Novel~Memoir First-Page Contest

Read Heather Orlando's Winning Page

Heather Orlando is a publicity assistant at Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan. She is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Central Florida and a graduate of The Columbia Publishing Course at The Columbia Journalism School.

Prior to teaching language arts and creative writing, she worked with publications such as National Geographic and TV Guide, in film production and marketing respectively. Most recently, Heather was an editorial intern at The Florida Review.

She lives with her husband and two mischievous cats in Manhattan.

The Jezebels

Our fathers taught us of everlasting life. They poured oil, anointed our foreheads; told us we would never die. Told us: dear hearts, the boys are the chosen ones, but you are the promised land. We nodded, backs straightening. We’d heard the parables. We’d heard of The Father from our fathers; with voices, deep and certain, they spoke of His power over death. O grave, where is thy victory? our fathers asked. O death, where is thy sting?

We were silent as we have been taught. Truth did not require voices; it required only obedience.

We often discussed how our fathers might have reacted, the moment the news of the death reached them. How they might have wondered about the details. Tried to explain our failure. It’s a simple matter of faith, they would have have said; it’s a simple matter of strength. We were anemic, after all. Girls, who gave unto the earth: our blood, our toil, our pain. We only gave, we did not take. It was foolish to attempt it, they would have said. Foolish to expect a miracle amongst such frailty.

We still remember the force of her screams—how her face folded into sharp angles and retreated behind shadows of pain.

Our voices: confident then beseeching.

Her voice: piercing then faint.

We, hands hovering in the space above her head.

We, confident in the power of our immortality.

We, breathing into these slain, that they might live.