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The fever, to Juno, is an excuse for an afternoon alone. The afternoon alone is an excuse for a fix. The fix is an excuse to indulge in her purity ritual.

Sometimes she does it two or three times just to make sure it takes: check the door locks, set needle to vinyl, space heater, phone silent, line chair up with seams in the tile. Compulsion. Her hands are shaking a little, but they have plenty of reasons to do so.

For what, begs the question, is the ritual an excuse? Dopamine circuits close in Juno’s brain, sparing her the answer.


Juno’s family would most likely be cool if they were to unearth her habit; they’re neither pious nor hypocritical, and anyway, they like her. Mom would want assurances of her health and safety. Frewin might recommend a counselor.

But addiction runs sweetest on the engine of shame.

Thus secrecy, careful systems, the constriction of her heart when someone’s been poking around her room. It’s only when she knows the house is asleep or empty that she can bring out her box, her relics and the little black hagiograph.

Veneration is ecstasy. Juno surrenders to glossolalia, pillow bunched hard against her mouth.