There is a devil in this stone floor; I can see
its profane face in the cracks, through the suds,
pronouncing itself with every new brush-stroke,
grunting through proud yellowed teeth,
yellow as the eyes of the woman asleep upstairs who
stands over my shoulders in spirit, the heaviness
of her lavender boot at my neck, and pushing me down
into the fumes — Mother’s touch — into the cavernous mouth
of this stone beast, blue hairs sprouting around the hole,
the same that sprouted from his face — Father’s fancy — Pride
lost in a bucket of soap and water —
the stone beast stares, unaware that its face is only
a Pixie Dust Dream inhaled in a back alley, bathed
first in mud, then in sugar, then in magic
and chased with a salty, dirty-kneed cocktail —
to take the edge off. I lick cleaning product
from between my fingers with the exuberance
of a child with a corner store lollipop, and lap it
from the folds of skin around my knuckles as a
thirsty dog does the corners of its bowl. I fall back
in the blue-bearded devil’s mouth, and luxuriate in its warmth.
Its throat is a new dress, tailored perfectly to my form.
This is my 2 AM dress, for when the decent are in bed
stuck together in clumsy performances of ecstasy,
or drifting, distant as ice floes who shared the same ocean by
unhappy accident. He likes my 2 AM dress because
he can’t see it in the dimness of the alley. He calls himself Prince, but
he is not very charming. Nothing is very charming about back alleys,
2 AM, or Pixie Dust Dreams. His breath smells like pineapples,
and I convince myself this means he cares. I find comfort there
in his citrus mouth, and he finds it in mine, which smells like floor wax.
Soot clasps to the spots on my 2 AM dress that are pinned
between the ground and my knees. My eyes burn
as the wind slams my face and I look down
To the alley’s floor, the filthiest floor
I have ever seen. The devil is there too.
By Joe Shetina
“Possession” was previously self-published and published on Medium (Scuzzbucket).
Joe Shetina (they/he) is a writer based in Chicago. Their writing has failed in some of the industry’s finest competitions, having been cited in the top 15% for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship and given semi-finalist status at the 2019 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. They hold a BA in sociology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and an MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage from Northwestern University, where they also taught Foundations of Screenwriting courses as a graduate assistant.