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TITLE: I Hate You Jesus
By Donna Howard

This story appeared in Critique Circle before. It has been slightly re-written. If I still have a problem with sentence structure, please indicate which sentences. Also indicate any other problems. Thank you!
I Hate You Jesus

By Donna J. Howard

Marilee wandered along the water’s edge, her heart bleeding with grief. She and Bill had spent many happy hours together here at their cabin. Now, he seldom came anymore. How could he leave her alone so often after eleven years of marriage? She’d been a good wife, hadn’t she? If only he hadn’t become mixed up with that church. Things were fine until then. Now all he could talk about was Jesus. “Jesus loves you, Mar,” and “Jesus died for you, Mar,” he kept saying, But she couldn’t fathom a faceless stranger loving her, and she wanted no part of being responsible for someone else’s death

But she knew Bill believed all the hocus-pocus the church was telling him about how this Jesus came from heaven, was crucified to save mankind from their sins, and then rose from the dead and returned to heaven. Now her loving husband was spending hours in prayer meetings and helping the needy. He often joined others and went witnessing on street corners, stopping total strangers to tell them about a mystical, unseen ‘savior’. Bill had begged her to go with him, but she wanted no part of it. Finally, he quit asking and went alone.

Tears misted her eyes. She picked up a stone and heaved it into the water with all her strength. “I hate you, Jesus,” she screamed. She sank to her knees and wept, but the screams came again. “If you really loved me, you wouldn’t do this to me.” Sobbing, she turned and began crawling toward the cabin, but her grief and anger drained every ounce of energy from her. Flopping onto her stomach, she pounded the ground with her fists. Her fingers plowed furrows in the sand as she gave in to her anguish

She dozed until a faint sound awoke her. She sat up and gazed out at the water. A movement caught her eye and she was surprised to see a man approaching in a small row boat. Fear crept up the back of her neck. She knew nearly everyone in the area, but she didn’t recognize this man. She leaped to her feet, ready to run, but when the man called her name in a gentle voice, she paused.

He pulled the boat onto the shore, and flashed a captivating smile at her. Her head told her to run, but her feet refused to move, and for some reason she couldn’t explain, she suddenly felt it was okay.

“Come, take a ride with me,” he said. Pushing the boat out again, he climbed in, and beckoned for her to join him. Trance-like, she floated to the boat, climbed in and sat facing him. Taking the oars in his strong hands, he rowed away from the shore, still smiling at her. Minutes later, three fish jumped out of the water, all at the same time, and splashed down again. Marilee laughed in spite of her sadness. She realized it was a silly notion, but she had a strange feeling the man had caused the fish to jump just for her. His face glowed, and his eyes shone with love. Marilee couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. She couldn’t understand it, but she sensed that this man loved her, and she didn’t feel the least bit afraid or offended by it.

The sun washed over them as they watched the birds soar overhead and the fish arch lazily up and down. The man asked Marilee to tell him about her joys and sorrows. She felt no qualms about it, and told him about herself and Bill. While he listened quietly as she unburdened herself, the last stings of grief and anger draining from her.

Several hours passed and the sun was setting. They returned to the shore and the man helped Marilee out of the boar. Marilee knew Bill would be home soon and she had to go, but she couldn’t help wondering who this man was who loved her with such a pure love.

“Who are you?” she asked. He took her hands in his and said quietly, “They call me Jesus.” Then he stepped into the boat and rowed away. Marilee stared after him, mouth gaping, unable to comprehend what he had just said.

“Jesus?” she whispered. “You mean Bill’s Jesus?” She closed her eyes and shook her head to clear her mind. When she opened them, the man had disappeared. Her heart pounding, she said aloud, “either I’m dreaming or I just saw a vision.” The next thing she knew she was racing toward her car. It didn’t matter if it was real, a dream or a vision. She had to find Bill. She knew now that everything he had told her about Jesus was true, but she had hardened her heart again it. Now she could hardly wait to join him on the next street corner.
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