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  • Lauren Gotard

The Lonely Tabernacle

Mississippi air wafted through the open window, along with the sunlight that dappled my exposed feet. Mother left it open hours ago before she went to mass, allowing some fresh air to break up the miasma of the living room.

My skin burnt to the touch, yet my body beneath was shivering, creating a cold sweat along my forehead. The coarse blanket that covered my body was too heavy for me to heave off the chaise lounge. I knew Grandma’s blanket would be a better solution, as her yarnovers had left small spaces that would allow some fresh air to warm my inner body.

Yet, mother had placed it too high on the shelf, above the encyclopedias, just next to the bible. I lay there, allowing the feverish puppet shows to continue on the backs of my eyelids. A ghoulish jester. A garish crow.

Rumble. My stomach groaned abnormally as with the absence of food and nausea at the thought of it. Yet sleep overcame me and so did the dark as the midday sun slowly left sight of the window.

In my dreams, I swam with an angler fish, who trapped lonely crustaceans in his light. One day, a human coin drifted 100 leagues down. I spectated as the angler became so entranced by its metallic glimmer that he traveled ferociously into the depths of the arctic, tailing the coin’s descent. Finally, his curiosity overcame him and he could not help but swallow the coin whole. It slowly eroded his intestines. A week later he lay waste on a rocky ledge for the king crabs to feast.

By the time the angler passed, I had been asleep for hours. I had missed mother’s return home. The soup she decided to leave was ice cold.

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