Cooking Tips for the Demon-Haunted
Keep those demons at bay, is what Mama always said, for they will try and try to find a way in, and they are many and they are everywhere. Even now, standing in the kitchen as I am, a demon is beside me. If a bird flies into your window, leaves a trail of feathers and blood, it is a demon bringing bad luck; if white roses grow where you planted azaleas, a demon sowed the seed; if the paint separates and the color will not fix, a demon dipped his brush; if the beans sour in the soup, a demon stirred the pot; if the rice burns in the pan, a demon fanned the flame; if a young woman twists and turns on a high wire, rope of braid hanging down, she is a demon in pleasing form and that rope is the noose she holds for your husband, or for you. Too many demons crowd my head; they snap and fly like hot grease on a cast-iron frying pan, spanging through the sky, leaping and multiplying, they are all busy going somewhere and here I stand as the water boils away, leaving a smell of brimstone.
Are you feeling well, child? Mama asks, her fingers cool against my forehead. Surely this is Mama’s hand, the hand I’ve always known, so white and dry and cold.
Kathryn Kulpa is a New England-based writer and editor with words in Flash Fiction Magazine, Monkeybicycle, No Contact, and Pithead Chapel. Her stories have been chosen for Best Microfiction and included in the Wigleaf longlist. She is flash fiction editor at Cleaver Magazine.
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