brisance (noun: the shattering effect of a high explosive) by Caleb Andrew Ward

            By the time she and I had finished the Loam Wines’ 1964 bottle of Casa Del Toro, the 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon had already been opened. I don’t recall now who opened it, because this would now be our third bottle. After discussing our financial and sexual lives we both decided on one thing: men should be made to suffer.
            Terry had just broken up with me, and Sheila’s husband had recently filed for divorce. With our shattered state in place, the table was set for the action to play out.
            I don’t recall who brought up the idea of seeing a witch doctor because, like I've already mentioned, this was our third bottle—or maybe it was the fourth. The plan had been formulated to place a curse on each of our departed lovers. Something along the lines of a “forever flaccid, forever unfruitful” curse.
            We hailed a cab and within the hour had arrived at the steps of Mama Erreur in the French Quarter. Close to closing time, but after a significant bribe was offered she allowed us in. The table we sat at was so dimly lit in a way that an owl might have to squint to make out shapes. As the ceremony began she asked if we had an item from each man that could stand as placeholders for them. Sheila happened to have the broken pocket watch he had asked her to get repaired the day he also asked for her signature on a significant piece of paper. I had Terry’s handkerchief in my purse. The reason being that he would weep every time we made love.
            Mama Erreur placed each item in a basket and asked for our hands, but as Sheila and I grasped each other I could feel an electric shock slide through my finger tips. It charged me in a way Terry never had. The sagacity of brisance intoxicated me. After we made eyes for a moment I quickly jumped back to Mama Erreur and asked, what now? She didn’t respond, but began to speak strange words. The words were strange or I was drunk, but no matter what, they were spilling out of her mouth like lost bumblebees.
            Once Mama Erreur began to speak I fell into a euphoric state of having Sheila’s hand in mine. I did not care about the outcome of Terry of Sheila’s husband’s fate. I cared only about keeping her hand in mine. It fit perfectly like a pearl inside a clam’s safe wet bosom. The curse was placed and we both seemed satisfied, but I wanted her hand back.
            After we stumbled out of Mama Erreur’s house I reached for Sheila’s hand again, only for her to retract it. We silently flopped into the cab and remained that way the duration of the ride. As we arrived at Sheila’s home a man stood outside holding a stack of papers. Sheila’s husband was waiting to put on a dramatic performance of tearing apart the papers and asking for her love again. I smiled in disillusionment as the cab rolled away. Instead of thinking of Terry and his hopeful defeat in another woman’s bedroom, I only thought of emotion and how it deserves to suffer.

Caleb Andrew Ward is a current Senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Some of his influences include Adam Wilson and John Jeremiah Sullivan. This is his fourth publication with Squawk Back. He is the Prose Editor of Atlantis and the Genre-Bender Editor of Treehouse Magazine.