Addy Mahaffey

Dear Girl, Dear God | Flash Fiction

Here is a prayer your parents never had you kneel for at bedtime. Here is a small testament to the conversational song, to the evanescent vignette we are all given. Here is the unnatural, historized.

It’s fourth grade, Scholastic Book Fair season, and I’ve been told to stay away from boys when she twists into the classroom in a pair of knock off Sketchers, her mouth stamped with a hot red rash untouched by Vaseline.

The teacher doesn’t even have time to introduce her before the girl slides her hand under the stapler and hammers it down hard and fast like a punch card, crucifying herself via Bostitch.

Then, sweet and sick as a cavity: May I please go to the nurse?

The whole class swore they saw blood droplets dripping behind her, a black-and-white shot, angled against the tile, Gretel and horror. But they’re all liars. And I hate them, for turning her into a monster, into girlhood mythologized.

Five years later, the fall I got my period and still believed in boys, she slams me against a bookcase of anthologies in the library, her hair Bible-edge golden. Help me, and I hear a thousand tongues, flickering in the hollow burnt-out cathedrals of her eyes. Here is the unholy, platterized and sprawled, apple-in-mouth, forks raised. Here is terror turned acquiescence, watercolor blurred murky.

Here is us, incandescent and ignited with youth, burning paper steeples, laughing when we steal Bupropion from our mother’s worn purses because if there is a God and if He gives a singular shit then He must hate us, raw knee-to-knee in the bathtub, pulling spider silk taffy from our throats like magicians, salvation long gone sour in the pedestal sink.

Three months before graduation, and what are boys when you’ve got the North Star pinned to your chest like a cameo brooch, blistering white-hot with the throat thrown backward, rupturing with candy, an aurora of powder in every color. Here is the kaleidoscopic, the psychedelic, the illusion optimized and primed.

Her mouth twitches like a child left too long in a church basement. Like a once-smashed-stained-glass window stamped on our tongues by Jesus Christ Himself. She hums hymns around the hookah pipe, smoke climbing through the cracks in her ribcage, curling around her heart like a gnarled serpent.

I am young and of a fully accountable age; hotly, oppressively, deeply in love with a girl whose skin reeks of kerosene and the floral stench of church pews, and she is seeping oil into the seats and setting them on fire and I hear the punch-card of the stapler, click-click-click, and the scaffolding crumbles to dust, to ashes, to a spleen-splitting rib in my side.

Here is an atheist in a dirty foxhole, holding a dead girl’s hand and praying to something made to hate them. Here is a sorry, a word, a forgiveness bitter as hyssop on the tongue.

I can smell the dirt being dumped over the body of a girl who made me believe in God as something neither absolute nor incomplete. But here as a warmth, an iridescent pool of fuel and light burning against the pavement, the afterglow of a downpour ribboning around a pair of knock off Skechers.

Here is a Sunday school story you never made crafts for, here is a small testament to the bloodied dove and the churchyard crow. Here is the unnatural, made martyr, made beatific. I will unrepent and tell it anyways. I will kneel on the crown of a mountain and tell it anyways until my voice grows raw and time ends.

Addy Mahaffey studies creative writing and philosophy at the University of Arkansas. Her work has been published in Watershed Review and Glass Mountain Magazine.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *