Knock Out the Heart Lights So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith
Exie roamed the aisles of the 24-hour grocery store when she got lonely; touching things and gently placing cans and paper cartons in her little basket, only to make a loop and put them back on the shelves. She liked the music they played. Songs about trusting Jesus and boys driving around with girls and first kisses on front porches. She was drawn to the dusty items no one else seemed to love. A long, crinkly-packaged stripey jumprope on a crooked rack in the cereal aisle. Weird, local homemade sauces in the condiment aisle. Her favorite jar was Eula's Egg Sauce. The drawing of Eula was sweet-smiley and big-busted. Exie had never met either of her grandmothers but she liked to think that they were like Eula. She bought the sauce and went to her car. Locked the doors, opened the jar, stuck her tongue in and licked. The sauce was goopy pudding-thick and red-yellow but Exie thought it tasted purple. At home, her husband unhinged the creaky door to his sleepiest blanket-voice. Asked her where she'd been. “Do you remember when I was eating pineapple and started to cry because I was alive and some people weren't?” She said. Reminded him of that morning after church when her hair was still baptism-wet. How she sat at the kitchen table, feeling like she was getting re-baptized, drowning in the sunlight. Her husband was a good man and she loved him but he didn't know to be special, how to glow. She said it was pretty simple and she'd teach him. There was no big secret. You just had to let the things in your heart get real dark first.
Leesa Cross-Smith writes lots of things and reads lots of things. She edits a literary magazine called WhiskeyPaper. Come visit at LeesaCrossSmith.com. Bring sparklers! She'd like that.