Epistles by Courtney Sender

picture of candy Valentine hearts

“soul mate” (image via Flickr user Kelly Keeton)

I DON’T have a soul mate. When I turned fifteen, God Himself delivered a letter telling me so. “I’m sorry,” God wrote, “I forgot to make one. Accept this token of my apology,” and He proffered the letter and let me keep it, and it was signed The Lord God so I decided that I would, and not to sell it on eBay, though it might have paid my water bill.

But I met a boy tonight after rehearsal, a beautiful boy with a Midwestern voice and brown hair soft as latte foam, and now I have my suspicions. “God,” I said to the ceiling, “did You intend Your letter for a different Isaac Spokes?”

I waited a month but didn’t hear from Him, and in the meantime the boy was heating me licorice tea before my ballads, so “God,” I said, “about that letter—did my mother put You up to it?”

I wanted to wait a week, but I only lasted three days before the boy pledged he’d become a better stagehand—wear black darker, pick up couches quicker—just for my debut. “God,” I asked the sky, “won’t You please fix Your mistake?”

I waited until opening night. The boy was applying my eyeliner with careful strokes, and when he brushed a stray eyelash from my cheek I showed him God’s letter, palm-sweaty and fist-wrinkled. I watched him in the mirror. He frowned.

“God,” he said to me, and I closed my eyes, sure my mascara would run, “how many copies d’you think the guy hands out?” And I watched him pull a letter from his pocket, and he took my face in his hands as the pages fluttered to the floor, and he drew my eyes in spirals of kohl until the curtains peeled aside.

Courtney Sender‘s fiction appears in The Kenyon Review, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Tin House, The Georgia Review, Boulevard, The Mississippi Review, DIAGRAM, and others. She holds an MFA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, has taught creative writing there and at Yale, and is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony and VCCA. Find her online at www.courtneysender.com.