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Author: Naomi Shuyama

Jesuses, Marys and Julian

You had decided to meet in the middle. The lawyer, an existential middle-aged man who may have been a six-toed cat in a past life says, “Wait for me here.” You sit up front; concentrate on the sole crucifix hanging against the wall.

It is flat, but Jesus looks very much alive despite the gray green death skin. His matchstick arms extend like a conductor trying to fly away offstage, trying to find someone to hug. Not you though. Someone behind you, to your left. Julian perhaps. You turn to give him an encouraging nod. He is absentmindedly wringing blue veined hands. You are both so young and tired.

You pivot back to Jesus. He’s painted in Byzantine style. Apostles (just the fab five) behind him, with their long horse faces, whisper to one another. Probably about you. They know why you’re here. Jesus’ hair worms down his shoulders. His bird legs linger awkwardly between first and sixth position. Miniature sinister angels squat in the corners, watching the lead in a ballet of muted colors.

Julian sneezes nervously. Should you turn around to bless him? You can’t. You know that if you do, he will crumble. He will say the things he has said before, “But I love you. Isn’t that enough?”

It reminds you of the time you got lost in the European section of the Met, where you saw so many Jesuses you marked your place with them: Anorexic Jesus, Zombie Jesus, Aryan Jesus, Six-pack Jesus, Gnarly Tree Jesus. You add one more to your memory: Ballerina Jesus. You remember this one around someone’s neck as they bent to kiss your forehead.

You check out of the hotel rooms with your divorce decrees. You board your respective trains. He to New York. You to D.C. On the ride back, a child not much older than James would have been kicks your seat. To distract yourself, you google it. It’s a San Damiano. Not a crucifix, but an icon cross. Not Byzantine, but Romanesque. Not the fab five, but three Marys, the centurion and St. John. Not yours, but Francis of Assisi’s.

That night you dream of fire.

Flash Fiction by Naomi Shuyama

How to Lie

Tell him that you think he has an intelligent face with a nice Roman nose, that his boss just doesn’t see all that intelligence. Tell him that he is funny, that you share the same dark humor, fantasizing about tripping people into spike strips. Tell him he has a nice dick, even though it looks like a naked toe poking out of a holey sock. Tell your friends he has a nice dick, “six and a half inches at least.” Tell him, “Yes, right there feels good.” Tell him you came. Tell him during cleanup that it doesn’t bother you that his thick, curly chest hair sticks to your sweaty skin. Tell him that you love him too, after he confesses and looks into your dark eyes tenderly, possessively. Tell him you respect his political ideologies or rather his family’s. Tell him you like his family, especially his smelly, ugly ratlike dog. Tell him his mother isn’t meddling. Tell her that she’s lost weight. Tell her that you like her necklace, and when she buys you the same exact one, tell her you love it. Tell him you think he could be a successful artist. Laugh when his brother tells you Lucky 7 should cater your wedding. Tell his brother they taste great with soy sauce when he asks, “Do you have pets where you’re from?” Laugh when his mother says, “I’ve always wanted an Asian daughter-in-law.” Laugh louder when she says, “Halfies will be so beautiful.”

Tell him, “I do,” submissively, carefully before they can tell.

Flash Fiction by Naomi Shuyama