Sweet Jesus

by Amy Turn Sharp


We stole the baby Jesus from the nativity scene of the old United Methodist Church during the Christmas break that I broke up with boy with the silver eyes. I had spent most of December in my room listening to Oasis moan from my boom box and eating mini muffins from the gas station. Every morning I would hear my dad start the engine of his old truck. It sounded like a volcano. I knew it was another day to feel shitty. Clockwork Ford pick up truck memory match.
My dad went to work early and then later when I smelled the food and the hairspray that gagged the back of my throat, I knew that my mother would come into my room and run her fingers through my hair and kiss me on the forehead and tell me that everything was going to be fine. She would leave and I would pilfer through her personal items and sip the world's tiniest sips of the ancient Bacardi rum that was hidden in the back bedroom closet while I waited for the day to fall.  Everyone was working and the boredom crossed the walls with the sunlight, the amber color slipping over the room, and over my body as I reclined in the mustard yellow chair. 
My friends would come over and try and drag me out to the pub in town. They would ask me to go to the mall or invite me to parties. I would stand in corners at these places and be shocked at the merriment around me. Why was I the only one that felt the still sadness of December? I almost wrecked my car that winter when I hear the "Counting Crows" come out with "A Long December" song. It was like someone else got the shit I thought. I swerved in front of the little bakery in my town. I swerved and it was like the first time that I smiled in weeks.
My friend Tally thought it would be a good idea to steal the baby Jesus from the nativity set. She said it would make me laugh and I would stop thinking of the boy who broke my heart. Tally was a true blue criminal mind. I didn't know it yet, but she had maps and plans and even guns inside of her head. 
The problem wasn't even stealing it. It was easy. We just parked the car two streets up from the church and ran to the back of the nativity set. It was a big outfit with a manger made of wood and it must have been about six foot tall. I knocked over the illuminated wise man when I tried to reach into the manger. Jesus was heavy. He was not made of cheap plastic like the others, but something dense and hard. I shoved him inside of my hoodie and ran back to the car. 
We sat in Tally's kitchen and smoked small tight joints. Her mother was working the night shift at the paper factory and we had the place to ourselves. Jesus was still in my hoodie, in a makeshift hippy baby carrier sort of fashion. We burst giggles that reverbed around her small house. Tally said that her mother told her things about the future. She said that there would be a lot of people who don't love you back. She said it was just the way it unfolds. Even for the lucky ones. She braided my hair while I sat on the linoleum floor and cried. 
It's all relative she would say, a phrase she borrowed from her mother.
Like in ten years this will be so stupid to you. 
You won't even know him.
You won't even know this person anymore.

I held Jesus tighter. I was warming his cold body with my breasts. I could see through the walls. Into the future. My mouth moving. Smeared red lipstick and teeth. Why do we have hearts that break? I am so thankful that the internet wasn't in my life then. I am so happy that I could not have texted love poems to the boy with silver eyes. I would have been a hazard to myself. I had to wait. I had to sit with my grief. I had to not know.
Tally said she wasn't even afraid of the future. Of love. Of anything.
And she wasn't.
And I don't even know her anymore.

Sweet Jesus was put back in the manger the next morning, but for several years after that night, I would steal him. I would steal him and take him over to Tally's house. It was like a joke to her, but to me it was some sort of ritual. Something that someday I would tell you about to remind you of the future.