Unexpected Skyline № 4

Unexpected Skyline № 4

Andrew Shumway

Unexpected Skyline № 4


Nick Gregorio

The rectory had so many rooms. Hundreds, thousands to second grade me. It was how I imagined heaven. Doors and doors and doors stretching on and on forever and ever amen. One for me, one for Robin, one for everyone else.

Me and the rest of Mrs. Gosnell’s class sat behind one of the doors at a big wooden table in a space too small for the thirty of us.

Father Jeffrey went around the room, stuffing his hand in a clear plastic bag, placing white circles into each of our palms.

I blessed myself before I put mine on my tongue. Forehead, chest, left shoulder, right shoulder. I kept my eyes closed while it turned to wheaty sludge on my tongue, and I waited to feel something.

“It’s not real,” Father Jeffrey said. “You didn’t need to bless yourself.”

Robin whispered, “Duh. We’ll definitely feel different with the real thing.”

A couple months later, in my Communion blazer and slacks, the real thing melted on my tongue while I knelt next to Robin.

It coated my mouth with the same slimy layer of paste the fake one did.

I cried a little.

She whispered, “See?”

I pretended I saw. For Robin, but mostly for me.

I told her, “Yeah, you were right.”

Nick Gregorio lives, writes, and teaches just outside of Philadelphia. He is the author of Good Grief, a novel, and This Distance, a collection of short stories. His work can be found at www.nickgregorio.com.

Andrew Shumway: Queer (as in cis’nt), assigned Southerner at birth, self-identified figuratively-starving artist, and potential author of science-fiction. His hobbies include compulsive world-building, gently caressing raku pottery, and Netflix ’n’ crochet. He lives in Philadelphia with two cats and too many house plants.