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Jesus Never Lies

Story by TJ Rivard (Read author interview) March 30, 2013

art by Joe Augustin

I tried to stop her for a while. I did. Throwing tantrums. Whining. Closing the drapes in front of her. I finally gave up, I don’t know, maybe three, four years after the first anniversary. Stopped and watched. I moved to the chair opposite her in the farthest corner of the room, as far from her as I could and still keep an eye on her. She sat at the other end of the couch, a floral affair with huge green leaves framing monstrous unidentifiable red- orange flowers against a white weave. A giant flower slipped under her butt. One leg crossed the other, and her pointy-toed shoe tapped the faux marble linoleum. Her arms crossed her chest, and she stared out the window. Silence. Silence. Heavy silence. The air wet with silence. The couch flowers loved it. The stems vined out from the fabric, climbing the walls. Roots, coated in dog-hair and Popsicle sticks, crawled from underneath the skirt. Marbles rolled out, the root hairs herding them across the floor. Flowers bloomed. Pollen drifted in the moist air, settling on the mantle of the fireplace where the stupid crèche that the absent him had carved in summer camp was set up. She loved it. Thought it adorable with little baby Jesus all naked and his penis out there for all to see. Stupid. Everyone knows Jesus didn’t have a penis; what would Jesus need a penis for?

An orange flower pressed against the window, mocking the people pushing against the blank snow and pulling their necks in like turtles. Her toe tapped away, while she looked through the vine and the flower toward the sidewalk. Moisture settled on everything. She took off her clothes in the humid silence and sat on the couch naked. Beads of sweat ran down her back, and she tapped her naked, red-polished toe against the floor. None of the turtle people, straining against the snow, turned up the path to the house. Finally, she stood. A good sign; it would be over soon. She craned her neck to see down the road one way, then the other, having no idea which way to hope.

The thick smell of jungle rot filled the room. The heat got to her. She turned the color of the flower, the one she crushed with her butt from before. Her back shook. A hand went to her face. The flowers went to seed, the stems dried out, the roots shriveled. Popsicle sticks and dog hair retreated back under the couch. The marbles rolled into the corners of the room. I wanted to hold her; I wanted to cry too, but Jesus beat me there, both of them naked. He held her at the knee – he was only a baby – and told her that everything was all right. He pressed his worthless penis into her calf, and I knew he was lying. He had to be.

About the Author

TJ Rivard has been published in Kentucky Poetry Review, The Oxford Magazine, Eureka Literary Quarterly, Cafe Irreal, and Flashquake. He has also had several residencies at the Mary Anderson Center and is currently a professor at Indiana University East.

About the Artist

Joe Augustin lives in Richmond, IN, where he works in a college library and spends the rest of his time sketching and playing original blues music in small venues around the Midwestern U.S. Many of Augustin’s ink drawings are currently for sale through his Achilles Tenderloin, Ink Facebook page.

This story appeared in Issue Thirty-Nine of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-Nine

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