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» A Cross to Bear by James Turner Short stories, flash fiction and creative writing online.

Backhand Stories: The Creative Writing Blog

We had been living out there for three months before I even noticed it. I remember looking up from Katy’s face as I worked away and the curtains were open. It was the middle of the day, a blue sky above and straight ahead I saw the cross atop a church steeple. I thought nothing of it at first. I carried on with Katy as she smiled up at me. Afterward, as she smoked a cigarette, I thought about Jesus up on that cross and all he had been through. I wondered if he was looking down on us as we lay there on the bed.

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I’m not particularly religious. My parents took me and my sister to church a few times a year, not including funerals, weddings, christenings. But they didn’t force it on me.

The next time, as she’s undoing her bra, I go over to the window and close the curtains.

‘Worried someone might be watching,’ she said, letting the straps fall from her shoulders.

‘Just in case,’ I said, joining her on the bed.

‘But what if I want to be seen?’

‘I don’t want anyone to know what we get up to in here,’ I said, pulling away as she reached out a hand towards my chest. She lay down with her back to me and we slept.

I made sure the curtains were closed after that, but I still knew what was outside that window. Who was watching us, as the thorns scraped against His skull.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ Katy said, as I lay on top of her, staring at the curtains.

I shook my head and smiled, trying to put it out of my head and concentrate on the task at hand. But whenever I closed my eyes I saw Him looming over us.

One day, as Katy was over at her mother’s, I moved the bed. I turned it 90 degrees and pushed it over near the door. When I looked up all I would see was the faded blue wallpaper.

‘What have you done in there,’ Katy said, when she got home.

‘Thought I’d change things up a bit. Change of scenery,’ I said.

She shook her head. When we were in there later she straddled me, pinning my shoulders down. I looked up at the ceiling and thought about Him reaching down and tearing the roof off and shaking his head at us. I closed my eyes and let Katy carry on with what she was doing.

After only a year we moved out. The office was moved to the city and we had some spare money for a bigger place. We looked at one apartment in this beautiful white building near the river. It was a great price and fully furnished too. In the bedroom I went to the window and could see a cross in the distance. We took this other place and furnished it ourselves. We’ve been here since and there’s no view at all, only the grey brick of the paper factory next door.

I still think of the cross, the nails. It doesn’t stop me so much now. Over the years I’ve come to accept that he is everywhere, always watching us in the bedroom. I never told Katy about it all. I did not want to ruin it for her. We can just enjoy this for as long as it lasts.

More of James Turner’s short stories can be found on his short story web site.

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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.


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