The first time was an accident. One minute they were just walking, taking a shortcut through Myrtle Timmins, the lush green trees of late spring crowding all around them, and the next, her back was up against a gravestone, and his breath was hot on her neck. They could hear the voice of a preacher cataloging the many virtues of a recently deceased dentist, and, in a way that nothing ever had before, the booming cadence of the religious man’s speech sent Marianne’s eyes heavenward. It was difficult to explain, really. She was spiritual, yes, but not religious. She hadn’t been to church in sixteen years. And yet, here she was, a grown woman, pinned to a granite slab, whispering more, more, more into the ear of a man who was not her husband. The man began a series of tiny bites leading from her earlobe to her collarbone. She closed her eyes, focused on the sensation, delighting in the preacher’s voice—both somber and enthusiastic—as he declared, “and let us not forget that this is a man who showered his mercy on those in need again and again!” Yes, she thought, again and again and again. The man began to peel back her blouse, exposing her pale flesh to the bright southern sun hanging over their heads. Her fingers curled into his hair, and her back arched as the preacher’s words rang out, rich and flowing, like honey. The preacher began to speak of sin. Of the fire and the brimstone and the many natural and just punishments that would come to those who were not so virtuous as the man who lay before them. His voice sank deeper, and he sounded truly sorrowful as he laid out the many ways in which one could invoke the wrath of the Lord our God. The list went on and on, and Marianne grew dizzy with every mention of death and judgment and the watchful gaze of the one and only Lord above. And she smiled as waves of pleasure washed over her, saying only “my god, my god.”



Kori Linn is a life coach who uses her storytelling skills to help clients build lives they love. Before that, she designed corporate communications (and even had fun doing it). She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. You can find her work in Nailed Magazine and The Monarch Review. Come say hi at