We’d been going to church for a year when it burned to the ground on a Tuesday night. On Thursday, a volunteer called Mama to say services would be held at the VFW. Mama said thanks and hung up. That was the last I ever heard of church.
She sighs with the wonder of it all, considering how a first date and a daring confession on his part, “What do you think of men in drag?” transformed into her sharing Silky Maxwell with a stranger. They closed down the bar that night. The words tumbled out between them, and she told him about the photoshoots and sponsors, the videos, and the fans.
It was said that those who’d been there and received a ticket with a number, or maybe they selected a ticket from a deep bowl, or perhaps they heard a number read from a ticket and raised their arms with fierce intensity to claim it, received their true number at the event. Those people came away with answered prayers.
The brown paper fell away to reveal a cardboard cigar box and a folded white piece of paper. Primo Fine Cigars encircled an unimpressive red and gold foil seal. Jessie unfolded the paper and read the note in confusion. “Your turn,” was written in Crystal’s plump handwriting. She turned the note over, hoping for an explanation. It was blank.
The headlights were too low to be Ryder’s aging Silverado. I did not have other family left, or many friends in town, and none would have visited at this hour.
We speak of this fantasy when he is not too groggy from the morphine. In these times of clarity, my love for him forms bone and muscle.
Later, the girls stand in front of the open refrigerator, slightly feral: slices of cheese torn from plastic, pickles from the jar, a swig of Hershey’s syrup, jelly scooped out with a finger.
They gorge on mosquitoes and butterflies, a glut that cupcakes and roasted beef cannot satisfy. Mosquitos: a bloody morsel. Butterflies: how thrilling to make a meal of such gentle beauty.
“Hello,” the very small girl whispered to the pup as she settled into her seat. “My name is Tillie. Your name is Levi, and you are mine.”
I couldn’t drop this in Sawyer’s lap. He couldn’t know there was any more trouble than driving into town when the well ran dry.
That summer, the brilliant bursts of muzzle flash replaced the on off, on off, on off of fireflies. With our fingers in our ears, it was beautiful in the dark.
The boy held two fingers sideways, squinting toward the horizon. “Thirty minutes,” he silently mouthed to himself, dropping his hand.
what’s your name
where are you going
do you need a ride