by Kathleen Bradean
I have almost zero ability to believe in anything. The Christmas just before my fourth birthday, I announced to my parents, "Let's get this right. There is no Santa." They begged me not to tell my older sisters because it would ruin their holiday. I don't believe in fate or luck or karma or any of those other things that make you think that eventually life might be fair, bad people will suffer and good gets-- I don't know, glittery orgasms on demand or something. And yet, I can't bring myself to talk about anything good because I know the moment I even breath a word of it, it's doomed.
Chalk that up to a Baptist upbringing. I had (have) dour down to an art. Fun was (is) something to approach cautiously, as if it might suddenly lunge with sharp, snapping teeth. (Ask anyone who has seen me deliberately try to have fun. Awkward and painful are the two words that immediately come to mind.) Somewhere, there's a picture of my sisters and me on Easter Sunday. I must have been four or five. My sisters are smiling, happy, caught giggling as if they'd been tickled. I'm staring into the camera, my frown a long bow, perfectly arced with tension and ready to let fly. I'd probably just made the connection between death and candy. Or worse, having to go to church before I could have my basket. Everything good always came with a heavy price. That's the main lesson I took away from my childhood.
For that incredibly fucked up reason, I don't often share good news. I wouldn't want to tempt Fate. I horde my joy, bury under the floorboards like the narrator in
Poe's Tell-Tale Heart. What's that beating sound, Fate? Not a pending contract for two books in a series. Not two short stories placed in an anthology. Not even a different publisher asking me what I'm working on and wanting to see that novel as soon as I've finished it. Nope. That's not what you hear at all. And I'm not sitting here thinking this might be *whisper*success. So move along, Fate, and feast on another person's tentative happiness. I got this covered.