Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 13
Winter, 2013

Featured Novel Excerpt
New Works

Carol Deminski

The Temple Maiden

She crossed the flowing robes over the body of the bed, shrink-wrapped it in linen and plumped each pillow for the next pink cheek.

She came to California a year ago, from a land of burros and pottery as black as oiled hair shining in the desert sun; its blurry-eyed youth wasted on Mezcal. She came with a fistful of Oaxacan cheese and pomegranate seeds stuffed into a poblano.

Her madre didn't cry when she left; her mother hadn't cried when her sister left before her. She was another sacrifice, body and blood. No, her mother said nothing each month, when she opened the envelopes of American dollars and shoved them in a rusted coffee can under the sink. There were too many mouths to feed to think of what happened thousands of miles away.

Now, her sister was beyond the door, her hushed steps glided down each carpeted hallway. They were nuns in this cloister, still offering silent prayers to Quetzalcoatl.

Their god of mercy and light lived in Cholula, their homeland, his ancient pyramid topped with the church of the Virgin at its crown. Her Indian ancestors built the pyramid, but her blue eyes betrayed the blood-soaked Spanish conquistadors within.

The whirring vacuum cleaner vibrated in her hand. She bowed her head, and thought of red tapers she would light for her madre. Two weeks passed since she had been to church. She knelt, pulled back the dust ruffle to remove the stains left behind. A ten dollar bill rested on the plush fibers, a green egg in its nest. She plucked it, tucked it away; warmed it with her plump brown breast.

The money could buy gardenias for her table, to mellow the scent of rice and beans redolent of Mexican earth. She fed her Irish boyfriend the mixture from her soulful kitchen. He sang the praises of his scarlet-haired Pagans, told her how they built Stonehenge.

She smiled at him shyly and did not mention the dark-eyed Zapotecs. She did not tell him about the slaves who gathered the stones for Monte Alban with its turquoise encrusted skulls. She did not give voice to her nightmare: a priest in a leopard mask sliding a stone dagger between the delicate ribs of a virgin girl. Crowds of men chanted as the blood spilled down the jagged steps of a temple. No, these were things she did not say.

She dusted the desk, hummed a little. She imagined a savior baby, a king for the New World, with dark skin and flaming red hair. The infant shimmered there as a momentary glint in the mirror; she wiped it away with a cloth. She shivered at a flutter in her stomach. She left the immaculate room and the door clicked shut behind her.

Carol Deminski's stories have appeared in nearly 30 journals including Word Riot, PANK and elsewhere. She was nominated for a 2013 Micro Award by the editor of Blink Ink. She can be found online at cdeminski.wordpress.com.