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fiction

Litter

Nadia knows, when the mother leaves them, that they will die. They lurch from side to side, low on the ground, ears folded over into crinkled triangles. Claws soft, mouths brown with dirt, meowing in the damp soil of the flower bed.

Reunion

He was doing the dishes, midmorning, when he noticed the white car drive by, and drive by again. A quiet street, on the way to nowhere. At eleven, the school bus would show up, to deliver lunches to the children who couldn’t go to school. Otherwise, almost no cars he didn’t recognize.

Man, Man, Et Cetera

You schedule the U-Haul for a weekend when your husband plans to be in the woods. You do not repeat your argument that camping isn’t medication or therapy. That it cannot, in other words, fix him. You make him a sandwich for the drive to Mendocino. As his car pulls away, you know it’s the last time you’ll see him.

The Bodies Correcting

If there was a shack by the side of the river, what would it look like? How big would it be? If we opened the door to the shack by the river, what would we find there? There’s no light in the shack except light that eats through the gaps and the cracks in the day, but now it is night. 

The Cold

When it began, I do not know. If I kept a journal or a diary, as some of you do, perhaps then I would know. But I don’t, and so I don’t. When the cold began to pursue me.

Enlightenment

Harvard, 1966. Abel Jones is in his third year. He is an exceptional student, head of the class. He is studying history. His area of focus, the eighteenth century. England and France. Still, there are days when he is lost.

Illustration by Ryan Floyd Johnson

Tiger Ghost

Bridget is on her way to Mong Kok to buy a goldfish. She’s been told that they bring good luck.

Illustration by Ryan Floyd Johnson

Stray Fragments

Think about losing things when you are a child, and how losing things thrusts you into a state of absolute despair, even if what you lost is relatively unimportant: toothbrush, sweater, homework folder.

Adults. We are like balloons inflated to their largest capacity and then thrown into the air, unknotted: darting, hissing, flying, farting through the room to the delight of children who will step on them when they finally fall—deflated, useless.

If time in our lives could be shuffled—if it were sectioned into discrete events and recombined—would the story add up? Or does there need to be some kind of order, even if it’s not chronological, for the pieces to form a narrative?

Nuestros hijos llevan todo el día rascándose tan fervorosamente la cabeza que uno de ellos se había sacado ya sangre y ahora daba alaridos de pavor al ver que en su dedo índice titilaba una gotita rosa.

Nos sentamos en una banca y me dispuse a espulgarle la cabellera. Me entretuve aniquilando colonias enteras de piojos y liendres.

 

The light of the desert, where we are headed—I imagine it very different from this one. I imagine it a brutal, empty, future light.

Where is the heart of the United States?

It’s somewhere in the border.

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