When my sister Jenelle and I were 7 and 8, we snuck into the communion bread and wine and ate and drank it up. I suppose, since we were Protestant and not Catholic, we were never in any danger of actually consuming the body and blood of Christ on the sly. Nevertheless, we went to a Catholic school, where our father had sent us with the pronouncement, "I would rather you grow up to be Catholic than heathens!" I was never sure what a heathen was, but since my dad always used it in this context, I spent the first three years of my grade-school education insulting other kids on the playground with the term. The roughest project kids, already street savvy by the age of seven, would call me names like, "shit ass". But I knew I had 'em. "Your just a heathen", I would retort. They usually just looked confused. On one occasion, Sister Agnes, one of the nuns, overheard the exchange and began laughing. A nun laughed at my jack-dynamo-power-cuss-word. It was then that I first realized that "heathen" might not pack the punch I had always assumed.
In Catholic schools, I had been introduced to the notion of transubstantiation, a concept unknown to most Baptists. My teacher, Mrs. Coconougher had explained to me, "It's where the bread and the wine actually turn into the body and blood of Christ". "Yuck," I responded. There were kids only a few classes ahead of me who regularly took communion, and this completely changed my perception of them. They ate Jesus and drank blood! I was grossed out and fascinated. "No, it's beautiful. A beautiful sacrament." Mrs. Coconougher left me at my desk to ponder at the weird world of grown-ups and how I didn't want to be one if it meant adopting cannibalism as a religious lifestyle.
The Sunday morning Jenelle and I snuck into the communion, church had run long. Communion Sundays were always long. Long but interesting. I knew enough to understand that partaking of communion was forbidden if you were a kid or if there was sin on your conscience, and that by doing so, you became liable for the death of Jesus Christ. I wouldn't want to be responsible for that, so Jenelle and I always watched all the church members attentively to see who would take it and who wouldn't. If they didn't, it was a sure sign that somebody was living in sin. It was also during this year that my mother, the preacher's wife, began having an affair with the head-deacon and we always watched in fascinated horror to see if either of them had the balls to crucify Christ yet again. So far, my mother was 5 for 5?crucifying the poor, tormented son of god over and over and over. Don, the deacon, was less bold and crumbled his communion bread in his hand a couple of times and faked drinking the wine. It was during this Sunday, watching the guilty and guiltless members of my dad's little 40-member church, that Jenelle and I struck upon our plan.
"I'm hungry," I whispered to Jenelle. We had always wanted to try the bread. It was unleavened bread, which meant it was flat, cracker-like and exotic. I glanced over at my grandma who was praying quietly. I had overheard a conversation between my grandmother and father earlier that morning. "Pauline Grigsby has to leave early today. She cain't be responsible for puttin' up the wine an' bread," my grandmother had reported. My grandmother decided to take it home instead. A plan began to form in my head, which I relayed to Jenelle in whispers as the service closed.
After church my grandmother collected the empty communion cups. Jenelle and I offered to help, sweetly stacking them one upon another, then settling them into the communion-cup holder. My grandmother collected the rest of the communion gear.
"It just looks like a box of juice to me," my sister Jenelle said skeptically, as my grandmother packed up the "communion wine." I couldn't argue with this. The box sported the unmistakable Welch's logo and I couldn't help wondering if Pauline had just taken this from her breakfast table earlier that day. Christ's blood was already losing cache in my eyes, so I focused instead on the communion bread. The bread had to be specially ordered from some mysterious warehouse, god's-special-warehouse-somewhere, and so was exotic and somewhat mystical. We followed my grandmother out to her car, all the while watching. Grandma placed the juice and the body of Christ in the back seat of her Chevy Impala and then went back into the church for a chat.
Jenelle and I quietly crawled into the car. We looked at each other. "You do it!" I urged. "We'll get in trouble," she said. "Just a little," I continued, hoping she would go first, just in case god poisoned us for eating him secretly. Jenelle pulled back the Reynolds's wrap surrounding Christ's body and took a little piece. It snapped off in her hand like a wafer and she tentatively put it on her tongue. "Ummmm," she said, "It's really good!" She seemed to be fine, so I decided to try a piece. It was powdery in my hand. I put it in my mouth. "It doesn't taste like anything", I said. Jenelle was already starting to eat more. It was forbidden, and it was the body of Christ. And it didn't kill us. That was sufficient reason to continue.
By the time my grandmother came to the car, we had eaten more than half of Jesus' body and even slurped some of the Welch's to wash it down with. We had carefully wrapped up the remainder and were sitting piously in our seats, belching dramatic juice-burps, giggling because we had put something over on god.
I think I stopped believing in the power of god after that, because I went on to commit a rash of sins against the body of Christ. By the time I was eight, I had snuck into the tabernacle at the catholic school, licked the host and then replaced it, giggling the next day, as the priest blessed and passed it out. I got drunk on spoiled communion juice and even flavored the host in the tabernacle with hot pepper before replacing it. Some people say that these sins were minor infractions by children. I say that only a preacher's kid commits sins intentionally directed against Christ's body and blood.
about the author
Anonymous is a struggling artist / musician / writer / prospective-attorney who lives in New York. She is struggling because her rent is 3x what it was in Kentucky and because she actually lived through the events portrayed in this story. In fact, she is related to most of the characters.