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The Godmother

Isabella Delach '24

            Humans have no sense of humor. In all states of my existence, whether it be on the physical or  spiritual or the upside down plane, professionally, I’m an accident-enthusiast. A pet peeve collector. A  nuisance magnet. Humans, on the other hand, call me a “pain in the ass” because their heads are shoved so far up their own that they can’t seem to take a joke when I untie their shoelaces or spill their scalding coffee. They’d usually respond with a huff of frustration, a yowl of anguish– and even once or twice, a  slew of expletives so vulgar even a spirit like myself had a hard time repeating them(be assured, that’s  quite a feat– I’ve been around for long enough to know five centuries’ worth of swear words in two  hundred twenty-seven languages.) 

           I’d be offended if you mistook me for one of those karma-builder justice heroes. That’s Hathor’s job. He’s the type of goody-two-shoes spirit who likes to measure just exactly how much bad or good karma a person has earned and how each action must be repaid. The difference between me and Hathor is that I don’t have any craps to give about how much bad karma someone receives or not. Some days I feel generous and only give a five-year-old a papercut. Some days I’m not, and I’d make someone’s engine stall and hit a tree when they’re trying to get to an important interview. Believe me, I’d like to do more,  but there is only so much power I can wield(which kind of sucks) but that’s just how the spirit realm works. It has a natural order of things, just like the laws of physics you humans like to theorize about all the time. Everything has its place and the bad and the good are balanced out. 

           So, now you’re probably thinking: Malye, if there’s a natural balance to things, is there a spirit  who balances your unpleasantness out?  

           And, to your question, yes. Yes there is. Her name is Fortuna. And she was currently missing.


           “You said we were supposed to meet at one hundred years exactly, right?” I pestered, pulling at  Hathor’s velvet cape.  

          “Yes, I did,” he grunted. “She should be here by now.” 

            He checked all seven of the realm systems again, searching for the flashing yellow dot Fortuna always marked her location as. Today, no golden light shone from any of them, each one only filled with purples and greens and reds. 

           "We already waited for so long,” I whined. “I could be messing up someone’s car seat right now,  idiot. Or even better, spilling a bowl of ramen on that guy who stole his friend’s phone.”


          Hathor raised a disapproving eyebrow. “I’m in charge of karma, Maly.” 

          “Yes, and I’m in charge of messing with people. Can you just check for her location again?”


           Hathor huffed and turned to scrutinize the realms a final time. “You’re right,” he said, after a long  pause. “It has been too long– people need their fortunes completed.” He looked at me pointedly.


            I returned a dirty look. “In your dreams. I would never.”


            “You’re the only karmic other than me.” 

            “Yeah, but that doesn't mean I want her job!”

            “Godmother would agree with me. It’d be a shame if you refused, since the lower realms are  quite chaotic these days,” Hathor chuckled. I wanted to stub his toe as hard as I could, but he was a spirit  and I could only do those things to humans. And he was right– in rare cases like these, Godmother would  assign the same spirit type to the missing one’s assignments, and if that spirit refused, they’d be sent to  the lower realms for ‘discipline.’ Acting as Fortuna, I’d be making lilies blossom in a garden or turning  all the lights green when you’re in a hurry, which was the farthest thing from fun, because like I said– humans have no humor, and they’d only get happy(eugh, such a useless emotion) when I do those things.  But rules were rules, so I dejectedly said, 

          “Alright, alright. Just tell Godmother to lay it off with the quota.” 

         “Very well, Malye. I’m happy you had a change of heart.” 

         “Yeah, you can go kiss my earthly butt.” 

         “Oh, and Godmother just responded– your powers should be coming… now.” 

          In a flash of light, Fortuna’s quota loaded in my brain, added along to my own: 





        “Why the hell are there so many?” I complained. 

        “Apparently, Godmother says Fortuna has been missing for a while now, so you must complete her quota before you own.” 

        “Great. Splendid. Wonderful. Thanks a lot, Godmother.” 

        A small, disembodied bell tinkled happily in response.[Text Wrapping Break] “Go on. There are  humans waiting for your goodness.” 

        “This is ridiculous. Ridiculous…”

        Without another word I careened into the sky, thinking of flipping Godmother off.

        I checked the quota for the millionth time, disappointed to find the number down by… zero. Two human  hours and I’d completed nothing. Zero. Nada. That must be a record low. I was seriously considering just  crawling into the lower realms myself– burning in eternal hellflame while being forced to run on hot coals  was better than imagining Hathor haughtily pointing out my dreadful job of completing Fortuna’s tasks. It  just felt wrong to give out something good for once in my infinite existence. I was supposed to be a bad omen. It was humiliating to have been reduced to a funsies, happy-go-lucky little spirit. 

        As I seethed, the biting wind turned into a humid, suffocating warmth. I whizzed past Christ the  Redeemer as he watched over a pulsing city of lights, stark against the rapidly darkening sky of Rio de  Janeiro. Vendors shouted at drunk men. Cars honked at motorcycles. A pretty chaotic city, but one of my  favorites. At every corner, tiny yellow lights flashed beside electrical lines or hid behind vans, annoyingly  nagging at me to complete a fortune. I ignored all of them(how has Fortuna done this all century?) and  wandered aimlessly through the streets like the children I always tried to trip over. Maybe I could flatten  that car’s tire– 

           From above, Godmother’s bell tinkled. It rang in a low, urgent warning. Still not wanting to be  tortured for eternity just yet, I turned up to her and told her I would try my best. Another tinkle responded,  as if holding me to my promise. 

         Just then I was blinded by a light so bright I was sure that, whatever the hell it was, it would have definitely fried human eyes. I cursed and searched through squinted eyes, following the golden rays to locate a small, dilapidated apartment building that looked maybe a few miles away. This thing was filled  with so much oh-i-need-good-fortune energy I could feel it pulsating from here.  

        In all my time as a mischief manager, I had never felt such a strong pull in my thousands of years  on this earth– and it yanked me in like a fish on a hook. I reluctantly whizzed past the cracked buildings  and halted at the third floor of the building I had spotted. The light emanated through a cracked window, resting on a teenage girl’s head. The girl slumped over a desk toppling with books. Even her drool  dripped on an open textbook covered with hastily scribbled notes. Her body tilted slowly as she snored,  threatening to make her fall off her chair– which, as of now, would be very good entertainment for the  absolute pit of boredom I was currently in. I could speed up the process and make the entire pile of books  fall on top of her too.  

        The light burned brighter over her head, beckoning me to complete the stupid fortune and be done  with it. Right– it was my job to save her from this distress, not to cause it. I was supposed to somehow  cushion her fall and make the books fall exactly to the page where the answers to her notes lay. But that  route was boring, and I’d much rather watch her wake up in a daze.  

        With spirits like me, doing the right thing was basically like asking a human to jump over a car.  Not a lot of them can or want to do it. Every time I closed my eyes, this icky feeling consumed me  whenever I imagined the girl waking up with a big fat smile on her face. And it wasn’t like I had so many  other fortunes to complete– so what difference did it make to just let this one go? Godmother wouldn’t be  too mad, and I didn’t feel very generous today. 

        And anyways, the light had started to make me shiver, like this type of feeling I made humans  have right before they had to vomit. It twisted my own spiritual stomach, which made me pause for a  second, because not a lot of things made spirit stomachs turn upside down. It was probably Godmother  egging me on, but I was a spirit without any bounds, and she would have to catch me another day. I sat on  the bench beside the girl and waited for the oh-so-sweet moment when she would wake up with a big,  shiny, bruise on her forehead. Her head inched closer to the floor. 

        In an instant the light expanded, encompassing my entirety. A sudden stiffening ran up my body,  and then a whoosh of wind– 

        The girl’s family(how did I know it was her family?) stood over her grave as they sobbed. Her  mother knelt over it, chest heaving with grief. The girl was seventeen, an only child. She was studying to  go to university to become a doctor. Her father was in the hospital with lung cancer. 

        She died from a blow to the head. 

        My body unstiffened and my lungs contracted. A sudden ringing deafened my ears. The girl laid  on the floor, motionless, blood blossoming beneath her thick dark hair. 

        Thing is, spirits really aren’t supposed to feel grief or regret or any of that nonsense reserved for  humans. We’re just supposed to be vessels of energy, doing our jobs and never really caring for anything.  But Godmother must’ve severed some kind of string in the universe. Or altered some kind of fabric. Or turned this whole damned place into a hell house so that suddenly this overwhelming, crushing sensation slammed against my body. Godmother’s vibrating bell thrummed, threatening to rattle my very spirit out of this realm as the girl’s mother walked into the room. Her eyes took a few seconds to register her daughter’s lifeless body, and then the screaming began. 

        The light was gone.

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