Arianna Vairo specializes in illustration. She has created art for the New York Times, the Marina Abramovic Institute, and Bocconi University, Milan, among other clients. Her work has been exhibited and recognized in Italy and worldwide. She teaches printmaking at IED (European Institute of Design), Milan.
Who would Oval become now that her mother was dead, she wondered. She considered the sun, a ball of light and strength that no one thought of except when the world was too hot to bear or when the world was gray, and there was rain, what power that must take, and of course it would burn out and burn away and leave nothing but sky. These thoughts wrapped around Oval as dust on the walnut floor attached to the loose hairs of her thick braid, slick and dark as onyx. The night before, the log fire had found secret auburn strands amid the black of her hair, as the fire lit her face and head while she tended her feverish mother whose skin dripped sweat and felt burning hot to the touch.
When he got the e-mail, sitting behind the reception desk of a firm that hadn’t received a visitor in weeks, Johnson stood with his hands raised over his head in victory. It was a single line from the manager of his new favorite band, a band that he would sometimes listen to at work, holed up in a bathroom stall with his earbuds for a four-and-a-half-minute fix. “My boys are in,” the e-mail read. “I’ll be in touch.”
The floor was quiet, as usual. He could hear the distant warble of a phone ringing in a glassed-in office, the muted sounds of typing. It was probably safe to make a call.
The house is on a twelve-acre lot that Mom Mom thought cozy. She has a map of the land and surrounding properties to prove that it isn’t a corner lot, as if anyone could tell. Corner lots draw too much energy and are considered bad feng shui. The aquarium, on the other hand, is on the southeast wall for wealth, and the wall of ficus and bamboo in the east for health or maybe luck. No cacti: They bring aggression. I believe the cousins are also bad feng shui, but no one will ever actually say so. Like everything, that, too, must be in the stars.