Better to Be Safe

by Jessica Lafortune

If you turned on the microwave she’d run from the kitchen, shrieking, “Radiaaation!” Shoes on the table and she’d gasp, clutch her chest, crying, “Signore!” in her native Italian. Leftover bread tossed in the trash was temporarily resurrected and blessed with a kiss; “The Body of Christ,” she’d say, crossing herself before replacing the sacrilege in the bin. For years I sidestepped sidewalk cracks, held my breath passing cemeteries, dipped fingers in every available bowl of holy water, and threw salt over my shoulder in honor of her ritual self-preservation, ingrained in me as much as the Rosary and pasta on Sunday. She lived to be one hundred years old, too long to fear invisible rays, inadvertent curses, and the sin of unnecessary waste. I remain afraid of a world without her in it.

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Jessica Lafortune is a teacher, tutor, and freelance writer. She lives in Florida surrounded by humans and canines who (barely) tolerate her obsessive reading and writing habits.