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 oh me of little faith, lar's writings
Lar
 Posted: Mar 23 2016, 10:44 PM
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The finch dies on the third saturday in march. It's a little thing, brown-breasted and marked with white, fragile as glass, but the sound of it seems to fill the whole downstairs, bouncing off hardwood floors and frilled wallpaper. She remembers later in her life what a sad thing it was, lying lifeless in the bottom of its white filigree cage. Atta, her father had named it; Atta Boy. (She always felt in her heart that it was a girl bird, since it sang so pretty, but she was younger then and knew nothing about plumage.) Gladys was so sad that lonesome morning, with the house all still around her. She thinks of herself running into the backyard, the lawn rolling bright and green before her, the rhododendrons rising at the back of the yard to mark the break into woods and thorn-bushes, the old greenhouse standing like a skeleton with light glimmering off its brittle green bones.

Atta was buried beneath the laurel, in a shoebox lined with gold-trimmed tissue paper left over from christmas. It seemed right to Gladys, who had never at that age been to a true funeral, but she said what words a child knows over the lifeless body.

"God take Atta into heaven, amen." So that the angels might have someone to sing to them in their moments of rest. How pretty her feathers would be against cloud-white cherub wings, how victorious the little bird would rise with olive branches held aloft like a creature from a coin. She'd seen it clearly in her head then, and scarcely wept as she covered the box with dull brown dirt, and later she would play at being an angel with brown wings like Atta's.

The birdcage lived then in the garage, collecting dust and dreams, as all old things do, and once Gladys went out to get her board games and saw it, and thought of that March saturday, and opened the door which was beginning to rust. Inside was a downy little feather, long forgotten, and she pocketed it without thinking. Memories have a habit of being collected so innocently, marked up with thumbprints and mistakes, and so this one was, for Gladys truly remembered her being red-necked as a house finch, though she was some other species entirely, and in this falsehood she would live out the rest of her days.

Some years later, when the fussy white dresses of her girlhood were long gone, Gladys would think on those years and gather together the remnants like a living scrapbook, and tell herself the stories in her head: When I was seven, she would think, I wore a white lace dress for my first holy communion—she had pictures as proof—and with it white gloves with lace stitched around the wrists. When the hymns began and we—all of us in our white dresses—but me of course the prettiest in my mind—and she had been a pretty girl, with angelic blonde curls and big curious eyes—walked down that center aisle like so many miniature brides, and at the end we each took that fine white wafer into our palms.... They were marked with crosses, then, though later the church would change that tradition. Well, when I took that wafer into my mouth and let it melt on my tongue like paper, I was proud for reasons no girl that age would really comprehend, and I turned around like we had in practice and marched right back the way I'd come, only everyone was quite in my way, and when I took my seat back in the pews I remembered that the pattern was different—we were meant to come around the benches in a pattern I remembered as a big butterfly, and all the girls had except me, and I cried there in church thinking I had done wrong.

And Atta was always there in her memories, home in her filigree cage but her cage in the garage, and her sweet voice rising like something from heaven itself, even though it was never so. Atta was by then sleeping in the rhododendrons.
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Lar
 Posted: Dec 7 2016, 09:45 PM
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She's born in the black of a no-moon night, streaked bloody red and brown. her mother loves her more that anything has been loved before, and for just a second the universe pauses in its massive whirling to watch.

she is named theresa, although even from that moment she knows it is wrong. there is something within her, a name all her own, unpronounceable to her fat, flailing tongue. she screams.

-

when she is older, she is a black-haired beauty, eyes framed by lush lashes, the wend of her hips drawing in the men of her town and sending ripples of dissention through mariages. she sleeps soundly, but sometimes she dreams of her name. her other name, she thinks, because theresa is what she's known since that first moment of awakening.

in fact she is not theresa at all, and if she's lucky she'll never know it.

-

theresa turns thirty on a wednesday, and that same day crows feet begin to step at the corners of her eyes. she's married now, theresa paulson instead of her given name. it makes no difference to her dreams. they come at night and thrum with the syllables of what she is meant to be, the name and the power behind it. that wednesday is a no-moon night too, long and black and cold. the first frost comes as she rises early the next morning. she knows it is hers. her husband is gone the next day, his things left behind, and no one cares where he's gone; theresa tells her mother and she smiles sadly and puts a hand on theresa's shoulder.

it is the gift, she says, the curse, the thing that the family is given from their first days.

then her mother says her name, and theresa knows it to be true.

-

the crops wither that winter, meager in their harvest. some of the children are hungry, and they make wide eyes at theresa as she passes. the blackness in the center of their eyes burns. the winter brings a new paleness to her, the snowy white of her skin stark against black curls, black lashes, black eyes, black heart. she misses him, wonders about him.

is he well? she thinks some days. other days, is he alive?

she dreams sometimes, and he is in them, kept in a black glass bubble in her mind. he presses himself against the glass and begs. she can't hear it, but she sees the moving of his lips, the gasping of his lungs. sometimes she thinks she can see right down to his bones, to his soul. there is a spark still within him.

-

you have to know his name, her mother chides. have you never given each other that?

and theresa shakes her head and covers her mouth, and feels the heat of her breath against her palm.

then you never loved him, her mother says.

theresa goes home and writes her name over and over.

t h e r e s a p a u l s o n

each letter in careful hand, clear and crisp as the new frost. theresa paulson. theresa marie paulson. paulson, theresa marie. she writes until her hand cramps, and she falls asleep clutching the paper in one white fist.







tbc?
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