We spent the first conference keynote in the Sun God Resort swimming pool where gnats congregated in clouds around our complimentary goblets of orange juice until we shoved the glasses aside, snorting, “Gross!” Our colleagues who attended the keynote said it was “mind blowing,” but “you had to be there,” so they couldn’t explain.
During the second keynote, we splashed in the pool as gnats prostrated themselves on our orange juice and we scooped them out with our hands, like Buddhists, drinking around them. Our friends said the keynote was the “most profound [they’d] ever experienced,” providing no further details.
The third keynote found us in the pool baptizing gnats, which we slugged and chugged, shrugging and pronouncing a “protein drink.” Our brothers and sisters called the keynote “transformational.”
We beamed back our graceful state, transubstantiated, blessed to have drunk the orange juice, forgiving and forgiven.
Julie Benesh has been published in Tin House, Bestial Noise: A Tin House Fiction Reader, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Gulf Stream, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and other places. She earned an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College. She lives in Chicago.
Alexandra Otto is a traveling freelance photographer.