Featured in the June 29th issue of Mirsky's Worst of the Web, although Mirsky eventually decided he liked it.
This was written as a sequel to The Daughter of God, which I wrote in early 1992.
September 27, 1993
[Jesus son of Joseph, known as the Christ, lies in his tomb. The tomb is clearly but dimly lit by light which shines around the stone blocking the opening. Two cats, a sleek grey female and a large orange tabby male, are licking the wounds left on his forehead by his crown of thorns. Slowly he regains consciousness.] Jesus: [Moans. The orange cat nuzzles his cheek.] Hmmmh? Isaac? Oww... [Isaac begins to lick Jesus's right hand while the other cat continues to clean his head. As they work, the bloody cuts seal up, leaving small but noticeable scars.] Isaac? Is that you? I thought you were dead. But I thought I was dead, too. Where am I, Isaac? [Slowly opens his eyes and sees the grey cat sitting on his chest and licking his face.] Leah? You're here too, Leah? You look so... young, and healthy. Why do I hurt so much, Leah? What happened to me? [Leah finishes Jesus's head and moves on to his left hand, as Isaac finishes his right hand. Jesus flexes his right hand and, finding Isaac there, strokes him.] Isaac, what did they do to me? [Follows Isaac down to his ribs, where Isaac begins to heal his stab wounds.] Oh, that feels good. [Finds Leah, still licking his left hand.] How do you do that, Leah? [Strokes Leah for a while, thinking.] Oh, it's good to see you both. I'm glad you both are well. I remember when we got you from Jacob the Weaver, Leah. You were a tiny kitten, and I was hardly three years old myself. You were so sweet to me. You used to give me tiny kisses on the forehead, just like you did earlier. When I got one of those, I knew you were really happy. I used to pick you up and carry you upside down over my shoulder, and you hated it. So when I came for you, wou would run away. But one day, when I was just sitting quietly, you crept into my lap and purred. That was how you taught me that love could not be taken by force, but would come if I was ready. You stayed with us until I was grown up. Fifteen is very old for a cat. I remember when you were stiff and weak, and couldn't jump the way you used to. But you could still be gentle, with just a hint of petulance. You disappeared the day before I had to leave Galilee. I think you knew, somehow, that I was grown up, and that you could rest while I handled my life. And now I'm dead, and here you are taking care of me. Oh, Leah! [Leah finishes Jesus's hand and goes to help Isaac with his ribs. Jesus looks down at them and smiles.] It's so good to see you guys again. Leah, so healthy! Isaac, so strong! I'm so lucky to have cats like you. Isaac! Isaac of my adolescence. Joseph gave you to me for my twelfth birthday. You were a kitten then, but you sure grew! The biggest, strongest cat in the village! Such sleek fur, such a bushy tail! [Looks at Isaac proudly.] Whenever the other boys wouldn't talk to me, whenever I had girl trouble, you were ther, Isaac. You'd stretch yourself out on my belly and purr, and you'd slowly close your eyes the way cats do when they're very happy. I remember the last day I saw you. You would occasionally be gone for days at a time, but you always came back. Once you came back after a whole week. I was very glad to see you. You were weak and bruised and filthy. What did I do, Isaac? What happened that day? You... did something, it doesn't matter what. Perhaps you jumped on the table. I showed my anger and you left. What did I do? [The cats have finished the wounds on Jesus's ribs and move on to his feet. He sits up slowly and pets them.] Did I do wrong? If I did, you're a very forgiving cat. How did you die, Isaac? What killed you? Oh, Isaac, why didn't you stay inside? Was it the dogs, isaac? I hated those stupid dogs. They were so big and clumsy, and you were so amart and graceful! [Pause.] And after Leah was gone there were only dogs. I wanted a cat, but you can't take a cat into the desert. Cats aren't made for a life of traveling and proselytizing. I always wondered what it would be like to settle down in some village and make chairs, and to find a nice strong cat like you who would sit in my shop and be mysterious. Instead I chose to spend my life wandering and preaching, and everywhere I went there were stupid dogs that would follow me. In part, I guess, I knew I would never be able to bring back you and Leah. [The cats finish Jesus's feet. He crosses his legs and wraps the Shroud of Turin around his lap. Leah and Isaac curl up and purr as he strokes them.] You know, both of you were very special to me. It's easy to love the Teeming Millions, and hard to love an individual. I loved my mother Mary, who is probably grieving for me now. I loved my stepfather Joseph and my brother James. I loved my father, the Lord, and my sister through him, Diane. But it was always hard to show that I loved them, to let others see it, even to let myself see it. I felt that whenever I loved a person, there was the potential for sexual desire. I was afraid that if I showed warmth to anyone, I would loosen my control over my passions. How can a man admit passion for his mother, especially if that mother is the Blessed Virgin? How can a man feel desire for his own brother? Now, looking back, I don't think I had sexual desires for any of them, except perhaps my Mother. But it troubled me. I could not tell the difference between love and lust. My sister was the worst of all. Following my father's lead, I showed a contempt for her almost as intense as for those stupid dogs. Oh Leah, Isaac, do you know what it is to feel that for your family? But I must say that she resented me long before I knew who she was, and although she may sometimes think she wants to be closer to me, I remember the coldness from my dreams. I was so good at cutting off my love that when a true combination of lust and love presented itself, in permissible circumstances, I could not deal with it. You never met Mary Magdalen, but know now that I feel lust for her like I have felt for no other woman, because it is mixed with love. But you, Isaac and Leah, as a different species I loved you with no feelings of lust whatsoever. I could stroke you and hold you close in public without being immodest or lewd. The greatest love I have been able to show was for you, my cats. I could kiss Isaac in public, but how often could I kiss Joseph in public? I could sit in my room with Leah on my lap for hours, but how long could I do that with my Mother? It was for you cats that I could fully allow myself to feel strong, Platonic love, that same love I later felt for the Teeming Millions. But I swear, Leah, Isaac, that my love for you was much more intense. How I wish I could have let myself feel that love for Magdalen, that love I knew was there! Well, cats, I'll just say I'm glad to have you back. You know I have some things to take care of, but I look forward to spending Eternity with you. [He is silent for a long time, stroking the cats. All of a sudden voices are heard, the Rock is removed and the bright sun shines on Jesus sitting, empty-handed, in the middle of the cave.