Her own sandwich bread was thick and brown, the crust studded with exotic looking grains. Tessa Sims had probably never eaten bologna in her life. Not on a sandwich with squishy white bread, and never fried for dinner, cut along the edges so it wouldn’t curl in the pan.
You said, I bet Tessa Sims doesn’t even know that trick.
I knew we were poor because I’d figured out what rich meant. What I didn’t know was that other people knew we were poor too, that someone could tell not just by my hand-me-downs but by my sandwich.
You told Tessa, your lunch looks like something my dog crapped out this morning. We were the only ones who laughed.
It was communion Sunday at church that week. We snuck into the kitchen during fellowship to see if Mrs. Greely was hiding the good doughnuts again. You said, for a poor kid, you’re very discerning about your doughnuts. I didn’t know what that meant, only that it was your idea to find me a custard-filled.
We had two doughnuts apiece and some grape juice—aka the blood of Christ, I said. You laughed so hard juice trickled out of your nostrils like a nosebleed, and if I was struck down, it would be worth it.
When we went to hide the evidence of our feast in the trash, your eyes grew huge as you pulled out two plastic Bunny Bread bags. It was no secret the communion wine was grape juice, but the bread—since it was supposed to represent actual Jesus—seemed more serious, like maybe the pastor’s wife made it or you had to send away for it, not something you could pick up at Family Dollar.
In the cafeteria the next day, Tessa walked by and slapped a palm full of change in front of me: a donation to the poor. Do you smell dog crap? Your voice was thick with innocence.
You took my sandwich and tore off the corner, and I cupped my hands into a cross. Eat this in remembrance of me, you said.
They said it was an accident, but I wondered if you knew you were going to die and that was why you weren’t afraid of Tessa or stealing doughnuts. Maybe you were my own personal middle school Jesus, except Jesus probably didn’t talk about dog crap nearly as much as you did.
At your funeral, I stood in line as the other kids dropped roses into your grave. Tessa wept; I snuck bites of a bologna sandwich.
I didn’t drop my flowers when the time came. I gave you my sandwich instead. The bologna and bread separated as they sailed down to the casket, changing not to the body of Christ but into something else entirely.
About the Author: Amy Rossi recently abandoned Boston winters for Louisiana summers. She loves Game 7s, baking, and hair metal. She can be found on Twitter @mossyair, and she can be found in a room by quoting Road House.
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Clem/Poppy and Pinecone