Narrated by Reggie Lutz
God liked to play with my head. He was our new soccer mom. One week he would tell me little Billy was almost good enough to be a starter, the next week he’d go out of his way to list all the failings in my son. Starting at his birth. Billy was delivered by C section. I guess I was written out to die in childbirth, and my being here screwed up a thing or two.
You’d think, being God, he could fix anything.
I filled Dixie cups from the big five gallon thermos with the tap and handed them to God to hand out to the kids. God pretended I wasn’t there at all.
And I pretended he wasn’t slipping something into the drinks.
“So you’re here because of me?” I asked. Apparently he didn’t appreciate that I was here and it wasn’t because of him.
“Does it have anything to do with Billy?”
Five gallons of green Gatorade disappeared in a snap. God worked the children hard.
“Why don’t you teach them Bible verses instead of soccer?”
“This is more elegant.” God was rough and squat, but he ran like a dingo up and down the sidelines the whole time the children were in motion. I never knew God was the type to spit at a woman’s foot. He is. “Besides, in your culture, the learned are no longer revered. You tell a kid something that sounds smart, or something that came from a book, and he’ll go out of his way to forget it or dispute it. But you teach him teamwork, discipline, and how to kick someone in the balls really hard, he’s set for life.” God blew the whistle he wore on a chain and the kids dropped their cups and ran for the field. They were very obedient of God. They still gave cheek to their mothers.
It was my job to pick up thirty Dixie cups blowing around the field and not litter. God never said Don’t Litter, but it was ingrained. Besides, I wanted to be useful. Somehow. To prove I didn’t need to be dead.
After practice, while Billy changed his shoes, God lit into me again. “You know what’s wrong with your kid? You. First, you hugged him last week after I told you he’d had a good practice. You let him know how I felt. Even I don’t let them know what I’m really thinking. You said, You did good today. A dead giveaway! Then what did you make for dinner last Wednesday?”
“Hamburgers! His favorite.”
“Well, yes, it is his favorite.”
“After I’d gone out of my way to drive him hard and tell him he wasn’t doing good enough. To make him play harder. You undid all the work I did. With your stupid hugs and hamburgers.”
God didn’t spoil children, not even when they had freckles and two missing teeth. I had never seen him hug anyone. “But . . . Billy didn’t do good today? He scored twice. That’s more than usual.” Even a mother is careful standing up to a deity when it comes to her offspring. The mongoose is careful going after the snake. But which was I?
“Of course he scored! You don’t measure goodness on the ability to score. He wasn’t doing it for me or the team or even for himself.”
“And that’s bad?”
“He was doing it for you!”
God grabbed my chin and turned me back. “Do you see why that’s bad?”
“No.” I was welling up. My little boy went out of his way to score two goals—for me.
“Who’s he going to do it for when you’re gone? Sure, he’ll find someone. He’ll transfer his affections. He’ll do it for Daddy, then for his girlfriend. He’ll do it for his wife. You know where that leads? Disillusion. Bitterness. Let me teach him to play.” God dismissed me.
I hugged Billy as hard as I ever did. Harder, maybe, because my heart ached. He’d done something with me in mind. But someday he’d turn his affections. I was sad for myself. I took time to count his freckles, while they were still mine to count.
Billy said, “Love ya, Mom.” He kissed me on the cheek with that slurpy kiss sound that children learned young.
I helped him into the van. When I shut his door, my Billy safely secured, I saw God glaring at me.
I waved. He could take it away. Any second. But not this one. So long as I could hold it, this second was mine.
Polite as always, I didn’t flip him off. That’s not how I wanted my kid to grow up.
I guess it was a classic battle scene. Turning like a pinwheel, two colors from across the color wheel, glinting in the sun, needing the sun, and needing the wind.
“Hey, Mom, can we have hamburgers tonight?”
I double-checked my seatbelt. “Sure.”
“Did you see me score those goals?”
“I sure did. You did great.”
“That first one was for you.” He sounded proud.
“Just the first one? Who was the second one for? Your coach?”
I saw him shake his head in the rearview mirror. “It was for Sarah and Melissa. They’re cousins.”
“Sarah and Melissa?” What a little scamp.
“I tried to score a third goal, but Coach pulled me off to tie my shoe. So they’ll have to split it. For now.”
God stood beside the parking lot, smirking. He knew just how to break my heart.
AUTHOR BIO:A graduate of Bath Spa University in England, Dawn Wilson has had the pleasure to dabble in kitsch, surrealism, and espieglerie. Her work can be found in Rabbit Catastrophe Review and Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure while the author herself can be found dismantling the kitchen for wearable items.
ILLUSTRATOR BIO: Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning artist. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph , The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. See more of her photography at www.eleanorleonnebennett.zenfolio.com
NARRATOR BIO: Reggie Lutz is a mammal who breathes air, eats food and, er, well, you get the drift, right? She lives on top of a mountain in PA with a discerning parrot and an ever-hungry cocker spaniel who will eat all discarded first drafts provided they are made of peanut butter. Most recent publications includes the short story One Hundred Eye Curse in the anthology Greek Myths Revisited published by Wicked East Press. She blogs at http://reggielutz.blogspot.com