What Would Jesus...

Entry by: jaguar

23rd December 2016
What would Jesus think of her? Sobbing on this narrow bed in a dead-end dorm all her fight punched out. Listening to the hungry cries of a baby she had no right to have. What if Mary had given up like she had, let them take Jesus away? Only Mary had Joseph and, right now, Eileen had no-one. Ronnie, who she might have been able to ask about things, was a country and a sea away from her. Lost she reckoned, sent back home to London, gone for good.

Were you allowed to compare yourself to Mary? Eileen couldn’t remember the Nuns ever saying. It had all been Mary this and Virgin that but no clear instructions on how to live except to shut up, be grateful and remember what a total toe-rag she was. Eileen had never felt like a toe-rag though. There was something in her believed she was special. Ma said Eileen was inflated with her Da’s silly love. Whatever happened to her, however far she went under, he’d filled a self-righting device with his kisses.

Eileen had been five when he died. She struggled to remember those kisses - warm, wet and enthusiastic as a dog’s. Unlike Ma’s mouth which held constant chivvying, cursing and complaints. Mind you Eileen would have complained herself with the hard lot and the pain. She hadn’t been the easiest child, she knew that. All her neediness and her questions. The fact that she never took to the cheaper food, the draftier and draftier lodgings.

She’d liked the hospital corridor even less. Hours waiting for them to fix Ma and then the news that Ma was broken and had had to be thrown away. Some harassed nurse thinking that a child might understand comparing her mother to a toy, that Eileen didn’t know the difference between a person and a thing. She’d been so indignant she hadn’t breathed properly through all their sweeping – out of the hospital, into offices and wards that smelt loudly of disinfectant.

She dreamt that she was a filing card being placed in an index. Her limbs were cardboard, her mouth taped shut, her eyes crusted with dust, painful to open. Too many kisses from Da and then none for eight years. Functional touches, man-handling her into hideous clothes, ghastly schools, stark playgrounds where she was always going to be the easy pick.

At first religion had been a comfort. The Nuns held Jesus up as an example so he seemed sympathetic, to hate the money-spinners, the selfish and the mean as much as Eileen did. At night the only way she slept was to picture herself cradled in his giant hand. A forcefield against this world that seemed to hold nothing for her. Something between her and them.

Yet that same religion turned on her when the Nuns found Ronnie in Eileen’s iron creak bed. They told Eileen she was an abomination, an offence to all decent people, something against nature. Eileen held her hands over her mouth to stop herself screaming as Ronnie was wrenched away. What happened between her and Ronnie was the most natural thing in the world. It had only been for warmth.

But it had horrible consequences. Now here she was, enormous, trapped by her sin in this hope vacuum. More alone than she’d ever been because now she’d been a part of someone, somebody who fitted perfectly so she knew what was missing. Then the Priest had shouted at her what would Jesus think? He'd drowned her dreams with his shouting and shown her how it really was on the floor of his septic, twisted Church. He said he couldn’t blame Ronnie, it was all Eileen was good for. No crying out, no telling anyone what had been done to you until it was too late to put it right and, in this country, it always seemed to be too late to put it right.

Not that she would anyway. Her child was an innocent, a baby without a place to be this night of all nights. Eileen was almost grateful the babe would be taken from her first thing tomorrow, somewhere far away from her pointless life. Almost grateful she was too young to have to care for it in these same hospitals corridors that had swallowed Da, then Ma, whole.

A girl strode up the dimly-lit ward. The orderlies came at her from the edges. One tried to stop her by stepping in her path. Ronnie threw him over her head, smacked her hands on her forearms and snarled in her sharp, London accent: ‘Stay the hell away from me you retards.’ Whipping round she addressed the crowd of Nuns advancing like hyenas. ‘That goes for you too, Irish bitches. You have no legal right to restrain her here. This is 1974 not the Dark Ages.’

Ronnie stood at the end of Eileen's bed like an avenging Angel. She nodded at the baby and grinned. 'Has there been some kind of second coming?'

Eileen wondered what would Jesus do faced with a choice between a familiar Religion that strangled and a strange love resurrected after hope had died. A laugh choked her throat because what Ronnie had said was both blasphemy and the truth. It was a Second Coming all right but not for Jesus, it was a more everyday miracle.