Jenny Irizary


In sixth grade, Karen realized that communing with a dead girl named Fiona by Ouija board
could distract classmates from screaming, “You’ll be gay like your dyke moms!”
Instead, they interrogated the bitter ghost about her untimely demise.
First, she claimed her boyfriend hammer-crushed
her skull in the hallway where our classroom now stood.
Then she reported being murdered with a different weapon nearly every spirit board session.
Fiona insinuated that she had gotten her revenge
when someone suggested she “Get over it”
and a boy Karen liked repeated what his father told his mother before taking her to the hospital,
“You just like to make men get angry.”
Some kids still whispered the séances were “gay,” and I almost participated,
envisioning gatherings like the goddess fairs full of beautiful women with luxurious armpit hair
at which Karen’s mom sold quilts.
But I was always kept in at recess
for not running “fast enough” during the morning mile, and through the classroom window I saw
no prayer circles “reclaiming” (in my mom’s words “appropriating”) Isis, Diana, Freya, or Kali.
Séance attendance petered out after Fiona refused to explain how she died
“at school” in our classroom’s present-day location
when her self-reported death date implied attendance at the school in its former location,
before it burned down.
Some followers suspected that the fire was Fiona’s revenge,
although our teacher, a town history enthusiast, disputed this theory.
Classmates resumed their gay-bashing of a heterosexual, conveniently diverting them from
noticing my sketches of Catherine Zeta-Jones topless.

Jenny Irizary grew up in a cabin in the woods along Northern California's Russian River, the only Swede-Rican for miles. She holds a B.A. in Ethnic Studies and an M.A. in literature from Mills College. Read her stories about befriending ghosts and retracing her family's Diasporas HERE