Michael Cocchiarale

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An Unfinished Prayer

When June opened the Bible, pages chattered in the wind. After much flipping back and forth, she read at random, words far above like a plane with a sign at the beach. She tried to light a candle, but the flame wouldn’t catch. While she sang, his picture from the war slid off the casket. No matter. She went on, my snappy little sister, who flew in so we could say there’d been a crowd. I was the one who never got away. Screwed early, the proof with the sitter until three that afternoon.

After, Sis sprang for burgers before speeding off. “Work tomorrow,” she said, zipping her leather jacket. I almost said, “Must be nice.”

Before going back for the kid, I returned for another shot at closure. The tent was gone. I kicked at crumbly dirt and thought, “ground meat.”

I put my hand gently on the casket, as if that might make up for times I wished him dead. I knocked on wood. Empty, on my knees, I even tried a prayer: “Our father, who loved us rarely, hollow be thy heart.”

“Still…” began my next line, but I drew a blank about where to go next.

Michael Cocchiarale is the author of the novel None of the Above (Unsolicited, 2019) and two story collections–Here Is Ware (Fomite, 2018) and Still Time (Fomite, 2012). His creative work appears online as well, in journals such as Fictive Dream, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Pithead Chapel, and Atticus Review.

Photo credit: “Left Behind” by Gerry Dincher, Flickr.com (modified by Veronica McDonald).

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