The following is a new piece for a larger writing project called "As We Know It" that I'm currently working on. There are other excerpts scattered around the blog should you want to look at them so this makes sense. Feel free not to!
If Hamish wasn’t going to answer the questions seriously, then she wasn’t going to bother holding his hand to increase the positive energy between them. She shuffled a few inches away from him on the cream sofa.
Things like this had been a lot easier when you were allowed to throw stones at each other. He strongly suspected instructing Hamish to launch a rock at Sarah’s head would land both of them in a fair bit of hot water with Mrs Shoe. She was on the militant end of the feminism scale, sort of where you’d expect Pol Pot to be had he been born with less appendages.
Hamish was sat very still on the sofa. His newly emptied hand was faintly clammy and quivering with nervous tension. He was fighting the tiny voice in his head that told him to stand up and go and tug Jesus’ beard. He absolutely couldn’t possibly be Jesus. Jesus could not be in the living room holding a copy of “Relationships: Sowing The Benefits” and trying to persuade his girlfriend that race was not an issue. Jesus could not be ginger.
He thought if he could just get to the beard he might be able to cover up the experimental tug with a complicated American sportsman style hug. Unfortunately, Jesus was rummaging in his bag for his reading glasses so he could check whether page 4 actually read “Focus on the levels of devastation you would feel should your partner come to farm.”
Privately, Jesus was hoping it did say “farm”. Farming was safer ground... if these two had fields to plough and cattle to keep alive then they’d have less time to bicker about sun tans and ages past cultural diversity. They’d barely have time to regret the marriage of convenience their parents had bartered them into if they were exhausted and covered in dirt.
Marriage had been simpler back when no one had really wanted to do it. These days, everyone wanted to make a meal out of it. “Marriage isn’t a buffet,” Jesus was fond of saying (although it hadn’t made the final edit), “You can’t just pick the bits you want. Marriage is a compulsory 60 year a la carte continuous delivery of courses. And some of the courses are gross. Think about that, and if it seems too much then perhaps just get a sandwich.”
Although, of course, all that sandwich advice had backfired massively with a sharp increase in the level of prostitution in towns Jesus had visited recently. That hadn’t gone down well with the folks up top. Even Jesus’ insistence that any increase in employment rates was a positive in an emerging planet’s economy had fallen on deaf ears. You couldn’t win with some people.
The trouble was, Jesus had never been married. Or, not officially so as the news was likely to travel back home anyway. He was a special mission, no time for fancy distractions. A marriage on the grounds of research purposes was morally repugnant for a man pedalling the next best religion since the one with all the sitting down. Besides which, there were very strict limitations on what you could and couldn’t claim as a business expense when you were staying away. Jesus had always assumed the alimony he’d likely end up paying would not be tax deductable.
Sarah spent a few moments analysing the expression on Jesus’ face. He looked troubled, either the glasses were the wrong prescription or he had just noticed the title of the book he was reading from. It had never occurred to her in her wildest dreams that even the Holy Trinity would succumb to some bad eBay choices too. “Only human, I suppose.”
“Maybe we could break for lunch?” She ventured, hoping the manners she’d learnt in case she was invited for tea with the Queen were going to be good enough for the Prince of Men. “I’ve got some bread.”
“He can’t have bread.” Said Hamish.
“Why not?” Said Sarah.
Jesus looked up from his book.
“It’s got yeast in it.”
“He can’t have yeast.”
Jesus wondered briefly what yeast was and why he couldn’t have it.
“Why not?” Said Sarah.
“I don’t know. It just says it in the Bible, doesn’t it.”
“In the Egyptian bit. They baked unleavened bread to go out with Moses.”
“Actually that was a bit before my time...” Jesus began.
“I don’t think they did it because he was allergic or anything.” Interrupted Sarah, “I think it was more a case of them not having time for the bread to rise because they were in a hurry to get away.”
“Oh,” Said Hamish thoughtfully, “So, does bread only take so long to cook because of the rising? Is it technically edible earlier?”
“I don’t know, I would imagine it’d give you a stomach ache.”
“Excuse me?” Said Jesus amicably.
“Yes?” Said Sarah.
“Well, I just wondered if we were going to be baking bread for lunch?”
“No, I’ve got some in the cupboard.” Said Sarah.
“Well then, we needn’t continue this conversation any further.” Replied Jesus and he shut the book and led the way into the kitchen to fix himself a sandwich. He was particularly interested in a new invention he’d got wind of involving butter and peanuts, although not necessarily in that order.