bITS 'N CHUNKS
I figured I would start off with something I actually enjoyed and ended up being helpful. If you follow me on social media, you may have heard back in August I had a death in my immediate family. In the midst of all that, I was also going through some pretty heavy shit before and after. I'm the exact opposite of religious but there are times when I take comfort in religious ceremony and, strangely enough, orthodox practices. What I'm trying to say is, I was watching The Last Temptation of Christ and made a connection with Lazarus of Bethany.
This actually ended up on my AO3 account which I will never share so if you see it there and here just remember real Gs move in silence! Omerta and all that!
It was only two weeks before his death and Jesus already felt like a shambling pile of bones still convinced it was a man.
Here he was, out unaccompanied at night. He could do that. He could still move amongst people. He covered his face although he was certain he didn't have to. No one here in this market selling their wares would declare him Messiah or throw themselves at his feet, whimpering.
He chuckled. Here, of all places, he was safest.
But he was simply moving through on his way elsewhere. Point A to point B. He tried not to look too hard at the stalls even when clucking chickens and butchers called out to him. The final stall on his right was an old woman and her daughter or granddaughter, Jesus couldn't tell which. As he approached, the old woman stood. When he was in front of the small table and bench, he glanced down and saw it held expensive and rare gems and fine jewelry. The woman's slim, callused fingers suggested she did all the handiwork herself and perhaps her daughter (or granddaughter) was simply here to draw in customers, as she was very lovely.
The old woman was standing and Jesus saw that she was quite tall, taller than him. Her gaze was first hard then dolorous. One of her eyes was cloudy and the other was sharp, amber in color. In her hand, she held pale green stones bound together with a single, long, thin loop of leather. Like a bracelet, perhaps. Jesus was actually fond of things on his wrists and fingers even though he had forsaken them long ago.
She offered it to him. Jesus held up his hand to say no, this is much too expensive for me and I don't need them. The daughter or granddaughter seemed hesitant as well. But the woman shook her head and insisted. She swept up Jesus' hands and pressed the beads into his palm. Then she bade him farewell.
The whole transaction could not have been more than the span of two swift footsteps but it felt like an eternity of waiting. When Jesus was back outside in the cool night air, he observed what was in his hands. The leather loop was secured with a fixed stone at the end and two smaller mother of pearl discs to keep the threads apart. The leather ended in a large gold tassel.
Worry beads. He laughed out loud and pushed his head covering back.
Jesus wasn't worried, he was just anxious to see Lazarus.
The ground before him was growing lighter in color with each step. He'd been out so late that the sun was beginning to rise. His legs ached but he had no plans to turn around. His fingers twitched around the beads he still carried. He'd tried to throw them in the dust and even kicked earth over them, but he returned just an hour later to retrieve them again.
Now he was behind. He kept letting himself get distracted by the smallest things: a persistent itch in his foot, stop. The wind blowing dust into his eyes, pause. His ankles swelling, stop. Stopping and starting, stalling for time.
After this he would have no more time. Things have already been set in motion and he didn't even really have time now, he'd created it out of thin air. As the disciples slowly awoke they would be looking for him to start their travel.
Jesus swore at his own impulsiveness sometimes. The last remaining sliver of the Adversary in his mind whispered,
Is this what you really want?
Some things would never change.
After the resurrection of the dead man from Bethany, Jesus was possessed with an overwhelming desire to apologize to the man. He was sick and in pain; his loved ones rejoiced at his rebirth. The last he heard, Lazarus went from a vital young man to someone aimlessly watching the clouds and whispering airy words periodically.
He just wanted a moment alone with him. Father God, he'd ruined the man's life!
He was possessed with the need to take the man's hand and explain this miracle, explain snatching him from the warm arms of the afterlife, but his family fell upon him in celebration soon after. Jesus had returned to his lodging, restless. His feet tingled. He barely remembered setting off on this journey and now he must finish his final independent mission.
They were going to kill him for this blasphemy. He already knew that.
Jesus nearly collapsed at the door of the humble home. Fatigue, hunger, and dehydration had caught up with him just as he was making great strides into Bethany. He laughed at the absurdity; he would not, would not give in until he reached the home. And if he died here at Martha's feet so be it, so be it!
Martha, bless her, had opened the door immediately. She's always had a sense about her of urgency; people would say she was easily distracted by material things, her head was in the clouds and she was unfocused. Because she was most unencumbered by earthly things, but things of a heavenly nature and light. She had that sense about her. And so a small spot of light made her halt in her chores and it guided her hand to the door to pull it open.
She was greeted with the sight of her master half dead and laughing, leaning against the side of the house.
"My master, what has brought you here!" she exclaimed, barely able to keep herself from uttering the word "madness" in front of him. His laughter died down into weary chuckles before he attempted to hoist himself up.
He'd almost forgotten. The numbness in his feet called to him, bade him sit down. Martha closed the door and brought him a stone cup, wreathed in steam. Jesus sipped it slowly, burning the roof of his mouth on the liquid infused with mint and spices.
"Please, my Lord," Martha begged. "Please, please…"
Jesus worried the beads still in his hand, now wrapped around his wrist.
Is this what you really want?
"Do you wish to speak to Mary?" Martha asked, somewhat shyly.
"I wish to speak to your brother."
Martha found herself stuck. "Oh. Oh…" she repeated. She wrung her hands. She kneaded her shawl.
"Can I speak to him alone?"
Martha, still mumbling to herself, led Jesus down the hallway to Lazarus' quarters. On the way they passed by Mary, who gleefully called out to her Lord, but the noise died down when she saw her teacher limping and shambling by. He looked as dead as her brother before his resurrection.
Martha pushed the heavy door open. Lazarus' room had an odor, sickly sweet to cover up what was surely the true smell. Jesus looked up and saw the herbs and stalks of flowers that hung from the ceiling. When he looked down, Lazarus was sitting on his bed, wreathed in dark grey garments. He was by the small window of the room, looking slightly up.
"We've started bringing him inside most days. It's become dangerous…" Martha trailed off. Jesus entered the room fully and she shut the door behind him.
And now that he was here, there was truly nothing to say.
Jesus' knees grew weak so he let himself slowly sink to the floor. Using his hands, he moved himself until he was just next to Lazarus' bed. If the man had noticed his presence he made no move to greet him.
"I hear you're doing well."
Jesus was a hypnotic speaker but poetics failed him when it came to starting normal conversations. He felt too verbose, too boisterous, but simple words didn't feel like enough either.
Lazarus made the faintest of movements in response. Slowly, slowly, his head turned. Jesus could see his cloudy eyes surrounded by gray skin. No amount of flowers could hide that he was a corpse. Suddenly Jesus was full of nervous energy and shame.
"Are you happy to be back with your family?" Jesus asked. Then, smaller, "Are you angry with me?"
Something flew out of his chest, took his breath away. That couldn't have come from him, he hadn't even had that thought. It must be the remnants of the Adversary, always speaking in his own voice.
Lazarus paused in turning his head to cock it. He had a very vague smile on his lips, one corner may dip in a frown and the other extend itself in exaggeration, appearing to be an uneven mask.
"It's-it's almost compulsive, I have no control over what I touch…" He was shaking so hard his teeth were clattering. "I mean, I have control, I can choose, but sometimes…I…sometimes I know not what I do or why I must. Did you know--" He stopped, his mouth dry. The sickening smell was making him dizzy.
"That I shall be like you soon?"
The dipped corner of Lazarus' mouth tipped upwards into a lazy smile. He parted his lips to speak with a voice grainy as stone.
Jesus sighed in frustration with himself. He'd come all this way seeking absolution from a dead man. There was no confession to be made here. He stood up on legs that could barely support him. The worry beads slipped from his wrist into his palm.
Lazarus rose off the bed with surprising speed and agility. Jesus was left in shock. The man's bones popped as he regained the knack of walking. He took delight in motion. He looked like a mountain under all the garments that covered him from head to toe, something he seemed to be aware of.
He whispered again, "Maasss…terrr."
"Please, no," Jesus muttered, "I came to get away from all that."
Lazarus pushed back the fringed shawl that covered his head. His hair was matted in some places, pristine in others. It was clear that Mary and Martha were doing their best to care for him. The shawl fell away onto the floor with a heavy thump. Lazarus reached his arms out to push Jesus' covering away as well.
They stood there, staring at each other -- although Jesus supposed he was the only one actually staring. Lazarus looked pleased with himself. He moved his hands to open his garments further but Jesus stopped him.
"What are we doing?" he asked, the most elegant statement he could make without resulting to vulgarities. Lazarus continued to smile and dropped another layer. Despite his protesting, Jesus found slight hands circled around his wrists and Lazarus pushed more of his clothing away. Lazarus disrobed them until there was nothing left, just piles of clothes on the floor.
Jesus felt the overwhelming need to cover his nakedness as if he'd returned to the Garden. Lazarus, who had no need for shame, pressed their bodies together. Jesus focused on the fact that even hunched over Lazarus was a good deal taller than him. And very solid.
Lazarus drooped his head to whisper words in Jesus' ear. For the life of him, Jesus couldn't understand the man's voice of stone grinding against stone but his heart must have because it was racing. His face flushed at the hot air on his ears and their closeness. He shuddered, he drew in closer. If Martha was about heavenly business and Mary was to the earth, Lazarus traipsed between some hazy middle ground that allowed him to reach up his arms and stretch out his legs, comfortably touch both.
"I have not…been…anggggered…"
Jesus felt ashamed for his selfishness. Lazarus pulled his face away.
And Jesus felt like he did. His heart was soaring.
Jesus pressed his lips to Lazarus' neck and kissed, sucked gently at the flesh so as not to disturb it or cause any unwanted marks. There was no time for him to be happy like this, no time for him to listen, he only knew that somehow the two of them would merge and he would be like Lazarus soon.
But that he needed the comforting he was still ashamed. His followers were worried sick and looking for him. He should not be here but he was because he still hasn't learned how to quash his own desires. This lone independent mission with the time he had to fabricate.
Lazarus finally pushed him away. "Go now."
And he did, out of the house and back home. His disciples would find him halfway between his lodging and Bethany, collapsed in the dust but smiling serenely. As they carried him back he vaguely remembered that he had left with worry beads made of expensive mineral -- where were they? Ah, with Lazarus.
The Background World - Nine Inch Nails
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...