When I devoted my life to Christ I was not prepared
for how normal it would be. Sure, the bride of Jesus
sounds glamorous, but in the details he was like most men
I've known. Even after two millennia of only-he-knew how many
previous wives, he still had a lot to learn about pleasing a woman:
the sex was not always a religious experience. You can't expect it
to be like walking on water every time, he pouted,
squeezing over to his side of the bed.
We fought about housework. Loaves and fishes, water into wine,
I pointed out, pushing hair out of my face as I threw together
romaine, olives, dates, hearts of palm. I work, too.
Would it really be asking so much for you to dress the salad?
He just flickered his weary smile, forgiving me, and spilled saw dust
in the sink as he washed the blood from his hands.
There were good times -- sitting on the back porch with glasses
of tea, the cats rubbing up against him -- we watched the birds
in the gardened plot his dad gave us in the beginning.
Those were the nights when I glowed ecstatic and shook
in his arms like a church tambourine, his hair curled
in my hands, smelling of lanolin. It was the aftermath --
how he lay still, body cooling, staring at the ceiling fan --
that drove the final nail through our union. Tracing his parched lips
with my finger, I murmured, tell me what you're thinking.
And he stumbled awake, smiting his forehead, suddenly
remembering he was late for his fishing trip with the guys.
One beautiful night after he came he sobbed into my breasts:
he was only a teacher, he needed a break, it was too much.
Yes, I said, yes, against his ear, tell me. The next day he was gone --
a stick-it note on the bathroom mirror: Fasting in the wilderness.
Just something I need to do. No cell phone number, nothing.
Forty days later he returned, desiccated and rank, told me he saved me
from Satan. I whirled and gripped his robe, I'm not asking you to die
for me. We can fight your demons together. He only stared
at his sandals. Some lepers down the street, he mumbled,
need to see what I can do and sidled out the stained glass door.
I filed for divorce. To everyone else it was a revelation.
They blamed me. If she can't make it work with him, my coworkers whispered
behind their partitions, what chance is there for the rest of us?
We made the usual lists of mine and his. Not scoffing at worldly
possessions I retained a lawyer and the car, the house, the cats.
I still see him from time to time: brooding in the eye of a school girl,
head bowed, feet scuffing the curb, sweaty bible under her arm,
mouthing words she doesn't know; or yammering from the spittled
maw of a televangelist whose swollen hands wave
toward hell, cobalt suit hanging with immaculate stillness.
Once he passed me on the sidewalk, so distracted he didn't see me
until I clasped his brittle wrist. After the initial stammered hellos,
he asked after the cats; I inquired about his ministry. Oh yes,
we both nodded, fine, everything's fine. And then he turned
the corner, his robe trailing in the dust.
Copyright © 2003 Sharon Wachsler
Sharon Wachsler is a writer, humorist, dog enthusiast, and disability-rights activist. Her work has appeared in Bitch, Moxie, Doorknobs & BodyPaint, On Our Backs, and Ragged Edge. She is a Pushcart nominee and Peregrine Prize winner for poetry. Best American Erotica 2004 and Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly will carry her fiction. She also writes a monthly humor column and maintains a disability cartoon website. To contact Sharon, email firstname.lastname@example.org.