A simple premise; a bold promise
To present one story per day, every day—
providing exceptional authors with exposure
and avid readers with first-rate fiction.

Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

Shouldn’t your ankle be better by now?

Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – chapter 40

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remainscan 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 40

Alice Alice Alice Alice

Your name keeps time with my steps. Every day, Alice, when I’m going to work, Alice, when I take off my shoes, Alice, when I climb into bed, Alice Alice Alice and every dream is you, Alice, every dream speaks your name. Alice.

I haven’t gotten any furniture for my little place yet. Our place. I want you to decide what chair, what couch, what drapes. I have a futon on the floor. Some pots and pans. I make dinner, thinking about you. Did you know that I cook? I would love to cook you dinner, Alice.

Everything is for you.


I sat down at the desk in my room to write Bobby back. I held the pen over a piece of paper. Nothing came. Or, everything. A thousand thoughts crowding into my brain and no single one rose to the top. It was too much. I didn’t want this responsibility – forgive him and save his life – that was what he was saying. I wasn’t up to it. I put the pen down. I’d get back to it later, when I’d calmed down, when I knew what to say.

The days slipped away from me without me really noticing. How long had I been back in Lemuel? Two weeks? Nobody asked anything of me, except Bobby. I stuffed his letters into the bottom of my drawer, but they still yammered away at me. Love me, love me, love me. Forgive me. Pick up your life again and live. I didn’t know how to do that anymore.

I dragged myself up the thirty-six steps to Madame Lake’s class on my old crutches from the basement. No big deal. Getting injured was part of dancing, and this is what you do, dancing as much mind as body – they hammered that into our heads at the Academy – so you watch the other dancers go through their paces and you do the steps with them in your head, pas-de-chat, pas-de-chat, pas-de-buerré, and your body won’t be so dumb and clumsy when you heal enough to join in.

I’d gotten there early and found my place on the wood and metal folding chair and Madame Lake was talking a piece through with the pianist, clapping to emphasize the beat, one-ee-and-a, two-ee-and-a, and then marking the steps in her ballet-mistress heels, skirt swinging around her ankles, nodding, her hands on her hips, and then she stopped in front of me, her skirt moving but her feet still.

“Shouldn’t your ankle be better by now?”

I looked down at my foot, wrapped in its Ace bandage, bare toes sticking out.


The paper crackled under me where I sat on the exam table. The doctor had peeled away the bandage and held my foot in his hand, paddling his fingers on the swollen place over my arch. It was darkly bruised, and I saw a line zip down the middle of his forehead.

The doctor sent me to a darkened room where a guy draped a lead blanket over my lap and pushed my foot against a black cushion. He disappeared behind a little wall and I thought it would be more spectacular but there was nothing while I bit my teeth together to hold still, the pain making my eyes tear up, but I knew how to talk myself through it, and there was a soft click and he was back, shifting the alien thing at the end of my leg into another impossible position, then another.

Back in the office, and the doctor shunting pictures into place on the light box on the wall. It looked weirdly like a foot, like my foot, thin white bones and a bare outline of meat and skin. He moved his pen over the picture and I saw it, there, a jagged crack right through the middle.

“You should have come to see me sooner,” he said.

At the Academy, a doctor would have seen me right away; any other time, I would have taken one look at that swollen hump and screamed my way to the hospital. If Dad hadn’t gotten arrested just that day. If I hadn’t run out of the county building so fast, put my foot wrong. If I hadn’t gone to Vegas in the first place, laughed at Bobby and kissed him and said Sure I’ll marry you. Some day. If I hadn’t gone back to leave a note on Bobby’s car. If I hadn’t followed him the day I was sandbagging. If I’d never seen that light on him in the gym at Parley P. I could peel back and back the layers of my life, every decision that led me here, until I was back in Pahrump in the trailer park and Mom still around but old and tired and boozy and Dad still Jim and maybe still around or maybe dead – who knows – and no ballet lessons for me, no idea of who I was or what I was meant to do with this big galumphing body of mine.

One of the teachers at the Academy had robot feet—all the joints in her feet, just about, replaced. She was performing a pas de deux and her partner shattered her feet to bits when he slammed her down too hard on her pointes after a lift.

That’s how these things were supposed to happen. Spectacular smash-up onstage, the audience gulping in its breath all together, four hundred bodies rustling up out of their seats, the partner all white and shaking and trying to hold the ballerina’s feet together but they’re just mush, running out of his hands, weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Not like this. Not sneaking up on you out of a random parking lot, just a foot set down a little wrong and something I’d never heard of, Lisfranc fracture, and I kept thinking about a married couple, Liz and Frank, getting a divorce and dividing my foot down the middle in the settlement.


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


To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page