I’m so glad I’m not Jesus, Laura thinks. She looks at her husband, Harry, tormented by his confinement. He believes he’s Jesus. He’s stalked by thoughts and words, all about him being the saviour of the world . . .
Jesus is sort of weird. He talks to himself all day. In fact, he doesn’t really talk to himself, he talks to Laura. For more than twenty years now Jesus has talked to Laura, but she never listens to what he is trying to say. Jesus doesn’t notice this. Laura has found a way to respond to his never-ending monologues with answers like, Yeah. I see. Christ. I think you have a good point there.
Meanwhile she just does her things. She makes phone calls to friends or family and the voice of Jesus mumbles on in the back of the room, like a lost bee, captured in a sealed house on a sunny day, buzzing. It keeps fluttering into the windows, trying to get out and fly away, but no one is there to set him free. Not even God.
Sometimes the voice of Jesus grows thunderous, like a swarm of bees, trying to attack her. When he is like that she smiles at him and says, Now would you break the bread for me?
It is night. At night Jesus talks in his dreams. His voice wakes Laura up and now, in the silence of shadows, she has to listen to what he says about the apostles, the blind, the deaf, the crippled, the poor, the sinners, the whores, and the wealthy...
Laura closes her eyes, trying to fall back to sleep, but she sees them walking at the Leidseplein.
Before they were married they lived in Amsterdam. One day Harry refused to go into The American because he was afraid of all the people inside there.
What are you afraid of? she asked.
Don’t you see it? I cannot go there, he said.
Of course you can.
Are you blind?
Another time Harry was digging a hole in the garden. Not just a hole, but a deep hole that looked like a grave. It took him a whole day to dig this space. Laura didn’t ask what he was doing it for. By then she had stopped wondering about the things he did or said. She watched him from behind the window, though. She was reading a book but every time she turned a page she watched him from the corner of her eye.
Harry was sinking into the earth. At the end of the day, when the birds stopped meandering from houses to trees, and the dying sun spread a forlorn blaze across the sky, only Harry’s head lingered above the grass like a pumpkin, and he observed the tiles of the terrazzo in front of the house.
Laura couldn’t take it any longer. She closed the book with a slam and opened the door to reality.
Jesus. What the fuck are you doing in that grave?
I am not, he said.
You are not what? she asked.
I am not digging a grave. No resurrection yet. The tiles . . .
Yes. They are supposed to lay horizontal . . .
Well, they aren’t. I only have to angle my head to see the tiles aren’t . . .
Thank God it is starting to rain like mad on top of the roof. Laura opens her eyes again.
Father, take this wife of suffering away from me . . .
What was he saying just now?
Laura gazes at the ceiling of the master bedroom and listens to the resonance of massive rain.
I’m So Glad I’m Not Jesus is a story about my daily life in the Netherlands. It is fiction. It is the first story I wrote in English and my real name is Jesus.
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