Chapter Three, Part Two
“What are you going to tell people?” Ned asked, wisely dropping the argument. He knew that I was stubborn and contrary. The more he argued, the more I would dig in my heels and hiss at him. “I mean, you can’t tell people that you’re carrying the next savior, can you?”
“I don’t know,” I said, suddenly struck by the enormity of the situation. What was I going to tell people? Obviously, I’d have to tell them I was pregnant, but I’d have to come up with a cover story, wouldn’t I? No way in hell was I going to tell anybody that I was the Mother of God before it was necessary. I liked my freedom, thank you very much, and I didn’t relish the thought of giving it up voluntarily. More to the point, what was I going to tell my mother? Oh, God. She wanted me to have kids, but not out of wedlock. Shit. God wasn’t planning on making me marry someone, was He?
“No, I’m not,” God thundered in my brain. I winced at the volume and silently asked Him to turn it down. “Sorry. Zeke is yakking my ear off so I can’t tell how loudly I’m talking.” Zeke? Talking up a storm. This I had to see. No, I didn’t. I shuddered at the thought of a garrulous Zeke. “I want you to be a single mother. It’s part of the plan.”
“You’ve gone nuts, Lord,” I said silently. Ned and Wind were talking a mile a minute and had no idea that I was having my own private conversation. “What else are You going to burden this child with? You are trying to kill her, aren’t You?”
“No, I’m not. I just need the world to stand up and take notice. You people need to see reason—only something drastic will do. Oops. I must go. Zeke and I need to talk over a few details about the Ukraine. For the record, I was never on Bush’s side, and he was an idiot for trusting Putin. You tell him that if you ever meet him. Oh, and tell him he’s a horrible painter, too.”
“Yeah, right.” I felt God leave me, which still jolted me. I tuned back into the conversation going on between Ned and Wind. Predictably, they were arguing about God. As I had had just about enough of God, I tuned them out and ate my eggs which were getting cold. I gulped down my milk, then refilled my glass. Suddenly, I had a craving for chocolate so I took two truffles out of the fridge and brought them into the living room. Ned and Wind broke off their conversation to turn and stare at me.
“What? I’m craving chocolate. I am eating for two now, you know.” That was going to be one of the only perks about this whole mess—I got to eat as much as I wanted.
“It’s not good for the baby,” Wind said, voicing her disapproval. “Too much caffeine.”
“I hate to break it to you, Wind, but it doesn’t matter with this child.” I patted my stomach as if there was something really there. “God said I could smoke and drink as much as I wanted, so I presume that means I can eat as much chocolate as I want as well. I better, or I’m going to be one big, bad bitch from now until this baby is born.”
“Did She really say that?” Wind asked dubiously.
“Yes, I did,” God boomed down, this time audible to all of us.
“Will You quit that?” I shrieked, my nerves on edge. “I can’t take You dropping in like that! Please!”
“I just wanted to clarify for your friend, Wendy,” God said, His voice perilously close to sulky. “I don’t want you to go through any unnecessary hardship during this pregnancy.” It was on the tip of my tongue to tell Him what I thought of His ‘generosity’ but I kept it to myself. He could read my mind, anyway, so I needn’t bother saying it out loud. “You may do whatever you like to your body as this is no ordinary child. You cannot harm her in any way. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, God,” the three of us chorused like schoolgirls in love. I felt Him leave once again, and I was relieved. I hoped the turmoil in the Ukraine was enough to keep Him busy for the next few hours at least so I didn’t have to deal with Him any more today.
“Is She going to do that often?” Wind whispered, as if to keep Him from hearing.
“Who knows?” I said in disgust, finishing off my second glass of milk. “I certainly hope not because it’s fucking tiresome. Oh, well. I’d rather speak to Him than to Zeke.”
“This is too much,” Ned said, shaking his head. “What say we watch a DVD. Margaret, what do you have?” I subscribed to Netflix, but I was thinking of switching to streaming only as I never remembered to return a DVD once I was done with it.
“I have two Donnie Yen and one Alan Rickman.”
“Which Donnie Yen?” Ned asked, his eyes gleaming. He had a crush on Donnie, as did I.
“Iron Monkey and Once Upon a Time in China 2,” I said with a slight smile. I’d seen both of them before, of course, but you could never have too much Donnie. I made a bet with myself which Ned would chose, and I wasn’t disappointed.
“Oooh, we have to watch Once Upon a Time. Two-for-one!” He meant that Jet Li was in it as well, which was a nice bonus. The final battle scene between the two was incredible—not to be missed.
“Do you mind, Wind?” I asked, turning to Wind. “It might not be your kind of movie. It’s a martial arts flick.”
“Sure, why not?” Wind said gamely. “I’ve never seen one before. Except for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which I liked.” Ned and I both instinctively made a face. “What?” Wind said defensively.
“That’s not a martial arts movie,” I explained, keeping my voice gentle. It was a pet peeve of mind as well as of Ned’s, but there was no reason to jump down Wind’s throat. “It’s a Western version of a martial arts movie, but not a true-to-Hong Kong one.” I could tell by the look on Wind’s face that she didn’t have a clue as to what I was saying, so I let it go. It was better to let her discover for herself the beauty that was Hong Kong action flicks. It was best to watch them at midnight in a theatre full of cheering Asians but I didn’t feel like going to the Riverview, so my living room would have to suffice.
“Well?” Ned asked Wind after the movie was done. She had a stunned look on her face as if she’d just been hit by a train. I’d seen several Americans with that exact look on their faces after watching their first Hong Kong flick. I likened it to having sex for the first time after masturbating for years—there just wasn’t any comparison between the two activities. Not that I didn’t like masturbation, mind you—it was just that I preferred sex with someone else to sex with myself. That reminded me of another thing to be pissed off about regarding this pregnancy—I didn’t even get to have sex first!
“I never imagined action like that,” Wind gasped, still in a post-Jet Li/Donnie Yen movie haze. “The plot is a bit weak, but who cares?” Ned and I exchanged satisfied looks. Another convert to the dark side—we done good. “Do they do all their own stunts?”
“Yup,” I said, nodding my head. “It’s all real—except for the flying in the air stuff, of course. Usually, there’s more of that. They have no insurance, either, so it’s pretty expensive when an actor gets banged up.”
“That’s criminal!” Wind looked horrified at the prospect, but Ned and I just shrugged our shoulders.
“That’s life working outside the United States,” Ned explained. He and I had given this lecture countless times, and we had it honed to an art.
“Well, it’s horrible,” Wind said grumpily. Then she admitted, “But the results are spectacular.” Suddenly, I crashed. After the drama of the past week, all I wanted was to be alone.
“OK, guys. I hate to be a party-pooper, but I’m kicking you out.” I stood up and stretched, moving towards the front door at the same time. Wind looked as if she wanted to argue, but Ned took the hint. He knew better than to try to cajole me out of one of my moods. The best thing was to leave me alone until I felt better. I wasn’t a pretty sight when I was in one of my self-pitying states, and I was heading there mighty fast.
Once they were gone, I went into the bathroom. I needed a bath more than anything, and I intended to stay in until my skin pruned. I stopped by the mirror and took a hard look at myself. As I didn’t like the way I looked, I usually avoided the mirror. Oh, my face wasn’t so bad though it was too round for my taste. At least I had good eyes and full lips. I shed my clothes and examined my body critically. My body was pretty hard due to my lifting, and I loved my tattoos. I had four of them, all related to the theme of fire. I also had a pierced belly button and was contemplating piercing one of my nipples, if not both. I didn’t need them for breastfeeding—I stopped in mid-thought. I was going to have a fucking baby. Did that mean I’d have to breastfeed her? I hoped not. I didn’t relish the idea of being a milk machine, and besides, it wasn’t as if this baby needed nutrients or any shit like that.
I sighed and ran my hand over my almost-flat stomach. It was my weak point, and I knew I’d have difficulty dealing with it expanding. I exercised religiously so I could eat what I wanted without too many restraints. I couldn’t fathom waddling around in maternity clothes, looking like a cow. I cringed at the idea of perfect strangers patting me on my stomach and asking me when I was due. They would think twice before patting a pregnant woman again, I’ll tell you that much. There was no way in hell I was letting people lay their hands on my stomach willy-nilly. I hated being touched without my consent, and it seemed the height of rudeness that people would do that.
I also didn’t want to answer endless questions about gender and that kind of shit. I didn’t understand why people thought it was any of their business, anyway. I decided that I’d just make up shit depending on how I felt. If someone asked about the father, I’d say it was a one-night stand in Tijuana. If a person wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl, I’d tell her that it was a hermaphrodite. I’d espouse raising the baby in the pagan fashion, and I’d watch people freak out. To really get on their nerves, I’d drink and smoke while obviously pregnant. On second thought, scratch that. I didn’t have a death wish, and I knew there were whack-jobs out there who got violent at the sight of a woman exercising her right to make a bad choice. Wait, I couldn’t die, could I? I wondered if that meant I couldn’t be harmed, either. If so, then I would drink and smoke wherever I wanted while pregnant.
I sighed as I dumped bubble bath into the tub and started the water. I just knew that this pregnancy would take up too much head space, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I mean, it wasn’t every day I found out that I was going to be the Mother of God. It’d been almost a week, and I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept. God still refused to tell me why or how He’d chosen me, and I was beginning to suspect that it was just a big joke. What if He was just bored up there and wanted to stir some shit up? I mean, He could be up there with Zeke right now laughing His ass off at me for being so damn gullible. I climbed into the tub and closed my eyes, still mulling over the situation.
“It’s not true, and you know it.” I refrained from sighing as I heard the Voice of God somewhere very near—sounding very British this time around. What did it say that I didn’t even flinch upon hearing it? That I needed to be in a bloody asylum, that’s what it said. I opened my eyes and saw Alan Rickman as Metatron standing in front of me, sans wings.
“Oh, that’s fucking funny,” I said sarcastically. Despite myself, however, my heart start beating faster as it looked just like him. It was a bit unnerving to have my favorite actor—well, a being who looked like him—standing in my bathroom while I was taking a bath.
“You said you’d be more sanguine about the whole project if Alan Rickman talked to you about it. I thought I’d honor your wish.” As He spoke—in Alan’s voice, no less—He flashed that famous Rickman smirk. I wanted to swat Him for being so cruel.
“Look, God, I don’t know if You can understand this, but it’s not really not very nice of You to show up here looking like that.” I didn’t explain any further as I knew He could read my mind. In fact, I didn’t know why I spoke at all since He knew what I was going to say well before I even thought it.
“Because it’s more like a real conversation this way,” God said, still in His Alan Rickman incantation. “I want to make this as easy on you as possible.”
“Well, then change back, for God’s sake. For Christ’s sake. For Pete’s sake!” I splashed water on Him, which didn’t faze Him in the least. As I watched, He mutated back to Himself, albeit in all red this time. Yes, eyes and hair to match. His eyes were freaking me out even though they were a deep shade of crimson and not blood-red.
“This better?” He asked, smiling to reveal His perfect white teeth.
“I have to ask. What’s up with the monochromatic look? You got something against mixing colors?” Even though the question was deceptively mild, I put an edge behind it.
“I do it for effect,” God said, leaning against the counter. “I think it’s striking.”
“Yeah, well, I think it’s silly.”
“Want me to go back to Metatron?” Before I could answer, he had morphed back into Alan Rickman, this time with the expansive wing-span.
“I don’t know if You’re on crack or something, but quit it.” This time, I threw my loofah at Him. It hit His suit with a thud and left a wet spot behind. “It never ends, does it?”
“No problem. Wax on, wax off.” God waved His hand once, and His suit went dry again. It was no fun messing with God because He always came out on top. The last thing He’d said sunk into my brain, and I called Him on it.
“You do like Dogma. You have to, in order to recognize the reference.” I said it accusingly, as if it were a dark secret.
“You got me,” God said, shrugging His shoulders, His wings rustling behind him. “So I like irreverent comedies. Does that surprise you?” Oddly enough, it didn’t. Given what’d been happening in the world, lately, He must have a macabre sense of humor.
“Do You ever take human form?” I asked, curious to know if He got bored up there in Heaven. “I mean, besides when You were Jesus.”
“Nope. Not my style, love. I prefer being a greatly relieved Deity.” Oh, brilliant. He was still doing Alan, which was causing my heart (and lower regions) to do some serious pulsing.
“Will You please stop that?” I said crossly, sinking lower into the bubbles. I sorely wanted Him to just leave as I couldn’t take Him in this ‘playful’ state. When I looked up again, He was back as Himself, only in black this time. “Why do You keep changing Your color?”
“Because I can.” God shrugged and folded His arms. “You know, I’m going to keep bothering you until you accept your destiny.”
“What the fuck happened to freewill?” I asked, so peeved I sat up. Remembering that I was naked, I sank back into the tub. I knew it was silly as He’s the one who created me, but I still didn’t feel comfortable being naked in front of Him.
“That’s because of the Garden of Eden,” God said, a slight scowl crossing His face. “Being naked is natural. It’s only when Adam and Eve sinned that what was natural became perverse. As for freewill, I told you. This is an emergency. Ordinarily, I am a very hands-off kind of god.” I snorted in disbelief. “Really.”
“Well, You should tell Your followers to do the same thing,” I informed Him sharply. “The things people do in Your name is criminal.”
“Not My fault that some people don’t want to listen or misinterpret the Bible. That’s what I mean by freewill.” It was on the tip of my tongue to point out that He had just preempted my freewill, but that would be cycling, and I didn’t feel like arguing with Him any longer. “You know, I could arrange for you to meet Alan Rickman if that would make you feel any better.”
“What, You’re trying to bribe me now?” I asked incredulously. The thought of meeting Alan Rickman was extremely appealing, but I didn’t want to make a deal with the devil, so to speak. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to Alan to meet him that way.
“You and your sense of fairness,” God said, His tone slightly scoffing. “How do you think things get done in the world? Besides, it’s not a bribe. It’s a reward for doing your duty.”
“It’s not like you gave me a fucking choice!” I thought about it some more. “No, I won’t be placated like a child,” I said, a trace of regret in my voice. Why did I have to have such high principles, damn it? I mean, would it kill me to give in for once? Apparently it would. I had to be the kind of person who cuts off my nose to spite my face.
“OK, but if you ever change your mind, you know where to find me.”
“Actually, I don’t. All I know is You show up whenever the fuck You want, scaring the shit out of me. That’s not very nice, You know.” OK, so I was being a bit harsh on Him—I had the right. “Hey, there is one favor You can do for me.”
“Yes?” He lifted an eyebrow, managing to retain a trace of Alan which spooked me.
“Change into more than one color. I want to see You do it.” I knew it was petty of me, but I had to gain control somehow, even in a small way. God sighed, but He obliged my request. In an instant, He was in glorious Technicolor. His hair was black, His skin was white, His eyes were dark brown—He looked Asian, as a matter of fact—His suit was a lime green while his tie was neon orange. His shoes were chartreuse, which completed the outfit. He looked good, damn good, and it was a bit disconcerting.
“Better?” God asked, folding His arms over his chest. “Or perhaps you prefer more casual.” He changed into khakis and a white button-down shirt while retaining the Asian image. Man, but He was buffed. I could see His arm muscles straining under His shirt. Fucking great. I was lusting after God. Could I be any more fucked up? Then again, I was carrying His child. “Well, it’s a nice compliment,” God said, smirking widely. He flexed ever-so-slightly, causing me to go weak in the knees. Good thing I was soaking in a tub, or I’d be passed out on the floor.
“Has anybody ever told You that You have a mean streak?” I said, my throat dry. “You should be nicer to me considering that I’m having Your baby.”
“Everybody likes to be wanted now and then,” God said, changing back into His monochromatic self—green this time. It wasn’t bad, but the green hair was distracting. “Look, I have to be going. Are we clear that this is not a joke; that I am not sitting up in Heaven laughing at you; that you will be the mother of Guan-Yin?” He stared at me, no trace of a smile on His face.
“Yes, we’re clear,” I said with a sigh. Even though I wanted to protest some more, I knew it was useless. “Hey, next time how about warning a girl You’re going to drop in on her?”
“What fun would that be, love?” I looked up to see Metatron grinning at me. With a flap of His wings and a snap of His fingers, He disappeared in a cloud of smoke. At least He didn’t set Himself on fire as I didn’t have a fire extinguisher handy.
I stayed in the bathtub for another half an hour after He left. His offer of procuring me a meeting with Alan Rickman smacked of bribery, no matter what He said. Though I would dearly love to meet Alan, I didn’t want it to be engineered by God, even though some would say everything that happened was engineered by God. Then that meant that we had no freewill. See, this was something that fucked me up when I was a Christian. Ok, I never really was one, but I was raised one. I never understood how it could be that God was omnipotent, that everything that happened was God’s will, and yet, we were supposed to have freewill. Did we have destinies or did we have choices? Obviously, I had a destiny that I didn’t want, which meant I had no choice.
“Nothing is that simple.” Great. He was talking inside my head again. “If it were, then Sarah Palin would be—never mind. Scratch that.”
“Please don’t do that. I’m trying to soothe my nerves. That won’t happen with You hovering.” I knew it was useless to protest, but I had to try. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the constant intrusion, so I contented myself with sulking.
“You need to think less,” God said, his voice earnest. “That’s what happens when you overanalyze—everything goes around in circles.” His voice was fading, and I wondered what that meant.
What I didn’t know was that He was about to take a power nap. Yes, God slept now and again to recharge His batteries. When He did, He would appoint someone else in charge for the blink of an eye He was sleeping. Of course, His definition of blink of the eye was a bit different than ours which was how the Holocaust happened. God was taking a siesta and when He awoke, Hitler was gassing Jews by the thousands. He woke up right before the liberation, which He orchestrated, of course. He had also taken a brief, brief nap when 9/11 happened. This time, He only needed a tic—about a week in our time. Since His usual Head Angel (OK, Archangel, if you insist)—Gabriel—was mediating things in the Ukraine, Zeke was in charge by default.
God had no shape or form when It was in Heaven. It was like ether only filmier. There was a translucent quality to It which would unnerve any human who saw It. It grew completely transparent as It slept—and It only dreamed in black and white. Nobody knew what It dreamed about because It never talked about it. Only Zeke had an inkling—and he wasn’t talking. He took great pride in being the one in charge while God slept, so he wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize his chance to take over the job permanently.
“Where the fuck did You go?” I shouted, splashing water in frustration. Damn it, this wasn’t doing my nerves any good. I shut my eyes, added hot water with my toe and tried to forget about God. Funny, I hadn’t thought about Him in years, and now it seemed as if I was doing nothing but think of Him. And this damned baby growing inside of me. Well, at least I didn’t have to do anything special to make it grow properly.