Blessed in the garden 

Third place winner

Page 3 of 3

"Git! Billy git!" I chuckled. Then she looked at me. "Whyn't you lock the door?" She knows there's no lock on that door. She wants our own place. Or Billy out. But how am I supposed to tell Billy to get out? He raised me.

A few weeks later Billy sat me down beside the creek to explain that only in the missionary position does God love his children. "We ain't baboons," he said. I didn't know what to say to that. I didn't think anybody cared. That's what I'm thinking about tonight walking with Honey, the crickets trilling and the creek slithering across the meadow like a S. A long, dark snake, with moonlight on its back. We're walking holding hands like Adam and Eve. We work our way under a weeping willow by the creek and run our toes through the crabgrass. The branches split beams of light that milk-wash Honey's hair. We're sweating on account of the heat. It's getting hotter than hell. We take off our clothes.

I slide on top of her. Slow. It don't happen. I try again. In. In some more. All the way in. Out some. All the way out. But it's no good. Honey smiles real teasin' like, evil. She's got the devil in her. The devil, boy. I'm achin' for her to turn over and she knows it. She smiles cause she wants me to know she knows it and I can see her teeth and gums. I look at the cows lonely on the hillside, on all fours, dreaming of fodder. Honey turns over, giggling, and whips her hair back and it catches me in the face. I blow a few strands out of my mouth. She giggles. Then she hushes.

Under that tree glowing and water bubbling, those willow smells, it's like Eden. I want it to last. I hold on to the taste of her mouth.

When I'm there I growl. She giggles and gnarls back at the moon. We hold each other and roll. Green ribbons stick flat to our backs. I remember what Billy told me about baboons and think about his cardboard model of the new church. How Honey cried in the hospital five years ago when the doctor told her she lost the baby. She cried and cried. She kept asking, "Why? Why?" Frankie the other day at church. How he stared at me over the money box, and the time I touched his cheek at the busport.

"Honey," I whisper.

"Hm?"

"I'm good, ain't I?"

She giggles. "You're great, sugar."

She didn't understand. I lay on my back and look at the stars. They look like pinholes in an old blanket. Maybe God peeking through one at me.

"Hey," she ruffles my hair, "Hey you. Hey Grizzly bear."

I grunt. Then I bite her on the shoulder and she laughs and snorts at me. I reach over and get a handful of creekwater and splash it on her back. She screeches like a bat. Then she throws water on me. The water is cold but it gets warm fast.

Mohit Bhasin moved to Atlanta from Boston seven years ago, but grew up in the Appalachians of West Virginia. He works at Grady Hospital.

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