Some word associations stay forever: kneeling, I think of prayer; a dove, the Holy Spirit; a whale, Jonah; salt, Lot's wife; a snake, Eden; an apple, Eve; rain, Noah; the manger, a star; the baby Jesus, wise men; silver, Judas; the cross, nails; the tomb, resurrection; wine, miracles; the(more) disciples, fishermen; the Inn, no room; Mary Magdalene, long hair; the Rapture, 666; the Garden of Gethsemane, a long night.
She'd not wanted me to go. She said as much on the phone to my friend's mother.
"Well I didn't think it much of a big -- well alright, well I'm sorry--"
My friend's mother only had one good eye that morning. She'd dropped sour candy into her e(more)ye mistaking them for saline. The right side of her face looked patched and surgical.
Inside they'd made write my name in crayon on a piece of paper. I tacked it onto the board alongside everyone else's, and wondered if they knew I wasn't coming back. I think we'd colored. I nodded blankly, but I nodded blankly often and everywhere.
Years later I was at a youth hostel waiting for my sister, when I saw in an old crate a collection of religious fables. Noah was redressed as a smiling cartoon as he welcomed each animal aboard the boat. It was about fifty thick cardboard pages that summed up the New Testament in eight hundred words. I never tell people this, but I still have the book. I'd stowed it beneath my shirt that day when the hostel manager wasn't looking. (less)