by Kat Howard
read by Eve Upton
First appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine. Read it here!
Joan wrote her prayer with a half-used tube of Chanel Vamp that she had found discarded at the 34th St. subway stop. It glided across the cardboard—the flip side of a Stoli box, torn and bent—and left her words in a glossy slick the color of dried blood: “I need a miracle.”
You were supposed to be specific when asking the Saint of the Sidewalks for an intervention, but everything in her life was such a fucking disaster, Joan didn’t know where to start. So, she asked for a miracle, non-specific variety.
She set her cardboard on the sidewalk, prayer-side up. Then lit the required cigarette—stolen out of the pack of some guy who had been hitting on her at a bar—with the almost empty lighter she had fished out of the trash. You couldn’t use anything new, anything you had previously owned, in your prayer. That was the way the devotion worked: found objects. Discards. Detritus made holy by the power of the saint.
Kat Howard lives in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in year’s best and best of collections, and performed on NPR. Her debut novel, Roses and Rot, will be out from Saga Press in May. You can find her on twitter at @KatWithSword.
Eve Upton is your narrator today. You may have heard her previously on Pseudopod where she’s narrated several stories to chilling effect.