The Devil Inside

by Dr. Jess Scott

My sister’s First Communion Sunday was a day more white than usual: white children, white priest, white vestments, white veil, white shoes, white dress. When we came home to play, after the host and the incense and the blessings and the rest, she ran through freshly mown grass as if it wasn’t white she was wearing.

I ran after her, forgetting what I had left there in the grass.

It was her holy day, but I was a lazy child. A string of unfinished chores and obligations trailed behind me everywhere I went. When the prongs of the pitchfork pierced her foot, my father said the hole it left was a mirror reflecting the devil that was inside of me.

I cried at the time, but even then, I wondered: what if he was right?

Dr. Jess Scott teaches Gender Studies at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She has a long-standing relationship with the Vandalia, having been published in the journal as a student (way back in the first decade of the 21st century). As a faculty member, she loves writing and contributing to student-led research and publishing efforts on campus. She thinks undergraduate students are the best people in the world. She lives in Elkins with her wife, 4 cats, 2 pigs, and 1 dog.

“The Devil Inside” won second place in the prose category of The Vandalia’s 2021 Art & Literature Contest.