Kelly was not formal with God. “Baby,” she called him, as in, “Jesus, baby, you’re the one for me.” She deeply suspected God was a lot funnier and more hip than people gave him credit for. Everyone was always so lugubrious: the capital letters, the hair shirts. She tried to put herself in God’s shoes. What would she want? Tenderness, familiarity, intimacy. An independent thinker. An unparalleled love. Someone whose loyalty was independent of circumstance. Someone who tried to be original and spoke from the heart, rather than simply reciting prayers. So that’s what she tried to give. Doing the dishes, driving her car, ambling through the supermarket, she tossed little nuggets his way. “I love you, G. What’s not to love?” She tried to keep it fresh and simple.

Often she found herself attempting to comfort God, to apologize for all the misunderstanding. At times, people in the pew beside her would begin to nod when the priest said something counterintuitive, such as that gays had no place in the kingdom of heaven, or that birth control was a sin. She heard what the priest was saying, but something inside her didn’t believe it. She couldn’t imagine those words on Jesus’ lips. “I’m sorry,” she would whisper. “We don’t know what we’re doing here. That’s why we need you. Help us, sweetheart,” she would say. She stole jokes from movies like Jerry Maguire. “Help us to help you. Help us to help you help us.”

Her friend Gwen told her she was insane. Kelly thought this was harsh. “You could say eccentric, and still get your point across. You could say intense.” But the truth was she had learned not to expect others to understand.

~This story may be read in its entirety in the Winter 2009 issue of the American Literary Review.~


Alethea Black, © 2007-2018
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