The Broken Will Break You

Murphy never thought about God, religion — any of it — until the summer Asher found Jesus.

Summer Camp

In June, Asher left Long Island for summer camp wearing cutoffs and blasting Led Zeppelin and she returned in August with Christian rock tapes and a mouthful of the gospel. As you could imagine, her mother was horrified. It was one thing to get buttoned-up for Sunday service, but it was quite another to bible-thump in broad daylight. Everyone had their Jesus in moderation like taking slow sips of cyanide-laced Hawaiian Punch.

The morning Asher got back she took Murphy’s hand in hers and said, Murphy, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?

Murphy retreated. What the fuck?

Because my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Asher said, Philippians 4:19.

This is a joke, right? This is a total joke. You’re Presbyterian.

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Asher shook her head. Her eyes were still and unwavering. The Asher who could eat an extra-large pizza in one sitting while watching I Love Lucy reruns, the Asher who sang Zeppelin’s “Thank You” with the windows rolled down, the Asher who dyed her hair blue was gone. In her place was a French-braided blond who wore a yellow Jesus Saves t-shirt without irony. There’s nothing funny about a life lived in sin, this new Asher said.

What happened to you? Did you go to camp or Jonestown? Murphy leaned against the wall next to Asher’s bedroom door. All of Asher’s Joy Division, Screaming Trees, and Morrissey posters were gone. Her room was barren save for a wooden cross that hung above her bed.

Asher nodded as if she had been expecting this. I imagine it’s easier to laugh at anything true and real instead of dealing with your dead sister. Murphy, I think if my father, your sister, had had the courage to take Christ into their heart they’d still be alive, living in His grace. Look at them now, six feet under and decomposed. Look how their greed only served to undo them. And for what? The money he didn’t need? More attention than she was already getting? Look at what a selfish life does to you — casts you down and out of His light. That won’t be me, Murphy, and I want the same for you. Asher walked towards Murphy, arms outstretched. A somnambulant.