Unholy Trinity: Cotton Ball by Gully Novaro
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
Adam was a curious boy, like every three year old. As often seems to be the case, curiosity was bold.
Chanced upon a cotton ball, deep within a rose, noticed it was really small, and stuffed it up his nose.
Then his throat felt funny, a thousand tiny legs, the cotton ball was spider web protecting little eggs.
Daddy tried to bring him back, seeing he couldn’t breathe, attempted doing mouth to mouth, got spiders on his teeth.
This is how the story ends, now Adam is no more, because he came upon a choice no nose has known before.
Little worm whispering in my head, where did you come from? And why would you say that?
That rings true, little worm. Your voice appeared after we brought mom and baby Jane from the hospital. Makes sense I met you there.
But why would you say those things?
Oh, little worm inside of my head, if you saw we need to do something! They swapped baby Jane with an evil monster baby?
But how can I know? Pinch its little toe?
It cried! You spoke true!
Stab it? Okay little worm. Mom will be so happy with us!
I watched her sleep, victim to the sedatives in her water.
Admiration. Envy. Hatred.
Bella, the good twin. The one with beautiful auburn hair and perfect green eyes. It should have been me.
I took a deep breath, grabbed my scissors, and cut her hair. I needed all of it. Snip.
I looked in the mirror, holding her hair to my head. I still wasn’t beautiful. Something broke.
I held Bella’s mouth open and forced her hair down her throat, pushing it deep with my fingers.
And when I was done I went to sleep, the choking gasps my lullaby.
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Originally from New Orleans, Shalini Bethala grew up with a love for the hauntingly beautiful stories, ideas and folklore that were enmeshed with the city. She also developed a deep love for words and a well-told story. Anytime those two can marry, she’s there for it. She loves stories that lure, that haunt, that pull at heartstrings or that wrap one up in fear, anxious to know what’s going to happen next.
Shalini is a screenwriter, poet and essayist, and her work explores themes of intersectionality, belonging and the experiences of immigrant and first generation people. She is also an entertainment and media attorney. When she’s not working or volunteering, she can be found at the gym, out in nature, or in whatever greenery Brooklyn has to offer. If she’s nowhere to be found in NYC, then she’s likely back in her hometown, soaking up the warmth, enjoying the quiet and keeping an ear open for any dark secrets the swamp has to offer.
You can follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram or follow her poetry curation @ShaliniLovesPoetry.