[This is a fiction I co-authored with Louise Norlie. I will be publishing the story in serial installments, every Monday for the next little while. Stay tuned.]
My first memory is walking through the door of my house to find my mother leading a prayer service with a group of women that I had never seen before. By the surprised expressions I ascertained that I had not been expected and, in fact, that no one even suspected my existence. I had been playing in my sandbox in the backyard and my mother instructed me in no uncertain terms to stay where I was until she came for me. Now, my mother’s face that had a moment ago been calmly concentrated on some higher plane of existence – eyes closed, lips slightly opened – transformed instantly into anger and irritation. She laid down the candle she was holding, yanked my arm, and dragged me up the stairs to my room where she locked me inside after giving me a hasty shove.
I thought she would never unlock the door. As I wept, pressing my body against the door, I began to think there was something strange about the women I had seen. Even now I do not know; I suspect it was that they were not wearing any clothing. I heard their voices softly chanting, and occasionally my mother’s voice wafted upstairs, cool and lyrical as if she had become already an entirely different person, one that I, her son, could never find. I did not turn the lights on and instead sat on the floor in the dark until, eventually, my mother unlocked the door, and it was back to the way things usually were.