Chapter Three, Part One
“Girl, you better open up this door.” Ned was pounding on my door, and he sounded upset. How the hell did he get in my apartment building? Some yahoo must have let him in. All he’d have to do was smile and bat his eyelashes, and there wasn’t a single person—male or female—who could resist him. It was the Saturday after God had made His little visit—if it was, indeed, Him—and I was in a funk. I hadn’t answered any calls from my friends for the past three days, which was unlike me.
“Margaret! We need to see if you’re still breathing.” It was Wind, which meant she and Ned had talked about me. Wind’s real name was Wendy Greenwood, but she preferred Wind in accordance with her favorite element of nature. Well, she had a key. She could use it if she really wanted. Come to think of it, Ned had one as well, but it probably wasn’t on his key chain. Wind had about a zillion keys on her key ring, so I bet mine was there, too. I shook my head impatiently. What the fuck was I doing ruminating about keys? Even though it was one in the afternoon, I was still in bed. I had managed to make it through the week at work, but I fell into bed the minute I came home last night and only got up to go to the bathroom and eat a bit. Otherwise, I’d spent the last eighteen hours or so in bed. I couldn’t stand what God had done to me, and I wasn’t handling it well at all.
“Girl, use your key. I left my copy at home. I didn’t think she wouldn’t let us in.” That was my boy, using his head, damn him. Sooner than I’d like, they were bursting into my bedroom.
“Margaret, what are you still doing in bed? You’re ruining your biorhythms.” That was Wind, coming out with something New-Agey. She was six-feet tall in her stocking feet with a slimness stemming from being vegan. Her flaming red hair and luminous green eyes were nicely set off by her delicate white skin. She dressed in typical hippie fashion with tons of scarves and long, flowing skirts. Despite her loopy appearance and somewhat eccentric beliefs, she was a dear friend.
“Girl, you need to get out of this apartment.” Ned snapped his fingers, his dark eyes intense. “You look as if you’ve been brooding, and you know how that goes to your head.” Not for the first time, I wondered why Ned couldn’t be at least bi. He was even taller than Wind, and I liked my men tall. And buff. And good enough to eat. And Asian.
“What’s wrong, Margaret?” Wind asked, her brow furrowed. “Your aura is very dark right now. But…I sense vigorous life inside of you.” Her eyes widened. “Are you pregnant?” Did I mention she was a touch psychic? “Oh, you are! Who’s the father?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said, turning away from them and burrowing under my blankets. How could I tell them the truth without sounding like I was headed for the loony bin? Granted, Wind was into all things Wiccan, and Ned was a devout Christian, but this was something out of the ordinary, even for them. I still couldn’t believe it, so how could they? Ned was Christian, but how would he react to me as the next Mother of God? Wind didn’t even believe in God, so there’s no way she would understand.
“Girl, you’ve shut us out long enough.” Ned snapped the shade on my window, causing me to wince when the sun hit me right in the eye. Ignoring my pain, Ned pulled up the other shade as well. If I had the energy to get out of bed, I’d kick him in the nuts. As it was, I didn’t feel like doing anything other than sleeping. With that in mind, I shut my eyes and tried to drift off.
“Margaret, you can’t pretend this isn’t happening,” Wind said, sitting on the edge of the bed besides me. I was tempted to tell her to get off, but it wasn’t her fault I was feeling out-of-sorts. “It’s imperative that you find out for sure so you can decide what to do.”
“I’m positive, and I don’t have a choice,” I said bitterly, hugging my pillow. It still rankled that God had foisted this on me as if I were chattel. I mean, I knew I had good bloodlines what with being one-hundred percent Taiwanese, but there had to be at least thousands if not millions other purebloods as well. So what the fuck was so special about me?
“You mean the father’s making you have the baby?” Wind gasped, pressing her hand against her heart. Ned was standing by the foot of the bed, shaking his head in disapproval. The two of them were like an old married couple, but I was in no mood to listen.
“Something like that,” I replied. It was true—just not in the way she was thinking.
“That’s not fair or legal,” Ned said, his hands on his hips. “Girl, we’ll get you a good lawyer and—”
“No, you don’t get it.” Of course, it was my fault they didn’t get it, but that didn’t stop me from being snappish with them. I sat up, sighing heavily as I did. I had to tell them what had happened, but I knew how crazy it sounded. “I’m going to explain, but I want you to wait until I’m done to ask questions, OK?” They both nodded, and Ned sat down on my bed as well. Suddenly, I was aware that I was nude and my breasts were hanging out. Not that either of them would care, but I didn’t want to tell the story naked. I motioned to my robe on the floor, and Ned handed it to me. I had the urge to smoke, but I decided to tell them the story first.
Looking from one avid face to the other, I took the plunge. There was no way to make it sound less than insane, so I didn’t bother trying. It would have been amusing to watch the expressions on their faces if I weren’t still in a state of shock. I tried to tell it exactly as it happened, but I wasn’t sure I got the order completely right. When I got to the part about Zeke, Ned let out a snort which he quickly smothered. I didn’t blame him as Zeke was the strangest part of the whole saga. One would think that being visited by God would be the weirdest thing ever, but He seemed almost normal in comparison to the Angel of Death.
As I recapped the experience for them, I felt as if I was living it all over again. I remembered every thought and emotion I had while God talked to me. I remembered wanting to kill the bastard for what He’d done to me. I remembered how difficult it was to believe Him when He told me I was to be the Mother of God. I remembered thinking that He must be on crack to think I would be a good mother of anything, let alone of the next Almighty. All the inflammatory emotions running through me as God calmly told me He had impregnated me. All His repudiations when I tried to argue. All His stonewalling when I wanted to know more about His grand plan. Finally, the utter resignation I felt by the end of the visit. Not to having the baby, per se, but to the fact that for some unfathomable reason, God wanted me to be the Mother of Guan-Yin. When I was through, I looked at first Wind, then Ned to see their reactions. Neither of them spoke for a moment, then Wind broke the silence.
“You said He chose you in specific. Did He say why?” Wind spoke carefully, clearly trying not to offend me.
“No. He gave me that ‘I work in mysterious ways’ line. I almost clocked Him one for that.”
“Uh, Mags, you sure it wasn’t just a dream?” Ned asked, his eyes worried.
“I wish. But Wind even says I’m pregnant, and I’ve never known her to be wrong about these things.”
“Maybe it’s Gary’s,” Wind said eagerly. “When was the last time you had sex with him?”
“About a month ago,” I said, my own pulse quickening. “Hey, yeah, maybe you’re right. Maybe I dreamt the whole God thing because I subconsciously knew I was pregnant with Gary’s child.” I beamed at Wind for thinking of an alternative explanation. I must really be hard up for an explanation to be glad that the baby was Gary’s. I caught him fucking an eighteen-year old student in our bed. I later learned that she wasn’t his first foray into fucking first-year students, though I made sure she was the last. Yes, I got his ass fired with the help of my handy-dandy digital camera, and we hadn’t spoken since.
“No!” A voice boomed out in the room, startling the hell out of all of us. Wind and Ned looked at each other in terror as I sighed in disgust. Of course, I recognized the voice, though I hadn’t heard it in almost a week. Even though God had threatened to talk to me, He hadn’t thus far. “The child is mine, not Gary Cho’s, the disgraced professor.”
“I thought You wanted to keep a low profile!” I shouted to the ceiling, assuming that His voice was coming from up there. “Or are You going to let the whole fucking world in on Your little secret?” Silence.
“That’s God?” Wind squeaked, her voice a full octave higher than it usually was. She grabbed Ned’s arm so tightly, he winced and gently disengaged her claws from his arm.
“Yeah. Invasive son of a bitch, isn’t He?” I asked, flopping back in bed. On the one hand, I was glad someone other than me had heard God speaking. On the other hand, that meant that I was definitely carrying His child. Couldn’t I sue Him for unlawful, uh, impregnation? I knew I must be tired because I was having ridiculous thoughts.
“Funny, I thought His voice would be more mellifluous than that,” Ned said, his voice shaky. “You know, sort of like a kindly grandfather.”
“No, He’s more like a fucking CEO of AmEx or something,” I said, not moving. I would be amused by the amount of fear Ned and Wind were showing if I weren’t so goddamn tired of this shit.
“Jesus Christ,” Ned said, his voice still wobbling. “Does He always stop by unannounced?”
“As this is only the second time I’ve encountered Him, I couldn’t say. If I had to go with my gut, however, I’d say yes.”
“Goddess, protect me,” Wind moaned, dropping to her knees. She was fumbling with something around her neck, and I saw that it was an ankh. I rolled my eyes at the futility of her gesture.
“Maybe we’re all having an auditory hallucination,” Ned said, pacing back and force. “I refuse to believe that the Almighty Himself talked to us. It’s the power of suggestion, that’s what it is.”
“Oh, shit,” I sighed, not stirring from my position on the bed. “You shouldn’t have said that, Ned. You really shouldn’t have.” Before he could ask why, God showed up in human form. This time, He was wearing brown with matching hair and eyes. I wondered idly what He’d do next as there was a limit as to matching eye and hair colors. I dismissed the thought from my mind as I watched Ned and Wind fall to their knees before God. I, of course, didn’t move a muscle as I was still pissed at God and wasn’t about to genuflect to Him for anything.
“God, is that really you?” Ned asked reverently, touching the hem of God’s cloak.
“Yes, My child, it is,” God said, His voice much gentler than when He talked to me. Then again, Ned believed in God and even went to church on Sundays. Another reason my mother loved him. “Please, rise.” He touched first Ned, then Wind on the shoulders, helping them to rise without seeming to move.
“This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening,” Wind mumbled as she clutched her ankh. Somehow, she made it to her feet, but she refused to look at God.
“It is, My child. Would you prefer Me like this?” God suddenly changed into a woman, complete with flowing brown robes and flowing brown tresses. Yes, Her eyes were brown as well. S/he really dug the monochromatic color scheme. I wondered if that’s where Zeke got it from. “I can be any image you like.”
“Yes, but can You be both at once?” I asked, my tone snide. Or, as I preferred to say, snarky. Incredibly, God divided into two so that He stood beside Her.
“Oh, God,” Wind whimpered, pressing her fist to her mouth. I had never seen her so discombobulated, and I feared for her sanity. God must have felt the same way, because She led Wind to my bed and placed her on the edge.
“It’s really You,” Ned sighed rapturously. He was surprisingly devout and had no qualms about being both gay and Christian. He stood rooted to the floor, his eyes fixed on God in adoration.
“I want you to tell your parents,” God said, placing His hand on Ned’s shoulder. It was a bit weird to watch the two Gods tend to my two friends separately. “You cannot be OK with Me until you are OK with your parents. Understand?” Ned mutely nodded, but he looked devastated. God spoke again, this time with incredible compassion. “I know it’s difficult, My son, but your parents must know you as you truly are. No more pretending. You are just as I made you, which is exactly perfect.” A grin spread on Ned’s face as he clasped God’s hand with his own.
“Thank you,” Ned whispered, pressing a kiss on the back of God’s hand. In the meantime, God had a handkerchief out and was mopping Wind’s brow. Wind was looking at God with apprehension, not moving an iota. Wind was a dedicated Wiccan, so I didn’t know what this little adventure was going to do to her beliefs in the long run. Then again, this God never said S/he was the Christian God. Somehow, I’d bet that S/he wouldn’t mind being called whatever we wanted to call Her/Him.
“As for you.” Both Gods turned to me, which was extremely unnerving. They merged back into one, the male God, before speaking. “I am the Father of that girl. You are the Mother. I have revealed Myself to your friends because you need their support, and We don’t have much time. Armageddon is coming, and you must be prepared. I must go now.” He disappeared before any of us could say anything, which continued to piss me off. I didn’t figure God for such a drama queen, but apparently S/He was.
“God spoke to me,” Ned said, his voice reverent. “God touched me.” He had a dreamy smile on his face, much like the one he wore after a good fuck.
“I’m dreaming,” Wind muttered, her face drawn. She didn’t appear as devastated as she’d been five minutes ago, but she was far from happy. Or convinced. “You both are in my dream. That’s the explanation.”
“Hello?!” Ned leaned forward and snapped his fingers in Wind’s face. “You just spoke with God. You better recognize.” There was a lightness to Ned’s voice which I had never heard before. “It’s an honor, girl, not a trial.”
“Easy for you to say,” I retorted, sitting up in bed. “You aren’t the one carrying the spawn of God.”
“I would be so happy to bear His child,” Ned said passionately. I forbore to mention that it was a physical impossibility because for all I knew, God could impregnate a man. Why hadn’t He? Ned would be the perfect parent.
“Now you know why I’m so freaked out,” I said, hopping out of bed. “I’m going to take a shower. You guys can do whatever the fuck you want.”
I padded to the bathroom, mindful of my rudeness. Ned and Wind wouldn’t mind, however, as they were used to my ways. Besides, I had a fridge stocked with great food, so they could pig out to their hearts’ delight. Gauging by the look on Wind’s face, however, she was in no mood to eat, even if I did have truffles from the best truffle shop in St. Paul, Just Truffles. Wind was partial to the rum ones, which were my favorite as well. Ned preferred anything with almonds, which was why I always bought one or two amaretto ones solely for him. Both of them stopped by often enough that the truffles never went to waste even if I didn’t eat them all myself. Truffles were the only thing non-vegan that Wind allowed herself to eat. Good thing, too, because a life without real chocolate is no life at all.
The water felt good on my body after a restless night of sleep. I wondered what Ned and Wind were doing, but I didn’t much care. I had too much on my mind what with the pregnancy from Hell. From Heaven, I corrected myself before God could chime in. I didn’t want to hear His voice while I was taking a shower because some things were sacred. Even He should understand that, egotistical as He was. For the millionth time, I wondered why I had been the chosen one when there were many more suitable than me. I thought of one reason after the other, but none were good enough. I let it go as I soaked up all the hot water; I had a feeling I was going to need all my strength.
When I returned to my bedroom, it was empty. I could hear noises, however, so I knew Wind and Ned hadn’t left yet. Unless God was making Himself comfortable in my living room again. If that were the case, I was going to start charging Him rent—make me a little extra money. I threw on a pair of sweats and a sweatshirt before venturing outside my room. I wasn’t in a sociable mood, but I owed it to my friends to show my face. Besides, if I didn’t track them down, there was no telling what they’d do to my apartment. I found them in the kitchen cooking up a feast. As I’d suspected, they’d found the truffles and had dove right in. They were expensive little treats, but I couldn’t live without them; Ned and Wind felt the same way. It was a good thing each of them stocked expensive goodies at their own places from which I often pilfered or else I’d be telling them to keep their grubby paws off my stash.
“Ham, cheese, and spinach omelets,” Ned said, indicating the frying pan. He was wearing my frilliest apron, a gift from my mother. Needless to say, I never used it so Ned was welcome to have at it. It was ‘his’ apron when he was here, and he looked quite fetching in the light shade of pink.
“Whole wheat bread,” Wind added, nodding approvingly. She had been working on me for the last three years to go organic, and I was doing it step-by-step. She looked ages better than before I took my shower, so Ned must have worked his usual magic on her. “I’m just having toast.”
“I’ll pour the juice and milk,” I said, opening the fridge. Wind and Ned liked orange juice with their breakfast while I preferred skim milk—the one healthy thing that Wind hadn’t had to talk me into buying—not that she would. Milk stolen from cows and all that. I couldn’t stand the taste or texture of any fat in my milk, so I’d been buying skim from the minute I moved into my own apartment.
As soon as we were done, we took the booty to the dining room so we could eat in style. One thing my mother had drilled into my head when I was a child that still stuck was to not eat in the kitchen. When I ate alone, I sometimes cheated and snacked in front of the fridge, but I never allowed guests to eat in my kitchen. Some of my friends found it odd—just as they didn’t like taking off their shoes—but most appreciated the effort it took to have a sit-down meal, especially in this day and age when we were all so busy. It was nice to sit down and relax for half an hour, and I felt so much better after taking that little break. Most of my friends agreed with me except for the more Type-A personalities amongst them; they were not invited to dine with me more than once.
“So that was God,” Wind said conversationally between bites of toast. Her color was better and her voice was back to normal, so I didn’t mind discussing the phenomenon which had occurred in my bedroom. I wondered if I could make a rule that God couldn’t appear in my bedroom like that. I much preferred He just show up in the living room if He had to visit me at all. “She’s quite nice, once I got over the shock.”
“Yeah, I guess,” I said, shoveling eggs into my mouth. I hadn’t eaten much all week, and suddenly, I was starved.
“You guess? How can you talk that way about your Creator?” Ned asked, his voice disapproving.
“Because my Creator made a unilateral decision to impregnate me,” I said coldly, setting down my fork. I hoped that Ned wasn’t going to become a fanatic now that he’d met the Almighty. Even though he was a Christian, he’d always been low-key about it. I didn’t need him proselytizing at me about the wonders of God. I was not happy with my Creator at this moment, which meant that I got to badmouth Him.
“I can understand that,” Wind said, helping herself to another piece of dry toast. She never used butter, even the real stuff, because she was a vegan. She wasn’t militant about it, however, for which I was fervently grateful. Take today, for instance. Even though she couldn’t eat the omelets, she wasn’t glaring disapprovingly at me and Ned, nor was she whining about not having anything to eat. If she really needed to eat, she’d bring food with her. She wasn’t like most vegans who demanded to be fed when they went to their friends’ houses. I once had a dinner party for a bunch of vegetarians and vegans, and I’d never do that again. It was a nightmare. No matter how hard I tried to make food that everybody could eat, there was something I overlooked in almost every dish.
“I know you don’t want to hear this,” Ned said, wolfing down his eggs. “God has a reason for everything He does. It’s hard to accept, especially since you don’t want children, but you have to trust Him.”
“No, I don’t,” I said, my voice rising. “What has He done to show that I can trust Him? I think people give Him a free pass, even when He does things that you wouldn’t accept from anybody else. It’s not fair of Him to say we have freewill if He’s not going to follow through on it.”
“It’s like that Joan of Arcadia show,” Wind said, putting down her piece of toast. “At first, I thought it was a pretty good show despite the God talk. Later on, I just got angry because God didn’t really give Joan a choice. Oh sure, she could have chosen not to do what He or She told her to do, but then things went drastically wrong. It’s not really a choice then, is it?”
“Exactly!” I said, glad to have Wind on my side. I didn’t like arguing with Ned, but I wasn’t backing down, either. Like I told God, I wasn’t the fucking Virgin Mary. I didn’t want this thing inside of me—this girl, I corrected myself before God could do it for me—and it wasn’t fair that He’d done it without my consent.