I am more
feminine than masculine, God said.
youre a woman?
Thats not what I said. I am God,
neither man nor woman, but I have more female characteristics. I prefer people
to refer to me as she rather than he.
Nicola found this odd, since she and God had
started talking to each other, she had assumed he or rather she
was male. She wasnt sure what she felt about him or rather her
not being a man. Shed thought of him as sitting on cloud, wearing
white robes, with long hair, brown but speckled with grey and a long beard.
Nicola knew this idea came from other peoples imaginations but
nonetheless the image had provided a reassuring picture to hold in her head
given she couldnt see the being talking to her.
Why havent you mentioned your
gender before? Nicola asked.
I waited hoped for you to
notice yourself. But Ive realised that was unlikely. God
You have a deep voice, so I assumed you
were male, Nicola said.
Thats just the way you heard me.
Listen again. Keep listening. Now, how do I sound?
Quite, God said.
I suppose as a feminist your
should please me.
Quite, God said again, the word
tinged with irony.
I embraced feminism years ago,
Nonetheless you let George make all the
major decisions, didnt you?
Oh do shut up. God was becoming as
irritating as Nicolas best friend, Erica, who had recently changed her
name to Maud.
You know better than to speak to me so
rudely, but I will shut up. God yawned. Time to end our
conversation. I need a nap.
I didnt know you
God yawned again and Nicola decided she, too,
could do with a short lie down. Talking to a superbeing had exhausted
Her conversations with
God had started a few months ago, two weeks after George had told her he no
longer wanted to live with her. Told her, took twenty minutes to pack his
clothes, a few CDs and books, his power tool and his laptop. He had loaded the
bigger of the cars, saying hed arrange to come with a van for his other
things. Nicola stood in the doorway. She had yelled at George as he went from
room to room shoving things in bags while she followed him, alternating between
demanding he stay and listing his faults. Now she opened her mouth to shout one
last venomous insult as he drove away. Nothing came out. She was at a loss for
She also felt confused and distraught. For some
time she moved around the house, touching things, looking out of the windows at
the garden George had tended so lovingly, sobbing now and then, telling herself
his departure hadnt really happened. After twenty years of marriage,
George couldnt be deserting her. His leaving was the worst thing that had
ever happened to her. And made even worse because he hadnt said
why, even when shed screamed the question, over and over.
At six she poured a glass of wine and readied
herself to talk to Erica. She winced as she looked at the phone, Erica neither
liked nor approved of George and rather than sympathise she might tell Nicola
it was a good thing. But as her best friend, Erica should be the first to know.
In addition, she prided herself on her practical qualities and might have some
good advice. Nicola winced again, not sure she wanted good advice. So she had
another big cry and a second glass of wine.
Its me, Erica, Nicola
Ive already told you. Im
called Maud now.
Yes. Recently Erica had
announced that as a feminist she no longer wanted to have a name that was an
a added to a mans name. When Nicola asked why she had
waited so long to change, Erica snorted, said some things took time and that
Nicola was also a feminisation of a male name
You dont sound too perky,
Erica said now.
No, Nicola said and the enormity of
her husbands behaviour hit her again and the tears came.
Has something dreadful happened?
Erica sounded concerned.
George has left me, Nicola sobbed.
And waited for Erica to reply. And waited.
Say something, Nicola said
Im so sorry, Erica said.
(there would, of course, have to be a but)
once you get over it
Ill never get over
Oh you will.
Erica had offered to keep her company for the
evening, but Nicola had wanted to spend time alone with her sadness. Later,
going to bed, she shouted at God.
How could you have let George leave
me? No reply came, but Nicola hadnt expected one. She was, after
all, an atheist.
Erica arrived the following evening with a
cottage pie that she put in the oven. She frowned when Nicola filled her wine
glass for the second time, but she listened and nodded while Nicola poured out
her grief. When Erica gathered her things together, ready to leave, the two
women hugged. She hadnt mentioned Nicola getting over George, nor had she
made any of her usual comments about him getting his own way too often, or
being pompous, or having a schoolboy sense of humour.
Nicola spoke to George from time to time.
Telephone calls on practical matters, discussion about selling their house,
which she ignored. And eventually, when she persisted, he told her why he had
in a rut.
Were we? Nicola asked.
Oh yes, George said.
See, Erica said when Nicola relayed
the conversation to her. Hes still
treating you as if you
didnt know your own mind.
What should I do? Tell him the rut was in
his imagination and so he should come home?
Of course not
Youll come to
realise youre better off without him.
Nicola glared at her friend, realising that,
after two weeks of difficult sympathy, Erica had reverted to her usual
dismissal of George.
He was - is the love of my
life, Nicola said, pondering the truth of her words. When they first met
they had both burned with passion, she told herself. It had lasted for years.
She sighed. Maybe she had become complacent, had not in spite of what
Erica said listened to George and given him what he wanted.
Later, in bed Nicola felt the heaviness of
grief, made worse because she wondered if shed behaved differently she
could have kept George with her.
Oh God, what could I have done to keep
him? she cried out.
Youre asking the wrong
question, came a voice from the other side of the room.
Nicola sat up. Whos that? she
Who do you think?
Its not God is it?
Who else could it be?
But Im an atheist.
Im the God of everyone, even
Perhaps Im making you up, or going
Youre not going mad. Youre
having a tough time and Ive come to help you.
Why didnt you come when George
I considered visiting you then, but you
Am I ready now?
I think so. Now go to sleep. Well
Nicola woke late the next morning, refreshed.
Although still unhappy she felt now she was strong enough to cope.
Are you there, God? she
I am. Do you want to talk about
Fire away then.
I didnt know God used that sort of
Youll find I speak much like you
Right. By the way although Im
talking to you I still call myself an atheist.
Thats OK. Life is confusing,
complex and contradictory, isnt it?
Yes. Like whats happening to me
now. I dont understand how George who said so often that he loved me
adored me could leave me. Mind you, its been a long time
since he used those words, except when I asked him.
George is probably in two minds. Partly
wanting a new life, partly wanting the comfort and familiarity of the old
But the new-life part won. Nicola
said. She and God had a long conversation about George and Nicola had to admit,
reluctantly, she found certain things he did and said irritating, moreover she
enjoyed some aspects of living without him.
Breakfast time, Nicola said
Its a shame I cant appreciate
eating, given I created food as pleasurable, God said and
You created sex, too, Nicola
True and that, too, I cant indulge
Poor you, Nicola said. She felt
better than she had done since George left.
intended to tell Erica about her conversations with God but the topic came up
one Sunday over a visit to a restaurant for lunch.
Youre recovering. Youve
smiled three times and laughed twice, Erica said.
Yes. Thanks to God. Ive found him a
But youre an
Yes. Just because I dont believe in
God doesnt mean he doesnt exist. He and I talk to each other every
Dont be silly, its you
imagining him to help you cope with losing George. Erica said and when
Nicola laughed she added: Does he speak English?
Of course, Nicola said.
Otherwise I couldnt understand him.
If he existed, which he doesnt,
hed speak Hebrew. Given where he was invented.
I imagine he can speak every single
language. Ill ask him next time we talk.
I see your friend
wants to persuade you not to believe in me, God said a few days
Shes a bit irritating. She never
liked George. And I cant get used to calling her Maud when her
I can see why you feel like that.
Nonetheless youre fond of her and you enjoy her company, even her
. Reminds you of George
Does it not?
Oh, Nicola said. Id not
considered that. But its true. I think. Except I answer back to Erica and
I rarely did to George.
So youre coming to terms with the
end of your marriage?
No. If I could have George back tomorrow
I would. Im learning to live without him but I miss him dreadfully and I
wish you hadnt let him leave me.
Maybe it was for the
Youre beginning to sound like
Erica. And by the way she says I shouldnt think of you as a
Right, God said and this was when
he or rather she told Nicola she was more feminine than
right, Erica. God does not exist.
Call me Maud. So, regarding God,
youve come to your senses.
Possibly. Nicola felt defensive.
When God said she was more feminine than masculine I saw a big problem.
How could a God who identified as female let all the awful things that happen,
happen? How could she have let George leave me? A female God wouldnt have
let him go; shed have found a way of helping us sort out our issues.
Also, she wouldnt have created our world with all its horrors: war,
terrorism, pandemics, children dying, men in charge
So because God told you she was more
woman than man you stopped believing in her? Erica asked.
No need to raise your eyebrows.
Nicola said. My logic is impeccable
Isnt it? she added
quietly to God.
Absolutely, God replied.