By Kika Dorsey
After the universe gave her multiple hints, Joan finally realized that she was Jesus Christ. Her children and husband blamed her for everything—lost backpacks because they were sure they set it on the kitchen counter and she cleaned it up, being late for school even though they were the ones fumbling about in the house while she sat in the car waiting, being critical and “mean” when she asked about their grades, not having an auto insurance document filed because she apparently was the one to keep track of paperwork. She was certainly taking on the sins of the world.
She’d had a dream. In the dream, she was sitting with an audience, and on the stage was a Buddha. He was wearing an orange robe and sat cross-legged on the concrete floor. He was humming “om,” and somehow Joan knew that if she joined him, she would feel all the pain in the world and die.
She figured Jesus and Buddha were the same person, even though Jesus was usually depicted as white with long brown hair and a brown robe and preferred eating last suppers to meditating. Also, when her father committed suicide by flying head-first out of the 2nd floor window of the homeless shelter, he’d left a note that he would return to Jesus.
And he did return to her, in dreams and in her daily life, because he had basically bailed on her dear demented mother. Joan felt like she was being nailed to a cross, which then led her to become a drunk and landed her in jail, where her apostles complained about the watery beans and in general were quite unpleasant to her. They rolled their eyes when she talked about her troubles, even though she praised their tattoos. One woman named Dawn had a tattoo of Jesus on the cross, the red ink of blood dripping into her hands, and Joan even then knew that image was like a mirror, her blood, her pain. Then again, maybe she was just hungover.
That day had been an especially grueling day of taking on other people’s sins. Her son had broken the first commandment by killing a spider in his room, then her daughter lied to her about the bottle of wine in her closet. Both her children were not honoring their mother and father, and her husband was lusting after Karen, the neighbor’s wife (a commandment that often confused her, because wasn’t Karen a neighbor, too?), and coveting their new truck.
Joan had just finished swimming after visiting the Social Security office for the tenth time to try to get Medicare for her dear demented mother. She smelled like chlorine and carried with her the womb-like embrace of the water that always helped pull her through the day. Her stomach was empty, and instead of eating lunch, she drank a martini. Then another.
When she drove to the grocery store to buy chicken and pasta for dinner, she side-swiped a green Subaru, and when the cops came, she resisted arrest and kicked one of them in the shin.
“You have the right to remain silent…”
Joan interrupted him. “I’m sick of being silent! I have a lot to say.”
He finished his reading of the rights in a tired voice and said, “I will have to charge you with assaulting a police officer.”
Joan slumped in the back of the police car, shackled and lonely, her wrists hurting, her mind spinning. Who would pick up the kids for the orthodontist appointment?
When her husband bailed her out the next day, she shed herself of the orange jumpsuit that was two sizes too big for her, put in her nose stud and slid her rings on her fingers—her wedding ring, the garnet ring from her mother, the ring from her husband with all the birthstones of her family. Hers was aquamarine blue, like the pools where she swam while somewhere someone learned how to walk on water. But she didn’t need to, because she was a good swimmer, and she would swim through a pool of tears all the way to heaven. That’s what Jesus did.