“The Hen of God,” by Ashley Hutson
Sister Catherine began holding an egg in her mouth during Mass to feel closer to God. Her tongue smoothed over its cool roundness before the Lord’s Prayer; she pressed it against the roof of her mouth during benediction. After two weeks of this, in a fit of faith and daring, she began using her teeth to maneuver it in and out of her cheek.
At the end of the third week, she felt the Holy Trinity enter her. A back molar, cracked in childhood and jagged as a pysanky needle, slit open the egg’s hard shell on a Sunday morning. God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit oozed down her throat, warmed by the heat of her mouth.
When she returned to the abbey after the service, she plucked the pierced shell from between her lips and placed it under her bed. At lunchtime, she walked through the kitchen and picked up another egg, concealing it in the folds of her sleeve.
After entering the nearest restroom and locking the door, she pulled up her underskirts, pulled out a tampon, and slipped the fresh egg inside her. All the nuns bled together, but her blood would mingle with Christ’s. The thought filled her with a swoony kind of love, the kind of love she felt when swallowed wafers became the fingers of God. She dreamed the egg would be subsumed by her body, traveling inward, upward, until it reached the heart.
At evening Mass, she sat carefully. There was talk of Jesus sucking a sponge of vinegar, of bleeding, dying, resurrecting. When it came time to genuflect, she bowed on one knee.
Sister Catherine heard the muffled crack before her body felt it. As she knelt by the pew, she felt the egg crumble inside her, releasing its thick, yellow yolk in a slow, searing gush.
She did not move. She wept. This was God’s rebuke, she was sure. There was no way she could keep him carefully enough: her body would not hold him.
She prayed with shut eyes, but God did not answer. He only touched her blood and slid out, wetting her thighs, staining her tunic, leaving her empty.
About the Author:
Ashley Hutson lives in rural Western Maryland. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, DOGZPLOT, theEEEL, and elsewhere. Find her on the web at www.aahutson.com.
This story was a finalist in The Conium Review‘s 2015 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Laura Ellen Joyce.
This story was selected by Ross McMeekin for the Ploughshares feature “Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week.”
Image Credit: © VIGE.co/ Dollar Photo Club