Friday, April 09, 2010

Dear Jesus Box

Cherie Polite never expected to open her email and find a message from a deity. But here on her computer, was an email from Jesus with the subject heading: “More sex. More often. More exciting.”

She deleted it. After all, she was not one to bother saints or gods with prayers for succor, so she felt it unnecessary to be spammed, especially by a Jesus with a surname of 'Sanchez'.

Her singular connection to religiosity involved a rustic hanging cupboard of solid pine covered with green paint and artfully distressed to show the mustard-colored grain. From one important occasion to another, Cherie placed keepsakes on its shelves,  memorabilia of her life. With them she enclosed chatty notes.

Dear Jesus: Sister Regina told me to stand in front of the class because I couldn't answer a question. She had the students say all together, ‘Cherie is a dimwitted girl.’ When I got the courage to say it wasn’t a nice thing to do, Sister told me to mind my manners. ‘Cherie Polite, be polite!’  The class laughed.

*  *  *

When the boy next door asked her to marry him, both sets of parents – blatantly eavesdropping – took turns walking past the room where the young man perched on his knee and held out a velvet box. Cherie looked down at the ring.

Dear Jesus: I'm happy I’m getting married, though I'm really not sure he's the answer to my prayers―if I did pray anymore―but then, what do I know?

*  *  *

Three months after the marriage, Cherie placed the annulment papers in the box.

Dear Jesus: Found out the answer to my question.

*  *  *

After moving to a new town, Cherie accepted a neighbor's invitation to join a Bible study group. She told herself it was just a way to meet the locals. During the coffee break, one woman gave her a slice of cake.

“You're gonna be happy here,” she said. “Prayer is power. Why, one morning I went to the building supply store and before I turned into the driveway I said, 'Oh Lord, please let me find a parking space by the door.' Guess what?”

Dear Jesus: Coffee was good, though.

*  *  *

One incandescently cloud-free Sunday morning on her last day in town before she moved back home, Cherie's friend telephoned. “Hey, wanna go hear the Dalai Lama speak?” Louie asked.

By the time they reached the event, it was too late.  As far as Cherie could see, after enlightenment came celebration. There were many hundreds of people singing, dancing, and playing frisbee in the open field.

“Wow, look over there,” Louie said, directing her attention to a woman wearing Tibetan garb. She was rubbing the head of a young boy seated near her on a straw mat as she talked to similarly attired women, all clutching beads and laughing. The boy, oblivious, played with a hand-held game.

“That kid has the latest model. Now that's a religious experience,” Louie said. 

Dear Jesus: Much belief . . . and joy . . . for people today. Even Louie!

Early the next morning, Cherie hitched a ride with Louie's cousin back to her hometown. For most of the trip, Franny talked in a scurry of words. “Just think,” she said at one point, “I actually heard the Dalai Lama.” She smiled. “I just love that inner peace.”

Franny saw a large sign on the right. “Food! There’s a rest stop in two miles. How about it?”

Cherie was writing in her notebook.

“Well?”

Cherie looked at Franny, who pointed to the exit. “Want to get some food?”

Dear Jesus: Yes. I'm hungry for that too.

49 comments:

  1. Dear Jesus: I appreciate you sending people like Mizz Alice my way, even though her order is slightly askew, for she has almost but a smile on my sad face with her well-written, well-paced and oh-so-well delivered tale.
    Dear Jesus: I should write more.
    Sorry about that.

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  2. I've read what maybe 15 flashes this week, and THIS IS MY FAVOURITE!! What a killer first line, I seem to remember you did that with last week's first paragraph, ushered the reader in wholly and economically right into the world in just a few words.

    Excellent craft.

    marc nash

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  3. This is SOOO funny, I love how playful this piece is and the whole Sanchez surname is a hoot..

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  4. Cherie has a great voice. I could read a lot more about her.

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  5. The voice in this is outstanding. Kept me reading and loving it.

    Well done.

    Jim

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  6. I loved the series of snapshots in this piece. Bravo!

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  7. Dear Jesus: thank you for directing me to this person's blog.

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  8. I was expecting some sort of fantasy/supernatural element but even when one didn't show up I stayed completely enthralled in the story. Nice job!

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  9. Loved the nun scenerio. I'd been there myself. LOL!
    Very creative, the way you moved Cherie through her life of disappointments. She handled it well and continued to have faith.
    I loved it, Marissa.

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  10. Marisa, I was cracking up throughout Cherie's life. Very well-written, and as Marc mentioned, your first words always draw a Big Hook. This one in particular immediately reminded me of the junk mails my mom sends, which usually has something about faith, followed by dirty jokes. That just kills me!
    Thanks for a fun read!

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  11. Oh I do love the way you write. This is a lovely story, and I think it's actually a lovely idea! Plus, neat use of the Jesus spam. I've had that too!

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  12. This is my favorite you've written yet, Marisa! Such character in all the twists between the letters for the box, narrative and dialogue. Keeps the mind turning and some really sweet and kind of funny substance in it all.

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  13. Loved this piece Marisa. Loved Cherie and her attitude.

    Dear Jesus, I hope Cherie fills her hunger.


    [sidenote: I have a reader named "Jesus Crisis" - he's a really intersting guy. :0)]

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  14. This was ace. So sweet and funny.
    The spam bit was hilarious

    "Coffee was good though" *snicker*

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  15. This was sweet, nice ending. Maybe I should start my own box like that.

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  16. "Dear Jesus: Yes. I'm hungry for that too." Spiritual and physical nourishment. Fun and laughter. I LOVE this one, Marisa--maybe the best of all I've read of yours. (Then again, I'm a theologian. ;) Excellent, excellent writing. I could've kept reading for much, much longer... (And WHERE did you get the photo? Was it a prompt, one you took, or did you just happen to find the perfect photo for you story? It's so perfect.)

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  17. My own "Sister Regina" was a geography teacher, & just the mention of her name still makes me squirm! Great story - hope Cherie has something much more joyful to add to the box soon :-)

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  18. This was so funny on the surface and so sad beneath it. I hope she finds the 'real' people amongst the chaff.

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  19. It kept me wondering what she would be thankful for next. Love the annulment line

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  20. The search goes on and on and on. Cherie Polite is a fabulous name, this is a fabulous tale. ~ Olivia

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  21. Delicious.
    I think I got that same spam...

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  22. Cute piece. I liked the descriptions!

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  23. The name as well as the concept of the Jesus Box are brilliant strokes in one of your most delightful pieces. I think lots of us have thrown wistful, bemused or just amused half-prayers in jesus boxes of our own.

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  24. Oh how cool that we both have characters that are hungry this week. I like the structure of this and I like Alice a lot.

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  25. Oops, I meant I like Cherie a lot. Is my sleep deprivation showing again?

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  26. Wow! This story was so interesting and I love the way you wrote it with the letters. I agree that the beginning was stupendous! And, Cherie was so sweet and patient through all her trials to find true peace - I hope she found it.

    This really was a very creative story and very compelling!

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  27. Marisa, I loved the snapshots! I would say she's got a more genuine prayer life than a lot of the fundamentalists. Jesus probably appreciates her sense of humor, too. :)

    CD

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  28. Loved this one for sure. Upbeat with a strong voice and character. So good. I love to read your flash.

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  29. With a beginning like that, how could I stop reading? Great story.

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  30. You are so skilled at writing rich and vivid characters, and then placing them in such imaginative situations. This, of course, is no exception. I love the form you chose for this, and the title (you're also great at those) and the whimsy. Well done, Marisa.

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  31. This is a cool story. I had to read it a second time to figure out why I liked it so much. It's not all spelled out, but there's enough implied. Well done and thank yuh.

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  32. I too laughed at the beginning :-). I found this piece so very sweet and innocent.

    I always enjoy your posts.
    ~2

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  33. Excellent story! Loved the line about the woman praying for a close parking space and getting it. Made me laugh. Sounds like something Homer Simpson would do.

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  34. This is absolutely brilliant. I'm always better off for reading your work.

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  35. The flashing scenes here were beautifully and faithfully drawn. It's good to have a personal relationship with Jesus, alright.

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  36. Excellent voice to this, Marisa, and a great use of the form. Well done!

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  37. Very nice, and there's so much to relate to in it. I love the prayer box, and the parking space, and the Dalai Lama, and the nuns, and... and everything.

    Excellent, clean writing.

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  38. An incandescent day - I love it :)

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  39. This was a delight. From the first words, I was in her world. Fantastic voice, a real charmer.

    Take care,
    Jess

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  40. How did I miss this one until now? Original, creative, funny in the I've-got-a-smile-on-my-face way, and a kick-ass last line. (Can I say er, butt in a jesus story?)

    As the others have said, perfect voice too.

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  41. Awesome! Very creative and funny! I love the whole concept!

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  42. Delightful Mari-girl!

    I too loved the snapshots from Cherie's life, especially how you chose to portrait each moment. What a compelling piece!

    Her relationship with Jesus is the healthier that there is. ;)

    I know you've been asked to write a serial and said no, but I'm most curious to see a longer story of yours. Maybe you could consider The Penny Dreadful? I'm sure it'd be fun! (at least for us, heheh)

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  43. Dear Jesus ~ send more to the box via this blog, becausethis wasn't enough for me. :)

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  44. I really like this. I could see it continuing into a book.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  45. Lovely writing. And I think it's going to stick with me a while. It deserves a good mulling and a couple rereads. ;)

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