This feels like some sort of embarrassing teenaged cliche, but sitting on a church’s front steps and looking at the b-side to some not-yet excommunicated saint’s benediction feels less sacrilegious than you’d thought.

In the golden shimmer of his merman’s trident, there exists a slice of life that protrudes from his memory’s grasp like a branch from the stolen trunk of someone else’s oak cabinet. You can’t tell where it’s pointed from the stairs, but when you cross the pavilion and stand beneath a street light, you see that it’s pointed up at the saint while the merman looks away. and maybe he isn’t a merman and maybe he isn’t either, at least they’re ashamed enough of themselves to look somewhere else.

Because the merman gave in to the snake’s temptation and ate the devil’s fruit. Birdshit drips down the saint’s face like holy water tears, white in the purity of the primed canvas, and it’s never been more obvious to you that a statue isn’t real. His sceptre’s pointed down towards the not-man’s trident.

You turn back towards the church. Two couples form an obtuse angle with the statue, over ninety degrees of god-I-need-a-shower and wait-should-you-have-been-my-first-thought. There’s no solitude beneath the watchful eagle eye of the saint whose dirt-crusted exterior shows how far someone will go to live a lie that they think will make them happier, some day.

You’re dimly aware of the sharp corners digging into your back as you press against the light post. What once was a wife-open plateau of crossed stitches and one glass of wine too many turns into a coliseum, raised walls and all. Trapped in an open-air dungeon of iniquity, the corners of the lamppost pierce your consciousness and it hits you that this was a fountain the whole time, just waiting for untouched blood to wash away the years’ stains.

You’d cry out, but nobody listens to cassettes anymore except to steal someone else’s memories.