Fiction from Melissa Llanes Brownlee

Small, brass dachshund

Photo: Stephanie Harvey

What if God Is One of Us

I saw God in the parking lot of a Taco Bell, temporarily closed after a viral video involving hot sauce and a waiting to be filled burrito. He was dealing coke out of the back of a souped-up Honda Accord, baggies bouncing to the beat of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus on the subwoofers he had installed himself. He told me what if my name had been spelled d-o-g instead. I decided I didn’t need anything he was selling.

The next time I saw God, it was a root beer colored dachshund, snuffling my crotch at my new neighbor’s apartment. I had brought a bottle of wine as a housewarming gift, regretting my choice of Sauvignon Blanc. Not everyone likes the taste of cat pee, especially not a god lover, I mean dog lover. My neighbor told me she had gotten it at the shelter its name was God. Isn’t that a hoot she giggled. I decided not to pet it and to get the hell out of that God loving house before it tried to convert me.

I kept running into God everywhere I went. I just couldn’t shake them.

She was the old Korean lady behind the register of the little grocery I popped into, scolding me over my purchase of an energy drink. Kimchi is better for your health. She shook her head at me as she handed me my change and a bag of free kimchi which I ate with my fingers on the sidewalk, the spicy fizzy garlic cabbage and carrots making me cry.

It was the broken payphone across the street from my apartment, the receiver dangling by a single wire, the droning tone conjuring memories of my mother who I hadn’t spoken to in years, the graffiti, a hodgepodge of what I assumed were Bible quotes but didn’t have the courage to get any closer to read them. I wanted nothing more than to hang up that phone but I just couldn’t bring myself to touch it.

They were the van living couple, draped in bohemian splendor, selling me crystals on the beach I decided to go to because I needed a break from all of the God sightings. You can feel the vibrations of the universe through these. They dangled slender pendants of pink, purple, black, blue, white, clear from leather coils over my head as I tried to relax. Live on another level they told me in chorus. I ripped those leatherbound rocks out of their hands, ran to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, screaming, and threw myself in.

The final time I saw God, I walked right past, my existence unacknowledged, and for that, I was grateful.

Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer, living in Japan, has work published or forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Reckon Review, The Hennepin Review, Cheap Pop, The Razor, Milk Candy Review, Lost Balloon, and Cotton Xenomorph. She is in Best Small Fictions 2021, Best Microfiction 2022, and Wigleaf Top 50 2022. Read Hard Skin, her short story collection, from Juventud Press. She tweets @lumchanmfa and talks story at

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