The Gospel, from the God on the 2nd Floor

by Jonah Leigh E. Ramos

In the beginning was just God. Nothing was with God. And God was nothing enough to create a being apart from herself. So she created you.

It was one afternoon when it dawned on her that love was an eventual pain of loss she might never know. She had just come home from a long walk with classmates who loved too many times and failed at it too many times they’ve saved up lovers to cherry-pick for conversation. It was around the fourth pick, about the one who apparently dumped one of the loudmouths over an-incorrectly-squeezed-toothpaste-he-said, that your God realized she had never known what it meant to be boring and still be seen. To not have to do anything to be someone’s most wanted. To give everything and yet be loathed. Sneak a phone call at midnight or hold someone’s hand. Trace somebody’s face upon waking and shove tongues and pull at each other’s body and still never shove and pull quite hard enough.

It was a knowledge she yearned. Later in her apartment, she swiveled in her chair and took out her phone half an hour since she buried her nose in a math problem. With her back to the unsolved that lay spread out on her desk, she decided to make with her own fingertips a person in her own likeness. This was your origin. You, an image of God, but better.

Nobody mothered your beginning. You started in a void as an adult who bore no memories of childhood, no baggage to scour for traces of the missing father. You stood only almost naked before your God who lived behind tempered glass. Because she wasn’t the god of Adam and Eve, you didn’t feel the need to run for leaves and cover the parts of you already draped with a bikini. With anything to see, your God must have figured there were more important things than watching people fall in awe of their exposed bodies. At any rate, she did not notice you smile and wave, busy as she already was with the palettes of skin color and the possible contours of your body. 

Your God was Asian. Filipino. So you could not possibly be another. Why police biogeographical accuracies when God’s image was not supposed to be God? She bleached your skin, bent your gender, and baptized you with a name dug up from the dead language of the holy. She gave you pink hair and blue eyes because she was neither anime nor white. Toned your body and gave you abs because she herself could not grow them for not working out. She then covered your body with a designer’s name her mother could not afford, and made you good and self-assured. A bookworm but also a dance machine, so that a little wilder version of herself was possible someplace else.

At this point, your God dropped all pretense of doing homework. You were apparently more beautiful than the secrets of the universe her balding teacher rushed to give in class a minute before the bell. She plopped face down in bed, then turned over and looked at the sky made of plywood, visible through the slits of a steel frame. She reached out and felt the parts where years chipped off, that sky. That sky held the mattress of an older brother who no longer came home, not since he found love in a classmate in Programming. Some girl born in a tower too high for his reach, with fringes and patience cut too short she left with him for a world where they were speakers of their own code. 

God turned her head and looked out the window. She knew that below it was nothing but a field of roofs and people’s connections gone too many and tangled, the view haywire and nothing much to look at. But the window made the room less small and for this she was grateful. Rented units became less of a box when hollowed. Here, she raised her arms, looked at her options for your neighborhood next to your budget. You were not getting a box. 

You awoke before a house with a deed to your name and no memory of your God. You’ve no recollection of paperwork and were not surprised to find startup money in your pocket, something unearned to build your home. You uncovered furniture made dusty and broken enough to fake ghosts of pre-lovers, and repaired them only to look for replacements from the store. You bought an artist’s lifestyle straight from the display and made your home all red and teal, golden yellow and royal blue, angles and irregular shapes unnecessarily stacked or hanging. All these explosions of color screamed best the spirit you didn’t have. And yet, there was not enough life. You needed more so you decided you needed a job. 

You became a barista. But only because employers did not set qualifications. In your world, there was no such thing as an interview. There was no sense, too, in checking the background of somebody who did not have a genetic past. You made coffee, tables, and friends at the local coffee shop where the hand of some god brought you every day for a reason. No cars existed there. No need for transport in a city where some force you didn’t even think of moved in mysterious ways. You worked in shifts, because there had to be more than what you only were and possessed. You had to master the job to slave away in another that paid a little more and unlocked for you new possibilities. New careers and places. New tops and bottoms. Relationships. Some subplots. 

One day another person arrived at your place. You didn’t file a report to a nonexistent police station when the stranger made himself at home on your couch and you instead sat beside him to make small talk. Chitchat and talk about the weather as if your sun was ever shaded by clouds. Even then, you talked like you knew him a long time ago. Like you recognized him from some time before the world was planned—if the world were ever planned, like the worshippers said—and that this moment was just the continuation of a conversation that began somewhere in prelinguistic time. 

The two of you developed a relationship by literally exchanging gibberish. The stranger whispered in your ear and kissed your hand and cheek many times enough to propose to you three hours in total into God’s play. With a wedding and a few babies planned, consumerism made more sense. 

You thought of a crib, and then of course of another room. For each baby perhaps a giant box hollowed somewhere he/she/they could not reach, make it less of a box. You matched floors and walls, painted ceilings of stars and bought stuffed toys to occupy the visions of the little ones who’d anyway be too young to remember. Like you, all your babies were not mothered. They were after all not an outgrowth of you but of the crib you purchased for its promised delivery. Infants from a body-free womb 24 hours after their barely draining conception.

Now with a family to live for and hopefully spoil, you decided to become a doctor. One of the truths of your world was that will trumped the need for medical school. It’s your fourth career change since your days at the coffee shop where your interactions excluded any option to protest against earning a measly few hundred coins for eight hours of work. After all, you did not understand underpayment and overtime. You had not been wired to reject a system that dictated your responses. Never meant for anger that recognized nobody’s control, you could never be your God. Just as much as she could never be you, you with your milestones predetermined and certain of an end. 

Tomorrow your God will continue going to school. Ace the exams and go straight home. Do this for three more years and graduate magna cum laude in education because she actually believed in the youth. She’d work for a year in a private high school, some time in between passing the board, before transferring to a public school where there was more work than there was time, and more sleepwalkers than students in class.

By the end of her second year, she would fly to a country that overconsumed immigrants, her flight less the chase of a better pay than the attempt to preserve what little drive she had for making a living. She’d come home after fifteen years to run a bakery that fed on the little will she managed not to burn. Like all other Gods at home, yours knew that she would not become what she planned to be. Some ancient bipedal pillar of an equally aging institution.

But that’s already too far in the future. For now you applied to become a DJ. And whatever you decided, whatever choice you made, you would never know that it was the work of the divine. God’s mighty forefinger, or pinky if the former’s dusted with cheese powder, tapping the heavens to command your hands and do her work. Repair the couch. Sweep the table. Go here and talk about work. Woohoo. Intertwine fingers. God would look at you from above and envy you for everything she made sure you had. You had someone, and a home with a garden, with neighbors who didn’t wreck furniture in the morning and broke bottles over karaoke at night. 

What was it that people said about free will? Your god’s ethics, her classmate once said with all the angst she could transform into personality, is problematic. He created us to save himself from boredom.

Your God laughed, then and now, before putting away her phone. She left it by the foot of her bed to wash her face. She imagined asking that classmate if it still mattered to ask all the whys if your god actually made you happy. She thought of you, her consolation. Her reconciliation with the god-given gift of creating everything she did not own. Did you know for one that God made you a lawyer as soon as she made her way back from the bathroom? 

Your medical career was a long time ago. You left your patients in pursuit of other illnesses and found the kind of sick you were looking for in the clutches of the law. On the way to your work at Downtown, you tugged at your husband’s sleeve and stood on your toes to peck him on the cheek. But he pressed the small of your back as soon as he saw you draw close, pulled you in for a kiss on the lips and lingered a little bit before slowly pulling back. His smile promised expensive champagne and a dainty plate of conceptual food for dinner. His promotion after all was already in the works. By the end of the day, he’d be senior executive at the Agency that stood beside your workplace, the Civic Center where you were a junior partner. You knew—the night was pregnant with promise.

You squeezed his hand and returned his smile before you let go. You walked past the familiar pillars, the tall entryway, that plant you kept showering with opening statements. You donned your blazer only when you reached your desk, because work was apparently the best place to change into work clothes. You looked at the framed diploma on the wall, your name on it written by a good liar and calligrapher. You had no memory of law school. 

You reached for a sheet of paper. It was blank so you pulled out of thin air a fountain pen, that premium token of recognition for years of work. It was inkless based on what you scribbled. Work was hard, but you were determined to take long shifts to defend the high-profile case at hand, yes, but also so you could bring home furniture exclusive for lawyers: a horse bust that lit the floor and a table made solely for chess. 

You knew they’re gonna make for good conversation pieces at parties, make you look slightly eccentric, tasteful with your possessions. You could almost see neighbors bond over little pawns, hiss at strategies or laugh at the lack thereof. People, you thought, took sacrifices for granted. You chuckled and went back to writing nothing. For that horse’s head and those chess pieces with the complimentary table, all you needed was two more promotions.

And you would have loved to collect more furniture and decorations for your home. But this morning you woke up facing the wall. You stepped backward and turned to the bathroom where you met an old woman in the mirror. Since when did your body wither, your face sag, your hair fall out? You turned around and walked back to the dining room where you found facing the wall a gray-haired man wearing the knitted sweater you gifted your husband some levels of memories ago. The man’s shoulders slumped forward, his arms hanging limp at his sides. He didn’t hear you say hello so his face, at once new and old, remained to you a secret. 

You took a step forward. Then another. His name kept escaping you somehow, but you did recognize his back. That was the back of the man who took you to a fancy dinner the night before. You touched that back several times that night for the sole attempt of maintaining physical contact. Some assurance of connection. Presence. Was that night really years ago? 

Your footsteps must have reached the old man because he started to turn. And before you could meet his eyes you realized you were standing in the middle of nowhere. Some void familiar in a way you couldn’t remember. A sky without limits. You turned your head and saw your grown children beside you. Lined up tearless and smiling even, ready to move on before they had enough time to grieve your decay. You did not know these people. You did not know their youth, the lives they could live. Why did they look like your husband? Why did they look like that old woman in the mirror? 

You turned your head and looked beyond where you did not know God sat cross-legged, holding her phone and studying your face. You were her first creation, her shot at survival from a hollowed chest. You were not supposed to die so soon. 

God looked at your descendants and wondered if she could live over and over again. Every life an iteration of you but bent deliberately hither and thither to avoid the semblance of you: 


Blonde Korean. 

Mean and ambitious.

Divorced and dead by 42.

God’s thumb hovered over the retire button on the screen. That whole chase for you through all that many children, she thought, was monotony beyond what she could handle.

Your firstborn placed you next to his father in the heirloom display case and then went to work. God still tried to watch over the world at least until the growth of your children’s children. She didn’t exactly plan the last visit, only asked one early morning at two—that universal time for embracing vulnerability—what more there was to the story of young professionals obsessed with balayage? 

She turned off her phone and slid it under her pillow. 

It’s been decided. 

God’s no longer watching.

About the Author. Jonah Leigh E. Ramos teaches Research and English at St. Stephen’s High School. She is expecting to graduate in 2024 with a master’s degree in Literature from De La Salle University. Currently, her works focus on the everyday struggles and hopes of living in the city, with her research interests specifically finding home in urban space and contemporary literature. Leigh is the Fellow for Literature and Urban Studies in the 12th KRITIKA La Salle National Workshop on Arts and Cultural Criticism. “The Gospel, According to God on the 2nd Floor” is her first published short story.

One thought on “The Gospel, from the God on the 2nd Floor

  1. for me your story is very analyzation and imagination because there’s someone to speaking of mine which is the storyteller is the one of the less of hydrate. i was really found is to keep of mind but therefore ma’am jonah is the genre story teller

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