March 16, 2011

Kate Brown

After Lourdes

"Lemon Jesus," said Siân. A perfect, heart-shaped tear rolled down her face as she told me the statue's flavour. Jesus, his stigmata oozing, reached out and took me in his arms. We were on a school trip to Lourdes and, on the steps of the chapel, we'd both dropped a tab of acid.

Jesus put me down. Siân and I ran outside, giggling. On the steps, we crashed into Robbie. Well, it looked like Robbie, but we didn't know if he was real or not. The night before, he'd nicked a crutch from the youth hostel concierge and he'd said he was going to stage a 'miracle' at the Grotte de Massabielle.

"What you doing here?" asked Siân.

Robbie turned bright green while she was speaking.

"Lost my nerve," he said, and turned blue. "Lads took the piss when I bottled, but you know, all those people, queuing for hours, they were really sick."

He looked at Siân more closely, then he looked at me. "You two all right?"

Robbie was sweet. That's why Siân married him. She started seeing him on the trip home.

Jesus doesn't reach out and touch me today. If he has a flavour, it's bitter. They removed both Siân's breasts.The cells in her body must have been changing, even in Lourdes. If Robbie had staged his 'miracle', it wouldn't have helped.

Caitlin, Siân and Robbie's little girl, is standing in the pew next to mine. She's looking at Jesus, too. Caitlin's face is pale, her eyes grey and serious, just like her Mum's.


Kate Brown is a British film-maker and writer, living in Berlin. Her films Julie & Herman and Absolutely Positive have been shown at festivals and on television in Europe and the USA. Her short stories have appeared in The Linnet's Wings, Blue Print Review, Eclectic Flash, Staccato Fiction, BLIP, Cinnamon Press and the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 2010.

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