Every Girl Is A Sacrifice At A Slumber Party | by Julia Beach

There are two kinds of girls at an exorcism
the ones who watch from their sleeping bags
and those who watch perched between
staircase spindles, Gobstoppers on their tongues
reciting Psalms and fizzy plot points
from the latest Sweet Valley High.
Once the movie is over and the demon
is out of the body or back in the box
at the bottom of a lake, they eyeball each other
wondering who is going to be the first to cry
and who will be the first to fall in love
with a real boy. A real cute boy. The kind
you slip into a different body for, like the demon inside
the girl’s body in the movie descending the staircase
like a spider who hacked off her own legs,
tailored her body to fit the lines of her pajamas
and hoped no one would notice the hourglass
tattooed on her chest, frozen in time and filled
with enough hopeful poison to last through
the night. Light as a feather/stiff as a board,
come tell us a story of how she died
in the dark, but in this version, keep the lights
turned on. Tell us how she walked
in the graveyard, but in this version, take her
to the train station to meet a stranger,
and in this version, make the stranger a keeper
of exotic animals with a fetish for long legs
and kneecaps that buckle like a compass
on a treasure map light as weather. Instead
of hands, give him holy water where his nose
is supposed to go. Take his ears and give him
a stethoscope where his tongue should be.
Make him full of mercy, this real cute boy,
in the daylight. Tell us how the hourglass was full,
but in this version, make it full of daylight
savings time so they can have another hour
before sunset brings this story to a close.
And when morning arrives lightly
tell us how you found her legs
hidden in the woodpile, stiff as a board,
and used them as stilts to walk through her ashes.



Julia Beach is a graduate of the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. Her work has previously been published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Mount Voices, Keep Going, Cabinet of Heed, and has work forthcoming in I-70 Review later this fall. Born and raised in Appalachia, she now lives in New England and works as a graphic designer and marketing/content writer.


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