by Syreeta Muir
Every time she takes Him out to play He’s a bit less. He can no longer walk. He doesn’t seem to remember His name anymore. The girl promises this will be the last time as Jesus sits and waits, listlessly sipping ice water from a straw she holds to His sagging mouth. He’s blind and half-deaf and His gurgles leave strings of drool hanging from His baggy bottom lip. It makes her feel bad when she thinks about that, then she is almost instantly distracted by a prism of light dancing on her white Communion gown so she smiles down at Him feeling a little like Mary must have with Her special secret. The girl wonders, not for the first time, whether she should tell Nonna about Him. Nonna has cancer and might die soon, so she could probably use a bit of good news, thinks the girl, but then she looks at Jesus crumpled up in the corner, swaddled up like the doll they always used at the church Nativity; His sunken mouth, His once lustrous chestnut hair is lank and falls thinly over His sloping, bony shoulders. it’s sort of an awful thing to see, she thinks, chewing her lip guiltily, so she just lifts him gently back into the closet. He is staring back at her sleepily, smacking his wrinkly chops. This makes the girl sad, but it’s almost time to leave, so she tucks him back up in her old baby blanket again, gently closes the door and goes to school.
Syreeta Muir (she/her) has writing or upcoming in Sledgehammer Lit, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Misery Tourism, The Daily Drunk Mag, Ligeia Magazine, The Blood Pudding, Roi Fainéant Press and others. Her art has been featured in Barren Magazine, Olney Magazine, The Viridian Door, Rejection Letters and Bullshit Lit. She received Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations for her work in The Disappointed Housewife and Versification (2021/22). Posts on Twitter as @phantomsspleen and on Instagram as @hungryghostpoet.