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Blessed Assurance

That summer Lily would get up early to help her grandmother search for slugs on the tomato plants, and although she pretended disgust, she liked the dew-drenched garden and the way conversation seemed out of place there (a relief now that her stutter had been made worse by a newly unstable front tooth), and she also liked following the shiny trails her grandmother pointed out, so much so that it was always a shock to find a fat slug at the end of such glimmering graffiti--but, according to her grandmother, this was the war at home, and so she would drop the slug in a beer trap while her grandmother crossed herself saying, Another dead soldier; and later, when the sun had chased their prey underground, they would retreat to the garage for a seemingly endless game of cards, and during these games Lily didn't mind shouting G-g-g-go F-f-fish, because her grandmother didn't look away while she struggled, or lean forward the way most adults did, as if trying to nudge the words across an invisible line, and sometimes Lily thought this was because her grandmother already knew what she was thinking, and all Lily had to do was concentrate hard enough and she wouldn't have to say anything at all--and it was during one of these times (when she was thinking hard) that Lily noticed the cool look her grandmother aimed towards a pair of pliers dangling from the peg-board wall, and suddenly it was like connecting a series of water droplets to make a stream, and the droplets in her grandmother's mind were stutter and cure and they were merging with tooth and pliers and Lily knew exactly what her grandmother meant to do, and she believed it would work with a faith as simple as salt.

©Stephanie Harrison, first published in Gulf Coast