Aphelion Issue 265, Volume 25
September 2021
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page

How Saint Anthony Helped Me Find My Soul Once Again

by Theresa C. Gaynord

I had that dream once again, where I’m exploring
someone else's land. There are structures of rusted
metal; there's a chair and what looks like a propane
tank. They belong there; in that space where echoes
bounce back to slap you in the face. I walk on floors
of scar tissue, stained, and spotted, avoiding the partitions
that bisect rooms, making a mental note of the

Broken bricked paths hold partial vines, alive, in the
pocked bricks, a good servant to the splinters and
deterioration as life duties silently, discreetly, and

without complaint. Crouched down, I examine the
earth with my hands. It's cold, sturdy, packed in tight,
until my fingers curl into it and my palms circle around
it. I take it, this earth; patient enough as if by instinct,
mesmerized enough until the feel becomes familiar.

I think about restoration, rebuilding, and how I’ve always
been against it. I enjoy the instances of just being, the
rare times of satisfaction rain can bring without much effort,
the wash of color a storm can manifest, like a prehistoric beast
tumbling down tall brush with an ancient whoosh and splash
as if it belonged there all along. There’s a part of me that
wants to start fresh, but as I draw in the muck and dust
I can smell the vines concealed in this ordered hell,

and I realize there’s natural rebirth among the ruins. If
anything is missing — I cannot see it, I cannot feel it.
The most important thing is still here. The land is beautiful,
the discarded items are beautiful, and they touch me, in
the deepest chambers of my heart. My energy moves around
these energies, with skill, with compassion, with love.
There’s a primal passion that squeezes at my gut and erupts
in sobbing as I awake to rain and wind lashing at my windows.

I cup my head between my legs and press down hard, finding
no release in the urgent spins of my room that have left
me dizzy and disoriented. I do not find the laws of gravity
to be a blessing, not when my spirit longs to soar alongside
the wonder and insight of dreams. I run my hands up my body,
along my shoulders, the side of my neck; Saint Anthony hangs
there, reflective of the girl and the woman within me. I scrape
the chain against my teeth,

as I notice the calendar on the wall. It’s been a year to the day my
mother passed away, a year to the day I didn’t visit her in the
nursing home before death, a year to the day I didn’t say I forgive
you and goodbye. A lot of people think they can get past death.

A lot of people get burned. I slide down off my bed, there’s a
puddle at my feet. I follow it outside noticing the rusted metal,
the broken chair and leaking propane tank. I see Saint Anthony’s
face; he guards the gates, my breath already burning.

I’m still thinking, it’s been a year to the day; a year to the day
my mother passed away, a year to the day I didn’t visit her in the
nursing home before death, a year to the day I didn’t say I forgive
you and goodbye…a year to the day. A little silver key lies
against the side of my right hand, bare to the heart that had lost it,
bare to the liquid trail of unhappiness. A spirit energy, warm and soft
drapes around me. It brings with it the day and the night. And with
its permission, I know everything will be beautiful, once again.

2020 Theresa C. Gaynord

Theresa likes to write about matters of self-inflection and personal experiences. She likes to write about matters of an out-of body, out-of-mind state, as well as subjects of an idyllic, pagan nature and the occult. Theresa writes horror, as well as concrete gritty and realistic dramas. Theresa is said to be witch and a poet. (within the horror writing community).

Find more by Theresa C. Gaynord in the Author Index.

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.