One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord, “You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

Personally, I thought this was kind of a cop-out on my Lord’s part.

“Then why did I feel so alone? Why did I call out your name and you didn’t answer?”

The Lord looked towards the sky. “I had to eat sometime. I mean, you’re kind of heavy.”

“Wait, what?”

The Lord sat and sighed. “Okay, I carried you some of the time. But others… well, we were near a 7-11, and sometimes I just needed a taco, or a Slurpee, or a Slim Jim and–”

“Wait, first, 7-11 does not serve tacos. They didn’t even serve Taquitos or nachos until recently, and how come you didn’t pick me up some? When my sister died in that horrible car wreck, and I found out she had been sleeping with my first husband and she had two kids by him, I jolly well could have used a Slurpee to cheer me up.”

“Who uses the term ‘jolly well’ since the 1800s?” my Lord asked.

“You’re missing the point. I could have used you when that happened, or when I found out I couldn’t have kids because my low-income medical job gave me low-dose radiation poisoning, or that my best friend since high school wanted to be a man AND was in love with me.”

“I always thought Terry was a little odd…”

“Lord, look. I appreciate those times when you walked beside me. My life was happier during those times. I didn’t get hit on by mustached pot-bellied men at the bar, I didn’t take that stripping job, and when I won the lotto, you prevented me from wasting it and got me in a decent investing scheme that paid annual dividends that allowed me to pay for school and get the hell out of that North Carolina hell-hole.”

“But you wasted that nursing career by going to a hospital that was twice closed down due to health code violations.”

“Yeah, I looked down… SINGLE SET OF FOOTPRINTS, HEL-LO?!”

The Lord nodded. “Right. There was a Monopoly game thing going on at McDonald’s that month.”

“Look, do we have some kind of agreement or can you warn me when you stop at Starbucks for a latte? I’ll stay at home and sit in bed. Masturbate and watch Oprah or something.”

“Yeah, about that… I kind of… don’t want to be around you during… you know what, I have to ask, can’t you use a SEPARATE hairbrush for that?”

I was aghast. “You watch me?”

The Lord snorted, “Not by choice. For my self’s sake, a real dildo costs like $40. Even the top models can’t go for less than $200 for an anal attachment.”

“Am I really going to discuss my self-pleasuring habits with you, Lord? How come you can’t do your junk food jaunts when I am doing… THAT?”

“I am afraid something will get stuck up in there, and they you’ll be all ‘SINGLE SET OF FOOTPRINTS’ on me. What, do you think I’m your personal bodyguard? Why can’t you do stuff for yourself? Why am I always the deity who has to guide you away from danger like you’re some clueless toddler wandering into a rodeo ring? Why do I have to be there, listening to you call out my name because you ate more suspicious truck stop hoagies and are in a bathroom stall paying for the consequences of YOUR OWN ACTIONS??”

“I… I didn’t think you were there.”

“DOUBLE set of footprints, young lady, with a diarrhea trail between one of them..”

“Okay, okay. I get it. Do not call out the Lord’s name in butt pain.”

The Lord wasn’t done with his rant. “You think that bacon’s been handled properly? Even the eggs the flies lay on it won’t hatch! Who puts a fried egg on hamburgers? If that snake in Eden tried to tempt you with one of those greasy 2000 calorie monstrosities, I wouldn’t have kicked you out, I would have burned you where you stood.”

“Harsh words,” I said.

“I gave you some many chances. I kept your step-dad from molesting you. I got you some badly needed cash when you were about to strip for it. I even helped you pass your nursing exams. And for what? So you could continue to stumble around, blaming others for your bad choices, and then have the nerve to accuse ME of not helping you ever step of the way. You can’t make any decision for yourself. You know that? You’re a nurse, who took and passed nutrition courses and exams, and yet every week you’re sidling up to a truck stop and swiping your debit card for something called a ‘Breakfast Belly Buster.’ Remember Mr. Calhoun in room 21b? The one you chastised for allowing his grandson to sneak in a bunch of chocolate bars when he’s a borderline death watch diabetic? I was the one that made him miss his bedpan. And while you cleaned it all up, you had the NERVE to tell him what a bad patient he was!”

Wow. The Lord’s fury was definitely not to be trifled with. That hospital bed was like a Jackson Pollock painting.

“And another thing, if I can’t leave you alone for five minutes, FIVE MINUTES, without coming back and seeing you flirting with some random guy named ‘Snakes,” I should just let you ride that one out. Single footprints all the way.”

“Snakes is sweet,” I said.

“He was just released from prison, for the FOURTH time, for aggravated assault, burglary, and drug possession with the intent to distribute. Something tells me if the first three times didn’t fix his wagon, then the fourth won’t EITHER!”

“Fix his wagon? Now who’s using the 1800s lingo?”

“You don’t even have the sense I gave a goose! You’re like a 24×7 nuisance. Side by side we go, and I have to say, ‘don’t step on the sharp rocks, sweetie…’ ‘don’t put that jellyfish in your mouth, love…’ and ‘that shark is not your friend, sug…’ All the time. I should just bury you on this beach up to your neck and let the seagulls peck at you.”

I sighed in resignation. He was right. When the Lord was with me, I didn’t pay attention, and when he wasn’t, I didn’t take consequence for my actions.

“Damn right, lady!” the Lord said, because he could read minds. “And speaking of reading minds, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t look disparagingly at my sandals.”

“It’s 2010, Lord. Get some Tevas or something. Those haven’t been in fashion since your son rode into Galilee.”

“Fashion advice from someone who wears a 3XL Disney ‘Tinkerbell: Bad Girl’ tee-shirt. Oh, again with the son thing. That’s original. Look, I didn’t come down to earth to get some woman pregnant like I was that horny Zeus or something. Now that guy had like half a million mortal offspring. It’s almost to the point where everyone’s related to him by now at some point in their family tree!”

“What? Jesus was not your–”

“NO! He was not my son. I don’t go and make the nasty with the mortal populace. I am a God, and do not need such amusement. I mean, I made that pretty damn clear to Moses and his band of orgy-starved slaves in Deuteronomy 5:6-7. But no, they tack on a revised edition and POOF, I am a deadbeat dad! Sure, a dead guy named to a instrument of Roman torture isn’t an idol replacing me as the center of worship! NOOooOOOooo!” The Lord rolled her eyes and pounded his fist into his knee. I wasn’t sure how to react. “You think if I had a son, he’d be riding a winged horse and slaying Medusa. Now Perseus, THERE was a demi-god! But no, the second a bunch of followers even make me a nice craft project like a calf made out of macaroni and gold paint, people got apeshit and say what a vengeful, ungrateful father I am.”

I was stunned. “Wow. I… I didn’t know.”

“Biggest mistake? Letting a bunch of celibate monks transcribe my works. There’s an editorial staff that would be the envy of the New Yorker, let me tell you. Suck the fun and wit out of everything. But I digress. NEXT TIME you bitch about how I stopped walking with you, maybe you should see if you can set a decent set of footprints in the sand on your own without wandering into the surf and then calling out you’re drowning like some over-bred farm turkey. So let me get a damn bit of food, which while it’s bad for mortals, my superior stomach can handle that level of carbs, fry grease, and worm eggs.”

“Okay…” I said. We were silent for a while as the waves crashed on the shore.

“Tough love from the Lord’s lips to your mortal ears,” he said finally. He held out his fist. “We good…?”

I fist-bumped him back. “We good.”

————–
This short fiction is copyright 2010 Grig Larson. No reproduction is allowed without the author’s written consent.

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