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Convert

Lori Zimmermann

I felt it again, today. The divine attention: the music of the spheres. The air vibrating with it: God's own radio waves. I stretched out my arms and said, "Here I am!" And I was looked upon by the all-seeing. I haven't felt like that since before I sent Jesus away.

What a friend I had in Jesus, for awhile. My personal god. Someone to watch over me. Someone to see if I did the dishes or left them in the sink until the next night, or forever. Someone to smile on me when I remembered to brush my teeth. Someone to hold my hand back from snatching the tube of lipstick off the drugstore shelf and pocketing it without paying. Someone to put an arm out on the subway platform, saying, no. Stay. Wait for the train.

I got tired, eventually, of breaking Jesus' heart.

Most days, I'd leave the bed unmade. "It's alright," he'd say, patting my shoulder. "You'll do better tomorrow." Some days I wouldn't even get out of bed. He'd lie down next to me and murmur, "I still love you." I always felt remorse; he always forgave me. He forgave again and again. How could I help but hurt him? He held me in his heart of hearts.

The people in the street, the people on the train: they poked at their phones as if I wasn't even there. I felt Wrath whipping me around. Jesus held my elbow in his palm. He had perfect balance, even in the subway. He stroked my cheek.

"You should go," I told him.

"I will always be with you," he said.

"I keep disappointing you," I said.

"My love is boundless," he said. "You will always have a place by my side."

"No," I said. "No. I don't want you here. Not like this."

"You must have faith," he said. He would have carried me on his back through forty deserts.

"Go away!" I told him, yelling on the train car. "I deny you! I cast you out! Get away from me! I don't know you!"

He didn't even wait for the next stop to get off.

 

For awhile I was lost, wandering around the apartment, hooting like an empty flute in the wallpapered rooms. It was so quiet without Jesus' voice. So cold without his touch.

And then

today

this morning

I noticed the camera.

It's mounted on the building across the street.

It stares straight into my apartment window.

Its gaze is blue-black, round and inscrutable. It's been watching me, all day all night and I never noticed.

It's part of the CCTV network, of course. The police keep it up. Or the FBI--a private security company--it doesn't matter who. Someone does.

It is someone who does not forgive. Some heartless someone who could throw me in an offshore detention facility if I leave the dishes dirty for too long. So I will clean the dishes. I will get up at the same time every morning, and make the bed, and crease the sheets in all the correct places. I will rise and see the sun and the camera will watch me see the sun. Tonight the sun will set and I will sleep and it will watch me sleep, silent in its cool vigil. My impersonal god, made of plastic and glass and someone else’s eyes far away in another darkened room.

What a gift, to know: someone is watching me, always.


Lori Zimmermann is a graduate student in creative writing at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her usual mode of writing is poetry. When not reading, writing, or being confused by everyday 'rithmetic, she runs the Tumblr for Broadsided Press. Her work has previously appeared in Write on the DOT, Writers Tribe Review, Broad!, and Window Cat Press.