“Because seven, eight, nine.” She leered and smiled a long-toothed smile, one full of divine secrets and unholy anticipation.

Sometimes that smile made me believe she was a zombie. My third grade teacher was a Bernadine nun with a crooked coif of funeral-home swirl under her veil and a hollowed, lifeless stare. I knew zombies were real because they were in the Bible—Lazarus rose from the dead and shuffled out of his tomb like a newly-animated corpse. Well, he was, wasn’t he?

(Vampires, on the other hand, probably didn’t exist but if they did, they’d be Catholic—Christ made his friends drink his blood during their last supper. Drink, and live forever…)

I remember Sister Bethany (beth anu: house of Anubis) and her sallow, sagging jowls, wrinkled from too many summers of missionary work in Brazil—or, more likely, a shaman’s curse—as she sat motionless behind her desk, gnarled hands like ceremonial garlands of finger bones and knuckley joints. She told us she was a bride of Christ.

Christ and his harem of zombie nuns. It was probably in the Bible.

But she was the reason I became so good at math, that walnut-shell-skinned Sister who rulered the times tables into our brains—mmm, brains—through our knuckles and once asked me, “Why was six afraid of seven?”

And I knew from her hungry smile that numbers weren’t the only thing that could be eaten.


# # #

The Horrors Of Parochial School by Ash Krafton
originally published February 10, 2010



Ash Krafton earned a number of distinctions in various national competitions for essay, poetry, and novel-length fiction. Her paranormal romance Bleeding Hearts was a finalist in several contests, including those sponsored by Pikes Peak Writers, Maryland Writers Association, and Houston Writers Guild. Some of her work appears in Poe Little Thing, Literary Magic, and Niteblade.

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