Lucy’s picture of heaven

Posted: 2011 in Post 4.4
Tags: , , , ,

Monday, March 26, 10:16 a.m.

“If anyone on earth deserves to be called a saint, it’s my mother,” Lucy says. “It’s an abomination to give Mandy Schirmer the same title as her. My mother’s beyond sainthood.”

What she is exactly Lucy can’t say, as I conduct her to her bedroom and lamely offer to a) call her dad, or b) fix her a peanut butter sandwich.

I get the sense, as she rants her way up the stairs, that in her mind her mother is something like a wronged, violated angel. What Holy Mary would have been, had she been raped, sodomized and mutilated.

Lucy kicks her door open and throws herself on her pink canopied bed, which has been colonized by an army of teddy bears wearing dried crowns of thorns.

“So…you okay? I need to get back to work,” I say.

Lucy stares up at me. Crap, she has such compelling eyes, just like her father! I’m never going to get out of here.

“I can’t remember her,” she says. “But I have a photo. I cut her head out.”

“Why?”

“Because,” she snorts. “It was this gross shot of her and my dad. He looked like a lecher, but my mother’s face was wonderful. Just like the saints in the stained glass windows at church. Wanna see?”

Before I can answer, Lucy is scrabbling under her mattress. She pulls out a 1950s era copy of Lives of the Saints. I’ve seen (and owned) one of these before.

“Look,” she pages quickly to the middle of the book and holds it out.

I take it. The face of Saint Agnes has been decoupaged with a clumsily cut out photograph.

I’ve seen this face before in Jack’s photos. Her eyes are delicately upturned, her lips are half-open. She radiates serenity. Her hair is lit by what appears to be a real halo. She’s very beautiful.

“Do you still have the photo you cut her out of?” I say.

Lucy appears offended.

“Yeah. Why?”

“Can I see?”

“Why?” she says.

“Why not?”

“It’s in the back of the book.”

It’s filed right after Saint Marcellus, The Unremarkable Centurion. I pull it out.

Jack, looking young and not remotely intoxicated, is bending a woman over just like in the movies. He’s about to kiss her. They’re outdoors somewhere at sunset. There’s a golden glow around them, like a halo. His face is pure happiness. Her face is a cruel hole.

Why the hell did Lucy have to disfigure this picture?

I turn back to Saint Agnes, twelve-year-old martyr and almost rape victim. Lucy has carefully glued her mother’s head onto this adolescent Roman, who is dressed in an inky blue toga and is holding a dull-faced lamb under one arm. There’s an old smear of chocolate milk across her sandaled feet.

“Does your dad ever talk about your mom?” I say.

“No.”

“Never?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because it was his fault,” she says.

“Oh God, Lucy, it wasn’t.”

“Yes, it was. He’s a drunken, remorseless sinner. He isn’t not a good, strong Christian. He never reads the Bible or prays. He curses and smokes and drinks. I have to make him go to mass every Sunday—you saw! It’s his fault God struck down my mom, because he’s a sinner.”

I can’t follow her logic, but she’s near tears—the angry, hot kind that only guys tend to shed.

“Okay,” I say.

I slide the ruined photo back into its forgettable hiding place. Even farther back in the book is Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr. I page to her and sigh. Her mother bled and bled until Lucy cured her. The Romans sent Lucy to a whorehouse to be raped. Lucy was stabbed to death.

And her eyes were taken out with a fork.

Saint Lucy

 

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