Category Archives: Excerpts

“Santarella Garden” – Poetry by Kailey Tedesco

The Bride – Gertrude Kasebier, 1902

“Santarella Garden” is Kailey Tedesco‘s beautifully bizarre poem of blood & bridehood from our Winter 2019 issue.

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SWEET

on its own is not a word to conjure anything of the sort. Santarella was not home to me, yet blood runs down
my leg and into the drain of its shower.

Santarella asked to be invited into me, and I said yes. Santarella’s reflection is only seen
on the surface of its own ponds.

The photographer tells me to be serious for just a goddamned second, but I’ve forgotten that I’m the bride.

In every photograph, I’m laughing with the many hors d’oeuvres, somewhere
in the background.

The symbol of our marriage is up at the peak of the silo, with the dark and all the stars. Without it, nothing
can proceed as usual.

Is it good luck to have blood run down my leg and into Santarella’s shower? I’m asking this to everyone I see, just before I lean to kiss them on the cheek.

With each kiss, I remember I’m the bride.

Is it good luck to have fingernails full of Santarella?

The soil is crawling into me, like a tantrum. It wants to be put to bed. Moss wounds my gown, yet I must
reach the top of the silo before the photographs are taken and I forget
that I’m the bride.

In every photograph, I’m crawling on my hands and knees up the Santarella garden, like a freak storm. It’s
snowing in September. I lie there in it, knowing I may fall asleep and never wake.

When I rise my gown rises with me. The snow has cleared and we have sun for our photographs.

On the way to Santarella, blood got on the driver’s seat. I was never the bride in my entire life. As I drove up
the Santarella garden, it became so goddamned dark.

(Goddamned is used here incorrectly. The dark was not damned by any god. It was just sweet. Like blood.)

The candle light could not penetrate the dark. It grew too quickly all around me. The Santarella garden became
a sound instead of a place, and I had difficulty experiencing it fully. The guests
of the wedding only spoke to me in spells.

But the dark scabbed over my body and my gown and my blood like a new skin
and that is what I wanted the whole time. More than anything.

Once I was inside the dark, I could experience everything fully.

And so I walked up the Santarella garden and spiral wooden staircase and into the shower with checkered tile and I bled what I needed to into its drain.

And the sun shone on the pond, of course, because everything was of the dark now including the sun. Including me. My bouquet was so moody and when I tossed it, it almost refused

to bleed out from the darkness and into the drain of the shower.

I am the bride, I remembered, and it shows in every photograph.

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KAILEY TEDESCO is the author of She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publishing) and These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press). Her second collection, Lizzie, Speak (winner of White Stag Publishing’s poetry contest) will be released in early 2019. She is the co-founder of Rag Queen Periodical and an editor for Luna Luna Magazine. You can find her work featured or forthcoming in Fairy Tale Review, Prelude, New South, fields, Bone Bouquet Journal, and more. For further information, please visit kaileytedesco.com. 

“Knives, nails and keratin” – Poetry by Alice Riddell

La temperanza, Woman Holding a Knife –
Konstantinos Parthenis, 1938

“Knives, nails and keratin” is Alice Riddell‘s raw & piercing poem from our Winter 2019 issue.

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AFTER ONE TWO MANY,
She rips the nails from their beds
Like children on Christmas morning,
Eager to open
A fantasy of something else.
But there is only coal
And air exposed on rawness.

Having eleven stitches into her chin
Felt like a bow
Tied by her mother.
Smart for church,
All dressed up
In that robe,
Where blood ran down
Between her breasts.
Kitchen knife,
Two K’s
But the silence of the last haunts her,
Its noiselessness
Cuts flesh and screams.

She digs
With small white keratin,
Not the ripped ones
Some are saved
For this very occasion.
They mark
Like crescent moons
On a powder dusk sky,
The shoulder and neck canyon
The valley of palms and wrists
Reflected back.

Pinches;
Like ants
Like too-tight denim
Like winter winds
Like plucking eyebrows
Like her sister,
Her mother made her wear mittens to school
Because she nipped other kids,
Nip sounds better than pinch
Pinch is only one letter away from punch.
She painted the most beautiful blues,
Lapis Lazuli slaps
Violent violets
Sucker for shallow skulls.

She watched the glow
Of the cigarette lighter
Its receptacle invitation,
Its perfect finger shaped hole
To burn off those remaining.
Licked by invisible flames
Sucked out of soreness
By salvia,
By means of salvation.
Fingertips aflame are like burning bridges,
They frizzle and melt into themselves
Only to regrow again more painfully.

{ X }

ALICE RIDDELL is originally from the U.K. and is currently studying at NYU’s Center of Experimental Humanities. She is Editor-in-Chief of an interdisciplinary journal called Caustic Frolic and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Breadcrumbs Mag, Vol. 1 Brooklyn and Anthropolitian. Alice has also read her work as part of the Dead Rabbits Reading Series. She is an avid table tennis player.

“And Nothing But” – Fiction by dave ring

The Truth – Ferdinand Hodler, 1903

“And Nothing But” is dave ring‘s brutally honest flash fiction piece from our Winter 2019 issue.

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MY TRUTH? THE FUCK. 

My truth has teeth and hundreds of legs and chews apart the bodies in the middle of the night.  My truth leaves a smudge behind to remind you of what it once undid.

My truth knows the way to the door.  My truth has weight.  My truth can get me into any hardhold in this town fast as anything.  My truth gets me kicked out even faster.

My truth stops motherfucking trains in their motherfucking tracks.

My truth has a reputation.

My truth ain’t all class:  My truth fucks the landlord.  My truth pays the rent.

My truth got me the codes to T-Rex Tsang’s secret stash.  My truth saved Billy Jean Angelou’s ass during the Smoketown Massacre.  My truth scored rides on the jury-rigged rollercoaster at Beth the Eastside Boss’s cannibal roadshow and then got me out alive.  My truth slid along One-Eye Lawson’s hairy tit, flitting back and forth, while my hand did things to his dick that made him shout so loud I could hear his bodyguards gritting their teeth from their post outside the door.

My truth tricked power chords from the pulverized Stratocaster that Skullface Suzy has hanging on her wall like it was a stuffed elk, the barely tuned strings twanging with sadness like a lover that knows every amp in the world is dead.  My truth returned that guitar to its place with a reverence when Suzy called me back to bed, even though Suzy doesn’t deserve her.

My truth went back after dark.  My truth had sticky fingers.  My truth knew when to admit that it got us into all this trouble.

My truth knows that Skullface Suzy never stops.  My truth can tell when the hourglass is running out.

My truth knows when to get out of town and how to bum a ride on the I-90 all the way here from where the sun licked the surface of the lake with a flicker of magenta at the first light of dawn.  My truth knows never to stop looking over my shoulder.  My truth lets the chariot idle on the tarmac, chauffeur snoozing in the back, his bare spine slick with sweat against the vinyl seats, jeans still around his ankles, lips still tingling from a post-coital smoke.  My truth still sings of the spark, the sweet tar.

My truth knows to check that the gun is loaded.

My truth can’t do this much longer, but this gun has seven 9mm lies in the clip, plus one in the chamber.

And Pinocchio ain’t shit.

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dave ring is the community chair of the OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival in Washington, DC, and the editor of Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was from Mason Jar Press. More info at www.dave-ring.com.  Follow him on Twitter at @slickhop.

“Protest Magic” – Fiction by Justine Talbot

Nude witch with red hair riding a broom surrounded by bats in a moonlit sky
The witch – Luis Ricardo Faléro, 1882

“Protest Magic” is Justine Talbot‘s surreal & spellbinding flash fiction from our Winter 2019 issue.

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THE SPELL WON’T WORK. Hardly any protesters showed up to the combination sit-in/die-in/group hexing session, and those who did left immediately after their deaths. Lucille knows one witch’s rage isn’t enough to save the lake. Still, when the air around her pops and fizzles like dying sparklers, she can’t help but blame herself.

She conducts her spellwork in front of a large brown cube with gray glass windows. All of her magical implements have been respectfully borrowed from the lake. The elements are represented by a ramekin full of lake water, a pile of ashy weeds, a goose feather, a fishbone. Her wand is a moldy stick.

Inside the cube, twelve men and one woman sit at a long table and pretend not to agree. Lucille can hear them when she puts her ear to the glass. “If we drain the lake, what will the tourists do in the summer?” asks the woman.

“There won’t be any tourists next summer,” says one of the men.

“Oh, thank God,” the woman says quickly. “I just meant, if there were still tourists … well, they’d need somewhere to go, wouldn’t they?”

“Without the lake, there won’t be any tourists,” says a different man. “You can be sure of that.”

“Thank God,” the woman says again.

Lucille paces around the cube a few times, murmuring to herself. Then she crouches down out front and peers through the glass, squinting at each board member in turn.

“I bind you,” she whispers, concentrating on a very fat man with mean eyes. The fat man sneezes.

“I bind you.” A pugnosed young man starts scratching at his collar like a stray dog.

“I bind you.” A skinny old man starts coughing and doesn’t stop.

“You okay, Mickey?” asks one of several balding men with his back facing the window. “You need some water or something?”

“I need something,” the old man says hoarsely. But no one gets him water.

Lucille turns her attention to the woman, who sits at the head of the table—or maybe it’s the foot. “I bind you,” she whispers.

But the woman doesn’t act bound. Her slender hands twitch against the table. “I think I’ll go out for a smoke,” she says.

Continue reading “Protest Magic” – Fiction by Justine Talbot

“Bombshell / Laughter Slaughter” – Poetry by Jessie Janeshek

“Bombshell / Laughter Slaughter” is one of four fantastically flappy poems by FLAPPERHOUSE’s poet laureate, Jessie Janeshek, in our Winter 2019 issue.

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I’M GIVING UP BEING SAD ABOUT TIME
                over it, over it.
I lie in this game and hem-stitch my waste
                launch paper ships
never realize the fizz      stringy meat      rusty keys
                stow my dress in the basket
nipple ice and no slip     the contrast is stunning.
                I lie nude in the sun      dogshit on the snow
the consolatory song of corpse in the morgue at my feet
                how she slumped on her steering wheel
knocked her gold tooth loose
                the death of the party.

I never believed platinum days could end in olive oil baldness
                two months of ooze. I didn’t need mystery
the black and white dots            or The Girl from Missouri
                nothing left but a fish kiss
and my pants don’t fit
                and it’s ok that my weakness is brilliance
I’m just acting whatever you say
                I’m already set to die in this bedroom
eleven phases of white       chokecherry stage
                I was rotting long before Hollywood
a cheaply-cut sapphire       barmaid singing in stripes
                following men with pool cues down to the tornado shelter
eating raw steaks and making them gangsters
                weeping trees, houseflies poetic.

And I was the sunflower             brownette drinking gin
                with that old-fashioned death in my chest
my body barely holding together
                my blood and piss flooding the plains
and they ghostwrote this story but I’m over that too
                I’d swear anytime it was mine.

Note: This poem very loosely uses the life and death of Jean Harlow.

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JESSIE  JANESHEK‘s second full-length book of poems is The Shaky Phase (Stalking Horse Press). Her chapbooks are Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish (Grey Book Press, 2016), Rah-Rah Nostalgia(dancing girl press, 2016), Supernoir (Grey Book Press, 2017), Auto-Harlow (Shirt Pocket Press, 2018), and Hardscape (Reality Beach, forthcoming). Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010) is her first full-length collection. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and an M.F.A. from Emerson College. You can read more of her poetry at jessiejaneshek.net.

“Heavenly Body” – Fiction by Ava Wolf

La Guillotine – Oscar Dominguez, 1938

Our final issue opens with “Heavenly Body,” Ava Wolf‘s delightfully sardonic & surreal meditation on time, death, & decay.

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I OPENED NOVEMBER WITH TREMBLING HANDS, much in the way one hesitates to pitch a lobster into a boiling pot. The knowledge that I had killed something as simple as time was devastating to me, a person conceived from a petri dish, and I was aching with discord—the delicacy, the resiliency! This month belonged to me and I yearned to watch it spoil.

While France reinstated the guillotine as its method of judicial execution, I shed myself of time and its earthly contingencies. In retaliation, my body began to rot, as though it no longer possessed the faculties to operate without a future. Time, I told it, swore us to grief. My body humbled me. I punished it accordingly. Thousands of miles away, some poor fool hurled a Christmas ornament through the president’s window, and a missile that would eventually destroy humanity was launched into space.

As I lay decaying in bed, I turned to face my lover, who had been dead since the inaugural meteor, and asked whether discipline was a consequence of time: “Do we not fear penance in its relation to temporal length? And which is worse—the loss of time, a construction intended to commodify the lived experience, or the prolonging of one’s misery for sport?”

My lover, or a permutation of such, rose from the grave and bruised my jaw with ivory fingers. “To be present is to endure the general unpleasantness of a world malignant by design,” it said. “I’m told death is the body’s natural response to insubordination.”

Years later, my mother’s prized dieffenbachia began to wilt.

Once, when I was young, my body behaved against itself: I snuck up behind a boy and bludgeoned him in the skull with a plastic doll. He wept and wailed and shrieked an incomprehensible siren song, luring the shadows of other children from various corners. They formed a ring around us and pelted rocks and pebbles that had manifested from the earth. I became ill, disoriented, feverishly scanning the room for an exit. The children pointed and sung violent hexes in a language beyond conception. Shame lodged itself inside of me like a hot coal. At that moment, I became an expense.

Like a shark—I could smell it.

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AVA WOLF is a writer, designer, and several children stacked on top of one another in a trench coat. Her work has appeared in Bedfellows Magazine, Occulum, Tilde Literary Journal, and more. She lives in Philadelphia with her broken hamper and an abundance of dying plants.

FLAPPERHOUSE’s Most-Viewed Pieces of 2018

Everywhere Eyeballs Are Aflame – Odilon Redon, 1888

With a new year ahead of us, let’s look back at the 10 pieces that attracted the most eyeballs to our site in 2018…

10. “Betula nigra,” Avee Chaudhuri’s beautifully twisted short story from our Winter 2018 issue.

9. “Chemtrail Mist of the New World,” C.D. Frelinghuysen’s paranoid & poignant flash fiction from our Fall 2018 issue.

8. “X-Ray,” Rosie Adams’ unnerving yet captivating flash fiction from our Winter 2018 issue.

7. “Sycroax Martinez is a witch from Corpus Christi, Texas,” Luis Galindo’s spellbindingly brilliant poem from our Winter 2018 issue.

6. “Too Late for Anarchy,” Marc Harshman’s wry and wistful poem from our Summer 2018 issue.

5. “Fetish / Recluse,” Rita Mookerjee’s magically sensual & intoxicating poem from our Summer 2018 issue.

4. “moon-cleansed,” Monica Lewis’ cosmically beautiful & gut-punchingly powerful poem from our Winter 2018 issue.

3. “Questionnaire for the Gravitron Operator Before I Ride,” Jennifer Savran Kelly’s curious & captivating flash fiction from our Fall 2018 issue.

2. “Knock Knock” Todd Dillard’s vivid & tender poem of love & parenthood from our Summer 2018 issue.

And our number one most-viewed piece of 2018 was “Snapshot from the Revolution,” Perry Lopez’s historical & horrific short story from our Summer 2018 issue.

“Animate Atmosphere: A Basic Guide to Changing Clouds in a Changing Sky” – Fiction by Jeremy Schnee

A Cloud – Konstantin Bogaevsky, 1925

The grand finale of our Fall 2018 issue is Jeremy Schnee‘s marvelously meteorological short story “Animate Atmosphere: A Basic Guide to Changing Clouds in a Changing Sky.” 

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YOUNGER READERS MAY FIND IT SURPRISING that there was a time when clouds were largely ignored. They were mostly harmless, bearing shapely resemblances to other things, or adding background to photos, or shading out sun on hot days. Sure, they could be foreboding, like when you’d turn toward thunderclaps and see an anvil-shaped cumulonimbus barreling through the sky. Only small and specialized groups paid them much attention. Most of us learned and forgot their names in school. Our primary concern with clouds was how they affected our outdoor plans. Simply put, we took them for granted. Then the clouds demanded we take greater notice.

For millennia, clouds were made of water droplets, ice, and mostly simple air. They formed from the blending of warm and cold fronts, from fluxes in moisture, or from disruptions of terrain. We categorized them as cirrus, stratus, cumulus, nimbus, and various hybrids. We had some anomalies too: banner clouds sat like crowns upon mountains; noctilucent clouds looked like scratches on a sunset sky. To common folk they were high or low, rain or not, and sometimes just grouped into the generic description of “overcast.”

Some say these new clouds are due to the changing climate. Some say it is a side effect of humans trying to change nature. Some say the world has simply gotten out of whack, like a record needle drifting a fraction off course. But whatever the causes, and despite the dangers, these are exciting times. The scientific community is abuzz, media ever busy, and much that we once understood about the world is up for debate. Logging is dangerous and paper scarce. Distribution is interrupted. Roads and railroads are no longer interconnected. Pilots now have the world’s most dangerous job. A basic guide must, however, be shared.

Further studies will garner greater scientific understanding, but for the time being this guide is an attempt, a simple attempt to understand.

 

Ice Blotch (Pagosastrape)

The patter of rain and dot-by-dot darkening of sidewalks was once so straightforward. Perhaps a businessman walking to an appointment would use a newspaper to stay dry. A mother would slap rubber boots on her kids and walk them to school. A summer night stroll through rain might even be considered romantic.

We’ve all heard the urban legend regarding one such summer night’s walk: in a small Midwest town, a woman and her boyfriend were holding hands, until she stopped to tie her shoe. She let go of his hand and kneeled. A blue flicker filled the sky. When she stood and reached for his hand again, his fingers shattered. Their frozen crystals numbed her hand, she never regained nerve function in it.         Of course, as this phenomenon has followed many a rainstorm for years now, we know this story to be implausible. If ice-lightning struck within such proximity, she would have been frozen solid as well.

Like its electrical cousin, ice-lightning accompanies nimbus (rain) clouds. The strike comes not from the nimbus, but from a sort of symbiotic relationship. The changing atmosphere sometimes pushes clouds further upward. Nimbus clouds thus occasionally scrape the top of the troposphere (the lowest level of atmosphere and place where 98% of all weather used to occur). Three forces then combine: coalescing water droplets, escaping electrons, and freezing pressure that fuses molecules in a wart-like secondary cloud which forms atop the nimbus.

Though wart-like, the Ice Blotch cloud glows a beautiful radiant blue. When charge separation begins in the nimbus, instead of merely getting lightning, ice discharges too. Strikes are unpredictable. The lightning ripples over wet surface areas. The safest place to be is inside. Roofs and sides of buildings can thaw with no lasting damage. Giant oaks have been encapsulated in ice. A blimp once survived intact, though was grounded by the ice’s extra weight. The situation is rarely so ideal.

People don’t often take proper precautions for Ice Blotches. They huddle under canopies or overhangs. Worse, they hide in small spaces. Cars are often sealed in foot-thick ice sheets. Doors and windows get stuck, vents clogged. Roadways become instant hazards. Ice sheets have caused fender-benders in the triple digits. In a city like Los Angeles, where experience driving on ice is lacking, traffic delays have lasted for days.

On the bright side, the aftermaths can be rather beautiful. Tales of whole towns turning out to skate and sled mid-summer are bountiful. So are acts of heroism from kindly neighbors: if one is unlucky enough to be sealed in a car, sitting inside an ice bubble, looking through the din and savoring breath, there is no greater sight than a mob of people armed with crowbars and pickaxes charging in your direction.

Continue reading “Animate Atmosphere: A Basic Guide to Changing Clouds in a Changing Sky” – Fiction by Jeremy Schnee

“Head Tree,” “Life On Mars,” and “Fitting” – Prose Poetry by Satoshi Iwai

A large pigeon had flown into her face – Charles Robinson, 1907

“Head Tree,” “Life On Mars,” and “Fitting” are three psychedelically surreal prose poems by Satoshi Iwai from our Fall 2018 issue.

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“Head  Tree” 

AFTER A LONG AND INSULAR COMA, sitting up in the half-melted bed, I find an apple tree has grown on my head. Each wall of the room is covered with the fun house mirrors which reflect the tapestry of deformed leaves. Thirteen years have passed while I had been sleeping.

The tree has a dozen branches which bear a hundred fruits. The shadow of the trunk tells me an eternal noon. Hiding behind the leaves, a wise snake tells me the sweet pain of molting. When a cool breeze comes I find that I have already gotten my ex-wife out of my head.

I wonder how many apples have grown to birds on my head until I die. Fishes die in the sea, but birds don’t die in the sky. Still, all I can do is forget every summer that has gone. When the warm rain stops falling, the first cloned passenger pigeon will fly away from my tree.

“Life  on  Mars”

YOU DON’T NEED TO WONDER why that old man can paint pictures so quickly, or why he and every old man appeared in his pictures look so alike. He doesn’t care about how his pictures look like, because he has lost his sight entirely since he was a little child.

The passersby don’t care about his blindness. They admire him just because he paints his self portraits without any photograph. At the abandoned bus stop, sitting on the half-broken bench, he depicts hundreds of his own faces under the sun, even under the new moon.

He is homeless, and he believes that he is homeless on Mars. Martians have three eyes, so he is confused every time when he can’t touch the third eye on his forehead. He is always in the dusk. Dusk is called mirrors on Mars. He always feels blue. Blue is called infinity on Mars.

“Fitting”

DON’T STAY TOO LONG IN THIS FITTING ROOM. The mirror in front of you reflects you wearing a white sweater and the mirror behind you that reflects you wearing a white sweater and the mirror in front of you that reflects the mirror behind you that reflects you wearing a white sweater and the mirror in front of you that reflects the mirror behind you that reflects you wearing a black sweater. If you answer your cell phone, someone tells you in a very, very hoarse voice. You are what you wear. Then, there is no one in this fitting room. The mirror in front of your absence reflects your absence and the mirror behind your absence that reflects your absence and the mirror in front of your absence that reflects your absence behind your absence that reflects your absence and the mirror in front of your absence that reflects a crumpled white sweater on the floor.

{ X }

SATOSHI IWAI was born and lives in Kanagawa, Japan. He writes poems in English and in Japanese. His English work has appeared in Heavy Feather ReviewSmall Po[r]tionsHotel AmerikaPoetry Is Dead, and elsewhere.

“New Names” – Fiction by Khaholi Bailey

Madonna – Salvador Dali, 1943

A young girl approaches Catholic confirmation while remembering her Haitian roots in “New Names,” Khaholi Bailey‘s haunting & spiritual short story from our Fall 2018 issue.

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“WAKE UP, GIRL!” Lilith screeched. “Time to make the doughnuts!”

The Girl opened her eyes to a crescendo of light peeking between the pink comforter and the twin mattress, both soft with overuse.

With no response from her cousin, Lilith continued: “What did you say back home? ‘Time to plant the cassava?’ ‘Time to put on an Eagles Super Bowl Champion shirt and sandals made out of an old tire?’”

Lilith half smiled and folded her arms across her body.

“You know, time to get up, or something like that.” Lilith sighed loudly. “You Haitians have no sense of humor.”

The Girl prepared to leave the bed. She moved her head forward, closed her eyes, and slowly moved her knees away from her chest. The warmth that encased her was malleable and comforting, and for a few more seconds she luxuriated in this dreamy state between the world and her barely conscious mind. She likes this twilight of wakefulness more than any other state because it is before she realizes where she is and all that has happened. She felt for a second that she was once again on her mother’s lap where she used to lie. Before she could remember that that part of her life had gone away, she felt a gathering of wiry fingers pulling at the top of her head.

Lilith guided her up to a sitting position, first by lifting the top of her head then grabbing her shoulders. The Girl looked up at Lilith and was startled by the layer of makeup between Lilith’s face and the rest of the room. The Girl did her best to stifle a yawn, as to not inspire her cousin into another quip about foreigners and their odors.

The Girl placed her feet into slippers that were indented with Lilith’s footprints and headed to the bathroom. Without asking, Lilith followed and stood right behind her as she faced the mirror. Lilith took a handful of water from the faucet and poured it over The Girl’s hair. The Girl didn’t stop her. Lilith’s studious glare made her feel like she probably needed whatever help she was going to offer. She took a comb and secured it on The Girl’s hairline and pulled; the comb didn’t budge. Lilith leveraged her right foot on the toilet and leaned back with the left. The Girl’s head was pulled back, farther and farther until the plastic comb snapped.  She raked The Girl’s hair with her nails until she could gather enough hair into her fist. Lilith bent to look at her work. Sweat beaded on her nose, which wrinkled with dissatisfaction. She spat on her palm and smoothed it over The Girl’s rough hair. She took a rubber band and twisted her hair into a ball behind her head. She stepped back to look at her hard work, sighed and smiled at The Girl’s face. “All better,” she said, counting this as one of her good deeds for her otherwise hopeless immigrant cousin. “Maybe we break out the hot comb tomorrow.” She scanned The Girl’s hair triumphantly. “We’ll have to wake up extra early.”

The Girl’s hairline throbbed as she walked to Saint Angela Merici School for Girls, repeating in her mind a list of saints. She would have to choose one as her namesake for tomorrow’s Confirmation, but she still had no idea what she wanted to be called. So, she silently asked Saint Anthony for help: Help in remembering the names of the other saints; remembering why any of this was important; remembering which memories were real. She named her loa, her father, before Saint Diana and reminded herself that Catholic schools here did not honor her deceased father as her personal deity as they did in Haiti. She found herself closing her eyes and trying to picture his face more often lately, though the only reference she had was through pictures, stories from her mother, and her dreams. She was grateful that her loa kept her close by showing up in her mind as she slept, as she was too embarrassed to give him offerings once she moved to the States. She felt disconnected from him, but connecting to him through offerings isolated her from Lilith and her classmates. She figured it more practical to try and fit in here with the living and not with a man who has been dead for most of her life.

Continue reading “New Names” – Fiction by Khaholi Bailey