Friday, October 22, 2010

"What about me Quim?"
"What about you?"
"Why no miracle for me?"

Quim ducked his head, pulled at the short grass in front of him. It was a habit when he was a child, trying to avoid a hard question; it was the way he responded when their supposed father, Marcao, was on a drunken rampage.

"What is it, Quim? Are miracles only for other people?"
"Part of the miracle is that no one knows why it happens."
"What a weasel you are, Quim."

Quim flushed.

"You want to know why you don't get a miraculous healing? Because you don't have faith, Miro."
"What about the man who said, Yes Master, I believe - forgive my unbelief?"
"Are you that man? Have you ever asked for a healing?"
"I'm asking now," said Miro. And then, unbidden, tears came to his eyes. "Oh God," he whispered. "I am so ashamed."
"Oh what?" asked Quim. "Of having asked God for help? Of crying in front of your brother? Of your sins? Of your doubts?"

Miro shook his head. He didn't know. These questions were all too hard. Then he realized that he did know the answer. He held out his arms from his sides. "Of this body," he said.

Quim reached out and took his arms near the shoulder, drew them toward him, his hands sliding down Miro's arms until he was clasping Miro's wrists. "This is my body which is given for you, he told us. The way you gave your body for the pequeninos. For the little ones."

"Yeah, Quim, but he got his body back, right?"
"He died, too."
"Is that how I get healed? Find a way to die?"
"Don't be an ass," said Quim. "Christ didn't kill himself. That was Judas' ploy."

Miro's anger exploded. "All those people who get their colds cured, who get their migraines miraculously taken from them - are you telling me they deserve more from God than I do?"
"Maybe it isn't based on what you deserve. Maybe it's based on what you need."

Miro lunged forward, seizing the front of Quim's robe between his half-spastic fingers. "I need my body back!"

"What do you mean maybe, you simpering smug ass-hole!"
"I mean," said Quim mildly, "that while you certainly want your body back, it may be that God, in his great wisdom, knows that for you to become the best man you can be, you need to spend a certain amount of time as a cripple."
"How much time?" Miro demanded.
"Certainly no longer than the rest of your life."

Miro grunted in disgust and released Quim's robe.

"Maybe less," said Quim. "I hope so."
"Hope," said Miro contemptuously.
"Along with faith and pure love, it's one of the great virtues. You should try it."


"You know what's worse than an asshole, Quim?"
"Sure," said Quim. "A hostile, bitter, self-pitying, abusive, miserable, useless asshole who has far too high an opinion of the importance of his own suffering."

It was more than Miro could bear. He screamed in fury and threw himself at Quim, knockin him to the ground. Of course Miro lost his own balance and fell on top of his brother, and got tangled in Quim's robes. But that was alright; Miro wasn't trying to get up, he was trying to beat some pain into Quim, as if by doing that he would remove some from himself.

After only a few blows, though, Miro stopped hitting Quim and collapsed in tears, weeping on his brother's chest. After a moment he felt Quim's arms around him. Heard Quim's soft voice, intoning a prayer.

"Pai Nosso, que estas no ceu." From there, however, the incantation stopped, and the words turned new and therefore real...