Mr Parsons made it sound exciting.
But mum told Joan that she was wicked.
She wasn’t allowed her dolls for a week,
a week she spent bemused and resentful
and she refused to poo for three days
until mum relented and gave her Barbie back
– but the rest would have to wait.
It had begun with Mr Parsons at Sunday School
with the story of the blind man and the mud and the spit.
We’d sat on the adult chairs in a circle
Me, Joan, Gemma, Charlie, and the Brown sisters.
knee to knee in a circle in the corner of the hall,
the one with the draft and the stacked chairs reminding us
that we were the remnant of a once thriving community.
He told us how Jesus made a paste of mud and spit
[Charlie thought this hilarious and spat at Gemma,
so he had to stand with his nose on the wall for the rest of the lesson]
and how Jesus slathered it on the man’s eyes and then told him
(unnecessarily we thought) to go wash it off.
It hadn’t worked first time – was that a first for Jesus? we speculated
and the second time the bloke saw people again
but he was told to keep it secret, which made no sense.
So that afternoon, after dinner, Joan got mud from the garden,
and pasted it onto Barbie’s legs which were abnormally long and made her topple over
and on my action man’s face on account of his ****** scar
which I thought looked cool, but was curious to see what happened.
She pasted it on Ken and Sindy too, but not for any specific ailment.
She followed the prescribed method, slather, wash and then repeat
(which I think she enjoyed a little too much to be honest)
but after the second wash there was no sign of any healing,
perhaps because, like mum said, she was so wicked,
unlike Jesus of course.
I’d never seen mum go that colour – she was livid,
she told Joan to go wash the mud stains off her hands
and to put her dress in the wash.
Joan couldn’t be Jesus and it was wrong to think she could.
That sort of thing wasn’t for little girls.
The next Sunday Mr Parsons seemed a little miffed.
He and dad and mum sat in the hall, knee to knee for ages.
I thought we were for the high jump,
but afterwards mum looked like a school girl caught stepping out of line.
Mum was very quiet and at dinner dad said that she had something to say
- to our horror, she apologised in front of all of us
and she told Joan it was okay to try and do what Jesus did.
It was what he would have wanted.
We were so ashamed for my mum
- neither of us tried to be Jesus ever again.
Arvon retreat - writing exercise about school memories. These are an amalgam with some imagination