“Mmhhmmm,” He says, pretending He’s listening only to me.
“Jesus Christ,” I swear under my breath, crossing my arms and looking away.
“What?” He says innocently, looking up from the computer, like He doesn’t know what.
A girl can’t have a private thought in this house without—“I can’t help it!” He says, getting defensive, and I think, You know every goddamn— “Hey,” He says, “no need to drag Him into it.” —(I don’t give a fuck) thought, except when I want you to take out the trash.
“I’m busy!” He says, throwing His hands in the air.
“If by busy you mean cruising for lepers and prostitutes on the internet, then okay, fine, you’re busy. But couldn’t you just join the fucking Peace Corps or something?” I could go for a year of eating bananas and weaving baskets.
“The Peace Corps is not all eating bananas and weaving baskets. And you know I’m here because this is where I need to be. Want to be.” He gets that fatherly tone that makes my skin crawl, and spreads his arms wide for me to come to him. It looks like a Catholic school and it turns out even Christ needs centuries to heal. He sees me recoil and closes his hands, Ashamed, I think.
“I’m not ashamed,” He says, “I’m trying to be sensitive to your needs.”
I am sighing the longest sigh since grandmothers.
His ability to understand me completely before I do makes me want to scream. My eyes don’t roll but scan the seam where the popcorn ceiling meets the wall, like I’m looking for a sign or a joke or a water stain of His face, like maybe one leaked in from the roof that still needs to be replaced—a fucking carpenter. And though I’m coming to resent Him, His watchful eye, His careful words, His insufferable perfection, I blame myself, my mere mortal flesh and think, Why either of us are still putting up with me I’m not sure.
“Because I love you, and because you don’t really want to die.” He says, dragging the wheeling office chair across the thin rug by taking long, awkward, seated strides until he is beside me.
You have to love me, I think as I fill with a series of memories that could belong to anyone, and I can’t know which one of us is putting them in my head.
Jesus and I meeting under the bleachers behind the junior high to smoke cigarettes and make out.
Jesus and I watching Clockwork Orange and Him not spoiling the ending, but covering my eyes when he knows it’d be too violent.
Jesus and I losing our virginities in the back of my Subaru after prom.
Jesus and I moving in together too young and not apprehensive enough.
I kneel before Him and rest my head on His lap, unable to imagine any other option. He strokes my hair back from my face.
“Hey,” He says lifting my chin with the tips of his fingers. I am looking into the face of God I think for the millionth time. “It’s okay.” He is smiling just a little.
I guess there’s nothing worse I can do to you, I don’t bother to say out loud.
“Of course you can,” He says. “That’s the point.”
Tatiana Ryckman was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of the chapbook, Twenty-Something, and assistant editor at sunnyoutside press.