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Art by Melissa Mead

God's Gift to Women

Barbara A. Barnett is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop whose short fiction has appeared in publications such as Fantasy Magazine, Shimmer, and Hub. She lives with her husband in southern New Jersey, works for a theater company in Philadelphia, and frequently bursts into song. You can find her online at www.babarnett.com.

"So it's like this, Beth..." God stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray and leaned across the bar, close enough for me to smell his cheap cologne. "I'm not omnipotent."
"But you're God." I took a swig of my beer. "The all-knowing."
"Well, yeah, I am omniscient. But that only means all-knowing, and one thing I know for certain is that I'm not all-powerful. That's omnipotence, baby."
I downed the rest of my beer, then frowned at God. I had always imagined him as a benevolent grandfather-type in white robes, standing against a backdrop of puffy clouds and trumpeting cherubs. What I'd gotten instead was a middle-aged man with five o'clock shadow trying to pick me up at happy hour.
"That whole Jesus thing--took a lot out of me, you know?" God gestured for the bartender to bring us another round. "These virgin births are a one-shot deal. I met another god back in the old days who tried more than once and..." God snickered. "Well, let's not talk about that and keep up the illusion that I'm the only Alpha and Omega in town, shall we?"
Sneaking out of work before five on a Friday no longer seemed like the best move I could have made. More ludicrous was that I actually believed this guy was God. I had been ready to throw a perfectly good beer in his face when he scooted his stool closer and offered to buy me a drink. But the moment he said those words--I'm God--I believed him.
"You're a quiet one," he said as the bartender brought us two more beers. "Here I am, ready to answer your prayers, and you're keeping mum on me."
I snorted. "My prayers? I wanted to meet a successful guy and start a family, not divine impregnation."
"Divine impregnation," God said, his voice rising in pitch to mock my own. "Man, don't say it like that. You make it sound so... clinical."
"You make it sound so casual."
God shook his head and pulled out another cigarette. "How I ever created a people so uptight about the oldest pastime in the book is beyond me."
"I just don't see how this answers my prayers."
"You've been hiding your head in that cubicle of yours too long." God paused to light his cigarette. "I'm God. God the Father, in fact. Doesn't that make me your family?"
I shoved my beer aside, stomach churning. "That makes what you're proposing sound even worse."
"Okay, so paternity's maybe not the best angle to take. But that's still what this comes down to in the end. You want a kid; I need another Messiah now that my J-boy's all, 'But I don't wanna go back to that world, Dad. They crucified me!' I mean, you pound a few nails in the kid and he's whining about it for centuries."
I sighed. "So why me? It's not like I'm the only single girl in the world who wants a family."
"Girls like you are hard to find. You're hot, but you've also got this modern-day Mary thing going on--purity and devotion and all that. You really believe in me." God blew out a puff of smoke, a wistful look on his face. I expected him to say something profound. Something divine. Instead he crushed my expectations as easily as he ground his cigarette in the ashtray. "It's amazing what a little ego stroking like that will do to put a guy in the mood."
"You know..." I glanced around the bar. A few other women were in the same predicament--men in loosened ties and rumpled suits offering them drinks and promises of a phone call the next day. Those men weren't God, but I couldn't tell the difference. I grabbed my purse and stood. "I'm suddenly not feeling so prayer-like."
"Woah, wait a minute, where are you going?"
"I just don't see you being the stay-at-home dad type, or the kind to pay child support. You're not omnipotent, after all."
Just for good measure, I threw the rest of my beer in God's face. "And if you were really omniscient," I said, "you would have seen that coming."
The End
This story was first published on Monday, March 7th, 2011

Author Comments

God's Gift to Women" was the result of a story prompt to write about a god who wasn't omnipotent. While I've never met a guy who actually claimed to be god, I've certainly heard some bad pick-up lines that even an all-powerful being couldn't make work. I may have turned down the drinks those guys offered to buy, but they at least gave me a fun story idea to play with.

- Barbara A. Barnett
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