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...til I Wake Up-Fiction by Denis Bushlatov
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Visitors-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Three Shots for a Dollar-Flash Fiction by Matthew J. Hockey
A Nun's Smile-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
911-Flash Fiction by Karen Heslop
The Faint of Heart Work for a Living-Flash Fiction by Lester L. Weil
Another Day, Another Death-Flash Fiction by Sandor Kovacs
Jim Dandy-Poem by g emil reutter
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green shoots-Poem by Meg Baird
jack and jill-Poem by Meg Baird
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rogue dragonflies-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
rogue drones-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
wind through the evergreens-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
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The Hour of the Cat-Poem by A. J. Huffman
Owlish Eyes in the Dark-Poem by A. J. Huffman
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

nunssmile.jpg
Art by Daniel Valentin 2017

A Nun’s Smile

 

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

1967

 

 

          Mary never forgot it. Old Sister Michael had Danny Feeley by the cheek, squeezing hard. With her other hand, she slapped him, repeatedly. Each slap made him laugh, louder. Like he enjoyed the pain.

 

“Scumbag!” he said, between laughs.

 

Mary cringed. Usually, she was the one Danny called “Scumbag.” Or “Fatso.” Or he pretended to stumble along, since they all knew Mary’s Pop was a fall-down drunk.

 

          Around them, the cool sixth-graders laughed, too. But Mary’s friends, the other class creeps, looked horrified. Boo Hoo Bridget was crying, though Boo Hoo cried if Friday’s lunch was fish sticks instead of grilled cheese.

 

          As the show went on, Mary’s heart raced. She stared up at the crucifix, praying that Jesus would come down and end this.

 

          If a nun hits you, Mary’s mom always said, it’s because you deserve it. If Sister had hit Mary, her mom would smack her twice as hard, that night.

 

Please? Mary asked Jesus, one last time.

 

When the door opened, heads turned. But Mary was watching Sister, in amazement: the old nun was smiling! Both corners of her ancient lips turned up, revealing teeth like Chiclets. She let go of Danny.

 

Father Sebastian strolled in, also smiling, like Sister had been reading aloud, instead of beating Danny. But Father was always smiling. His teeth looked fake, like on those toothpaste commercials. He was older, like forty, but loved showing up to visit Mary’s class. But mostly the boys.

And Danny was his pet.

 

But why? Mary always wondered. Danny was the meanest kid, ever. So mean, sometimes she wished he was dead.

 

“Danny, Danny, Danny . . .” Father gripped his shoulders, rubbing them. “Sister,” he said, with those teeth, “What did Mr. Feeley do, on this beautiful spring day?”

 

In unison, the class glanced out the open windows. Soft pink blossoms stuck out from the trees. The sky was almost too blue.

 

Sister sighed. “The usual.”

 

When Mary looked back, Father was rubbing Danny’s neck. Danny’s eyes were cast down, his face really red, from Sister’s slaps. But he wasn’t laughing, now. He seemed almost . . . scared. But of what?

 

Not Father, Mary thought. Father was so nice. He liked the Beatles, though Sister said all four of them “were going straight to hell!”

 

“We’re all sinners,” Father told the class, each time he stopped by. “Even . . . Sisters of Charity.”

 

Sister Michael waved that away. 

 

“All of us,” Father said, in a dreamy voice.

 

Mary recalled Danny acting up on those days, too. And Father squeezing him. Sometimes just mussing his hair. Danny had very curly, dark hair.

 

“Come with me,” he told Danny today, “And I’ll hear your confession.”

 

But it’s Wednesday, Mary thought.

 

Danny had gotten pale. “I’m sorry,” he told Sister, sitting down. “I’ll be quiet. Or . . . read out loud, if you want.” He struggled to find his place in the reader.

 

Sister pointed at the door. “Go with Father!”

 

But Danny wouldn’t budge.

 

“Mr. Feeley?” Father said, softly.

 

Danny’s eyes darted from Father, to the window, then back again.

 

As Father stepped closer, Danny bolted out of his seat. Knocked down Boo Hoo, before scrambling onto the ledge, and out the window.

 

A three-flight drop.

 

Mary screamed. Others did, too: snotty kids who’d just laughed, minutes ago. Sister clutched her heart, fell against the blackboard. But she lived.

 

Father must’ve been the first outside. Mary’s class stayed put, guarded by Miss Norell, from next door. Miss Norell was trying not to cry, so they wouldn’t. But Boo Hoo had been bawling since Danny knocked her down.

 

Later, Mary heard that Father knelt, wailing, over Danny’s broken body. That he choked out the wrong words to the prayers.

 

She heard Danny’s body was covered with reddened cherry blossoms, from his flight into the tree.

 

She also heard Sister Michael never smiled again.

 

That, Mary believed.

 

 

 

Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife and talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out a lot, so needs no excuse to do whatever she wants. She hates shopping and shoes, chick lit and chick flicks. She’s been published in the usual places, such as Hardboiled; Shotgun Honey, Twisted Sister, A Twist of Noir; Beat to a Pulp; Pulp Metal; Thrillers, Killers, n’ Chillers; Mysterical-E; and Powder Burn Flash. She is the editor of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s also a Gemini, an animal rights activist, and a Christian.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017