Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

I began in the winter. My sister’s legs spread as bloodied wings atop the kitchen table and I secrete from her womb. Into the breach I fold, a sluice of screaming muscle and I barge through shuddering thighs in a gush of amniotic tabletop wash.

My youth comes to me in fragments, violent images that flutter down like crumpled Polaroids and dissolve against my beading midnight skin. Flakes so vitriolic, so stunning in the purity of their agony that they would have me beg – no – crave to slip beneath the bubbling comfort of an acid bath’s sweet caustic wrap. Or, as the pain drew me to hate all that I saw, claw for the sickening release of a straight-edge razor’s slow corneal caress.

“What are you thinking father?”, asks my five-year-old self.

“I thought your sister an angel”.

I was six the last time I saw him, I was six and he was sick. His mind eaten through by the gorging worm of obsession. His intellect, sagging in the deep of the iris black like a chute caught hitched atop a tree of rapier thorns.

As my memory’s sticky filth clings as much as it molts, I taste again the stringent zing. It films the roof of my mouth and sings in notes of sweat and ripping pain. It crackles my jaw and dribbles down my thigh. It is doctrine. It is god and gods. See them, the devious daemons and voyeuristic deities that huddle between these words. Words I shouldn’t think let alone speak.

Beware their followers – the sycophant adherents whom mass at their feet. Fear them most, for they are not hobbled by the constraints of fiction. They that are men.

These slaves to an alien master would shepherd my youth, a few bad apples they say. But it is not apples that rip so ravenously at innocence, only to leave it to fester and curdle in darkness – voiceless and alone. They are rapists. But the analogy does hold true in that spoiling fruits do cast a furry cloak of ruin across all that stand at their side, where not even the basket that holds them escapes the creeping decay.

I was to grow up in such a building, one upon which the spores of abuse had long dusted every inch from sacristy to narthex. A tired old facade that shone no less as it enticed with its surly mask of goodness and light. A mask that slid askew the moment I first heard the cries in the night and knew there was darkness at bay.

It that tugs at my hair as I sleep alone in a room empty but for me. They the creeps that creep between stone and plaster and stand atop volumes of scripture, clambering to reach the hole in the wall that faces the foot of my bed. Supposed peers to peer upon my body – rest and motion. Their cold vitreous cradled in sockets caked with the shed scales of evil absolved. At once so celibate, so obedient; they who would anoint me with adoration most foul.

An old familiar scent brushes the edge of my pillow, and he again whispers into my ear.

“Don’t hate me, Frances, I was commanded to lay with your kind and propagate a god, to bring forth a true child of the heavens. I truly thought I was the one for you, as I did with your dear mother. But I step aside for the convocation has spoken, my replacement awaits… so go now, you have such wondrous work to do”.