Protest Spell #1: When This Spell Fails by Jen Julian

When this spell fails, you must grip your heart at both ends and twist it hard like a dish rag. What seeps out is bitter like poison, but do not throw it away. Store it in a Tupperware. It should not be forgotten. In the meantime, seek your remedies with care—ginger candy for nausea, ginseng for fatigue, cheap wine for heartache. Tie a knot of sage tied around your bedpost to keep the soul from calcifying.

Stop checking the news. For fuck’s sake.

Yarrow balm will help you stop picking at the scab on your knee, the wound you received when you tripped in the street last Tuesday, and which you now think was probably an omen. Not since childhood have you torn a hole in your stockings that way, or seeded the earth with your blood. Now a week has passed and you’re still sucking breath through clenched teeth, your jawbone warm with pain. It is time to open your mouth again. Uncoil the words off your tongue and lay your curse. Lay it hard, like the slap of skin on asphalt.

Jen Julian is a 2016 Clarion alumnus and PhD Fiction student at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She received her MFA from UNC Greensboro, where she acted as editor for The Greensboro Review, in which she was also recently published. Her essays and short stories have also appeared in North Carolina Literary Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Cleaver, New South, and The Chattahoochee Review. She calls rural North Carolina her home.