There’s a door in the floor of my granny’s house. It sits under the rug we use to wipe our feet on. Bayou stench festers on this rug. The smell of dead earth — that lingering hideousness of a body rotting into the ground. Every time we get the rains, more show up, more coffins the ground couldn’t hold. The coffins remind me I’m mortal. Sometimes I forget. It’s easy when I wear the cape Papaw made me from the duck cloth he uses to mend the sails of his shrimper. The cape is red, it repels water and knives. But it calls to the monster that lives under the floor of my granny’s house. The door to his prison — the prison my granny made for him.
Granny invited the Priest over for tea in the parlor. The Priest stood right on top of the monsters door, his bible in his hand, his collar crisp and white. He’s talked a lot about my sins since he got here. I’m a sinner. I’m too old to be wearing a cape and saying whatever comes to my mind. The Priest says Gran can’t help me, but he can — the church can, he corrects with a smirk.
I tap the handle of my knife on the crisp white lace tablecloth. I sip my tea through my teeth. Every time, Granny closes her eyes like that will block out the sound of my slurps. The Priest is asking me if I understand my sins. I nod. I’m a girl with dirty fingernails, who won’t sit through Mass and refuses to go to confession. I got no interest in cooking and my hair mats at the back from laying in the grass by the bayou with boys in dirty overalls. I’ve spread my legs too much. Granny says she’s knows I’m just like my momma that way. She don’t know the half of it though.
Gran agrees. I need some reform — a ruler to my thighs. I need to see the monster. He’d know what to do about my problem with civility. He’d know what to say to the Priest that would make him stop eying me like a piece of dirty meat. The Monsters voice is a whisper in my ear. Even when I’m swearing to Granny I never opened the door. That cellars off limits, Noula, you mind me or else. The threat’s wasted now. There is no or else. Or else is a few days away, its a uniform of white knee socks and plaid that sits on my bed.
The Priest is leaving. His long fingered hand covers my shoulder and squeezes, too hard for a Man-of-the-Cloth. Granny wants me to carry the tray. Yes, ma’am, I say sourly. The rug over the door is all furled. The Priest’s collar, a corner all starched and stiff, peaks from the crack in the door. I’ll get it later, I think, after the bones are all clean.
Written as an InMon prompt. My first in a very long time.