chapter four: char
an excerpt from GIRLY, a novel by Elizabeth Merrick

The Jesus on our wall belongs to my husband, Lucas. His auntie gave it to him, and he won’t ever take it down. It sits above the dining room table and would close Its Eyes, I imagined, squinting, when I used to smoke pot in front of Him—He couldn’t help but peek, though, I saw Him. That’s why I now almost always go outside for anything stronger than cigarettes. My husband keeps smiling at me when I complain about Jesus up there, when I say, “Well tell old Jesus to come down here and pack a bowl if He’s so freaking curious.” My husband gets on my case about smoking too much everything, winks and smiles and says, maybe He can help you with those bad stories. My husband is no Jesus-freak, though, almost never goes to church, has his own personal religion of trees, sky, and a convertible; he just likes to nudge me about this, get a rise out of me, like a brother. Part of his religion, too, is that if something simple annoys you so much, it’s probably you and not that thing that’s got the problem. Me, I don’t have my own religion yet, I’m too high-strung still, but when I get one, I’m going to incorporate that last idea so that I can say it back to Lucas, see how he likes it from that angle.

So Jesus is setting up there above Amandine’s head, and sometimes I like to imagine Him doing what I wish my response could be in a given situation. Like now, with this prissy groomed mouse desperate for help but too superioristic to admit it here in my living room, Jesus might strike His forehead like he was in the Mafia, roll His eyes, make a sour, tongue-out face. When He does this I mind His constant staring at me and Lucas a lot less, believe me. He’s just not my kind of deity, I guess, although I know His universal love policy is a good one. He always gets that much in my book.

Anyway, there we are, me, Amandine, and the Jesus that Auntie Racinda gave Lucas one Christmas. We all knew she stole it from the church basement out of spite for some questionable comments the preacher’s girlfriend made to her involving the nutritious value of lemon bars verses oatmeal cookies. My husband saw the empty, clean square on the wall behind the urinal in the men’s room during Christmas Eve services with his family. I never go with them to church, just barely make it through holiday meals at some auntie or other’s table. I’m not so popular with them—I agree with the preacher’s wife on the lemon bar thing, for example, but of course I’m not dumb enough to speak up on that. They can tell though. They know.

(read the rest of this excerpt here)


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