10.5 / September & October 2015

The Sole Keeper

We are called tinkers, but this is a euphemism, the way we call garbage men waste management technicians, and executioners life eradication specialists. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the job is what it sounds like. We putter around and go click-clack with our tools, our wrenches and our screwdrivers, always with a pocketful of sticky bolts and tiny screwdrivers. We have precariously perched spectacles and carpal tunneled hands.

But we work in no toy shop, no clockworks, no, we men — and we are always men — turn the gears of His brain.

He’s lazy, you see. He would call it tired, another euphemism, meaningless to those of us who toil 22-hour days, our fingers chapped to the bone.

“I’ve done so much already,” he says. “I’ve done everything,” he says. “I need some R & R.”

And when he shuts off his cortex, that’s when the tinkers come in to take over. We’re the autopilot. We keep it all running while He rests, the seventh day, and all that. You’d think it would be a cushy job, what with His power and all, but tinkers never sleep, and are liable to be flogged, if He comes back to something distasteful.

“I look away for one second!” He roared, when He woke up to Eve.

“Well, more like a couple weeks,” the head tinker muttered, wiping from his nose the moisture that was making his glasses slip.

But He doesn’t understand time; don’t bother trying to explain. “One day in my courts is a thousand elsewhere,” He says enigmatically. Point being: that head tinker is no longer. Bleep-bloop, gone. Not just dead — never had been. That’s omnipotence for you. Everyone forgot he had ever existed.

Everyone, of course, except for me. I am the sole keeper of His memory, tucked deep in the folds of His hippocampus. It is I who remembers the darkness before darkness, that vast and silent sea, though I did not then know that there was such a thing as sea. How long did we live like that, He and I? I cannot recall. My conception of time, too, is confused, a circle instead of a line, an ouroboros that instead consumes its own head.

He is a cranky master, easy to rile. It’s my job to hide the more unpleasant events of the past — Lot’s wife, Abel, all of Egypt, basically. He needs to believe in His all-goodness. We need to believe in His all-goodness.

So I stomp these memories down as far as they will go, and no one in the Body recalls that He destroyed entire nations, an entire country of infants, and thus we remain peaceful, tinkering away.

Except for me. I am the writing on the wall. I am Amelia Earhart circumnavigating the globe alone, flying east over the Atlantic, marveling at how wide, how cold. I am the Lone Ranger, the was, the is, the is to come.

Jami Nakamura Lin received her MFA from the Pennsylvania State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Shrug, Passages North, The Baltimore Review, and others. A born and bred Chicagoan, she is currently working on a novel based on Japanese mythology and folklore.
10.5 / September & October 2015