Scudding clouds dimmed the window light, rendering Mary’s notebook barely visible in the darkness, but she adhered to her duty and continued transcribing her father’s verses.
“You must not fail me in heeding my Muse,” he said, “before my other faculties abandon me as well.”
He sat in his usual chair, head bowed, sightless eyes lidded.
“Although uttered in language elevated beyond your comprehension, the words I relay represent the pinnacle of poetic endeavor, I assure you,” he said, “and will forever move men’s minds to contemplate God’s intentions for mankind.”
Mary dipped her pen into the inkwell.
“No doubt, father,” she said.
Her fingers cramped as she wrote his next dictation: Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
And to serve in Hell?
She closed the notebook, silently as a Bible after prayer, and let her father’s words fall into darkness.
Scott Ragland has an MFA in Creative Writing (fiction) from UNC Greensboro in the U.S. Before taking a writing hiatus, he had several stories published, most notably in Writers’ Forum, Beloit Fiction Journal, and The Quarterly. More recently, his work has appeared in apt, The Conium Review, The Nottingham Review, Ambit, The Common (online), Fiction International, Cherry Tree, and CutBank (online), among others. He also has flashes forthcoming in Zizzle Literary and the minnesota review. He lives in the U.S. in Carrboro, N.C., with his wife, two dogs, and a cat. His three kids have left the nest.