SmokeLong Quarterly

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God, Two Girls

Story by Adeena Reitberger (Read author interview) March 29, 2011

art by Carrie Wells

I’m in the bathtub and when I see the bat I scream and slam my head so hard against the porcelain rim I nearly knock myself out. In the yard, my sister sits in a lawn chair smoking pot and painting her nails. She nails her heel into the grass and yells through the open window, what, does the cat have your hoo-ha, what’s the fucking racket in there?

I’m trying not to look, but out of the corner of my eye, I see it. It’s thrashing, I’m thrashing, thrashing and screaming, screaming for help until finally she appears in the doorway. I can barely see her because my eyes are opening and closing at the sight of it.

You’re bleeding, your head, she says. Why the hell are you flapping around like a mental patient?

Patient is a word she is accustomed to. She’s accustomed to doctors and psychiatrists and meds and diagnoses and stays in the hospital for overdoses, accidental or otherwise, and for this or for that.

Kill it, I choke, bat, on the ceiling, get it, but I’m coughing and I can’t make an intelligible sound.

It sounds like an ocean. Sounds like the ocean waves pulling back and forth, throwing me.

Once when she was six and I was nine we waded out into the Atlantic holding hands. It’s gonna be okay, I said and then the waves came crashing down and swallowed her.

And you think I’m crazy, she says and she laughs, you’ve lost your fucking mind. But then she sees it too and freezes and backs to the corner and starts screaming, kneeling on the floor, in the water that escaped the bathtub. My god, she says, oh my god.

God, two girls, grown up, screaming bloody in the bathroom as this damn bat fights its way into the corner, getting tired, going nowhere.

About the Author

Adeena Reitberger was born in Baltimore and grew up on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. She received her MFA from Western Michigan University and currently teaches at Austin Community College. When she has time to let her mind wander she often wonders about how she ended up in Texas and why she prefers the company of animals. She has a story published in Nimrod International Journal and writes a weekly “Best of the Web” column for American Short Fiction.

About the Artist

Carrie Wells is an artist working in the mediums of photography and sculpture. She earned her BFA in Studio Art from The University of Texas at Austin and continues to live and work in Austin, Texas.

This story appeared in Issue Thirty-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-One

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