It was fine in the beginning: there was me and Sue and Ricky and God, and we all lived together in the house on the hill. It was an old wooden house, with all sorts of silly bowed windows and little turrets, and it hadn’t been painted in years. If you looked closely you could see that at least half of the boards were loose. It should have been freezing cold in the winter, and it was a wonder that it didn’t blow down in a gale, but somehow as long as we all lived there with God nothing ever broke, and the wind didn’t come in and the rain stayed out and it was always just warm enough in the winter and just cool enough in the summer and we didn’t even think about it.
Ricky had come to live with us after he moved out of the old basement, and Sue and me had moved in when we got together. No-one knew where God had been before or why he came to live there with us, but he was a nice guy to have around the place so we didn’t really mind not knowing where he had been. We gave up our jobs after a while to spend more time at home and Ricky had never had a job, he said he didn’t need it.
We always seemed to have enough of everything, even though no-one in the house had a job. Sometimes God would cook, sometimes Ricky, and sometimes Sue. I didn’t cook much because some people are good at some things and some people are good at others and I guess I must be good at others. But even when I cooked it came out okay so you could eat it. Whatever you cooked all the ingredients were always there, and we never even thought about that, either.
God was pretty big, even taller than me and I’m six foot two. He was fairly quiet and sometimes seemed a little sad, but you always knew he was listening and you always knew he cared. Often people didn’t realise that he was God when they first met him, but then when you told them they said well yes, of course. Everybody liked him, and we always had a lot of visitors. We used to sit talking into the night and God would sit there listening with his sad kind smile and every now and then he’d say something and it’d be just right and it’d make everybody feel just right, even if it turned out that they had been wrong all along. That was the way he was.
Sometimes people would ask him why he was living there with us, because they’d always imagined that he’d be some place else, like maybe Heaven, or everywhere, or maybe both, but then he’d just smile and say he didn’t like to discuss Theology and get another round of drinks and change the subject so cleverly that no-one even remembered five minutes later.
I don’t know how long things all went so well. Sometimes I ask Suzy but she can’t remember either. Life was good, so good we didn’t need to think about how good it was or count how long it lasted; so good we never even worried it might end. It might have been months or it might have been years or it might have been forever. Nothing happened to mark the time, but still it wasn’t boring. But then it all went wrong.
It wasn’t me or Sue or Ricky who first noticed the change. Some of the people who visited less often just gradually stopped coming. Then others would sometimes leave looking worried because God had said something and he didn’t always find just the right words like he had always done before and they didn’t feel good about it. He smiled less often, and sometimes strangely, and sometimes he’d just spend the whole of the evening in his chair in the corner and not say anything, and only move to get the drinks. Somehow our friends came less and less often, but he was still just the same to me and Ricky and Sue, and we thought nothing much of it because we were still all right.
Then one day Ricky was making spaghetti and he couldn’t find any tomato puree, and he said hey, where is the tomato paste, and God said well if you want some tomato puree why don’t you go out and get some, and he didn’t say it in a nasty way or anything but he’d never said anything like that before and anyway everything had always been there and then we started to think about it, and we realised that it was because he was God that everything had always been there before, but now suddenly things weren’t always there when we needed them, and sometimes the house started to rattle in the wind, and when it was cold outside sometimes it was draughty in places inside and we thought well, if it was always all right before because he was God and it isn’t all right now then why is that? After all, he’s still God. And then we started to get worried.
God just kept getting stranger. Sometimes you’d catch him just looking out of the window into the rain with a sad empty look on his face. Sometimes he seemed to be talking to himself, strange things that didn’t make much sense but sometimes seemed to be about death. Sue said we should ask him if anything was wrong, and if we could help, but Ricky said don’t be silly, have you forgotten who he is? But in the end I did ask, and Ricky was right, it is a stupid feeling to go up to God and ask if something’s wrong and if there’s anything you can do to help, but you know, he was our friend and I thought even if he’s God he’s still a human being and maybe he needs to talk to a friend like we all do sometimes, but he just came out with his old line about not wanting to discuss Theology. Only it had never seemed like a line before.
Ricky started going out in the evenings, he said he needed some fresh air. Me and Sue didn’t start going out until later, after God had started staring at us and muttering weird things that we couldn’t quite hear. We’d always been a bit closer to God than Ricky I suppose, right from the start, so it took longer for things to get bad for us. Ricky got a job, and then one day he moved out, just like that. That day was the first time I saw God look angry. Sue said she was scared, and I know I was. He said some awful things to Ricky, but then when he’d gone he was suddenly just sad, and looked very old, as if he’d been living forever, which I suppose he had but he’d never looked that way before.
After that things were better for a while, I suppose he was making an effort. But it didn’t last long. At first we stayed with him for old times sake, and because we hoped he’d get better, and because you don’t just give up on your friends, but in the end we were mainly staying because we were scared of what might happen if we left. The idea of God being angry at us was pretty frightening.
We tried to get out of the house as much as possible. We got jobs, went shopping, and went out in the evenings to see our friends, who didn’t come to visit any more because of God. We knew things couldn’t go on like this, but we didn’t know what to do to get out of the situation. I suppose we were hoping that God might do something and that whatever it was it wouldn’t be so hard on us because it wasn’t our fault.
And then today the worst thing happened. God came out of the house. He’d never done that before; it was one of the things that we had never thought about, but God just always stayed at home and let other people come to him. So outside the house we’d always felt safe from him, which I suppose is silly too, with him being God, but that’s the way we felt. But today we were at a party and suddenly there was God, his kind sad face unexpected among the guests, and just looking at Sue now and then and it was making her sick and scared. Then he was just on the edge of the pool and between him and me there was someone else and there wasn’t much room and I kind of nudged the other person and it was almost an accident, but not really, and there wasn’t enough room and they sort of pushed into God and he fell into the pool and sank face down, with bubbles coming up like he wasn’t even holding his breath. And no-one else noticed, so I pretended I hadn’t noticed, and I wondered can God drown? Is it that simple? But I felt awful because I was letting someone drown, even if it was God, and I thought no, I can’t do it, I must get him out, but I still didn’t move and then suddenly everybody else started jumping into the pool and Sue said come on, we’ve got to get him out and I realised that she had seen God fall into the pool too, and she hadn’t said anything either. But now everyone was jumping in and just sinking face down with bubbles coming up like they weren’t even trying to hold their breath and the whole of the bottom of the pool was covered already with our drowning friends and I realised we had to get him out or everyone else would drown themselves because God was drowning. So we jumped in and tried to find God but there were so many other people in the way that we can’t find him and we keep on and keep on picking people up from the bottom and we look at their faces but none of them is God and soon it will be too late to get him out and what are we going to do then?