Diane Payne

Spirit In The Sky


It’s late. After eight hours of stocking shelves, she’s physically exhausted, but not tired enough to sleep. She likes it when the neighborhood is quiet, wishes it’d stay quiet in the morning so she could sleep in longer. The night air feels crisp. No humidity. She lights her pipe. “Light my pipe,” she laughs, imagining herself to be Sherlock Holmes. “Wouldn’t be stocking shelves. I’d be solving mysteries.” She likes talking to herself at night, but doesn’t realize she talks to herself while stocking the shelves, pumping gas, walking to her car.

She hears the loud wails from some cats a few yards away, then sees a large owl fly off with a kitten.

“Damn, that ain’t right.”


Unable to sleep, he gets out of bed and turns on the music. He starts singing along, feeling energized. “Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky.”

He cranks the stereo, then hits replay. “He’s gonna set me up with
The spirit in the sky”

Hits replay again. Stops singing and tries to hear the lyrics so he gets them right: Never been a sinner I never sinned…

He steps outside, baffled. He’s always liked this song, but now he’s not so sure. Now the song sounds like it may be religious.

He hears a loud cry and sees a kitten being carried off in the sky by a large owl.

“Damn, that ain’t right.”

Diane Payne is the MFA Director at University of Arkansas-­Monticello. She is the author of Burning Tulips, Freedom’s Just Another Word, and A New Kind of Music. She has been published in hundreds of literary journals.