by Kyle Hemmings

We found him naked, shivering in the woods behind the rectory. He may have been half-Sioux, half-one-of-us. We hid him in our dorm rooms, sheltered him under our beds, made him never forget he was made from dust. His eyes were dark, as big as the heartbreak in our mothers’ circular lives. To them, we were nothing but trouble.

He couldn’t talk but there was this queer glint to his eyes that said he understood everything we said and more. Maybe he was beyond us. The boys in Dorm D took turns taking him in. He was our best kept secret. We smiled at each other in Father H’s class. He was the youngest of the priests, the one who confessed to having been a chronic masturbator. If Father Dunne caught the boy crouching in one of our rooms, we’d tell him that he too was a child of God.

We read the boy prayers and sections of the New Testament. We laughed and blew smoke from smuggled cigarettes in his presence. We fed him our leftover lives. We told him which of us was a shoplifter or a kitty killer. Which of us had a thousand followers on Facebook. He’d roll his eyes and stare out the window for hours. We wanted to know where he was from.

One day, he disappeared with our clothes. We found him at the top of the tallest birch. Its branches shook with a strong wind from the Northwest Coast. The skies darkened and there was distant thunder. With our starched uniforms clinging loosely to our skins, we ran out to catch him. Father Dunne followed, claiming that only a miracle could get him down. We formed a circle under our adopted brother. The wind blew him over us. We lost him to God.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox, and elsewhere. His latest chapbooks are Underground Chrysanthemums from Red Bird Press and Terminal from White Knuckle Press. He loves 50s sci-fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s. He blogs at