Meeting by Lael Gold


Lael Gold

Voodoo had been a required class, something we all attended without really thinking about it. The lecturer tried to induce trance states unawares. We just thought he was boring. We were white and Quaker. The empty driveways and green backyards of rural Pennsylvania held us as we partied and studied, gesticulated, flirted, texted, tweeted, rested languidly and danced. Our fears included rejection and failure but didn’t extend to zombification. A senior class trip to Haiti was batted about, but, ska winning out over medicine men, at the last minute we chose Jamaica. The medicine man found us anyway. He called himself Albert. He batched us and dosed us. The thees and thous of our ancestors appeared in our fevered dreams along with drumbeats, hedgehog gods, masks.

On day three, Tamara, the blondest and most alluring of us, homecoming queen had our school allowed for one, had a seizure, the first in her life, and was flown home by her parents. The sound of the surf, so soothing at first, now terrified us. We began sleeping together in one bed, holding one another close like frightened children. Jenny Robbins claimed the second toe on her left foot was a third larger in size than before, and a few people including her best friend confirmed that this was true. That Thursday, three days before we were scheduled to depart, we held a meeting in the simple way of Friends, a practice we’d rolled our eyes at for years. A consensus was reached quickly, and the next morning we were embarked for the Philadelphia airport.

We were considered the most intelligent and responsible class the school had seen in years, and, on that basis, our drug-induced hysteria was taken seriously by the administration, who sent an emissary to the religion teacher requesting that his curriculum revert to the standard story of persecution and pacifism in England and the colonies. Due to boredom and the chiding of his wife, and banking on the school’s tradition of tolerance and openness, he had strayed. But now he capitulated and returned to dispassionately holding forth about persecution, quietism and the rest. At night, however, after his wife had retired for the evening, he would don the mask he had used in his opening Obeah lecture all by himself out in the dark alone.

© Lael Gold


Lael GoldLael Gold, who received a Ph.D. in comparative literature in 2004, has been published in Zeek, The Berkeley Review, 100 Word Story, The Big Jewel, and the volume Faulkner’s Inheritance. She recently led a panel at the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conference on depictions of interracial intimacy and also presented at the International Association for the Study of Dreams annual conference. She taught literature, film, and creative writing at U.C. Berkeley before founding the dream-related business Productive Slumber as a means of serving writers, the gravely ill, and everyone who sleeps. She performs stand up comedy throughout the Bay Area.