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The Voodoo Doll I Purchase at Walmart

Nov 24  |  Beth Sherman

The Voodoo Doll I Purchase at Walmart is made of cloth, with button eyes, a snake sewn onto one leg and a stitched mouth. Where were the pushpins? The ominous incantations? Instead, spell cards offer advice on cleansing, dreaming, healing, success.

I take three safety pins and stick them in the doll’s heart. Pluck three dark hairs from Lucy’s sweater and glue them to the doll’s head. Fish a band-aid Lucy used out of the garbage, soak it in hot water and smear faint drops of blood on the doll’s anatomically neutral private parts. Make up my own spells, never once using the word betrayal.

Then I wait.

This is not desperation. Desperation would involve following Lucy as she pretends to visit the farmer’s market, lurking outside the place where Lucy meets her lover, a woman at least a decade younger than me who lives with her mother. Her mother! The asparagus and radishes Lucy comes home with are from the A & P.

My spells are so powerful I expect sparrows to fall from the sky. For our bathwater to turn black as a witches’ hat. For Lucy’s desire to unravel as she realizes how much she needs me.

She always says I expect too much.

All that happens is she sneezes more than usual. Allergies, she comments, passing me a burnt piece of toast. I could ask her where she’s been all morning, who she’s been fucking. But then it would be over.

I see the problem – two of us, one doll. I snip the ends of my hair and glue the strands next to hers. Prick my finger, let the drops trickle down the doll’s puffy legs. Save the pins for last. Silver. Porcupine sharp. A pinch where the needles pierces my skin, a strident slap of pain to my heart.