, she is now saying. We are sitting outside, overlooking a canal in Florida. Our parent’s home, the one in which they retired to. We’ve finished breakfast, our plates speckled with crumbs. The coffee is weak. The sun is strong. The canal is dirty. The soul is infinite, she says.

A strip of sweat marks her upper lip.

It isn’t that I disagree with what she is saying—I mean, I too am in search of something. Aren’t we all?—but her transformation startles me. The air around her is noxious from body odor and the smell of old clothes, which seems to originate from her head. She is drinking a maca concoction, not a pot of black coffee—she avoids caffeine altogether now. She does not consume alcohol, but has a mason jar of mushrooms in her bedroom. She can spend hours on tangents of the spirit, when before she was so consumed with self-doubt she could hardly form a sentence, let alone one that wouldn’t end with her voice pitching high into the form of a question. She commands now. While part of me finds her ridiculous, the other part of me stares at her in awe. Is this wisdom, or is this evidence of her evolution into the crackpot she was always meant to become?  

Sit with yourself…

It is jealousy, I realize. That she has managed to change her ways, has managed to heal herself.

Heal yourself…

In fact, she is glowing.

Caves in the Himalayas…

Her skin glistens like hard caramel, her chest moist from sweat, and I reconsider her glow: the sun blares against us from above the canal, surely this is why she has this new luster to her. But I also am aware of my own desperation—I am so desperate to believe in her transformation that I am wanting to see its evidence reflected back against me.

I am ready to see, I am ready to believe.

The world is full of distractions, she now says, and I agree: the alligator eyes that lump above the surface like old plums, iguanas that dart across the hay-colored pasture on the other side of the canal, papayas falling off papaya trees, odd alien-like birds that swing across the sky, and my sister, with her body a harsh reminder of her past and an even bolder annunciation of her present, and my own, which I fear over-analyzing, and so avoid doing so: I know I am fat, the meds always ensure this; I know I am unkempt, I nearly always am now; I, too, have tattoos that I hardly recall getting. Though my nails have been shaven down into mere ghosts of their past, small strips that hardly recall what used to be there.   

She died. Her soul exited her body during meditation.

That sounds nice, I finally say.

She nods, tries covering her simple shock of my having spoken. I realize it’s the first time I’ve spoken since she began her small speech, a rehearsed performance. And I wonder: when was the last time I said anything at all?

Imagine being able to die from meditation, I think to myself.

I realize my mistake now—hers, too. We’ve spoken of death. Not just any kind of death, but the kind we’re both familiar with, had even desired at one point. The air sours around us, and I feel her wondering whether to acknowledge the mistake, or to power through, pretend it never happened.

But we are better.

Are we not better?

Anyway, you need to make peace with your inner child, she says. She begins stroking her dread, and I think of that quote, though I can’t recall the specifics, just the general message: your enemy is like a rattlesnake, you have to cut them at the head.

I look at her dreads and imagine halving them.

But she is not my enemy.

So let me know if you want to join my blessing loom, she says. It’s only one-thousand to enter, then when it’s your turn you get a gift of ten-thousand.

She is inviting me to join her pyramid scheme.

You’ll start at the fire level, then rise to air, earth, water. We meet weekly on Zoom.

I nod, no longer saying anything, and I wonder if I’ll ever speak again.

Ten-thousand dollars is a lot, my sister the crackpot says. An iguana scurries behind us, jumping atop a papaya. The papaya wobbles as the iguana digs its claws into its skin. The two then begin to roll down the hill, the iguana clinging to the fruit’s side. They fall into the canal, a small splash. Words tumble out of my sister’s mouth: generous, wellness, gifts, divine feminine, uplift. On the other end of the canal, the alligator is gone.


Josh Vigil is a writer living in New York. His work has appeared in Blush, Expat Press, Full Stop, The Nervous Breakdown, Misery Tourism, and elsewhere.