Second-Hand Tongue

By Tamara Miller

Once I bought a beautiful tongue at a second-hand store. It was an impulse buy; I probably paid more than it was worth, if it was even worth anything at all. After I got it home I felt a little ashamed and regretted my purchase. What did I need a second tongue for while my own just wasted away in my head, unused? But the thing about this new tongue was that it liked to wag. When my god-given tongue locked down tight against my teeth, this second tongue would start in, first about righteousness and then about salvation, until I realized something terrible: my new tongue had caught religion. It was a preaching kind of tongue, silvery and sly as the devil. I tried to silence it, with candy and pride and fear, the way you do with tongues, but it would not deviate from the path of righteousness it liked to march up and down my esophagus like a parade of Stormtroopers. Shut-up, I called with my other tongue. Please. Shut-up before someone hears us. Before someone realizes we are not who we say we are.

Originally appeared in NOR 27 Author’s Bio: Tamara Miller’s poems, short stories, and comic pieces have appeared recently in The Carolina Quarterly, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Bellevue Literary Review, among others. She received her MFA from Saint Mary’s College and lives in a haunted mansion in Oakland with her partner and three sons.

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