Holy Land

“All we ever do is go from one piece of holy ground to the next,” Jackie said.
“Yes. Maybe.” Graham believed another thing about holy ground: where there is sorrow, there it is. They continued beating through the weeds that had grown over a replica of Calvary. “Do you think there’s something? After?” Graham asked.
“Sure,” Jackie said. “I can’t imagine the things inside us can really be contained in a body. It’s impossible. So there must be something for us afterward. Don’t you think we’re more than the sum of our neurons?”
Graham often lied about his spiritual beliefs or about their absence. He knew comfort in the darkest times was worth more than his personal truth, and he told lies about his faith in Heaven and Afterward to the dying and the grieving—the people who sometimes gripped his hands too hard, looking for the reassurance that was the cornerstone of his job. But he didn’t want to lie to Jackie. “I don’t. But maybe my inner life doesn’t feel as big as yours.”
Jackie laughed. As they crested the hill, they could see an enormous cross silhouetted against the sunset. “Sometimes,” he said, “I feel like I could burst the banks of my body. Even now.”

A young embalmer accompanies his photographer roommate on a trip to document Holy Land, USA–a crumbling religious theme park in Waterbury, Connecticut.

“Holy Land” is a short story that you can read for free in the online literary journal Scrawl Place.

It first appeared in Canthius Issue 12.

category: fiction
year: 2023
House & Helvete