Impossible Beer by Pedro Ponce

Jesus arrived. The Lord had come to party. He propped his cross against the coatrack and brushed the snow from his shoulders.

I was raised to believe, but college had shaken my faith. I reached out to touch his robe. The white was blinding and smelled of cigarette smoke.

The Lord admonished my impertinence. Hands off the fucking robe, he said. He smiled warmly over the hostility of his words, true to what the Jesuits had taught. He vanished into the keg line, dispensing high fives as he navigated the damp carpet in pristine sandals.

It was foretold that the party’s first stage would proceed to a second, followed by a third. Already, the nearest revelers formed a wall of smoke and knowing laughter that only the chosen could pierce. I was hopeful that tonight, I would not be condemned to the periphery. After all, I reasoned, Jesus had to return for his cross. But by now, the coats and scarves and fleeces and stocking caps were waist high by where I stood. I prodded the pile with one foot, sifted through the top, felt nothing beneath the musk of shed layers.

A girl I recognized from Calculus or Art History or Psychology mounted a nearby chair and started dancing to “The Joker.” She moved so gracefully, pivoting coyly in the direction of the party’s center, and I knew that for the rest of my life I would hate the Steve Miller Band. 

 I felt thirsty. In my hand, I found a fresh beer. The pour was perfect, topped by a narrow band of foam. I felt the moist plastic curve against my palm. Someone cleared his throat. Someone else chuckled between coughs.

My hand was suddenly empty. The room vanished under a dome of beer. At the peak of its trajectory from the ceiling through my hair and sweatshirt to the floor, it paused. I contemplated the party through a translucent bronze canopy. I had been told repeatedly by my professors that the old words no longer meant what I thought they meant, and I would have to find my own.

So I would call this the Miracle of the Impossible Beer. Beyond the beer was revelation, discernible between the dim silhouettes retreating to the door. My eyes were open. All I needed was to move. 


Pedro Ponce is the author of The Devil and the Dairy Princess, winner of the Don Belton Fiction Prize and a finalist for the 2021 Big Other Book Award for Fiction. His short stories and flash fiction have appeared in PloughsharesCopper NickelWitness, and other journals. His work has also been featured in the anthologies New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction and The Best Small Fictions 2019.