Bread

As He was walking along, Jesus saw a man dressed in black sitting on a rock.  He didn’t have a red face or horns, or a tail or a pitchfork.  He just looked normal, handsome, even.   But his eyes were black.  Too black.  They seemed to soak up all the light around them.  Jesus knew him right away and his skin prickled a little.

“You look hungry,” Satan said.  His lips curled up in something like a smile but his eyes were still too black to look even a little bit happy.

“Yep,” Jesus said, his mouth set in a firm line.  Satan was holding a smallish round, smooth stone in his hands.

“You know,” He began slowly, stroking the stone, “If you’re really the son of God…”  Maybe it was the heat, or maybe it was because he was so hungry, but suddenly Jesus wasn’t listening anymore.  He was imagining a scene in his mind, like he was watching a movie.

 

He could see a cool green garden.  It was late afternoon and the golden sunlight filtered down through the leaves of the many trees to land in speckled patterns on the grass, taking on a greenish orangy glow.  Everything was quiet and peaceful.  A cicada sang somewhere nearby.  In the middle of this garden was a particularly beautiful tree.  The bark was smooth and white, and the leaves were such a light green that they looked almost white as well.  Every branch was heavy with fruit—such fruit!  Great gleaming globes that shimmered red and gold.  From the heart of each a strange, mysterious light shone so that beneath the tree’s branches, instead of shade, it seemed brighter.  A man sat beneath it, leaning his back against the trunk, his eyes half closed.  A woman lay on one of its lower branches, her long hair and bare feet dangling.  A vividly bright green snake was slowly creeping down from one of the topmost branches.  It slowly wound itself around the same branch where the woman rested, arranging it’s coils just next to her head.  Did God reeeally sssay… it whispered in her ear.  What did God reeeeallly sssay…?

 

“If you’re really the son of God,” Satan began again and Jesus was back in the desert.  The heat hung around his shoulders like a wool blanket and his hunger chewed and rolled over inside of him, “Tell this stone to become bread.”  He turned the stone over and over in his hands.  It was exactly the shape and size of a loaf of bread.  Jesus remembered bread.  Unbidden he thought of crisp crust and floury dough.  He remembered his mother lifting fresh loaves out of the stone oven.  He could smell them.  He could taste them.  His mouth watered and his stomach raged, but he was back in the garden.

 

You will be like God, the snake was saying.  It was now coiled around the woman’s waist and shoulder.  She was now sitting up on the branch, holding a piece of the magnificent fruit with both hands.  You will know what God knows.  He didn’t want you to know that.  He doesn’t want you to have it…. The snake’s tongue flicked in and out as it whispered first in one ear then the other.  She was gazing at the fruit in her hand.  It’s light reflected in her eyes.  She smelled it.  Pressed it to her lips.  She took one slow bite.  Juice snaked down her chin and between her fingers, down her arm.  It was as red as blood.

 

“You shouldn’t starve.”  Satan’s strange black eyes widened and the darkness seemed as if it might escape them.  He offered the stone to Jesus.  Jesus took it and felt it’s weight and warmth.  Just like a fresh loaf of bread.  But just then another, wildly different scene filled his mind’s eye.

 

Another desert.  Tents scattered as far as the eye could see.  Old, dirty, shabby, tents.  Covered in dust and age.  People, hundreds, thousands standing outside, half of them looking up at the sky, shading their eyes against the brilliant sun.  The other half looking down, their eyes wide with surprise and smiles.  The ground was white, covered with something strange, mysterious, new.  White flakes.  Sweet, delicious.  Children were laughing, picking up handfuls and filling their mouths.  Their fingers were sticky.  Their mothers’ faces looked old and tired, but their eyes shone with tears and sunshine.  What is it?  What is it? They all whispered.  What is it? Manna, in Hebrew.  God has provided for us.  He takes care of us.  Though we complained.  Though we doubted.  God has sent us this what-is-it.

 

“Man does not live by bread alone.” Jesus smiled and tossed the stone back to Satan, who jumped and fumbled a little to catch it.  “I’m not all that hungry.”

 

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~ by ifindthisamusing on March 17, 2011.

2 Responses to “Bread”

  1. I LOOVE ITT!

  2. I love it too. I love how you worked in the garden scene and the children in the desert. I’m taking a creative writing course online (from someone’s blog, nothing official), and this week is short-story writing, and I stink at it. I just can’t get started! I’m reading O.Henry’s short stories, and all they do is discourage me, they’re so good. How do you get inspiration?

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