“Angels Howling in the Trees” – Fiction by Misti Rainwater-Lites

Bunworth Banshee - W.H. Brooke, 1825
Bunworth Banshee – W.H. Brooke, 1825

“Angels Howling in the Trees” is a sketch from an American girlhood in the disco era, from the barbed yet soulful pen of Misti Rainwater-Lites. It reminds us of a clip from some punk rock Wonder Years where bitterness & nostalgia roll around on the carpet pulling each other’s hair. It’s also one of the many multi-flavored literaries you can read in our Spring 2014 Issue, available in full for 3 bucks. 

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IN THE HOUSE IN THE TOWN THAT WASN’T SEYMOUR or Bridgeport but somewhere in between, somewhere forgettable, another ugly bump in the Texas road, Merissa slept or did not sleep in a canopy bed in a bedroom she shared with her baby sister. One night Maternal Grandmother was visiting and she was sleeping with Merissa in the canopy bed but Merissa kept getting out of the canopy bed and tiptoeing down the hallway and getting into bed with the mother and the father. Maternal Grandmother would come get Merissa and bring her back to the canopy bed and Merissa was restless and unhappy but didn’t know why. Merissa looked out the window from the canopy bed and saw the trees in the backyard and she could hear angels howling tangled in the black branches. The angels voiced the despair she was too young and mute to name.

“Will the angels always howl, Ava? Will I always be searching for the warmest, most hospitable bed?”

“You are cursed, niece. I hate to be the one to tell you the truth.”

Buddy Holly was on the stereo and The Newlywed Game was on the television and Merissa was in love with John Travolta as Tony in Saturday Night Fever and when she played house with her least favorite cousin, Sonny’s big sister, she learned what it was to be female because the cousin pretended to be talking to John Travolta, Merissa’s husband.

“You have to let other women talk to your husband. You can’t have your husband all to yourself,” Least Favorite Cousin told Merissa.

“He’s my husband. He belongs to me. I don’t have to share him,” Merissa said.

“You can talk to my husband. I don’t care.”

Least Favorite Cousin was married to Andy Gibb. Merissa didn’t know why.

“I don’t want to talk to your husband. I want to talk to my husband,” Merissa said.

“Too bad. I’m talking to your husband right now. If you don’t want to talk to Andy you can just sit there and wait until I’m finished talking to John. Ouch! Stop pulling my hair!”

Merissa glared at Least Favorite Cousin as she yanked her long brown hair. Then Merissa’s mother appeared and told Least Favorite Cousin to pull Merissa’s hair, that would show her how it felt. So Least Favorite Cousin pulled Merissa’s long black hair and Merissa howled. Buddy Holly continued to sing.

The elderly babysitter was the coolest human being Merissa knew other than Uncle Joshua. The elderly babysitter baked a frozen pepperoni pizza for Merissa and played Barbies with her. She wasn’t politically correct. She made the Ken doll get drunk and make an ass of himself. Merissa laughed until she ached. Why couldn’t everyone in Merissa’s life be as funny and real as the elderly babysitter?

Then there was Merissa’s friend Tabitha from kindergarten. Tabitha had an excellent fucking life. She could read. Her parents asked her to read for Merissa’s parents. They were so proud of their bright little girl. Tabitha told Merissa a lion lived in the jungle that was her backyard. The weeds were higher than the house. Merissa was awestruck. In the bathroom down the hall from Tabitha’s bedroom there was a night light and Dixie cups so Tabitha could get a drink of water in the middle of the night if the mood struck. Lucky bitch.

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aBeCMISTI RAINWATER-LITES is the author of Bullshit Rodeo and other works of fiction. She maintains a blog, Chupacabra Disco, and posts slightly insane photographs at Twitter. Misti resides in San Antonio where the weather is crazier than she is.

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