The metal detector goes ´bing´.
One in. One out. - the sign says.
So we all wait patiently for our turn.
Two pats on the shoulder and the queue moves forward.
My soul is bought with a short lease. So hurry up, please! - I shout at the crowd.
No one is moved by my humorous plea.
And so I wait...
No flesh. No flash. No dogs. No cats. No nail guns. No knives. No cheating wives. - chants the guard with the red tassel hat as we enter the holiest church.
I dive in the sea of selfies on sticks and loudly exclaim -
Jesus, say ´cheeeese´.
Why do you look so pale and stiff?
Mary, quick! Bring him a spritz.
Jesus, you need some fresh air.
Let´s get the wind comb your hair.
We sit outside on the cold marble stairs and wait for Mary.
Not a bad day for February. - I say.
The holy spirit is having a blast. - Jesus says.
Where? - I ask.
Over there by the pile of garbage. The big well-fed seagull. - he says.
Which one? - I ask again.
The one pecking at the homeless woman´s dinner. - Jesus sneers.
They all seem well- fed to me and they all peck at the food of others. - I argue. Except for the poor pigeon that is about to get eaten by that orange cat.
Oh, yes. This is how it goes. You know that better than me.
One in, one out... is what the Bible says.
Let him rest in peace. - I add.
Amin - we say together.
Let´s talk about something else. Death upsets me these days. - I say.
I know we´ve only just met but I feel it is the start of a great friendship. I want to see the holy spirit. Show me again. Where did it go?
It is now right in front of the soup kitchen. - Jesus says. The seagull that is surrounded by two guards in full armor. You see it?
I abruptly stand up and loudly proclaim -
One deep breath and I continue -
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…
Jesus, what comes next? - I ask. For the... for we...for me... Nevermind, I got it.
I turn up the volume so people could hear me -
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Our struggle... my struggle... your struggle. ... Oh God, how do you handle that juggle? - I add cheekily.
And then I continue -
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when ...
Oh, sit down. And stop fooling around with God´s words. - Jesus says.
Ok, ok. You are right. I am sorry. - I mumble.
We sit in silence for a minute and watch the holy spirit hover over the crowd - thousands of people, all different, all the same, some worthy of love, some of salvation through long and tedious starvation.
Jesus, I wonder how much do my sins cost. Maybe my savings will cover the bill? - I ask.
I doubt it. You´ve been around for far too long. Redemption is out of your pocket. - Jesus says.
Are you feeling better? - I ask.
I think so. I am just a little bit tired. That is all. - he says. Mainly tired of all that waiting. Waiting for Mery, waiting for dad´s approval, waiting for the stupid Hale- Bopp comet.
What? The Bidipi Bobiti what? I didn´t get any of that.
Doesn´t matter. You will see one day. - Jesus says.
An old beggger interupts us with her millionth ´please´.
Should I give her some money? - I ask.
I wouldn´t. - says Jesus. Her soul is up for re-lease, so better save up for someone else´s touching ´please´.
I guess you are right but then why do I feel so ugly inside? Could we help her just this one time? Show her how serene life can be when you don´t worry about the bad weather. How a warm home makes you feel brave and a cooked dinner- safe. What it is like to look people in the eyes and not in thier feet.- is what I want to say.
Instead, all I utter is a quick and dirty - ´Ok.´
Mery comes out just in time to save me from my thorny thoughts- Jesus, there´s no wine in the Vatican cellar. People are thirsty. Let´s get them some more before they expell us.
She takes him by the hand and I catch a glimpse of his wounded wrists. The scars are fresh. I can tell by the pinkish flesh. Can´t take my eyes off of them. Jesus, stares me down and I give him my most charming frown. Then we all shake hands and they head off to the next holy land.
I watch them as they walk away - Mery in her adrogenous robe with bare feet covered in dirt, Jesus in his denim jacket with the sign on the back - ´In God we trust´ and the ominous small print underneath - Property of ´Heaven´s Gate´.
The next week I got a spam email signed by someone named Marshal and Bonnie.
Hale-Bopp brings closure to Heaven's Gate ... Our 22 years of classroom here on planet Earth is finally coming to conclusion – 'graduation' from the Human Evolutionary Level. We are happily prepared to leave 'this world' ...
The end is near. And we should all embrace our fear.
And the metal detector gows ´bing´ once again.
St. Peter pats me on the shoulder and the queue moves forward.
All in. None out.
Time to wake up for the first time.
Please, read this:
This was Mila Ivanova’s graduation short story, published here exactly as submitted.