Invisible friend Jesus sat beside my bed, his back against the wall and his long legs stretched out in front of him. He was reading a Janet Evanovich hardback. Stacks of books lay beside him, and the walls around him were plastered with collages, drawings and graffiti.
“There you are,” I said.
He glanced up from his book and raised an eyebrow.
I pressed my cheek into my pillow and sighed. “I feel like shit.”
He marked his place in the book with one of the socks on my floor and set the book down. “That doesn’t surprise me. Look at all that junk piled on you.”
“Huh? There’s no junk piled on me.”
He rolled his eyes and stood up, then began lifting things off my back. He stacked them up against the wall: suitcases. Duffel bags. Boxes. There were enough to fill a U-Haul.
“Oh,” I said. “I guess there was junk piled on me.” The weight gradually lifted until he’d removed the last bag, and I lay there, dizzy with relief, as he unzipped one of the suitcases.
He dug in it and pulled out a plush duck, one of its wings torn, its fur stained and matted with what might have been spilled mocha. “Why are you keeping this?”
I sat up, stretching my newly-freed limbs and rolling my neck. I shrugged. “Donno.”
“And this?” He pursed his lips quizzically, holding up an acid wash jeans jacket with the arms cut off and Metallica written on the back in Sharpie.
“Ew, throw that one away.”
He tossed it into the air, and it disappeared. A feeling of relief and comfort stole over me.
I leaned back on the wall and watched him as he continued to dig through the detritus of my personal baggage. “How long can you carry that stuff for me?”
He shot me a smirking glance. “As long as you want. Are you sure you don’t want me to throw it away, though?”
The idea of removing all that weight from my shoulders forever was incredible. Amazing. What kind of beautiful life could I have if I weren’t weighed down by that junk? But the thought whisked away, my shoulders slumping. “I couldn’t live without my baggage. That’s just not how the world works.”
“If you say so.” He gave me a lopsided grin and pulled the weight from my shoulders, holding it up for me to see: a large athletic sock, full of… “Are you really going to eat these?” He pulled out a clump of dusty, melted-together hard candy.
“No, probably not.” I hugged my knees. “I know I don’t really need all that stuff, but it’s so hard to let go of.”
“I know.” He held the sock upside down. More disgusting candy and bits of broken plastic toys fell out into a pile on the floor. He waved his hands over it like a stage magician. “Mumbo jumbo, bibbity boo.” The pile vanished.
I squinted at him. “You’re not gonna, like, make fun of me for carrying it around, even though it makes no sense?”
He gave me a look and laughed. “Am I going to make you feel guilty and ashamed for wanting to carry around loads of guilt and shame? Fuck, no. That’s not what I’m here for. That’s what other people are here for, apparently, but only because they’re carrying around their own shit, and it’s heavy so they want to foist if off onto others.”
“People are weird,” I said.
He giggled and pulled a broken jewelry box from one of the duffel bags, tossing it into the air. It turned into a swarm of ladybugs, which buzzed out the window into the spring sunshine.
Elizabeth Roderick is an author. You can help her lift some of her financial baggage by checking out her books on Amazon.