We started getting used to the world as they had created it for us, even pretended that we liked the weather changes, humid one day and freezing the next, the air heavy with worry. We pretended that we enjoyed struggling for survival.
Then the election season came with the spring.
He was said to be a direct descendant of Jesus. At least, there were plenty of experts willing to trace his lineage back to the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Or maybe he said so himself.
The point is, he was here to deliver us. Who cares where he came from?
When Jesus Jr. (or J for short) first announced his candidacy for President, I was watching TV in bed, still unemployed and chewing on an old chocolate bar.
“America isn’t lost yet,” he said. “I believe in America, America as it can be in the future. We can save it!”
I dropped the chocolate bar. I had been down for so long that I’d forgotten about my powers, about the things I once thought I could do. I remembered again.
“I see an America which isn’t a red America or a blue America. I see one unified America,” J said.
Unfortunately, my sister disagreed with him, making America a lot less unified.
“You just don’t like him because he’s one of the Christs,” I said. “You still believe that bunk about Jesus never being married.”
“Yes, I do,” RedGirl confirmed. “You’ve got a huge crush on this guy, don’t you? Now I know what it takes for you to fall in love….a man who claims he’s God.”
“I’m not in love, I’m an activist.” I shook my head. Maybe one day she and I would have a heart to heart talk, and I could get her to have more of an open mind.
“Fine, but your activism will make the country broke and our children will have a horrible future,” she warned.
I changed out of my pajamas and sprinted out the door, not listening to her. Finally, my day of greatness had come!
“Hello, I’m with the campaign for….”
This time the person on the other end hung up before I even had the chance to finish the sentence. At least they didn’t yell at me or ask me to explain why we were calling them again.
One would think that a political campaign would make better use of a superhero like me. But no. I was put to work on the phone bank.
“Would you like to hear why I will never vote for J?”
“I’m not sure….”
“Have you read the Book of Revelations?”
“Let me get my Bible and I will read you the relevant verses…hold on…”
Stupid swing state people. It was their own fault for being indecisive. Any decent state would know which side it was on. And now I had to persuade these people who didn’t have the sense to have made their minds up already.
“Hey, I’m working,” I kept saying in my defense.
“But you’re not getting paid for it,” Mother reminded me. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but this doesn’t qualify as a job.”
“The rewards I receive from my work are intangible,” I countered. “They cannot be measured in simple financial terms.”
I was getting the distinct impression that my family viewed me with pity.
“Couldn’t I burn down a wealthy suburb for you, or something?” I asked my volunteer team leader.
“I’ve heard the stuff about you being different and all that,” he said. “But we can’t give any preferential treatment. You have to start out down in the trenches just like everybody else.” He leaned back in his chair. “That’s the principle of equality that we’re all about.” He looked to be around eighteen. I have to say, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to get lectures about equality from a college student this much younger than me.
But I obeyed the kid. After all, I believed in equality too…although deep in my heart, I knew I was a little more special than the others.
My patience paid off. After I got sucked into yet another long philosophical conversation on the phone about the nature of morality, I was promoted to doing mass mailings.
“Stick the letters in the envelopes,” my team leader told me. “Don’t talk to anybody too much.”
I stuffed envelopes as if the world depended on it….which it kind of did. Out in the main office, a group of new volunteers was being brought in to work the phones.
I put the envelopes down. There she was, the customer service rep from Squircal. She was wide awake, no longer a zombie.
I wanted to talk to her, ask her how it felt for her to stand up to the powers that be, but then I recalled my instructions and thought better of it.
When I was done with my assignment, I snuck another glance at her. She was sitting at her desk, looking just as stressed out as she did before at her job.
She was in between calls, so I walked up to her and sat in the empty chair next to her.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she said, pushing her wild hair out of her eyes. “I hate being on the phone all day, and here I am doing it again in my free time…and I’m doing it voluntarily!”
“Well, thank you for making the choice to do this,” I said.
She stared at her call list of numbers. “Yeah, I guess I almost forgot how important this is.” She nodded at me. “Thanks. I’m Leah, by the way.”
“Get the Heck out of here! I’m not voting for no foreign brown-skinned Heeeebrew….”
“Very well, sir, we’ll leave. Let me give you our info sheet about Medicare….”
I pulled on Leah’s sleeve. “Come on, it’s obvious the guy doesn’t like to read. Let’s get out of here before we get shot.”
As weeks on the campaign went by, Leah and I were chosen to be one of the pairs of volunteers going door to door to talk to undecided voters. Rather, Leah was chosen. She convinced my skeptical team leader that I would make a good partner for her.
“I feel like sometimes you don’t know when to stop, Leah.”
“I’m going to push as hard as I can. There are kids in Iraq that might not die if the right guy wins,” Leah said to me. “This election is a life and death thing, Blue.”
“Well, I agree with you….”
“Are you sure?”
Then an exciting announcement came from one of J’s disciples: J would be driving through our town. We weren’t nearly important enough of a place for him to stop and give a speech—but still, we would get waved at.
That morning, all of us crowded into a designated section of Main Street. We called it the Democracy Zone.
Our sense of style was a bit uneven. J had been called everything from unpatriotic to the Antichrist, so we needed to make a good impression. Some people made a point of wearing gaudy, bejeweled crosses, even if they weren’t religious, while others sported clashing concoctions of red, white and blue. One of our team leaders dressed up as George Washington.
On the other side of the street, a small counterprotest by the Whiskey Party was taking place. A bearded man was shouting into a bullhorn. “He will force you to give all your stuff away… He wants us to turn the other cheek to our enemies… All I got to say to him is come here and turn the other cheek, bitch, and I will slap the shit out of you….”
“Idiot!” Leah spat out. “Could you hit him?”
“Excuse me?” I raised an eyebrow.
She came closer to me. “I’ve heard that you have talents you can use. Could you strike him down? Just while J is going by.”
I had asked so many times to be allowed to use my powers. But now, something felt wrong. “Um….doesn’t J preach nonviolence?”
“Well, yes, he does.” She slumped a little. She seemed disappointed.
After a moment of quiet, she turned back to me. “But don’t you sometimes wish we could? I mean, I know it’s morally wrong, but…. Or, what if you could strike their *minds*, not their bodies? You know, use your energy to change the way they are thinking. Don’t you ever wish you could do that when you’re talking to all those racist morons out there? Things would be so much easier if those people could only realize the truth….”
“You mean….we should brainwash them?” I asked.
“No, I don’t. You make it sound so harsh….”
“I don’t feel comfortable…forcing people to believe in him.”
Leah’s mouth grew tight. She stabbed her finger in the direction of the Whiskey Partiers. “If they had a chance to hurt you, they would. They are not your….”
She was drowned out by the giant cheer which erupted behind us. We spun around and tried to see past the barriers and crowds of the Democracy Zone, but it was too late. The limos had flown by already.
J was gone. I was in disbelief. We had missed him because of a stupid argument.
The spectators were jostling their way back towards the parking lot, mothers carrying their babies, a woman in a wheelchair, children with their elderly parents, all of them hoping that J’s policies would one day heal what ailed them.
“Well, that was kind of anticlimactic, wasn’t it?” our team leader said. “I’m not even sure it was really him. But it was somebody with a long beard!”
I was about to burst into tears.
Leah looked down. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t assume that everyone else is as intensely committed to the cause as I am.”
She walked off in silence and I slowly followed after her.
As the summer ended, Leah was awarded the plaque for top volunteer in our local office. We didn’t talk very much anymore. She worked on that phone that she hated so much with obsessive zeal, and she not only motivated the swing voters to support J, she also persuaded them to send us financial gifts, telling them vivid stories about what would happen to them under a conservative administration when they were old and sick. She used all the customer service and sales tricks that her evil corporate employer had taught her.
Then it was fall—the final big push.
On another one of those unseasonably hot afternoons, I went outside to take a break for a few minutes in the fresh air. My team leader was lounging on the steps, a cup of coffee in his hand. He didn’t say anything to me.
I leaned against the brick wall. “Are you angry at me, too?”
“Huh? No, why?” He recollected something. “Oh, I think I see what you mean.”
“When I came here, I thought this would be a non-judgmental place,” I said.
“Yeah, I know. I used to be a hippie too.” He hunched over and sipped his coffee. “But we don’t have that luxury these days. This is a serious situation. We live in America, and we have to be hard, even if we’re dreamers. You can think of this thing with Leah as a way to challenge yourself, to try and take it to a higher level.”
“A higher level? I completely support J….”
“You might have to prove that.”
“How? With my superpowers?”
“Noooooo….I’m not a big fan of those. They make you seem like you’re not the same as the rest of us.” He shrugged. “Use your human powers.”
“But how would I….?”
“I can’t always tell you what to do,” he said. “Think about it yourself. You’re intelligent, right?”
My human powers? What did that mean, exactly? I didn’t have very much money. I wasn’t intimidating, and I wasn’t good at talking people into paying for my product.
What could I do to show them that I cared just as much as they did?
I was deep in thought as I walked along to the bus stop. Suddenly, pieces of paper fluttered in the air in front of me and around me, coming down like last year’s freak snowstorm. I caught one. It had a picture of J’s election opponent, The General, and a small blurb about a brand new morning.
I looked up. A familiar red dot flitted here and there across the sky, scattering flyers as she went, the Republican Tinkerbell.
She had no problem with using her supernatural skills.
From the minute I got home, RedGirl was her usual obnoxious self.
“Did you see me doing my political activism today?” she screeched at me.
“Yes, I saw your pathetic flyers. Most of the stuff on them was factually incorrect,” I said. “And that picture you had didn’t make your sad old General any more attractive.”
“It doesn’t matter what you think. Your side is going to lose anyway,” she snarked. “We like traditional people in this country. There’s no way anyone is going to vote for a radical like J.”
“Radical? You claim to be a follower of his religion! Or his family’s at least….”
“I’m not sure it’s even constitutional for him to be running in an election,” she countered. “Who knows where he was born, or what he was born of….?”
“Oh, don’t give me *that* crap.”
She got up to go to bed. “Like I said, you’re going to lose. We are so winning this one.”
My heart sank. I knew she was probably right. Jesus didn’t stand a chance. He didn’t fit in with mainstream America, and he looked too much like he was an Arab. My throat tightened with anger. I did have some human powers I could use, after all.
“Did you have a permit to drop those flyers on the city? I think I’m going to have to contact the authorities,” I blurted out.
“You’re going to turn me in, huh?” RedGirl came back and faced me, her eyes blazing. “Don’t make me launch a fireball at your ass.”
“I liked you girls so much better before you got involved in politics,” Mother’s voice said.
She was standing there, watching us, shaking her head. “Is this really what it has come to?”
Something in her tone set me off. “It’s easy to talk. You’re not willing to commit yourself to either side, and that’s a choice too. You might as well be the enemy.”
“You can denounce your entire family if you want to, dear.” Mother sat down in a chair and stretched. “If that will make you happy.”
I didn’t have anything to say to that. I turned around and stormed off to my room.
I had one more human power left. I would vote.
On election night, I nervously sorted through boxes of J bumper stickers. I didn’t want to watch television with the other volunteers in the main office, for fear of what I was sure was an impending loss.
I turned the radio on for a second.
“Next, who really was J’s Dad? Does his parentage reflect family values? Also, his little-known links to Palestine….”
I turned it back off.
One of the girls, the one who had purple hair in two braids, stuck her head through the door, very excited.
“Jesus is President!” she said.
The rest of the evening was spent dancing and drumming in the street, with lots of champagne toasts and hugs.
It wasn’t until after midnight that I came home. I stopped by my sister’s door. I heard sobbing on the other side.
RedGirl was curled up on her bed with tearful eyes and an empty beer bottle in her hand.
“I can’t believe we lost!” she said to me between hiccups. “He’s going to destroy America! It’s all over….”
“No, he won’t,” I said. “He will fix America.” I sat down next to her on the bed and stroked her hair. “You know how the insurance companies didn’t wanna give you health coverage? He’s gonna make all of that go away….”
I held her while she continued to cry. I wanted to be magnanimous in victory. The time for fighting was in the past—from now on, there would be peace. Soon, she would understand this, too.
“From now on, everything will be….perfect,” I said, gazing out the window at the stars, knowing very little about the kingdom which was about to come.