Five Minute Fiction 68
An ongoing weekly experiment where I give myself five minutes to write something. Don’t think about anything. Just write. When done, walk away, coming back later to correct any glaring errors.
Grace, the Patron Saint of Indifference, curls herself into a corner of her plush leather couch and begins filing her fingernails. Concentrating on the cuticles. Obsessing over her hangnail. Focusing on the minute puffs of dust with each brisk swipe of her nail file. Doing her best to ignore the voices echoing in her brain like unwanted ghosts from a previous marriage, but there was no way to completely drown out the persistent din.
Who do these people think they are, and why do they think I care about their problems?, she asks herself. And who the hell decided to make me a Saint? It’s not like I ever filled out a job application for this position. I mean, there I was, content with the emptiness of oblivion when “POOF!” and here I am, the object of unwanted adoration. Now my picture’s plastered on prayer candles, I’m being memorialized in paintings, and my face is stamped on cheap silver plated necklaces.
Disgusted with the constant murmur in her head, Grace rolls over to the far end of the couch for the remote control and turns on the 80” widescreen television. Flipping past the Christian Broadcasting Network, God’s Learning Channel, and Three Angels Broadcasting, she settles on the History Channel, grateful that it’s included in her bundled cable service.
Closing her eyes she wishes for a bowl of popcorn and a diet Tab, and smiles when she opens her eyes and there they are, on the glass coffee table, waiting for her. She then wishes she’d remembered to ask for melted butter, but shrugs it off as she settles back into the couch, engrossed in a special live airing of Swamp People.
This is one of Grace’s favorite shows.
A voice rises in the back of her mind, like a subtle whiff of cloud. “Grace, please watch over my father during surgery,” it manages to sneak in before she mentally cuts it off, but another quickly replaces it. “Oh, Grace, how I love thee, and thy heart as you look upon thy creator and…” Again, she tunes it out as she crunches down on a mouthful of popcorn and eyes the perspiring soda can in front of her.
She can picture these people as they kneel from all corners of the world, eyes closed in fervent prayer, fingers clenched tightly together like crab legs, silently mouthing scripture and sullen requests for help for a sick relative. Luck with a job interview. Guidance for financial woes. But grace doesn’t care. She can’t help it. It’s in her nature as an uncaring idol.
She wasn’t always like this. At least she doesn’t think so. It’s just been so long since she was pulled from the void, gifted a new wardrobe, an apartment on the nice side of eternity, and given a vague description of her new Saintly duties. What were they? she thinks to herself, trying to conjure up her contractual obligations in her head, but instead gets interrupted by some truck driver in Montana as he lies crumpled and bleeding in the smashed cab of his overturned 18-wheeler. The soft voice of a child in Paraguay seeking assistance for her homeless family. The droning of a desperate gambler in Russia who doesn’t have enough cash to cover his bets. She closes her eyes and concentrates to cut through the noise.
What am I supposed to be doing again? she wonders. Did it have something to do with hope? Luck? Inspiration? Was I supposed to serve as a good example? A bad one? I can’t remember.
Grace looks up at the TV to see an air boat upturned in alligator-infested waters. The pilot holds himself above water, clinging to the smooth aluminum belly of the keel. In the distance a series of v-shaped wakes inch towards the doomed man, who is well aware of his unavoidable fate.
In her head she hears a quivering voice. “Holy Grace, please help,” it begs. “I ain’t always been a good man, but I ain’t ever done nobody no wrong. As a family man, a man with kids, I could use a hand right about now.”
Grace noisily sips at her Tab, drowning out the babble.
On the television there’s a terrible thrashing. The green swampy waters turn red. The show quickly cuts to a commercial.
If only I could remember what I’m supposed to be doing, she asks herself.