IFJ Collection Four

This Instrument Only Plays Ween Covers
“Do you just keep me around for entertainment value?” I asked, and he laughed.

“Let’s just say this is a mutually beneficial relationship.” He was knitting a sweater out of bright orange yarn, which wasn’t something you usually saw a guy in a suit doing. It was a fascinating scene.

“When I offered myself up to be used as God’s instrument, I didn’t expect I’d become His comedy relief,” I said. I watched as he counted stitches, then scowled and pulled a few out.

“He always uses the right tool for the job. You thought that maybe, once you became a Christian, you’d suddenly find yourself called to some stolid and serious ministry? Like, He’d have you out there in a lace-collared blouse bringing casseroles and pamphlets to grieving widows?”

I plucked at the hem of my Chick Magnet shirt. “Yeah, sort of. I’d worried about it.”

He smiled, glancing up at me briefly. “God needs weird-ass people like you, too,” he said.

Death and Happiness
Invisible Friend Jesus sat quietly knitting, and I leaned back against his knees, picking the black polish off my fingernails. “The search for happiness is really just a longing for death,” I said.

His knitting needles stopped clicking. “You’re super emo today,” he said.

I huffed and hid my black-painted fingernails under my butt. “I’m not trying to be emo.”

The needles started up again. “Well, explain that one to me, then.”

“Everyone is always searching for perfection,” I said. “They throw themselves madly into the economic dog pit, trying to pile up enough money and possessions to reach a glorious state where they never have to worry about money or possessions again. They search for pure, true, unchanging love, or spend their lives trying to build a Utopia, hoping to eradicate the disease, violence, hunger and unhappiness that have plagued the Earth since the dawn of time. They create fantasies and live in them, escaping from this world into another. Or they seek ecstasy through dope or alcohol or sex.” I caressed the tattoo on my wrist. Let me dream, it says. “People can’t exist free of worry and hurt. That perfection doesn’t exist here. This is a place of pain and toil. People aren’t living on Earth when they strive for happiness, they’re longing for Heaven.”

“It’s not all pain and toil, Tinkerbell,” he said. “People are striving for perfection, it’s true. They’re trying to bring the Kingdom of God here to Earth. It’s a worthwhile pursuit.”

“Sometimes,” I muttered. “Other times, I think people just end up making themselves and others more miserable that way.”

He sighed. “People will insist on doing that. But the beauty and joy is there for them, they just have to embrace it. People don’t have to wait until death to be happy.”

I hugged my knees. “I was dead once,” I said.

“You overdosed once. Yes, I remember. I was there.”

I turned to look at him, frowning. “Were you? Because, you know, they said I quit breathing and everything. And I didn’t see you. It was…nothing. Just darkness.”

He put his knitting down. “I was there,” he said, and then he raised his eyebrows. “I promised eternal life, and abundant life, and I didn’t lie. But don’t forget, Tinkerbell, that your eternal and abundant life is now. It’s not something you’re waiting for.” I nodded. He smiled at me and tossed the sweater he’d been knitting into my lap. “For you,” he said.

I unfurled it. It was big, knobby and orange, and it had “Winter is Coming” written on it in black. I snorted. “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” I said, grinning lopsidedly at him.

He shrugged. “I love Game of Thrones.”

“Winter is never coming in Shandon,” I muttered, and he poked me playfully with one of his knitting needles.

“Don’t be so sure,” he said.

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