Opening the blinds at dawn and closing them before bed didn’t give God the same joy it used to. He began questioning the meaning of things. He felt formless and dark. It was the November lull in His prayer flow after Hijrah and Yom Kippur, but before the Advent crush. One of the heavenly host suggested He was bored; He should undertake a project. This seemed like sound advice. God began submitting His best work to literary magazines. He’d always wondered what the arbiters of taste would make of His creations, which He thought of as bedrock poems.
He sent them in manila envelopes, following submissions guidelines down to the SASE. He avoided reviews that only accepted through Submittable, because He was afraid of identity theft and didn’t have the coin for submission fees. Plus, He was God: old school.
He tried not to feel hurt and lonely when envelopes returned to Him like so much litter in His oceans. He realized He’d have to make a name for Himself in younger mags first. He didn’t have to be all stone tablet about this. He could be a modern God. So she researched Spank the Carp and Syntax and Salt; she sent her best females to The Fem.
At first God submitted pretty works. “Doves” and “Bougainvillea”. She thought “Doves” would be a good fit, because humans were always releasing them at weddings and important events like the sixtieth anniversary of Hiroshima.
Editors rejected God’s doves left and right, calling them “too.” Too pretty, too one-note, too overtly symbolic, too white. God wanted to explain how tragic these birds were. Most of the doves released in Hiroshima starved to death. The lucky ones crashed into buildings or became prey. Mother doves were separated from their kids before they could fly, only to drown in toxic puddles. This was deep shit. But God was afraid to show her magazines too much reality.
God’s first publication was “Freakishly Large Slug” in Third Point Press. The slug was slimy with slime that was hard to wash off and didn’t adhere to any rules of form or shape. It was, empirically, the ugliest thing God ever created. When Matthew Kabik accepted it, God was proud. Less questioning of the meaning of things. She started understanding humans better. It dawned on her that editors had seen a lot of scary stuff already and didn’t need to be protected from Truth. They’d been abused, impoverished, discriminated against, suffered false consciousness, fed GMOs. Doves’ pain didn’t compare.
Knowing she was on to something, she submitted her messiest messed-up stuff. Slice accepted “Aye-Aye” because of its complex ears and vivid setting. “Star-Nosed Mole” and “Blobfish” snagged first prize in The Masters Review and Glimmer Train contests for being experimental but not outlandish. God drank her first frappucino and binge-watched a season of Tiny House Hunters to celebrate. She’d heard about the show on Roxane Gay’s Twitter feed. She appreciated how every object in those dwellings had a purpose, an inner glow. When Roxane saw God live-tweeting an episode, she retweeted the lord’s latest work, “Matamata Turtle,” calling it God’s “tiny house.”
God was so busy hobnobbing with editors on Twitter that she stopped paying attention to her prayer feed. She felt guilty, but not enough to stop doing it. She realized how much she was like human parents, needing affirmation from her children to feel good about herself. And, god, was she feeling good.
Even though it wasn’t right for them, the Kenyon Review gave God great feedback on “Amoeba.” They found the work’s simplicity archetypal and humor unsettling. God cried for the first time in an epoch, because someone finally got her. She developed a sweet spot for Kenyon Review editors. She did things God isn’t supposed to do, like keeping their families from getting cancer and their intern from dating the dude who tended toward pedophilia. She made sure the KR editors’ avocados were soft inside, but not too soft.
God felt herself getting in touch with little details like ripe produce again; she wanted to lead her people there too. That was why she craved publication in Conium Review. The simple One Story-ish pamphlets of Volume 4, sent to subscribers in rustic, hinged boxes like tiny houses, elevated the literary enterprise. God wanted her audience to experience that much love and care.
Conium Review accepted her “Three-legged Warthog with Liver Cancer” within twenty-four hours. They were tired of ableist work, and dug the underlying surrealism of “Warthog.” But they didn’t want to repeat the box. They put “Warthog” in glass bottles along with solicited stories by Emily Koon and Helen McClory in scroll form and podcast by Mr. Bear on USB sticks. When subscribers cracked them open, they had lovely but disturbing dreamlike experiences, exactly as God and Conium Review intended.
The prayer lull had long since passed, and God couldn’t back-burner supplications much longer. She was getting prayer-slammed from large swaths of the world. Plus, the high of publication was wearing off. So God sent her last piece to The Paris Review: “Recently Deceased Adolescent Girl who Died Escaping War.” The child’s left arm extended above her head, reaching with optimism for dear life. The Paris Review accepted the submission on the condition that they could edit it substantially. They also wanted to call it a prose poem. God was honored to straddle genres. Defying characterization was what she’d hoped to achieve with the misunderstood Holy Trilogy construct.
When the Paris team shifted things around, the girl’s body fell apart like shatterproof glass. The editors tried to glue the shards together, but this painstaking process ground her to dust. God received an email from her editor stating that “Adolescent Girl” had been published into the Hudson River; aerial views would be particularly strong. Instead of disappearing into the water, the ashen bits resumed their corporeal shape, riding alongside a Circle Line sightseeing cruise, arm still outstretched, striving for God knows what.
Maureen Langloss is a lawyer-turned-writer living in New York City. She is a nonfiction reader at Indianola Review, and her work has appeared in Bird’s Thumb, Literary Mama, Necessary Fiction, the Prairie Schooner blog, Timberline Review, and The Good Men Project. She can be found on twitter @MaureenLangloss or online at maureenlangloss.com.
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