Prayers for the Lost
By Melissa Goode
We are, all of us, dust. The priest reduces us to sinners and ash. You didn’t believe any of this, I know. The ceiling is dense heaven-blue. Bless me and keep me safe (surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life). The priest calls upon the saints, the angels. He blesses you (eternal rest give to them, O Lord). We pray for you and so we should because who knows where the fuck you are? I want it again, the first touch of my tongue to you. I will lick you clean, you are a knife, and I will curl my tongue and protect myself until I cannot anymore. On the altar, the candles burn and burn, they smoke. You aren’t here. This is where I think you are—you wait by the river for me in gold-white light. It is glorious, isn’t it? Tell me.
Burial at Sea
At the bottom of our street, the waves crash over and over, and they will not stop. Last night in my sleep, the sea gathered itself into a tsunami and collided into our house. In our bedroom of water we drowned, our heads pushed against the ceiling. People sunbake on the beach, they swim, and I don’t know how they aren’t terrified. I wasn’t always like this. Once, we stood in the sea. You pulled me close, my ten toes left the sand, and you were hard, rigid against the centre of me. Right. There. Water lapped at my lips, and I tasted salt, and you held me up as if I weighed nothing. I didn’t think about sharks or whales or any other thing. I should have. In the depths of the ocean there is the survival of the fittest which only means the survivors are eating everyone else. A school of sharks encircle a baby whale, separating it from its mother. Blood blooms in the water, and new bones descend to the seabed. The mother whale swims away, and I don’t understand that either.
Act of Contrition
I build a body of pillows in our bed. In the dark, from the corner of my eye, it is you. Hello, beautiful. You pull me down, your arms band tight around me. Your heat (you are my furnace). We don’t talk about this enough—the astonishing headiness that comes from lying on a body, being carried and being consumed. I hold your face as if that will keep you here longer. You look over my shoulder, and now I know—you cannot look me in the eye. Don’t say sorry, and I won’t say it to you. Bury yourself into me. Call me love. Drop your mouth to my ear and say, keep still. I will. I promise. 2AM. 3AM. 4AM. Every hour is another hour closer to you. You are at the river. Baby boo, sweetheart. Take my shoulders and push me under the surface. Do it.
About the Author:
Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in The Penn Review, Best Small Fictions, Superstition Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and Monkeybicycle, among others. Three of her stories were chosen by Dan Chaon for Best Microfictions 2019, including her story “I Wanna Be Adored” (CHEAP POP) which was also chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50 for 2019. She lives in Australia. You can find her here: www.melissagoode.com and at twitter.com/melgoodewriter
About Weekly Flash Prose and Prose Poetry:
CutBank Online features one work of flash prose or prose poetry every Monday. Submissions are free and open year-round. Send us your best work of 750 words or less at https://cutbank.submittable.com/submit.