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Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

Maybe Heavenly Father will save me at the last minute, like Abraham and Isaac.

Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – Chapter 19

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remains, can be found in full here

Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl  who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor. 

Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.

Chapter 19

Tana lifted a limp hand into the air as one of the waiters passed.

“Oh, Boy….Garssson…” she snapped her fingers, then peeked to see if he was looking before putting her perky little nose in the air, “we’re ever so bored.”

The waiter smiled in our direction, hoisting a chair onto one of the other tables.

Tana dropped the act and hopped her knees onto the seat of her chair, hugging the back, “Is there anything to do around here?”

The waiter, a guy about seventeen I think, looked around the table at Tana, me, and Carollee and Laurel before checking the kitchen over his shoulder.

“We’ll be off in a few minutes, if you can wait.”

“Well,” Tana and Carollee giggled at each other, “I guess we could wait, for a few minutes.”

The last night of the dance workshop, at a ski resort closed for the season. We had the whole place to ourselves, just dancers, teachers, and the kids that worked at the resort. Three days of dancing away from the empty rooms at home, crushing yellow beads of rosin into white powder under my toes, smashing away the pinched looks on the faces of the Relief Society ladies. If Mom was dead, or sick, we would have drowned in casseroles and jell-o salads and cross-stitched cushions. But abandoned, we were out of charity’s range. I flattened their hairdos with my heel, danced Dad’s smile back to his face, MaryEllen back into her stupid talky self. I was purified by sore muscles, sweat rinsing any last grain of sin from inside me, washing away Virg and Utahna’s accusing red hair, I grew bigger with every port-de-bras, strong enough to lift Denny, Mike, MaryEllen, Dad, and carry them all to a better place, bigger than any other dancer there, all the strength of sadness and revelation moving and growing in me. With every step, every leap, each breath and tilt of my head, I brought Bobby closer to me, until he couldn’t resist me anymore, he would break down and bring forth the miracle with me. Weeble eve, weeble eve, weeble eve, I danced the rhythm of faith and irresistible righteousness.

The director of the workshop pulled me aside on the first day and wrote her name and phone number on a class schedule.

“You have your parents call me the minute you get home, okay?”

It was another step on my path, Wasatch Ballet ahead of me, then New York City, Paris, maybe, or the Royal Ballet. I hadn’t forgotten the other thing I had to do, but it was harder to figure out how to make that happen.  Maybe Bobby was holding back because I was a virgin, so I had to fix that.

My first thought was maybe Randall Warner would do it, but he’d stopped showing up at church, and nobody seemed to know where he was.

I figured Heavenly Father would provide.

I shared a room with Carollee, Tana and Laurel at the workshop. At dinner that last night, we hung around at our table until everyone else was gone, Tana flirting with the waiter boys all night. The dining room was dark, all the other tables empty, chairs upside down on top, white tablecloths hanging almost to the floor, big windows showing the black-green slope rising steep behind us, trees moving in the wind. The blond waiter who was talking to us earlier stuck his head out of the kitchen, light coming through the doorway, his collar open at the neck. He smiled, and jerked his head back to beckon us in.

We followed Tana into the huge kitchen, waiter boys cleaning up the last of dinner, ties hanging loose around their necks, sleeves rolled up, a floppy-haired one standing next to the door, open to the outside, smoking a cigarette. Blondie leaned against the shiny metal counter and patted the space beside him. Tana jumped up to sit on the counter next to him, pulling Carollee up with her. Laurel stopped just one step inside the kitchen door, like a big rubber band looped around her waist all the way back to her chair in the dining room, stretched to its limit, her arms crossed, elbows cupped in her hands.

“So, you’re all ballerinas, huh?”

“Wull, yeah,” said Carollee, “Didn’t you watch any of the classes?”

All the waiters laughed, except for the smoking boy.

“I did,” his voice rolled out of his mouth like cream on a kitten’s tongue. “I saw you dancing.”

He was looking at me, from under his hair.

The Lord hath provided.

I didn’t have to like His choice. It wasn’t my place to question. All the same, my stomach twisted in on itself. I closed my eyes and waited for the Lord to enter me, to take me over, to get me through this night.

Later, we all wandered outside to look at the stars, and when a bottle showed up, passing from hand to hand, Laurel bit her lips, shook her head once, stomped down the hill to the rooms. When the bottle came to me, I guessed it was another gift from Heavenly Father – the thing I’d prayed for back in the dark kitchen – and I was taking all the help I could get. I took a long swallow. It wasn’t hot, like they say, not at first. It was bright and cold, and swam down my throat, a school of slick metal fish. Blondie disappeared over the ridge, and I jumped at the sound of a clank, then a roar, and the ski lift chairs just over our heads started to crank forward. Blondie reappeared with his arms held wide, taking a bow, and Tana jumped and clapped her hands. We paired off to hop the chairs, my smoking boy and me last in line. The chair scooped under us and we were in the air, grass dropping away below our feet, chairs ahead of us just glimmers, halves and ends of words floating back to us, Carollee’s laugh pushing out of the dark, trees shooshing by, massive and quiet, the boy’s arm along the back of the chair, then lazing down around my shoulders, his cigarette breath poking a hole in the pine and grass and spring stars, closing in to the top, Tana reaching out a hand to touch mine on the pass going down, I’m stretching my hand toward her, and for a minute I want it more than anything, I’m sure that if our fingers touch, I’ll be saved, I won’t have to go through with it, we can slide off the chairs at the bottom and go back to our room, Mom will come home, and everything will be right, and I lean out from the chair, the boy cursing somewhere next to me, the gloop of the bottle sloshing in his hand, my fingers two inches, an inch from Tana’s, and then she’s past, it’s our turn up and around the top and down again, ahead of us the others already jumping off at the bottom, we stay on board for another trip round, up the mountain again in flat quiet, his wet lips pushed onto mine, I think about the sucker fish that kept the Watson’s fish tank clean, around the top once more and down and now his hands all over me and I’m glad for the vodka, glad that it’s all sort of dizzy and muddled and we’re back to the bottom again, all alone, we tumble off the chair together and into the trees and we trip or fall or maybe he pulls me down, but we’re on the wet grass and he’s pulling my pants down, stuck for a minute with my tights, and I’m not helping, too busy looking at the tree tops moving with my head as I rock it back and forth, the wish back again, only stronger, maybe Heavenly Father will save me at the last minute, like Abraham and Isaac, should I look for a ram stuck in the brush? please Father please let this cup pass from me, tears are running down my cheeks, pooling in my ears, this wasn’t how I imagined it, and the boy tears through my tights, opening his own pants and he’s pushing and pushing and then I feel the break and he’s in, sawing at me twice, three times, and then hard against me, his eyes big, red shiny mouth pulled into a horrible sort of a grin and I turn my head and shoulders just enough to barf into the grass.

He’s standing and buttoning up.


And then he’s away down the slope, crashing through the trees until I don’t hear him anymore.

I didn’t know it would hurt like that.

I’m shaking and I think I might be crying, kneeling in the grass and praying “FatherFatherfather,” on my knees and asking if I did the right thing, crying for real now, now I see I lost something I’ll never get back, crying and praying, how long was I kneeling there? my tights wet from the grass, fingers in the grass, in the knots of roots, digging into the soft ground, my face brushed by the sharp tips of grass, until the shaking stops, a slow warmth creeping into my feet and rolling up through me, the still small voice that tells me He is well pleased, and I can sit up, have I been here for hours or minutes or days? my heart is spilling over with gratitude, and I can fix my clothes and, slowly, my knees and arms and face and the new space between my legs aching like the end of everything, find my way down the hill to the room that I pray is dark, hoping I can slip softly into bed with nobody noticing.


Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California.  Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle. 

Read more stories by Caitlin Myer


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