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Silent Punisher
Brittany Ackerman

Two missionaries came to my door today.  They asked if they could pray for me.   


I thought of the girl at work who said she was to attend a “sex party” tonight.  Sex party, that was the language she used.  A party where young men and women gather to talk about toys, play with each other, do a lot of drugs.  She showed us pictures of past parties at mansions; girls in masks and lingerie, men in suits, very Eyes Wide Shut. 

I appreciate what you’re doing, I said to the men.  I suppose everyone could use a little prayer.  They gave me a card with the image of the Lord pictured.  I gave it to my boyfriend and he put it on his bookshelf.  The two men were wearing suits.  My coworker said she wore her nightgown to the parties, and always brought a whip.  She wanted to purchase a riding crop from the store down the street, and maybe a mask, something to match her dress. 


Girls post pictures on the Internet.  They float up from nowhere and arrive in space.  I scroll through photos and find the ones I am jealous of.  I show them to my friends and sometimes they tell me to zoom in and see how they’ve been edited.  “She didn't even do a good job,” one friend says.  “You can see the blur from where she erased her muffin top.”  “I have that underwear,” I say.  “But mine is grey, not blue.”

My ex-boyfriend is moving to Honduras to become a missionary.  I imagine him knocking on people’s doors and asking them to pray.  I imagine him sweating while he waits for them, the hot sun melting him and his long hair.  When we broke up he said he would pray for me. 

I used to remain silent during arguments.  That’s how I would win.  I thought of my quiet battles as traveling in an always incrementally forward motion.  I used to be my own God.  

Brittany Ackerman is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University's MFA program in Creative Writing. She recently completed a residency at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods, as well as the Mont Blanc Workshop in Chamonix, France under the instruction of Alan Heathcock. She will be attending the Methow Valley Workshop this May under the leadership of Ross Gay. She is currently living in Los Angeles and working on a novel of fiction.

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