Fish Bones

Christmas, 2003 / No. 11

When Jesus died, Mary Magdalene went

into a deep depression. She just sat staring

at walls for indeterminate amounts of time,

fingering the edge of her cloak,

refusing to eat, sleep, or sponge bathe.

The Apostles (who never really liked her

hanging around) were all, like,

“What’s her deal? It’s not

like they were together or anything.”

Peter especially felt she needed to get

over herself and consider him in all of this.

After all, he was the special one and

you didn’t see him making a spectacle of himself.

(Although Matthew had observed he was a little jumpy

whenever he heard a cock crow.)

Still, there was no consoling Mary.

Her friends urged her to buck up.

“Girl, you have to get over it already,”

they said. “There’re other fishes in the sea,

and besides, he was a queer one anyway.

All that time in the company of men.

Who’s single at thirty-three anyway? ”

And Mary remembered all the times they

ate fish together. How Jesus liked

his just a little crispy on the

outside and hated having to spit out bone

like a common man. “You know, Mary,”

he said to her once, “I don’t mind the

whole human thing. Except for the fish bones.

You can bet the next time I’ll make

sure that I can get my fish

crispy and boneless.”

Mary laughed, spitting bits of bone

into the sand. “Sure, crispy, boneless

fish. That’ll happen. I’m sure it’s top priority.”

“Don’t underestimate the mutability of seafood,”

Jesus warned, and she smiled, resting her

head against his shoulder.

Standing now at the shore without him,

Mary watches the tide and repeats

what he told her after the cross and the tomb:

“My return will be marked by the easy availability

of boneless, crispy fish products, Mary. Go,

tell the Apostles so that they might spread this

good news.” But the Apostles only laughed.

“Of course, a woman sees salvation in only

selfish terms,” they chided (secretly jealous that she

should have seen him first). “Only a lazy woman would

seek the return of the Messiah coupled with a

time-saving, yet not unpractical, boneless fish product.”

It was Mark who deduced she must have

misunderstood. “Perhaps she’d heard ‘crispy,’ but

certainly ‘boneless’ was ‘soulless,’ and undoubtedly

‘products’ was really ‘harlots.’ And ‘fish,’ well,

that’s clearly ludicrous. Thus the real message had been:

“My return will be marked by the availability

of soulless, crispy Miss Easy harlots.”

“Crispy Miss Easy harlots? ” Luke questioned.

“Whores in the fires of hell,” Mark explained,

and they all nodded, looking intently at Mary.

Nancy Gobatto lives in North York. Her work has appeared in Zygote, Kiss Machine, and the Green Tricycle. She is working on a Ph.D. in women’s studies and is supposed to be writing about Anaïs Nin. Last updated Christmas, 2003.