Gustus Dei by Monica Byrne. Copyright 2015 && 2016.
This short story was published in two literary journals over the past year and is now available as a free download in various formats here. I ran across it on Twitter last night. Since I’m not sure how long it’ll be available, I decided to post this now instead of with next month’s reviews.
The story’s time and location aren’t clear, but because of the lack of modern conveniences and the mention of native Americans, I’m assuming it’s in North America during the 18th or 19th century. A novice nun in a convent grapples with the idea that everything is corrupt and the necessity of being pure at all times. Parts of the story, including the ending, are surreal.
Although my family’s not Catholic, I’ve always been interested in the religion. I was in awe of my friend next door who went to a parochial school and called her teacher Sister. When as a teen-ager, I took an interest in attending a Catholic college in Kansas, miles away from my home in Wyoming, my father said, “Oh, you want to be a nun. Well, if you enter a convent, you’ll have to give up Dr. Pepper.”
I did not want to be a nun, but that didn’t stop me from being interested in them. The turn of events in this story fascinated me, and I wish I knew the significance of the title. I’m assuming it’s Latin but couldn’t find a definition. To learn more about Monica Byrne and her work, click here.