the writing disorder


shae krispinsky

New Fiction


by Shae Krispinsky

      Simone starved herself to become lighter for God. She wanted Him to carry her home in His omnipotent but forgiving arms. But maybe He was too busy—the children, after all—or maybe He, like everyone else before, just didn't care all that much. While she waited, hopeful but breaking, for God to come, she sang.
      Though her parents had been religious—her mother in the church choir, her father an assistant minister—God had never had a real place in her life before. He was like Siberia or Antarctica: something cold and distant, something she had on occasion read about out of curiosity but would never see in person. That out there, in the plains, beneath a midnight sky white with stars, she began to think of Him, began to hope for and expect Him, took her strangely at first. What was this intrusion? And why now? But then she began to ask, Well, why not? What could it hurt?
      But there had to be a reason. This was a sign—wasn't it? But for what? That she wasn't worthy. What else could it be? That's why He didn't come to her. That's why she sang out to nothing, to no response from Him. So began her atonement. If she in her body were sin, as it had to have been—what else did she have?—she'd whittle it away. Ossified, she would be worthy of His love. Boots shined but loose around her ankles, she'd be invited to enter His home, His hand outstretched in greeting. In time, hope replaced the hunger and she felt certain He would show. Her cupboards were bare. She sang out to Him, her voice warm and smooth. Prone on the carpet, she sang into the twisted threads. Curled on the porch swing, she sang out into the night. As loud as her weakness allowed, she called out to Him. But He didn't come. Instead, her lawn, overgrown with ragweed and darnel, filled with strangers who began to stop outside her house to listen.
      “Come,” they called, hands grasping. “Come out.”
      People! Her voice warbled with fear but she kept singing. People—she was not used to people. In college she had a few friends, a few girls to sit with in the dining hall and to drink wine with, except she didn't really like wine and all they wanted to talk about were the boys they were fucking. At the time, Simone had a boyfriend, but he lived eight hours away, so—being too loyal, more loyal than he had ever been—she wasn't fucking anyone. During these talks, she smiled weakly and pretended to drink the tepid red wine in her neon green plastic cup. After graduation, she dumped her boyfriend, deleted her friends' emails without reading them and moved out there to the plains where she rented a small shanty on a deserted plot of land and did data entry from her laptop that was missing the A key.
      Remembering her ex-boyfriend, her old friends, she felt torn between stepping down off of the porch and joining those who called to her, and shutting her mouth, running back into the house and slamming the door. She had never learned the art of interaction. With her boyfriend, she thought she was doing him a favor by asking nothing of him, by refusing to see him. When he told her of the other girls he kissed in her absence, the girls she remembered riding with in the marching band bus back in high school, she smiled and assured him it was okay, though her insides were torn to bits. She smiled and said she hoped he enjoyed it, because that's what she thought she was supposed to do: wear a pleasant, silent mask. She resented the mask but it was easier to run away than tear off the plastic smile. Somewhere on the way out to the plains, the mask fell off and she hadn't worn one since.
      Now with the milling faces staring at her expectantly, she felt the cold plastic, the suffocating layer pressing closer to her skin. Would she have to run farther away? Would she finally see Antarctica? She sang to God to intervene, to save her, to take her to His home but again, He never showed. You fucker, she seethed. You fucker! You failed me.
      Her first steps off of the porch were tentative, weak-kneed. The earth, though dry from drought, felt like quicksand, but soon she recognized it as only her fear. Strangers latched onto her, told her they were her friends, told her they loved her. Love was more foreign to her than they were. Her relationship with her ex had been serviceable at best, more out of what she felt she was supposed to do than affection. She had thought God was supposed to be love, but he turned out to be nothing more than a bitter delusion. At least her ex had admitted to his cheating. If anything, the closest she had ever crawled to love was in watching those old Gene Kelly movies on the classic film channel, Cover Girl, Summer Stock, and her favorite, Singing in the Rain. Watching Kelly's deep Steel City eyes and his cheek with the scythe-shaped scar. His perfect smile with the top lip curled under made her smile, which, really, was all she wanted out of love.
      These people as they surrounded her didn't make her smile at all but they begged her to keep singing so she complied. A lanky man with dark, dusty hair and oily skin approached her and offered her a trip to the coast. Simone shook her head, not because she didn't want to go back there, but because she did. The pain it would cause, she already knew; best to kill it before its first breath, but the man insisted, charming as he was, and slightly, when she squinted, resembling Gene Kelly.
      “You don't belong here,” he promised, wrapping his hands completely around her waist and lifting her into his sparkling gunmetal-grey convertible. This is what she had wished of God. She wondered, Is he Him? She let him close the door beside her. She had never pictured God driving a BMW.
      The drive to the airport sweated with silence. He knew better than to ask her to sing then, she decided. They were too oddly close, and besides, she got the impression that he didn't care much for her songs. As she studied him, she yearned to wipe his forehead with a cool cloth though she didn't understand why. Mothering had never been an instinct of hers. The captor captivates the captive, she thought but forced the idea from her mind. This was her fear again, and she had to kill it if she wished to survive. Did she wish to survive? She felt the mask lock tightly into place.
      On the plane—two first class seats, the leather cool on the backs of her legs. The attendant brought expensive champagne wrapped in linens. Those around her eyed it greenly. Can we get some for everyone, she whispered.
      “Already extravagant?” He winked. “A true star.” He snapped his fingers and more bottles appeared. No one thanked her as they drank her champagne and drank her down. She curled over on her side and pretended to sleep, ignoring his hands as they grated up her ribcage.
      There in the city, surrounded by people—more, different. She had never thought of herself as pretty, but they assured her that she was. And so thin, they cooed, zipping her into slinky black dresses, brushing her hair. They pushed her out onto a stage under hot white lights that melted her make-up and told her to sing. She felt like she was Lina Lamont, a phony, twisting her hands in time, all wrong. Worse, they knew it too, but didn't care. She sang even though they really wanted her to unzip and step out of her dress. Cameras in hand, they'd get the photographs eventually. She'd see the images of herself, skin laid bare, mascara pissing down her cheeks, and by this time, would not feel violated, just empty. Emptier. No longer could she sing, no longer did she want to. Still, they tried to sell her but hands stopped reaching out. Bottles of champagne became bottles of Ativan became tar-thick nights. The man who had put her on the plane had long since left, moved on, found another thin-hipped vacuum. Gene Kelly wouldn't have left. She didn't miss the man or his hands but she did miss singing without an audience, missed the hoping for something she always knew in the back, mildewed corner of her mind would never come.
      If she returned to the plains. If she apologized to God. If she could find her voice once more, and use it only for herself, not for them. Hope, however, is not like water, does not come in cycles or bottles. Starved of hope, Simone starved herself once again. Better, this time. Her heart stopped beating. Lighter for God, the burial was easy.

Shae Krispinsky ( grew up in sub-rural western PA and graduated from college in Roanoke, VA. Now living in Tampa, FL, she is the singer, songwriter and guitarist for her band, ...y los dos pistoles (, contributes to Creative Loafing Tampa and is an aspiring crazy cat lady. Her work is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, In Between Altered States and Corvus Magazine.

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