Preach

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Our cat was run over by a red Nissan Skyline on Wednesday, and by Thursday morning the rotten nasty fucker had clawed itself up out of the patch of dirt behind the shed. He walked into the kitchen caked in dirt and blood and making a noise like an un-tuned radio. My mother knocked her tea into my lap and screamed.

‘Jesus Christ, Mum!’

My sister took it as her latest sign from God. She bathed the screeching demon and applied herself more rigorously to practising her street-preaching in the bathroom mirror after school.

‘And though Lazarus rose, had he not fallen? Was Lazarus not welcoming of his second death and second judgment?’

If the cat’s resurrection was a sign of anything it was of my poor grave-digging abilities and I was offended.

‘Don’t forget to turn off my straightener, Virgin Mary.’

Maryanne had taken to wearing floral dresses that were too big and too long for her, with boots worthy of stamping on sinners. I caught her searching through my makeup for blush. She wanted to look flushed with the gravitas of the Lord while she stage-whispered about Heaven and Hell at the bus stop.

I had been waiting for her to grow out of the Youth-Group phase and move steadily on to casual sluttery and gothic romance novels. For her birthday she asked for a Bible small enough to fit in her purse, so she could bang on about coveting thy neighbour’s wife at a moment’s notice, but asked that it be second-hand, and not too flashy. I went to Gould’s and found a pocket Bible, dropped it in the gutter and kicked it the rest of the way home so it would look humble enough for her liking. Elated, after blowing out the candles but refusing to eat any cake, she hugged me.

‘Soon you’ll see the light too, Jess, but you won’t blow it out.’

‘Profound.’ I took my cake to the living room to watch Law & Order. ‘Hurry up or you’ll miss the jogger finding the body.’

When it was my birthday she bought me a brand new King James and squealed about having saved up all her pocket money for it. Mum got angry when I threw it at her head and demanded to know where my Cosmo subscription was. She had promised me it before that stupid cat had gone and defied mortality.

‘Those women are examples of modern impropriety!’

‘You don’t even know what that means!’

Mum had to calm her down in the laundry where the covetous neighbours and their wives were less likely to hear her howling. I slammed my bedroom door behind me, startling scrappy little Lazarus himself.

‘This is all your fault, you dumb shit.’

 The cat yawned and stretched. I could hear Maryanne through the walls, wailing about Rachael and Leah. I scratched the demon behind the ears.

‘The next time I bury you, you better stay in the ground.’