Chapter 5: The Third House [excerpted from the “Book of Eight,” Karma Come Lately]

1The vision that falls upon you like wolves. 2Listen to the snow under their toes. 3To deny this enemy its patronage is to deny your future. 4When you are eaten, seeing your flesh ripped out and consumed, the pain will come to a point that it is not pain anymore. 5Your insanity will reach a point that it makes you sane — drains all doubt. 6This is the fate of the Kashian. 7Fate is petty, but she is pretty. 8Get past her. 9Her fear is a girl. 10An eight year old girl. 11This is the fear that paralyzes Fate. 12If you can get past the little girl you shall be paid. 13If not, your life willn’t be and you won’t know it until you lay on your death bed and the little girl comes to you. 14She will come to you. 15And no one, not even the most naive children or their angels, pity the ones who meet her that way.

16The one thing you will know her by is the sound. 17She looks like a little girl but there is the most serious voice in her. 18You will hear it, the truth and the thing you should be terrified of. 19Terrified to face, terrified to miss.

20Pacifica was young enough to be in trouble all the time for what she was. 21When she asked, she was ignored. 22When she reached, she was slapped back. 23When she loved, she was brutalized. 24She held only the second house at last, and some hope for living in the fifth. 25That’s why she never cried. 26That’s why she never felt regret. 27That’s why wolf bitch boys wanted her.

28Pacifica’s climax was brought on by boredom, not disaster. 29Not that her disasters were rare or small, her disasters came often and ruined everything around her, they just didn’t ruin her. 30Pacifica lived in the second house.

31She went looking for the one fall.

32The girl was there on the sand, the water behind her. 33There were many there with her. 34Pacifica thought that she would be alone for this, but she was wrong. 35The girl stood there for Pacifica and Pacifica had no choice but to go to her. 36To ride through her indifference.

37She held out her hands and Pacifica moved to take them in hers. 38The girl dropped them and Pacifica felt shame for trying to hold them. 39The girl held one hand back up in a fist. 40She said, “What do you most desire from life?”

41Pacifica replied, “Real love.”

42The girl said, “So you shall have it.” 43And she opened her hand, which had been empty, and grey moths flew out of it. 44Pacifica shivered like a wet breeze had gone across her belly.

45The girl asked, “What do you most desire from others?”

46Pacifica answered, “Respect.”

47The girl said, “So you shall have it,” and opened her left hand and a cloud of dizzy stinging wasps flew from it. 48Pacifica held her breath for fear they’d fly in her mouth.

49The girl asked, “What do you most desire from friends?”

50Pacifica answered, “Honesty.”

51The girl said, “So you shall have it,” and opened her other hand and huge oily cockroaches ran from it. 52Pacifica could smell them and it made her nose itch.

53The girl asked, “What do you most desire from your lover?”

54Pacifica answered, “Fidelity.”

55The girl said, “So you shall have it,” and opened her hand and sticky maggots spilled from it. 56Pacifica’s eyes tried to twitch away.

57The girl asked, “What do you most desire from God?”

58Pacifica answered, “Felicity.”

59The girl said, “So you shall have it,” and opened her other hand and a rose colored praying mantis climbed out and cleaned its eyes. 60Pacifica felt her eyes water.

61The girl raised both her hands and screamed, “So you shall have your peers,” and threw a handful of fire ants on Pacifica. 62“So you shall have your faith,” and let a dragonfly go. 63“So you shall have your family,” and scattered chiggers and fleas on Pacifica. 64“So you shall have your heart,” and put a tiny green scorpion in Pacifica’s hair. 65“So you shall have your soul,” and let a cicada buzz into the sky. 66And then the child shrieked piercingly at Pacifica with her hands clenched. 67She screamed her breath out and then again. 68Pacifica’s eyes were wide but she did not run. 69She shook each time the girl screamed. 70She wanted to run each time the girl moved her hands. 71Pacifica stayed.

72“What do you want?” the girl screamed at her.

73Pacifica said, “Myself, nothing else but myself.”

74The girl said, “So you shall have yourself,” and opened her hands and there was nothing in them. 75The girl fell down laughing.

76Pacifica wanted to live. 77She suddenly wanted to live more than she ever wanted anything. 78She walked off the beach. 79She saw the mindless dead white faces in the surf of those who couldn’t. 80Their flesh was insect food. 81Their eyes were hardened yellow. 82Their hearts were soft and ready to be drained within their stiff chests. 83Their brains were jelly slowly leaking from their ears with the sea water. 84Their souls could not even feed the flies. 85They were forgotten to all.

86She walked away but she carried the memory of the girl with her, every moment she lived. 87And every moment she lived she loved life more. 88She loved life seriously.

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