In Which I Get Saved
It is very quiet because we are not allowed to communicate here. Not being allowed to communicate includes the writing of notes, even to ourselves, and the gestures of our bodies. This makes me wonder if I am even meant to be thinking things to myself, which of course makes me think even more thoughts to myself until it’s so loud in my head I feel like other people should be able to hear me. The darkened room is cavernous. It is lit by candles and meagre holes in the stone walls that I guess could be described as windows. ‘Fuck this’ I think to myself, and it feels good to think that, it feels good to fight a little. It feels good to swear against the background noise of feet shuffling and clothes folding over their own folds. It feels like I am in a gigantic cathedral and everyone is waiting for Jesus to show up. Maybe he’s already here. The man beside me is maybe meditating. I note his beautiful lashes, I think of all the things I would do and not do to have eyelashes like his. Do: Murder someone evil, steal, fake my own death. Not do: Murder a kitten or a puppy or a child, have sex with someone evil, cry in public. I look at the ethereal way his long fingers bend delicately over his knees. I fall in love with his fingers a little bit. I wonder if he is Jesus because why not? Then I visualise the thought floating away because that is what we do here.
Once I had 2 jobs, 3 kind-of-boyfriends and 5 night classes. I did not enjoy any of them. I kept adding more things until I woke up and found a big red cross on my thigh, it was like no, it was like wrong. It did not hurt but it was bright red, like think of the reddest red you can and then imagine it blinding you and that is the red I am talking about. It was hot, too. Not in an immediately burning way but in a slow burn way. In a pants-on-fire by the end of the day way. After work another cross had appeared on my foot. My sneaker smouldered. I dumped all three of my boyfriends. One over the phone, one by email, one face to face because I expected a little more from him because he kept more than one bottle of something in the shower. All he said was ‘Do you smell smoke?’
The crosses got smaller after. With their heat they felt like tiny prickles against my skin, like a clothes tag scratching. I quit one of my jobs then found a cross on my inner elbow. I withdrew from my night classes. I itched at the crosses under my clothes. I dreamed bright red. I quit my job. I sold my apartment. My therapist told me I needed space to think. I agreed. I stopped seeing her and booked a retreat.
Jesus opens his eyes and I pretend that I haven’t been looking at him. I bet he plays piano. I bet he smiles real slow and full. I bet he loves kittens. When I go to bed I imagine a road trip, with the windows down and we are singing. When I next go to bed I imagine an evening, after work, where we cook together then drink wine on the couch under a blanket and speak and speak and speak until we can’t believe how much time has gone by.
For morning meditation I try to make the image of his lashes float away but his lashes are very long and they keep growing longer then tangling in all my thoughts. I open my eyes a little. I watch Him as he picks the sleep out of the corners of His eyes with His fingers. I wonder if you can fall in love with someone without ever speaking to them. I haven’t even imagined having sex with Him yet. I feel like this place is good for me. I feel like I know what I want now.
There are two more days of this retreat. In two days I can think of something profound and also cute and also sexy to say to Him.
Outside the empty cathedral the road is dusty and empty. It is very quiet. The shadows of the trees can almost be heard touching the ground. I hold my breath and wait. ‘Hey.’ I say to Him as He appears. ‘Hey, wanna buy some weed?’ He replies. I don’t know how to yell at a stranger for not being exactly how I imagined they would be so I just say no. ‘Your loss.’ I watch as he gets into a car with a few other guys, their music disturbing everything, and I wonder if it is.
The Good Parts
by Matt Jones
... my mom stubbed out her cigarette and cranked up the windows and they both laughed so hard that you’d have thought we were all happy ...
The Idiot (Excerpt)
by James Nulick
... I turned my head and saw a leg with a sock and a shoe attached to it hanging from the wall. Horrified, nearly missing the bowl, it took a moment to deduce it was an artificial leg hanging from a peg, an old postman’s shoe secured to the foot ...