“Orpheus Sings to Mary and Martha” by Emily Harris Adams

Lazarus is sealed up in the tomb, sleeping in the viper’s den.
And I know that you, like me, will want your God to set him free.
Lazarus is slipping down the path where I lost Eurydice again.

My Eurydice was sweet, with eyes innocent and open.
I thought to buy her freedom: offering my song and love, boundless as the sea.
Lazarus is sealed up in the tomb, sleeping in the viper’s den.

The path between life and death is rife with both Gods and men.
As traveler of that path, let me warn you: only Gods go and return safely.
Lazarus is slipping down the path where I lost Eurydice again.

Of all you have to offer, perfection is the only bid you can make and win.
And as good as you are, perfection is beyond your means to give or be.
Lazarus is sealed up in the tomb, sleeping in the viper’s den.

At the command of anyone less than a God, no tomb will open.
So, ask your God, not for a bargain, as I did with Hades and Persephone.
Lazarus is slipping down the path where I lost Eurydice again.

Ask your God to be the price, the ransom, the trade for men.
And ask for more than Lazarus. Ask for Eurydice. Ask for me.
Lazarus is sealed up in the tomb, sleeping in the viper’s den.
Lazarus is slipping down the path where I lost my Eurydice again.

“Perfection Is a Fullness” by Jeanine Bee

In the spring of 2020, all the temples were closed.

A few days later, my grandma showed up in my living room. Which wouldn’t have been so concerning had she not died twenty years ago.

At first I thought it was just me. An effect of extended isolation on my mental well-being, perhaps. But then some of my neighbors took to social media.

Does anyone have any tips for getting rid of ghosts??
You have one too?
3 at our house. They’ve taken over the basement!
Maybe garlic?
That’s vampires.
Try sprinkling peppermint oil around your house and putting a dab of clove oil behind your ears.

It soon appeared that every home in the neighborhood had at least one visiting relation. And as the days stretched on, we learned that the phenomenon was not limited to our suburb. A homeowner in Texas accidentally shot a hole through his back door when he wandered into his kitchen and found the specter of Davy Crockett rummaging through his junk drawer. And one couple in France was abruptly awakened on a Sunday morning to find Benjamin Franklin snuggled in between them like a child who’d had a nightmare.

Our new houseguests couldn’t communicate audibly, so we were left to conjecture as to their sudden arrival. The church released a statement about how, since the temples were closed, perhaps these spirits were seeking refuge in the home, another holy place. They quoted scripture—“neither can we without our dead be made perfect”—and they said that we’d been focusing on baptizing the dead, but now it was time to learn from our ancestors. Personally, I wasn’t sure what my grandma could teach me without any kind of discourse. It seemed like she just wanted to watch me go about my day, though I felt a little self-conscious, having her eyes on me all the time. I tried asking her questions, but she didn’t attempt to answer. Larissa Palmer down the street found an old Ouija board and thought that it might be a promising way to communicate with the spirits. They didn’t seem interested, though. Her own ghost rolled his eyes when she pulled out the board, finally indicating the letters that spelled out the phrase, “Put that nonsense away and find me a damn cigar.”

But it didn’t actually matter why they were here. We couldn’t get rid of them, so we adapted. A new trend appeared on social media called “ghosties,” where people would post selfies with their ghosts. Unfortunately, the ghosts didn’t appear on camera, so most of the pictures just looked like a normal selfie of you, standing in your empty bedroom, pointing at nothing.

Some people started attaching social status to the quality of their haunting. After digging through their family tree, the Millers proudly announced that the monk who regularly interrupted their family scripture study with wild gesticulating was none other than Martin Luther. And Sister Jordan, who had always faithfully done her family history work, claimed to know immediately that the woman who sat stoically in her late husband’s easy chair was Harriet Tubman. Both women seemed pleased with the company.

Of course, most of us just kept living our lives. Rebecca Cho told me that her great-aunt Deborah had taken to following her around the house, shaking her head disapprovingly as she watched Rebecca complete housework. It was a little obnoxious, sure. But Aunt Deborah also taught Rebecca some great recipes, standing over her shoulder and pointing at the spice cabinet as Rebecca cooked.

As for me, my grandma’s arrival didn’t really change my day-to-day. For the most part, she didn’t demand any attention. She often sat in the corner of the room, an adoring smile on her face as she watched my kids play together, or read over my shoulder as I worked on a writing project. I was nine when she had died, and most of my memories of her were tainted by cancer. I didn’t remember her looking so fresh, with plump cheeks that pinked up when she smiled. Sometimes she would stand by the bookcase and indicate to a book she wanted me to open, and in a quiet moment we would sit on the bed together and flip through a Romantic poetry anthology or a collection of fairy tales. I hadn’t known how much she loved reading. And one day I found her sitting at the piano, her eyes closed, her fingers poised, melting down into the keys as she tried to play a song. I sat on the bench next to her, and she looked excited, pointing to one specific book of Debussy songs. I flipped through the pages until she motioned for me to stop at an Arabesque. The book fell open easily, the spine worn on what was one of my own favorite songs to play. And as I sat at the piano, my fingers strong and willowy, my grandma closed her eyes and placed her wispy hands over mine, and together we swayed as the notes filled every empty place.

“Resurrection by Easter 2020” by Selina Forsyth

Our god has slept,
though somewhat fitfully,
for a few days. Maybe weeks.
How we long for the promised return,
preferably stronger than before.

But resurrections, we have learned, require a sacrifice.
This time it is not heart nor spirit our god demands
(we have already given these)
but lungs –
perhaps a million,
perhaps two.
The lungs of the aged, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned –
all probably strangers –
and those who dare to care for them.

Though our god cannot offer itself for us,
as we have heard some Gods do,
it wins our devotion with this exalted vision:
a zion society
in which “every man prospers according to his genius,
and every man conquers according to his strength.”

But if the lungs that Mammon requires end up being yours or mine,
instead of our distant brother’s
(we were never his keeper anyway)
will we still say “all is well in zion, because zion prospereth”?


“The Casting Out of Spirits” by Jeanine Bee

I don’t know why they’ve asked someone else to play the organ.

I’ve been playing the organ in this ward for forty-eight years. When I first learned to play, I had to pump the air through the pipes with my feet on bellows, up and down, one and then the other. My calves rippled through my stockings like an Olympian. I played when I was placed on modified bed-rest during my pregnancy with Ellie, and George had to push me up to the rostrum in a wheelchair and help me onto the bench. I played at George’s funeral, when my fingers creaked with the beginnings of arthritis and tears blurred the notes on the page. But I walk into church with my book of music, feeling better than I have in years, and what do I see? Little Julie Nielson sitting at the organ, fumbling her notes left and right.

After the initial shock, I decide to sit in the front row so I can lock eyes with the bishop every time the Neilson girl plays a wrong note. But when I reach the pew, I keep walking. Up the steps. To the organ.

I stand behind Julie for a while, watching her play. She isn’t using the foot pedals. Most people don’t these days. But there’s a little button on the right-hand side that says “BASS CUPL,” and if you toggle it, it takes the voice programing from the bass line and plays it in the lower half of the keyboard. So I try to be discreet. I sit down on the bench next to her and whisper, “You need to enable the bass coupler.”

Of course, she can’t hear me—the organ is far too loud for prelude music. So I push the button myself. She looks a little confused at the change, but keeps her eyes on the music. Then, since this is sacrament meeting and not a Janis Joplin concert I lower the volume myself with the foot pedal.

It seems like everything is under control, so I stand up to leave. But then Julie starts playing “Called to Serve.” As prelude music. Can you believe it? With that bass line thumping along. Bum bum bum bum. It’s atrocious. “Be Thou Humble” is a much better prelude hymn. And in the key of C, she’s not likely to miss many notes.

So I turn the page. Julie stops playing and whips her head around.

“What are you—”

She looks confused. Maybe I should be more sympathetic. It’s not her fault that someone asked her to play the organ. So I try to smile. “I’m not here to take over for you. I’m just giving you a few pointers.”

Julie turns back to the hymn book. But she must realize that my song choice is better, because she starts plodding through “Be Thou Humble.”

I’m starting to head down to the pews when Bishop Clements stands up to begin the meeting. Julie stops playing (right in the middle of the verse with no resolution to the musical phrase or anything), so rather than call any undue attention to myself, I sit down in the choir seats next to the organ.

The opening hymn is “The Spirit of God.” I’m quite familiar with the song. I know that it should be played on the ninth preset with the 4’ Clarion and 8’ Dulciana voices added to the Great manual to really give the melody that great ringing emphasis during “We’ll sing, and we’ll shout!” It should feel jubilant! Alive!

When Julie starts playing on the fifth preset—one I use for the quieter sacrament hymns—I audibly groan.

Changing voices in the middle of a verse is not recommended, but I can’t stand to sit through one more measure of this, so I lean over and toggle the ninth preset. The sound blasts from the pipes, and Julie jumps a bit at the change. But everything is fine until she starts to drag. I tap on the bench next to her, hoping to encourage her to play a bit faster. She doesn’t. And I know she can hear me because even the bishop looks back at the sound.

Finally, after four verses (and eight-and-a-half minutes), the song finishes. After the opening prayer, I decide I’m going to take over for Julie. I’m perfectly capable of fulfilling my calling. I slide onto the bench to excuse her, but before I can say anything, the bishop stands up again.

“We have just one item of ward business. We’d like to recognize our new ward organist, Julie Nielson.”

At this I’m so shocked that I stand up right there, my feet on the pedals, sending a great cacophony of bass notes ringing out across the chapel. I gather my wits quickly and sit back down. Bishop looks over his shoulder and Julie shrugs. But of course, I’m shocked! I was never released from this calling. I still have a stewardship over this organ and this congregation—or their ears, at least.

Bishop turns back to the congregation and clears his throat. “And we’d like to make you aware of the passing of Sister Eugenia Gordon. Funeral services will be held Friday.”

I should be playing at that funeral.

“Sister Gordon shared her musical talents with us for the past forty years—”

It was forty-eight.

“—and I know it’s not customary, but I think it would be appropriate for us to offer a vote of release, to thank her for her service on the organ. All those who wish to do so, please show by the uplifted hand.”

The hands are all held high, like the great wall of pipes in the tabernacle. And I feel a smile creep up on me.

Because now I know it’s time for me to leave. Let Julie have a turn on the keys.

But enough about me. Tell me about this place.

Do you need an organist?

“Un dios en quien confiar” Gabriel González Núñez

Read the English translation here

Dice el profeta que el rostro de Dios resplandece
más que el sol y que Su larga cabellera es blanca
más que la nieve y que Su voz ruge con estruendo
como de un río, y a Su lado el hombre nada es.

Pienso en estas cosas a veces, cuando amanece,
cuando levanta el sol, y la mente se me estanca
en dogmas y misterios que poco o nada entiendo,
y sólo puedo concluir que el hombre nada es.

Dice el poeta que Dios es más de lo que el cura
opina, que Su piedad supera la de todos
los seres, que Su luz desvanece la penumbra
del hombre que busca perdón, hombre que nada es.

Me aterra, cuando pienso en esta vida y lo dura
que es, que Dios esté tan lejano de nuestros modos,
allá tan distante, que Su luz no nos alumbre
y quedemos a tientas, porque el hombre nada es.

Dice mi hermano que Dios se encuentra en los detalles,
no en la geometría de las constelaciones
ni en el eco azul del insondable firmamento,
y lo asegura sabiendo que el hombre nada es.

Confieso que no sé si Dios habita los valles
o si transita nebuloso las dimensiones
o si es algo tan sencillo como el diario aliento,
porque resignado entiendo que el hombre nada es.

Vistiendo harapos de hombre errante por doquier voy.
Me sé efímero como un nocturno suspirar.

Me aplasta cobrar consciencia de que nada soy.
Y recién así tanteo un dios en quien confiar.

Y recién así descubro al Dios en quien confiar.

“Separation” by Mark Penny

The bridge collapsed, the car fell in the river, the mother unfastened her seat belt and clambered into the backseat to free her five- and three-year-old, and the father rolled down the windows, but a bus slammed on top of the car and crushed the roof. The car filled with water, sank away from the bus, and glided to the silt. The parents gathered their children and each other in their arms, and one by one, eyes wide in the murk, the family breathed, the mother last of all.


Waking up was weird. She felt light: limbs, organs, breath, pulse almost nonexistent, like memories after too many drinks. She was floating, but not in water or air. Her senses were empty: no sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell. She seemed to be nothing but thought.

This was a relief, as if she’d coughed out a smothering fullness in the lungs and started from the grim end of an inconsistent dream.


The pleasure of silence, stillness, and solitude wore off. She felt alone. The loneliness threatened to drown her.

There was someone nearby. A voice: “We can see you now. Keep going.” A touch: on her wrist. “I can feel you now. Try seeing.” Light, shadow, shapes, colors—blurry like through a wet windshield. “Your eyes are open. Now breathe.”

Her lungs—the idea of lungs—opened out. Smells, tastes, the sense of life poured through her mouth and nose. She remembered all, and a shuddering, sobbing blackness took her.


“It’s hard,” said the voice—an old woman dressed like an eighty-year-old from ten years before.

The mother looked past the old woman to the fields and trees around her. Everything was beautiful and clean and a little too close to her preferences.

“How long was I hysterical?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t know how long. Time doesn’t chop into bits here. I had a lot of different thoughts about a lot of different things while you fuzzed out.”

“Fuzzed out?”

“Smudged. Swooned. Blanked out. Melted. Phased. Shifted. Deshaped. Dissolved. Diffused. Disintegrated. Pick a synonym. You’ll see when our next tragic arrives.”

“How often do tragics arrive?”

“Too often, poor things. But you mean when will you see one. Too soon. I can’t give you a figure. It’s not like clockwork. It happens when it happens. We seem to be dealing with a new one most of the time. It takes a while for them to adjust. Sometimes there are batches.”

Batches. The others must have survived somehow. She almost fuzzed out again.


It maddened her that there was no objective way to tell time. There was a sun in the sky, but it was always where she happened to expect it to be, and there was no night. With effort, she could make a sunrise or sunset, but these were effects only she could see unless she convinced the old woman to share the events with her. Even then, when they compared descriptions, it was plain they were not seeing the same display. Colors, shapes, and locations were always a little bit off. This principle extended to the flora and other elements of the landscape. Representations adjusted as they pointed things out to each other, but each began with her own set of images with their own content.


After what must have been days, the mother asked, “Why are there only two of us here?”

The old woman smiled. “There are thousands. You just haven’t been ready to see them.”

“I’m ready now. Where are they?”

“Here, there, and everywhere.”

“When can I see them?”

“They are in plain sight for those who have eyes to see, and in plain hearing for those who have ears to hear.”

“Why are you talking like that? Where are the people?”

“You will see them when your eyes are opened.”

The mother scanned every corner of the meadow she was picturing. She saw nothing but grass and flowers at first, with trees in arcs and circles on the slopes above, beside, and below her. She closed her eyes and tried to be open to seeing, then looked again. Now she saw blurs and shimmers, some near, some far. She repeated the process and began to see faces and physiques, still blurry and featureless, like shadows in frosted glass, but human and individual, many acting in ways incongruent with the environment, responding to their own visions.

“Do you see them now?” asked the old woman.

“Almost. They are unformed.”

“Because you have not met them. When you touch and hear them, you will see them, but not as they are: as they think they are.”

“Will that change?”

“When they change. Most of us see ourselves as we were at death. I walked around in my nightgown for what must have been years.”

“How do I present?”

“As you see yourself. A woman in her early thirties, dripping wet. You drowned, I presume.”

“Yes. With my family: husband, two little ones. Where are they? Are they here? We should have come in the same batch. Unless they survived. We were in our car, at the bottom of the river. We all breathed in. I saw them all breathe in. Where are they?”

“Were you sealed?”


“You’ll understand when you get to that lesson.”

“Why can’t I go to them, find them?”

“Look as far as you can. What do you see?”

“An ocean.”

“I see a wall. It surrounds us. My wall and your ocean are the same thing: a barrier we can never pass without submission and sealing. I’m still working on submission. When I succeed, I will go to my family, but there is one I will never see again, one to whom I could never be sealed. I will miss her forever.”

The mother looked down at the ocean, shifting and blue—and vast. She felt a tear, or the idea of a tear, but whether of sorrow or rage, she couldn’t yet tell.

“How Do We Make Sense of What Will Be When We Hold Remnants of What Once Was?” by Steven Peck

A scientific inquiry in three poetic studies

Study I: Job
And the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind . . . Job 38:1

When at last God appeared to
answer Job’s complaint
to address his pain & suffering

What would God say to someone
who lost all that he loves?
All that mattered?

Someone whose wormy
flesh was infected
with boils?

Whose every breath made him
curse the womb from which
he was birthed?

When He arrived,
the Lord did not explain the
nature of suffering.

Nor tell him it would all turn
out for the best, or that heaven
would restore all losses.

God made no move to kiss his
diseased skin to make it
better with his healing lips.

God did not explain
that He too suffers,
nor that God will suffer

in the garden, so that
He might understand
Job’s suffering.

None of these.

Rather, exuberant. Giddy.
God gestures wildly at
whales. Their wonder.

Their beauty!
Like Ahab’s single-
minded attention

to his pale Leviathan,
God delights in
His own.

God speaks of
singing stars,
Points to the Pleiades—

The Seven Sisters
and demands Job
consider Orion’s belt.

Lightning bolts,
snow covered mountains,
the birth of kid goats &

wild ox & asses,
Hippos large and ungainly.

Job bows his head
and relents. Is suffering the
price of beauty, and being?

Study II: Job and Darwin

Job: My youngest daughter? When she was young, during the lambing sea- son, she would come to see me in the grassy pastures with her mother. They would arrive with a large wallet stuffed with strips of dry mutton, dates, grapes, and a loaf of small wheat bread baked in the stone oven near the back of our house. We would sit by the slow-moving river and eat our meal and watch the crocodiles drift like logs, still and peaceful. How slowly they would maneuver to be near the floating Red-necked Phalaropes bobbing fresh from their long flight over the desert! Then, when at just the right distance from the bird, in an explosion of white water, they would snatch one up and in an instant devour it. How my little treasure would scream when the beast would, in roiling commotion and chaos, take its prey. When the great lizard’s lunch was over and the river was calm again and the wind slight, she would ask so many questions as the clouds drifted full and without care across the sky. Why is the dove so sorrowful? Which is older the river or the hills? How do the ants find their way in the darkness of the tunnels? She loved to hold the lambs close, though they were not much smaller than she. As she got older, she would come out to help me break the horses that we would sell to the Egyptians for their war chariots. And when no men were looking, how she loved to ride those wild beasts. I knew of course, but I did not mind. She seemed to fear nothing and those steeds seemed to understand her slightest touch as she rode over the grasses so abundant near our home. She was with my other children when the wind came and brought the house down upon them. They all died that day—when the wind came and the house fell down upon them, from my oldest to my youngest. The wind came up. The wind. Came. Up. And the house fell down upon them. And all my beloved ones. My children. They died.

As did I, in any way that matters. Everything I became after that was no becoming. How could I ’be,’ after what I had ’been?’

Darwin, eyes wet, places his hand on Job’s shoulder.

Darwin: Oh sweet little Annie. Where are you now my poor dear girl? I know. I know…in the ground resting under a tree at the Great Malvern Priory. In the ground … She was the apple of her father’s eye. She was indeed. She would follow me everywhere. She loved to take the Sandwalk with me as I strolled round and round marking the passage of our ellipse by the bump of a foot to the stone, sending it away and in so doing marking our traverse. Often she would assist me in my dissections of barnacles in my study. She loved the pigeons. She would, like old Father Adam, name them: One-eye, Flower Bottom, Captain Angel Beak, Mother’s pie. Even now I smile to think on her and how she was taken too…too young. How could I believe in God after that? Some thought it was my theory that drove me away. But how could such a being maintain a universe where little Annie could be taken away?

Job: I was angry.
Darwin: I was angry.
Both: But we were blessed with a vision of the Creation? Were we not?
Job: The singing whales.
Darwin: And the merry Galapagos finches.
Both: The cost was too high. And I would give it up. All of it, for—
Job: My daughter . . . that the wind took.
Darwin: Little Anne . . . my Annie, who was swept away by incurable coughings.

Study III: Being

Every child knows,
That being comes,
From a becoming,

That every ’is,’
Comes from a ’was,’
On its way to a ’will be.’

That which I am
Was born of chaos,
And from the whirlwind

Out of which God spoke,
And asked, ”Have you seen
my whales?


“Before the Healing” by Merrijane Rice

Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son:
for he is mine only child.
Luke 9:38

A devil grips my son,
shakes him like a mast
in sudden storm till bones rattle
and head beats the ground.
I cannot tear him free.

He is bruised and scarred,
but not from play.
I once pulled him blistered
from his mother’s cooking fire.
Another day, as I mended nets,
he collapsed in stony shallows.
I ran to hold his head above water,
cradle him till the fit passed.

At night, I wrestle
with his empty future:
He will never learn to sail or sort
a day’s catch on the shore.
He will never read in the synagogue
or keep a feast day in the shadow
of the Lord’s holy house.
He will never marry or worry
over children of his own.

I still believe. I pray.
I plead to know what lack in me
keeps us from compassion,
but scarcely dare to ask again
for what has been withheld.

By early morning, I am wrung out.
Silence hangs like a heavy veil.
I venture one more question,
father to Father:
If you had just one child,
would you do nothing to save him
from being torn in two?

“Paradisiacal Glory” by Katherine Cowley

The Millennium was much colder than Robert had expected.

He removed his outer gloves and attached them to his parka so they wouldn’t fall into the icy water. Now, with only the liner gloves, the Antarctic cold attacked his fingers, but at least he could eat something.

Robert unwrapped the paper wrapper—no single-use plastic, not anymore—and bit into the granola bar. Many people had been given assignments where they lived before the Savior’s second coming. Robert thought longingly of his home in Florida. If he oversaw the Work of Renewal, he would remake the world entirely into Florida’s weather. Good temperatures all year round, like in the Garden of Eden.

He finished the granola bar and considered the paper wrapper. There was a proper disposal method for it, but it took extra effort, and the wrapper was biodegradable. He glanced around to make sure his daughter wasn’t nearby, then balled up the paper and threw it over the edge of the hovercraft, into the frigid water.

He restarted the machine, listening to the unnaturally quiet spin of the motor. No burning fuel now, it was all battery-operated. When he had retired a few years before, he hadn’t wanted to use heavy machinery again. He had also wanted a Millennial assignment which involved all day in the temple, but apparently God had other plans. There was no temple on Antarctica.

Robert turned the machine to the frazil ice setting. He reached out its large extended arm over the salt water and began the agonizing process of converting it into frazil ice. It made a sort of snowy slush in the water. In a few hours, he would go over the whole section a second time to convert it into sea ice, which apparently did something useful for Antarctica.

He sniffed, his nose cold despite the layers. When he finished, he could go inside and do something productive, like read the scriptures. He switched the machine’s setting from frazil ice to sea ice and tried it on the salt water. It worked! It could turn the water directly into sea ice. Skipping the frazil ice stage would save lots of time.

He was getting into a rhythm when he heard the voice of his daughter, Victoria. “Hey, Dad.” She had flown up beside him on her own hovercraft.

Robert turned off the machine. “Yes, honey?” He glanced to where he had thrown the paper wrapper. He could still see it, floating a little below the water’s surface. Hopefully Victoria wouldn’t notice it.

“I think you accidentally set your machine wrong,” said Victoria. “You need to turn the water into frazil ice first.”

“But the machine is strong enough to turn it straight into sea ice. It saves time.”

“True, but it won’t have the correct internal structures,” said Victoria. “We have to do this step by step, line upon line. Ice upon ice.”

Robert shrugged.

“You wouldn’t take a name to the temple and go straight to sealings without doing all the other ordinances, would you?”

“No, I wouldn’t.” Corrected, Robert turned the machine’s setting back to frazil ice. His daughter had been called to lead this sector’s ice efforts, rebuilding the permafrost and creating glaciers, ice sheets, and other sorts of ice and snow. The rest of the extended family was also assigned to Antarctica. He wished he had his wife and grandkids’ calling, working on the Penguin Renewal Project.

“I know you find it frustrating to do this,” said Victoria.

“It’s fine,” said Robert. “We only receive callings we’re supposed to have.”

“I had always wanted to visit Antarctica—what was left of it.” She reached out her arms, gesturing at the icy expanse around them. “And to think, now I get to help remake it, as it was meant to be.”

One of the things he had always loved about Victoria was her sense of wonder, the way the smallest things gave her delight. The sun glinted off the icy expanse, and as he tried to see it through her eyes, it did look beautiful.

“Did you hear about how we got all these machines? The hovercrafts, the ice machines, the air-cleaning planes?” Victoria’s husband Rafael was flying one of those planes right now, removing carbon dioxide, methane, and other pollutants from the atmosphere. “I heard that it was like with Nephi, or the Brother of Jared. That we were given plans and revelation beyond our technological abilities. Isn’t that amazing?”

“Yes,” said Robert, and it was wondrous, really. He tried scratching his ear, which didn’t work well with all the layers. “When Joseph Smith said the Earth would be renewed, he didn’t say that we were the ones who would have to do it. I thought God would wave His hands and it would just happen.”

“You always did say we were instruments in His hands,” said Victoria.

“I do feel awfully like a glorified icemaker right now.”

She laughed. “A paradisiacal icemaker, Dad. You’re making glorious ice.”

“Well, I better get back to it then.”

“You’re amazing, Dad. See you in a bit!”

“Love you, Victoria.”

She floated away in her hovercraft.

This time, Robert took his time making the frazil ice, watching the patterns it created in the water. Honestly, part of the reason he didn’t like this calling was it made him feel guilty, reminding him of how he had contributed to the Earth needing renewal. He had not been a very good steward.

He approached the part of the water where his paper wrapper still floated. He stopped his machine, not wanting his waste to become part of the glorified ice.

He made an improvised net with some spare parts on the hovercraft. It took about ten minutes—the paper kept slipping out of his grasp—but finally he got it out of the water.

Robert looked out at the ice and land and water before him. “I am sorry, Earth,” he whispered. “I will try to treat you better.”


“Waiting” by Katherine Cowley was a finalist in the 2012 Four Centuries of Mormon Stories contest. It was originally published online at Everyday Mormon Writer on October 27, 2012.

Art by Andrew Kosorok, "Inspirer of Faith (Al-Mu'min)"
Art by Andrew Kosorok, “Inspirer of Faith (Al-Mu’min)”

Without fail, something always went wrong during visiting teaching. As her sons Tyren and Luke ran into the room, Jayla glanced at the holographic control in her eyepiece, hoping her old computer could handle the projection layers. Luke stopped running, squinting at the layered space. He reached through the projected space and picked up a large plastic airbus, making it visible on all layers. Luke threw it straight at Jayla’s visiting teacher, Luciana. The toy went through her head and bounced harmlessly onto the floor.

“Sorry Luciana. Luke has an obsession with throwing toys through visitors.”

Luciana smiled. “My kids do that all the time. Last week my uncle actually came over and Tiago thought he was a projection. Luckily he only threw a rubber ball.”

Jayla chuckled, and then clutched her rounded belly, biting her lip as she felt the strength of the contraction. Soft music began playing in her earpiece, fading as her skin relaxed and the cramp beneath her belly lessened. The contractions always came in sets, four or five an hour, enough to make her wonder when the baby would come, but never enough to go to the Birthing Hospital.

Luciana looked concerned. “Are you sure you don’t need me to come over and help? Three weeks until your due date—the baby could come anytime.”

“I’m fine, really. What were you saying about earthquakes?”

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