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Fiction #480
(published April 1, 2010)
The Birth of Madam Satan
by Helen R. Peterson
Jimmy had been a good boy all through school. He listened to the nuns and lived by their words. "Remember," they told him, "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit". He would scrub his skin pink nightly, shunned back corner lot nips snuck from some daddy's dirty whiskey bottle. His fingers were never smacked for dirt under the nails, tobacco stains wedged under the knuckles.

As he grew, so did the praise for his purity. Folks at mass would say his skin glowed whiter than his robe. "Angel Boy" boys would snigger, quickly hushed by others who remembered a borrowed shirt, lunches shared. Jimmy was good all the way through, and none could fault him.

Yes, Jimmy was a good boy. Good until after weeding the parish community garden he brought the rake and hoe back to the old shed and caught the nuns hunched in guilt and black as crows, cigarettes hanging from their mouths.

He stumbled out, blinded by the little ashy lights, weeping nicotine.

Helen R. Peterson lives and writes in Connecticut.

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