Day of Reckoning

It's poised above her, this instrument of destruction. The day of reckoning has come, and the edges of her pages tremble. She's known this day would arrive, but she's sought to block out its inevitability.

She recalls a time before the knowledge of this day's approach, when she first was breathed to life. She'd reveled in each unfurling phrase, flexing new clauses with wonder. Blooming, soaring, exulting—words, words, words. Things she's never seen but has felt as they scrawled across her pages in black ink and the Author's flowery script. Each new one brought joy at its penning, evidence of His love for her etched in every line, and she cherishes them.

Now she flutters as this new weapon threatens. Its first touches against her pale complexion are surprisingly harmless—more a caress washing away a smudge than the horrid hacking and sawing she anticipates. Red ink scratches out a repeated word. A homonym is replaced by its counterpart.

But she knows this is not the end of it. Red will flow before this reckoning is complete, like blood spilling across her.

Tap, tap, tap. The pen drums against the desk—careful consideration being given to which limbs will be amputated and which sins shorn away.

She cringes as a swipe wipes away a whole sentence. No, not that one! She knows it's not good, but she clings to it nonetheless; it's a part of her. Adverbs follow in its wake, sliced away without mercy. Please, no! She needs them.

A comma becomes a period, and with that simple act a sentence is broken apart, divorced at the decree of the red pen.

No part of her is left unexamined. She is laid naked, and shame boils in her as the judgements continue to come: too Mary Sue, show/don't tell, and overwrought.

New words take shape in the blank space between lines, adding to her and redefining her. She's not ready to change, she thinks, but once it's done she wonders how she ever existed without these bits, these details that enlarge her. She never realized how incomplete she was until she was remolded and reformed.

At last, the pen comes to rest on the desk beside her, almost as if it's tired and used up. There is a sigh of satisfaction from the Editor; he's pleased with this new version of her.

She examines the places where pieces and parts have been removed. She doesn't find the open wounds and bleeding stumps she expects. Indeed, each is healed over with fresh new skin. She flexes first one newly formed paragraph and then another. Remarkable. She's lighter, as though dead excesses have dropped away. Cleaner. Sharper. Fresher. And she knows this was how she was intended to be all along.

Why did she fear this day? Why did she flutter her pages and whimper in despair? Why, when she knows the Author and the Editor are the same? Did she think the One who so lovingly gave her life would have anything but goodwill in this winnowing? Why was she afraid of the red blood's cleansing? Did she not realize the true sacrifice was not her own?