The boy in the pew in front flipped his eyelids inside out
and turned to show me his new face. We were so tiny, but I already
carried the weight of infatuation. Diet diffidence. Skipped over communion
wafers. I cracked my eyes and pretended to sleep.
When the pastor reached the crescendo of the sermon,
sweaty cheeked, cymbals striking, and preaching chords giving him more,
the woman across from us waved her arms, Yes Lord
crooning from her wine-red lips, and I hoped she wouldn’t.
She shuffled through the aisles, bouncing, head tilted to God as she clutched
her breasts. Hallelujah. Convulsing in kept laughter, I pretended to murmur
a prayer of restraint. The pastor called the children to fill the alter for a blessing,
and I still tried to pretend but was nudged awake from unholy comfort, and held
the clammy hand of flipped eyelid boy. I bowed and saw myself
reflected pink in his shoes and remembered I was cute for the day.
Back home, I chomped on egg shaped candy with a blue forked tongue
until mom yelled that I’d wreck my dress, and I had to change.
And outside, I wondered who I’d sacrifice for an imaginary friend,
to have a secret treehouse and rule the world, while collecting
caterpillars undulating on sidewalks and bending blades
of grass. The bottom of the bucket a caterpillar carpet. I wanted a city.
An empire. They’d mistake temper tantrums for wrath and raise
their eyeless faces for penance, and I’d grant it. Fuzzy fools. I’d feed
them leaves until their bodies were cherubic, cocooning new histories
into butterflies, gospels by my bedroom window as a Thank You,
and maybe I’d start over. Dreamt of derechos dripping from flipped
eyelid boy’s swollen pink folds. The next morning the bucket was filled
with russet water.
Maybe I’d start over.
By Michelle Queen
Michelle Queen is a customer service supervisor by day and writer by off hours. She received her Bachelor of Science in English from Frostburg State University. You can find her latest publication on Harness Magazine. She’s on Instragram too @gutterslugz