By Jay Livingston
Popcorn sniffles were shared between thirteen old women as Jim Caviezel died on the cross for our sins. The low hum of the church’s old Zenith television, a fat contraption with a bulging sixteen-inch screen, provided an undercurrent for the little whimpers puffing out of all those grandmas’ lips. The church pews—all fifty of them—were lit by the dim glow of the television. Behind the television, streetlights cast faint rays of orange light through the stained glass just over the small tub on the altar where they had baptized me the summer before. It was the centerpiece of the pulpit, which was where Pastor Don had wheeled in the television and started the VHS tape. Mel Gibson’s The Passion, Easter Sunday, 2004. I was seven, with my copper hair and ruddy face, looking up at my grandma from my position, sunken down into the seat, bored. Her eyeliner was smudged, she was wiping away tears, and she had licked most of the lipstick off her bottom lip from sucking it in like she always did when she faked tears. Her gut rested on her thighs, and her breasts were cushions for her liver-spotted arms. Grandpa was on her other side, head hanging back, asleep, snoring.
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