Title: One of Those Days
Author: tommygirl828 (at) gmail (dot) com
A/N: This was a birthday fic for my dear friend, Rachel. Feedback always appreciated!
There were always going to be days that went badly. Joan knew that was a given, the same way she knew that the moment her mother would cave on a pair of boots she wanted, they would suddenly be trendy and so not worth buying. It was just something she expected by now. And the fact that God usually chose to bother her on these days was something she chalked up to further proof that He was out to get her and often let it slide.
It was too much of a hassle to whine to Him anyway. It never got her anywhere, nothing more than a wave as He walked away and bad things happening all around her that could've been avoided if only she had done what God asked.
But Oh Holy One had finally pushed her too far. She wasn't just having a bad day, she was in the middle of an apocalyptic-worthy breakdown. The last thing she needed was some mission from God to further muck up her busy schedule.
Did that stop Him?
She walked down the street and stopped at the light. She noticed a young guy jamming to music next to her and couldn't help but smile at how into the music he was.
He noticed her looking and smiled. "I've never understood why anyone needs anti-depressants when there is music."
"One of the better things I inspired. Don't you think, Joan?"
She eyed him up and down before shaking her head, "I'm really starting to dislike your need to be cute young guys. I find myself looking and..." Off the look on God's face, she snapped, "It's weird and creepy."
"Ever hear the saying 'beauty is on the inside' Joan?"
"Ever hear the saying, 'bored now'?"
"I need you to do something for me."
"Surprise, surprise," she said, following him as he danced down the street, oblivious the attention he was attracting to them. She asked, "What is it this week? Join the circus?"
"I want you to help your brother with the paper."
"Like deliver it?"
"Help him with his story, Joan."
"How can I help him with his story? I'm not a reporter and, if you haven't noticed, I don't really pay attention to the news."
"You don't need to be a reporter to be open to the world, Joan. Help him."
"Even if I did offer my help, Kevin would never accept it."
No response, just his typical wave of his hand as he made his way down the street, humming "Stairway to Heaven." God listened to Led Zeppelin? That seemed wrong somehow.
Joan made her way home, wondering exactly how she was supposed to help Kevin with his article. Even more than that, she wanted to know why, but that happened most of the time. She had grown used to not asking the question and simply accepting that whatever happened, happened for a good reason...good ripples and all that.
Joan opened the door to the house, surprised to find Kevin already seated at the kitchen table, reading a book. She called out, "Hey."
"You're home early."
"I could say the same for you," Joan replied. She dropped her bag on the counter and took a seat across from him. She asked, "Don't you have a job to be doing?"
"Yeah, but I'm having a trouble with the dreaded writer's block."
"For a journalist it is," Kevin replied. He put his book down and shot her a scrutinizing gaze, "What about you? Not off joining the wrestling team?"
She glared at him and replied, "Why would I do that?"
"Why do you do anything that you do?"
"I would never join the wrestling team. I don't like getting all sweaty."
"Right," he replied.
Joan caught him staring at her and decided to steer the topic away from her usual odd behavior. She asked, "What's this article on that's got you stuck?"
Again with the scrutinizing look as he arched an eyebrow. "You're interested?"
"You? Who thinks the only important news is the list of snow delays from school?"
"Well, it does tell me if I have to be up early, doesn't it?" Joan stood up and went over to the refrigerator and grabbed herself a soda. She glanced back at her brother, motioning to her drink, before retaking her seat across from him. "Sue me for taking an interest in my big brother's job."
"I would refrain from using the word 'sue' in this house for the next millennia."
Joan rolled her eyes. "Sorry."
"You really want to know what the article is about?"
"Would I have asked otherwise?"
"It's a human interest article. There's a local senior citizen who says that God talks to her."
Joan spit up a bit of her drink on the table. She wondered if this was a set up and then she remembered how God insisted on her helping her brother with his article. Was she supposed to share her own experiences? She had learned at crazy camp that it was best to let people think it was her Lime Disease that made God appear and leave it at that.
Joan met her brother's quizzical gaze and said, "Old people – always something."
"It's led to her doing some good things in the community and the newspaper got wind of the story. But how do I write an article like that without pointing out her obvious insanity?"
Joan frowned and replied, "Who said anything about her being insane?"
"She thinks she talks to God, Joan."
"So do priests, but no one calls them crazy."
"Priests don't think God takes on human form and carries on conversations with them."
Joan shrugged and replied, "How do you know that He doesn't?"
"Have you been there during one of her conversations? And if he takes on human form, he probably looks like a hot guy on the street...so how would you know if she is or isn't talking to God?"
Kevin shot her a dubious look and replied with a smile, "A hot guy?"
"It could happen."
"It's not likely."
"But it could happen. Maybe the lady was freaked out at first. Maybe she has her own questions about her sanity but sees these good things you're talking about happen – so she decides to stop questioning it. Maybe she's decided to just have faith," Joan replied. Her voice rose with each word and she found herself following suit, rising from her chair and hovering over her brother with her arms crossed protectively over her chest.
"Calm down. You'd think I accused you of liking Britney Spears' music."
"She might not be crazy, Kevin. You can't write that she's crazy. What if she starts to believe it and what if it makes her stop doing these good things? Everyone loses."
"Since when do you care about a little old lady's mental well being?"
She forced her expression to remain neutral and replied, "Because God told me to."
Kevin stared at her for a minute and then laughed. He patted her arm and said, "Point taken, Joan."
"I guess you're right. If she believes and it's resulting in good, what's the harm? I mean, if mass murdering lunatics can claim the devil spoke to them through a pet, why can't an old woman be moved to do acts of kindness from God?"
"Why must the good always be overlooked in favor of character assassination?"
"What you said!"
Kevin patted her arm again, giving it a slight squeeze, and said, "Thanks for the help, Joan."
"I helped you?" she replied, almost amazed that one of her projects was so easy. If God wanted to keep giving her missions like this, she might be able to maintain a social life.
"Yeah. In a weird way. I think I have an idea for how to work my article. Would you want to read it when it's done? As the old lady's personal advocate, you might want to make sure I refrain from referring to her as a scary nutjob."
"Sure, I'll read it."
Kevin started to make his way out of the kitchen, but stopped. He turned to face her and asked, "You were trying to make a point, right?"
"God doesn't talk to you and ask you to do things…does he?"
A part of her wanted to be truthful with him. Lay it all out on the line – from her first meeting on the bus to walking home and being told to help her brother with his article. Joan knew better though. She had been down that road with Adam and it led to a lot of questioning on her own part. A lot. Too much, in fact. And to have her older brother start looking at her like she was borderline psychotic was not something she wanted to experience. So she forced a smile and rolled her eyes, "Yeah, I talk to God...and shop for clothes with Princess Di."
He chuckled and said, "Just wanted to make sure."
Joan nodded her head as he disappeared around the corner. She sighed and looked upward. Maybe God knew what he was doing from time to time. And maybe it wasn't such a bad day after all.