by Brenda Klingenmaier
At the Museum of Scotland you stand at a precipice, frozen, as if trapped in sleep paralysis where you fight to wake up, but this time you’re not so sure you want to because there’s a painting, a painting of The Last Supper, only it’s different than the picture inside the childhood bible your parents gave you when you were five, the one with the cover of Jesus carrying baby sheep, and when you flip a page there’s a picture of a table and chairs just like the ones in all the homes you’ve ever lived, and men they sit at the table and eat dinner just like you do, but this painting, this painting, no, no, no, they are not sitting, they are lying down next to one another on a square bed that surrounds a table in the middle covered with food, and they eat, their bodies and garments touching, and a shiver cracks you down the center because it’s exquisite and sensual and beautiful and so wrong because this isn’t how it’s done and it can’t be how it was ever done, because they’re supposed to sit prim and proper just like you sit, eating from a plate with nothing but apologetic elbows almost touching, and you call your friend over and she says “yes, I’ve been to Israel and this is how it was back then” and you want to cry because this untruth negates the spiritual absolutes you were fed, and all your efforts as a child, a teenager, a young adult to honor God and lead people to Christ was nothing but a falsehood and a waste just like the thousands of times you bowed your head and put your hands together to beg God for forgiveness for nothing more than being a flawed human, and how you held on even when you realized there was love in the world you’d never once felt from your parents or God, and how can you believe anything you were ever told if this one simple truth was changed, and all the possible reasons for the deception crash and burn inside your head, and in that one moment your thirty years of belief that the bible is the truth and all your thoughts on what’s right, what’s wrong, Heaven, and Hell, come to a skidding halt and you feel like someone has turned you upside down and violently shaken all the salt and pepper out of you so you are nothing but gray and empty, wishing the painting would feed you.
Brenda Klingenmaier is a writer, copyeditor, long-distance runner, and kitchen witch residing in Southern California with her highly extroverted husband and daughter. As a child, Brenda wrote micro-stories in the margins of TV Guide and presented her masterpieces to her family. “The Last Supper” is Brenda’s first published CNF story. She can be found on Twitter @WordsThatHop.