those days your mother disappeared down the rabbit hole, your grandmother packed you into her mint green volkswagen and drove out of the city. you talked non-stop but your grandmother did not mind. she had worries. trucks were coming to collect the year’s last mango harvest. she trusted the farm hands, but she also knew it’s been rough for them since the river dried up. she saw them eye her chickens, goats, even the buffalo.
your grandmother drove like a race car driver. she laughed when you asked her to slow down. don’t worry, hija, God is watching over us.
but what if he blinks?
God doesn’t blink.
what if the wind blew sand in his eye?
the wind knows better.
is the wind afraid of God too? will the wind get punished and sent to hell if it misbehaves?
yes, the wind is afraid of God. everything is afraid of God.
do you really burn for eternity?
even if you were really really sorry?
yes. but if you ask God’s forgiveness before you die, then your soul is clean and you go straight to heaven.
all of your sins? even the big ones?
yes, all of them.
you looked out the window at the rice fields that cushioned the highway on both sides and imagined a burning world. talking about God left you nervous. this God seemed pernickety, that’s a word you learned recently. you contemplated the extremes: what if you committed a sin as small as a seed but died before you could confess? what if you were a mass murderer who killed dozens yet found sanity and God before your death? you concluded there was a glitch in God’s system. he wasn’t as meticulous as your grandmother.
– so you learned to pimp for christ.
you were god’s fucking angel. only you didn’t need a trumpet, your voice carried: reciting bible passages and the ten commandments, going on about the second coming. you were fascinated with the end of the world and the hijo de puta anti-christ. it was my scalp you first combed through for the beast’s code.
you were prepared to say you witnessed the virgin mary shed tears of blood but worried they might canonise you.
then there was your secret weapon: the minute by minute confessions. the cluster of apologies offered under your breath each time you passed a god or saint. not even your grandmother knew.
it was insurance in case you fell climbing a tree and broke your neck. or got bitten by a snake. you didn’t take your soul lightly. it required serious cover.
are you sure he’ll deliver?
you stared at me like this hadn’t occurred to you.
your grandmother was thorough.
you made the sign of the cross and whispered, our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…
penance for your slip of faith no doubt.
This week’s prompt: fiction that can be read in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette.