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Compression Scars ,e summer the bats came, Duncan began wearing onlyblue and my breasts grew a whole cup size as if I were feeding them better. The day I first noticed the bats, I had gone outside to watch the Roto-Rooter men dig up the Dorsetts' backyard. Mr. Dorsett paced back and forth as the muddy men lifted parts of the lame septic tank out of the hole. I admit I was sort of glad about it. I could tell the whole thing embarrassed Mr. Dorsett because he was stinking up the entire neighborhood. It was the end of May and even though it wasn't too hot yet, neighbors were shutting their doors and windowsand turning on theAC. i T Mr. Dorsett looked over at our yard periodically to see if my dad had come out to watch the cavern that Mr.D's backyardwas becoming, and I'd wave and smile like we were old pals. Across Mr. Dorsett's yard, I sawMrs. McCorkle. She was kneeling in her garden, tugging at something. When she looked up, Mr. Dorsett waved nervouslyat her, and she smiled and yelled, "Hello, Ivy."I smiled back. No love is lost between Mr. Dorsett and me. When I was eight years old, he wouldn't allow his twelve-year-old daughter, Judy, to play with me anymore. He claimed he was afraid she would pick up infantile habits or her brain wouldn't be properly stimulated if she didn't hang out with kids her own age. Personally,I think he didn't like me because of my unorthodox religious views. I think he wasjust steamed because I told Judy that when I prayed, I said it to my stomach, because that's where I thought God was—on the inside somewhere, maybe swimming in my small intestine or spinning around in my pancreas. Judy told me the next day she was poking herself in the stomach , on the lookout for signs of a higher power hiding inside her, when her father asked her what in Henry's name she was doing. Judy, a hopelessly brick-headed literalist, told Mr. Dorsett what I'd said and asked him if God in the pancreas portended problems for the body later on (having just covered insulin and bile production in science class). She saw divine diabetes in my future and probably pictured my organs sagging with the weight of being occupied so intimately. I think she was hoping to find the tumor of God inside her stomach so she could push him up into her arm or cheek or some other harmless spot where he'd be less likely to interfere with her bodily processes. Mr. Dorsett was a deacon at a church where going to movies, even The Million Dollar Duck, was a sin, although it was A-OK to watch television.Youweren't supposed to dance either. It was probably a sin if you were even caught swayinga little. And music 2 was definitely out unless the lyrics mentioned rising from the grave or the blood ofthe lamb or something. Iwent to this church. Once. I sat between Judy and Mr. Dorsett. The minister didn't talk, he yelled, like we all had a hearing loss of some sort (after several Sundays of that, I think we would have—probably an evangelical strategy for quick, resistance-free supplication: deaf lambs don't bleat back, a wayto shut the mutton up). He leaned out over the pulpit and practically screamed the Word. His face was puffy, and the thick folds of his cheeks filled with red. I don't think he got enough oxygen. He exhaled quite a bit, but I didn't see him inhale much. He had gray cowlicked hair that kept flying forward in an arc over his eyes. It's funny how some people think they have to look like they're having a stroke to convince youof the incontrovertible god's-honest truth of what they're saying.I remember shaking and kicking my feet during the sermon, and Mr. Dorsett slapped my knees. So I was secretly pleased about this septic tank thing because I thought it definitely pointed to Mr. Dorsett's ailing karma.Actually , I am only a selective believer in karma. I believe in it when I think people are getting what they deserve, which, let's face it, is pretty rare. But I still have a hard time accepting the idea that hungry...


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