Snakebit

He sat in the stifling room wondering why his wife had assumed it would never get hot in Maine. He watched the breeze suck the sheers to the screen and puff them back out as if the house itself was laboring to breathe. “Let’s buy a summer house in Maine,” she’d said. “We won’t need any air conditioning there.”

He huffed and interrupted the silence, which he immediately regretted because it woke her.    

She opened her eyes and looked at him. “Oh, hi. You’re still here.”

“Where else would I be?” He said drawing in a puff on his cigarette, and leaning further back into the recliner.

“We could hire a nurse you know.”

“Nah. If I need to go out I’ll take you with. Besides, there’s nothing I’d rather do than watch you sleep.”

“How sentimental. I’m sure you mean that,” she said rolling her eyes. “Look. There’s a book, a photo album, on the table. Do you see it?”

“Of course I see it, woman. Do you want it or something?”

“Yes, I do. Of course I do.”

“Then say what you mean.”

She rolled her eyes again. “That book is you and me.”

“What the hell are you talking about? You don’t make sense!” he said.

After fifty-two years together he hoped there’d be some sentiment he’d feel other than Lord, leave me be, but it had been too long since all the parts had worked on their farm. Plus, she didn’t seem to like having him around anymore. Nothing he ever did was good enough. You think me wipin’ her ass would be more appreciated, he thought as he stubbed out the Marlboro, appreciating the sudden breeze.

“I’d make sense if you’d listen,” she repeated when he made eye contact again.

Hating to admit he’d lost the thread of the conversation, he inspected a new cigarette. “I doubt that,”  he said, flicking his Bic and inhaling before he spoke again. “Now what did you say you wanted?”

“Hand me that book you old goat!” she bleated.

“Which book, you old nag? There’s twenty books on the table.”

“Ughhhh!” she sighed. A long frustrated sigh that let him know he was on her last nerve. Good, he thought. Because usually she followed such a sigh with, “just leave me alone you old goat” and he’d say “fine, nag,” and the rest of the day would pass without him having to actually smother her with the pillow.

But something in her eyes wouldn’t let him alone.

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Behind the Black Curtain

Original Photo by clickykbd, Creative Commons Usage

I sat in my car in the parking lot, waiting for the rain to stop. The sound was soothing so I sat there for close to an hour. No one noticed.

I looked at the building, arms crossed. Deciding. It had been a long time since I’d walked through those doors. Could I still call it “my church” if I hadn’t been inside in months?

Church is inside you, I thought. When the rain finally stopped, I went in.

The lights were off in the hallway and the clonkclonkclonk of my heels bounced off the painted concrete floors and thirty-foot ceilings. I almost expected eerie organ music to start playing. It felt like a scene in a horror movie. Probably not the emotion the elders hoped to evoke.

It’s cold. I thought. Cold, big, modern, church. Unfeeling. I’d always felt a bit of that in these hallways or in the classrooms; somehow all alone even when it was full of people. The only place I didn’t feel that way was backstage for the children’s theatre production.

There in the dark, behind the black curtain waiting on my cue, I had seen God. While I peeked through the thick, velvety folds at the faces of the children, he was there. In those sacred seconds stranded between my times onstage I had talked to him. Felt him.

Maybe he was here again today?

Someone had to be working or else the front door wouldn’t have been unlocked, but the building felt empty. I thought of going into the tiny closet of a prayer room, but worried about people leaving and being locked inside the church, setting off the alarm as I left. Really, really, officer, I came here to pray!” I’d say when cops swarmed the building. Would they believe me?

I opted for the “sanctuary.” Our pastor made fun of that word. We’re a rock-n-roll kind of church, not a sanctuary kind of church, but that day it felt like one to me. I sat in one of the chairs in the second row and leaned my head against the chair in front of me and started to pray. It was barely audible. My lips moved, but less than a whisper escaped them.

I remember praying, “God. Please. Please heal Molly. You can. Why haven’t you? Why haven’t you? Have you quit doing miracles? I don’t’ believe you have! Please Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. I need my sister!

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The Voices of Mr. Morelock

shower-head

For the first sixteen years of my life, I lived in a house I thought was haunted, but there was never any proof. We often heard the sound of doors slamming down the hall, yet the doors remained wide open. A few times we investigated crashing noises in the basement, a sound like shelves of tools had fallen over, but nothing was ever out of place. Even when water faucets suddenly turned themselves on, my dad would rather blame worn out washers than speculate about poltergeists.

Those noises might have been caused by the house settling, or something else, but certainly not anything from the spiritual realm. Dad thought everything must have a logical explanation, and that’s how he raised me and my sister, Jennifer.

So years later, when Jennifer and I moved in with my mother and her boyfriend, I didn’t think too much about sounds of doors opening and unexplained footsteps. At least, not at first.

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The Soiled Doves of Silverton

Mollie

Photo by Kathryn Colestock-Burke

In September 2013 I became enamored with a 177 year-old woman named Mollie Foley. Well, if she were still breathing she’d be 177 years old. Mollie was a prostitute, born in 1836, who died in Silverton, Colorado. All I know of Mollie is from a graveyard epitaph, labeling her “a soiled dove remembered.”

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Saved By A Whisper

new climberI’ve known I was a writer since I was twelve years old and read about the main character, Jo, in Little Women. Becoming a writer can be like becoming a rock-climber. At first, it seems incomprehensible you can reach your goal, and it’s easy to lose focus, or give up. As a writer I knew the peak I wanted to reach, I just couldn’t see my way to the top.

To get published I thought I’d need to spend eight hours a day at a keyboard. By the time I got married, I was convinced staying at home would be crucial to my success. But, my husband and I needed every penny my full-time job provided at that time, so how could I quit and pursue my dream? That’s the number one advice given to would-be writers—“Don’t quit your day job.”

So, I talked to God about it. Every day in the shower I prayed: “You created me to be a writer. I know this. So, how is this going to happen? I think I need to stay at home and write.” And, “God, please. Please just let me stay at home and write.” This was my daily mantra for three months.

God responded in December, but I didn’t get the message until one weekend in February, on a rock-climbing trip.

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