Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Draft of a Crazy Story

Donuts were like communion to her—sacred, delicious in a higher-power kind of way, sweet as religion is to the needy. Except there was no limit to the number of donuts she could consume in a day, and in most religions, communion could only be taken once a day at most. At least that is what she had been taught. So the day she ran out of donuts was the day she felt like she had abandoned God or that God had abandoned her.

She flew into a panic, sprinted to her car and grabbed the door handle before she realized she had forgotten the keys. "Goddamn it," she muttered, jogging back to the house. "Gaaa!" she bellowed. She had locked herself out. Now what?

The window. She could remove the screen and climb in. She could still fit through if she wiggled enough. The basement window that led into the family room was easily accessible, something any police officer would berate her for, but easy access to the house was a blessing in this case. By the time she had pushed her way through the window frame, slithered her way to the coffee table and hit the floor with her elbows, she felt bruised but not defeated. She was on a holy mission, and it would take more than a little soreness to get in her way.

Keys. She bolted up the stairs to the hook, feet pounding under her weight, the center of each step sagging from years of abuse. Her doctor's voice stuck its nosy self into her head. "Diabetes," he warned.

Screw it. She was out of donuts.

She panted in the car, thankful she had made it so quickly. She hadn't bothered to lock the front door or even replace the screen on the window that had so kindly given her access. She shifted into drive and revved the engine like she was about to embark in the Indy 500.

Donuts. There was something comical about her obsession, and she recognized it. Wasn't there a cartoon about a man obsessed with donuts? Something about the devil making a deal with him, giving him all the donuts he wanted if he did something that seemed too simple? In the end, he had more donuts than he could eat, in fact, got sick on them. But that didn't seem to stop him from loving donuts. Most people, after getting sick on a particular food, would avoid that food, but not this guy, and she identified with that. How many times had she eaten so many chocolate crèmes that she ended up in the bathroom? She knew it was an illness, but she also saw it as a blessing. She could afford her obsession, and besides that, her favorite donut shop was miraculously a block away from her.

She pulled violently into a parking space and slammed the car into park. Here it was, her church, the place that offered salvation, soothing and sugar. "Two dozen mixed," she said over the counter to the girl in the striped shirt.

"How many of each?" asked the girl with a complexion so bright, she might have been an angel.

"Mix and match," she said. "Surprise me." There was not a single flavor she didn't like.

She left the shop with her box of round goodies, large hosts made of holiness.

Her table at home was an altar--a gold rimmed wine glass filled with red punch, a gold rimmed plate, a cloth napkin, unstained. She kept the decanter of punch close by, refilling it after every donut.

Her first choice was chocolate glazed. Her second jelly. Each bite filled her with a sense of well-being. She stopped after six, closed the box and covered the decanter with her napkin. She would have more after her nap.

When she awoke, it was time for dinner. This time, she moved her alter downstairs to the coffee table that had previously served as her spiritual portal. She replaced the screen and turned on the television. She sat with the box on her lap, watching the televangelist's lips move without sound coming out. This was her time to pray, and she didn't need to hear the words. She had once read that if the only prayer said was "thank you," that would be enough. Her heart filled with gratitude as a plain donut dissolved against her tongue.

So she practiced her religion of consumption. One week ran into another, one Sunday into the next, each workday practice for the big day when she could eat two dozen instead of the seven a day she usually ate. During the week, between typing documents, she eyed the donuts her colleagues had brought to work and thought eating one of theirs wouldn't count towards the seven she limited herself to, especially because theirs weren't from her favorite shop. If there were no donuts, she would visit the vending machine and buy cookies or honey buns, washing them down with a soda. Let Metformin, her diabetes medicine, take care of the fallout. When it was her time to die, she would die, and if that was at her current age of 27, then that was what it would be.

Time passed in idle chatter with work acquaintances, the daily calls from her mother asking her when she would move back to Chicago where they could be closer because New Hampshire was so very far away, the occasional trip to the mall to buy some new pants, each time one size larger. She became more careful about remembering her keys now because she could no longer fit through the window.

And then one day, something happened. On the way to her donut shop, she smelled something burning, and it was not incense. She watched demonic flames throw themselves towards the heavens, and in horror, realized they were devouring her church. She slammed on the brakes, staring in disbelief, screaming, "NO!" and feeling tears burn her lips. How? Why? Had God abandoned her?

That day, she called in sick and slowly consumed the last three donuts in her house. She would have to find a different source of strength, but where? There was no shop like the one that had burned. It wasn't a chain. It was her special spot, the place where she felt most connected. And now it was gone.

No, she would need some help from a more traditional source now.

Saint Michael's church was less than three minutes from her house. Were it not for her hurting knees, she might have walked there. The steps themselves were enough challenge to her though—marble worn from saints and sinners in search of something. She knew what she was in search of and thought if she prayed, there might come an answer. Perhaps this was just a temporary trial and the shop would reopen soon.

She entered, blessing herself with the holy water, bowing her head to the tabernacle, the place that stored the body of Christ himself, the wafers that Catholics called communion. She had not been to church in years, but this was reason enough to step back into the doors that she had previously considered closed, a part of her life no longer needed. She chose a pew in the back of the church and prayed.

She realized within moments that mass was about to begin. She decided to stay. Maybe the answer would come to her through the priest. But she realized when she couldn't understand the words that the mass was in Spanish, leaving her to her own meditations. "God," she said to herself, "Please find me another donut shop, one that will replace the one I lost. Or let the other one reopen. You know how much I need it. Amen."

Communion time came, and though she hadn't received it in years, she though God would not mind her returning to the alter for a bit of bread. She knew it was considered a mortal sin to just show up at God's alter like this, but she though God would forgive her under the circumstances. The line was short but slow. She stood behind an old woman wearing a black dress and a black crocheted covering on the top of her head. It looked like a doily. The woman fingered rosary beads and muttered prayers under her breath.

The alter seemed to approach her instead of the other way around, each person receiving the host with an "amen." She found herself eager to get hers, an excitement growing in her chest, similar to the feeling she got whenever she approached her shop. Something great was about to happen. When she stuck out her tongue to receive God, she held her breath and nearly couldn't get out the "amen" when she realized how sweet the host tasted, how wholesome, how filling. So overwhelmed was she that she thought she was going to pass out. She immediately lusted for a second one. She began to hyperventilate, the priest looking at her quizzically, first in curiosity, then in concern. She nodded and smiled, told him she was okay, but saw his mouth open in silent shock.

"What?" she asked.

He pointed to her feet.

"What?" she asked and looked down.

At first, she couldn't see it, but suddenly, she felt a searing pain and watched.

Her feet were dissolving into something, some kind of granular white substance, and she felt herself slowly supporting herself with her calves, then her thighs then her waist.

"Help!" she screamed. "Oh my God, help!" But her transformation continued.

"Dios mio!" screamed the priest, then shouted something else in Spanish.

But by the time the medics arrived, she was gone.

The coroner’s report read that her remains were a mixture of sugar and flour, her transfiguration complete. They buried her urn in a shallow grave that her mother visited only once, following it with a trip to a generic donut shop where she ordered fruit punch and a dozen donuts, mixed.
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