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Articles tagged "Families"

Wizard Bakery

The Devil’s Cinnamon Cookies. 2 per serving. 9000 won. Ingredients: flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins, and a secret extract. The essence of the extract will not be revealed, as certain ingredients may be found revolting. (Baker’s note: Extract contains no known allergens, so not to worry. Besides, you’re not going to eat it yourself!) Product Details: Give the cookie to someone you don’t like. The cookie will mentally incapacitate the recipient for an average...

Some Other Zoo

It was as though she knew exactly where she had to go, as though it was an agreed appointment. She raised her arm to take my hand, pulled gently—she did almost everything gently—and I followed her. She led me to her mother’s car (her mother was not around), and I helped her up into the child seat. “So, off to the zoo.” “Yes,” she said. “Eagle! Lion!” The zoo seemed to be empty. Alone, in the middle of the main path, a roadsweeper was...

Raspberries

Papá gave me this notebook. It’s so you can draw life, he told me from bed, and write, when you learn how to write, he said, his eyes sunken deep, as I played on the rug. He gave me the notebook because I told him about the bird that crossed the street at the crosswalk and about the red spider with little antennas. Spiders don’t have antennas, he said, smiling, and I said this one did, it was probably a different insect, he said, and I replied that it was not, that it...

Falling Down Politely, or How to Use Up All Six Bullets Instead of Playing Russian Roulette

But where’s the skill in loading a gun with just one round of ammunition and pointing it at your head, trying your luck at deliverance? The ingenious thing would be to fill all six chambers and let every bullet kill you, one after the other. Bullet 1 Even though the voice ringing out from the stereo in your bedroom belongs to a singer who didn’t die at twenty-seven like those other musical geniuses—Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, that bunch—you still listen to him every...

The Suit

My friend F’s call came in the middle of December, when the snow would not stop coming down and Manhattan was all but paralyzed. He said he had to get to New York right away but couldn’t find a hotel room since it was Christmas, and he asked if he could stay with us for a few days. My wife and I were living in a one-bedroom apartment so all we had to offer was a loveseat in the living room, but we told him he could come if he was OK with that. I wouldn’t say that F and I...

Spirit Summoning, Part V

Yoko asked my name. Usually I’d stop and think about it, make a point of recalling the name. This time I decided not to. I didn’t think, didn’t search for the name. Didn’t try to respond. I wanted to see what would happen. Yoko grew annoyed as I just sat there. If I kept it up much longer it would kill the atmosphere of the summoning. Just as that thought crossed my mind, my mouth started to move. “Ito,” it said. “Ito? The spirit’s name is...

My New Home

“I started drinking alcohol the day I fell into Maama’s womb. Maama died of alcohol. She started drinking young and died young. She drank too much alcohol until she could no longer drink; and then the alcohol in her body started drinking her up until she dried up dead.” I have memorized the phrases often enough. I will recite them word by word to my grandfather, Mukulu, this evening on our way to Tongo’s bar. Fleshy lies! Mukulu will say. I would know; Mukulu always...

In the Mirror

Under my skin, my father invades me. Quietly, slowly: in my striated nails, along the fat visible vein, in my stomach that has succumbed, in my scrotum that has loosened, he flakes off my skin that dries out and wrinkles under my armpits. In my face, my eyes face the invader’s transfusion and it’s still to be confirmed whether in the last days’ light he will stay or shoot off before I resign myself to him. From the collection Lar. © Armando Freitas...

Father’s Chair

The table is set, immaculate, serene. Nobody's seated yet and it will be a little while until anybody does sit down and tuck in. But the time has come for us to sit together and eat together and move on. The house carries on. The convenience and grocery stores carry on. So too the bills, the expenses. Two days have gone by without anyone in the house crying. When I go through the living room at night my mother's bedroom light is off. Silence. She sleeps, everyone sleeps. In this...

The Arduous March

We stayed in the mountain village up until we left the North. Before that, when we had been living in the farming village, we couldn’t afford to visit our relatives in China. But after a few years in our new location, we started applying for temporary passports so we could travel back and forth across the border. With both my father and mother making trips to China, our family seemed to be among the better off in the village. My father, who traveled frequently to procure materials...

A Portal in Space

The Friday bombardment started a little later than usual, at 8:30 a.m. The sound was loud and clear. Umm Anwar sighed, and her pain showed clearly in her expression. Furrowing her brow and ready to explode, she exclaimed to herself loud enough for the others to hear: “The downpour has begun, O Conqueror, O Provider.” Her son, Anwar, straightened up and rested his elbow on the sofa. He looked at his sister to check her reaction. Then he remarked calmly, “At the end of...

The Arab Altar

The last thing on our minds was celebrating our wedding, after we had waited so long, to the sound of air raid sirens and the reverberation of Dushka guns targeting the Iranian airplanes attacking Baghdad. Maryam had done everything she could to postpone the wedding, using arguments and excuses I found totally unconvincing. I was doing an MA in contemporary literature at the University of Baghdad. Once I was accepted there, Maryam volunteered to help me check sources and references for my...

The Devil Lives in Lisbon

On Mondays Mother always got up at five o’clock. She would leave half an hour after getting out of bed, once she had gathered up all the breakfast crockery, and then, looking at us again with a smile, she would not be back home till Saturday. When she’d come back down the same path that she had gone up on Monday. Nieves was seven at the time. I was six. Elisa, just three. Mother worked as a schoolteacher. In La Comba, a small village in the mountains. The little bus would come...

from “Poison Karoo”

Author’s Note: Poison Karoo is a work of fiction, written out of concern and dismay at the proposals for hydraulic fracking in the Karoo. Ludo is an old man, gray now and with eyes that grow bluer the longer he stares at the sea, longing for the woman he has never seen again, not since those years long ago. He lives alone, and sits on his stoep gazing out over the bay. His house is small and square, turned to face northeast, with its back to Paternoster’s harshest winds. In...

Block

Karl Walter Block was the only son of Irmgard Block (née Mucek) and Heinrich Maria Block. Heinrich had been a captain during the war and worked in an important secret office in Berlin until, for reasons no one ever discovered, he was dishonorably discharged, on Hitler’s own orders, and sent back to Upper Austria, where there was nothing left for him but to toil away from morning till night for the rest of his life on the farm he had inherited from his parents. This fate...

Tana

The rain began that morning. Tana was coming home from school. Thursday afternoons they had sewing class, and now on the bus, she realized this was the first day she'd left school in the dark. It would go on like this for months. It was cold out, raining, and the bus, jammed with boys and girls, with students, was steaming hot. The windows were fogged up; someone had managed to pry one open, and Tana, already sweaty, was freezing. She thought: I might get sick, stay home a week. She...

The Hole in the Garden, Part I

I stared up at the moon, large and round in the sky, clenching a fistful of pebbles. I donʼt know what time it was. I suppose it must have been around midnight. Just beyond the cinder-block wall all the second-story windows in our neighborʼs house were dark. Just as the windows of our house were dark behind me. I stood in the back garden. I say “garden” but in fact it was nothing more than a narrow strip of dirt separating the rear of the house from the high...

House No. 451

It’s old and dilapidated, with dirty, tattered curtains covering the windows, the roof on the verge of collapse and the antenna dangling from the gable on its wire. There are cracks in all the outside walls and the paint, once white, is now stained brown and flaking off in many places. The garden is a jungle: trees and hedges growing unchecked, moss in the grass on the lawn, dandelions and daisies everywhere, and an ancient swing hanging from a tree. One of its ropes has frayed...

Lamb

Ghulam Ali traded in grains and spices. He carried produce of the very best quality. Not everyone could afford it. Unlike other merchants in Golpayegan who traded on barter, or offered credit, Ghulam Ali never kept a credit ledger in his shop. He bought with cash and sold likewise. He never compromised on that principle. And perhaps that was the reason for his reputation for miserliness. Every morning, before he left the house for work, he would call out to his wife, “Kokab, do...

from “What You Wished For”

The Kid was back. Ziggy heard the dog’s toenails clicking on the floor while he did his usual dance. But for the Kid the dog also added yelps of joy to the ritual. The dog was more attached to the Kid than to Ziggy, or to his Wife or to the Uncle, who was his original owner. “Lucky, you goddamn sonofabitch you,” Ziggy heard the Kid say to the dog in a babyish tone of affection. He was seventeen, his only son, tall and thin and fair-eyed like his mother, clumsy and...

Inferno

We had just moved into an apartment in the suburbs, with all the hassle of fetching and carrying and doing the sorts of things that you really wouldn’t bother with if you didn’t feel socially obliged to. On the seventh day after we had moved in, my wife said we must go to IKEA to buy an armchair that would go better with the sofa than our old one. I didn’t raise any objections, though I could see absolutely nothing wrong with our existing chair. “Remember the...

2093

He lies and dreams. A great ash tree spreads out its crown and girls come with buckets and water its roots. He tosses and turns, then looks up. Beside him sits a gray-haired woman, stroking his hand. The veins stand out like those on a leaf. “You’re as beautiful as ever, Dísa dear,” he says, closing his eyes. They always used to dance in the kitchen. His daughters wet a cloth and wash his feet. He lies still, thinking about Arctic terns. *** I walk into the...

Dessert

As I sit at the dinner table I watch the three men who have sucked at my breasts. One of them still sucks them, two sucked them for a time. I look at the sun pouring through the window and look at the glasses on the table. I look at the three mouths, opening and closing because of the food. I look at the food disappear from the table as the sun moves across the window. I say: You have all sucked at my breasts. While they wipe their mouths with their napkins. They nod and...

Dolls and Angels

Hannan didn’t realize how late it was or even that it was late. Today was different. It was an extraordinary moment in every respect. Her mother was no longer the woman she knew, and the neighborhood wasn’t the same one that she had always found outside her doorway. At dawn, before foot traffic picked up or the rusty metal barriers of the shops were raised, her mother had quit her bed, which was located to the left of the door. Hannan remembers that this was after the dawn...

The Guest

She has become more like her grandmother than her mother, Hend thinks to herself. She remembered how she used to squirm in her grandmother’s lap, an angry child with a bare bottom. She was hard to keep up with as a child, light and thin, teething and crawling and speaking well before any of her brothers did. She proved that she was a creature capable of surviving and flourishing on the barest necessities of life. Her mother often left her to her own devices. She would crawl up the...

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