“Divine Beings” by Michelle Lawrence, page 6

       “Max,” I said, stepping through the women gathered round and putting both of my hands on his chest, “Why don’t you go to their church with them? I’ll fix something to bring, and I’ll join you for the singing.”
        “Really?” His eyes lit up. “Are you feeling this, Lara? Can you feel the love these people have for us?” His smile was wide, grateful.        These people were treating him like he was important, like he mattered.
        “Go on, I’ll meet you there,” I said, and shooed him and the visitors, telling them how nice it was to meet them, and how kind their interest and invitation was. I promised I’d be along soon, and that Max would be happy to ride to their church along with them in one of their vans.
        When the last of the stragglers left, and I had my yard to myself again, I stood and stared at the zucchini plants. One by one, I pulled out the stakes lining the rows and let them drop to the ground. Once the stakes were all out, I opened each mold, wrenched every zucchini out and tossed them into a pile behind me. I worked from row to row, gathering not-yet-developed Jesuses into my shirt like it was an apron and dumping them into the pile. By the time I was done I had sixty or seventy zucchini piled at my feet. I went back into my house and got a basket from the laundry room, took it back outside, and heaped the zucchini inside it. It was heavy, so I dragged it by one end instead of picking it up. I got behind and pushed it to the front yard, then to the house next door. As the sun dipped behind the trees, I stuffed zucchini into my neighbor’s mailbox. I pulled the basket to the house two doors down, and left two on their front porch, on top of their welcome mat. I did the same with the next few, and when I reached the house at the end of the block, the blue one that left its porch light on at odd times, I opened the storm door and left a stack of zucchini in between it and the front door. The old dog that lived there must have heard me, because I heard barking and then voices, a man and a woman, inside. I hurried to the next house, then the next, crossing the street and hitting the houses over there, too, until I was able to lift the basket and carry it on my hip.
       Almost an hour later, the basket was empty, and I went back to my own house. By the beam of a flashlight I propped in the grass, I pulled up all of the plants and threw them into the basket. I’d had it. I’d had it with zucchini, with Jesus and Jesus freaks and religion. I’d had it with parents telling me what to teach, and with wood shavings all over the kitchen floor and with a husband who slept on the couch instead of in bed with me. I’d had it with Ruth Ann and the Christmas donkey that was really a llama.
        My cell phone rang in pocket. It was Max.
       “Lara, are you coming? The singing is about to start, and I think you’d enjoy it. Everyone here is being so nice to me, and I want to share this with you. I love you, Lara.”
        I told him I’d try to get there soon, and hung up.
        I sat down on the ground, the basket of ripped-up plants beside me. The August heat had already parched them beyond repair. I’d killed the Jesus zucchini plants, broken the wooden stakes and molds my husband had worked so hard on. He’d been trying to do the right thing, something good to redeem himself in my eyes, or maybe his mother’s eyes or God’s eyes. I felt like a witch as I picked up the green hose and drank from the trickle of water that had been trapped inside after the church folk had turned off the tap. I let it pour over my face, trying to wash away the sweat and shame for what I’d done, praying that Max might forgive me.

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