Fiction

  • He offers club soda. Says the bubbles help him pretend it’s a cold, tasty beer. Cold, tasty relaxing beer. He teases me for calling it ‘sprinkled water’.

    He says, “You sweet cinnamon bun, you make the cutest foreign mistakes,” then pours a big glass of sprinkled water and gulps it all the way down.

  • She wasn't in touch with her father for twenty-two years, since her mother died. But when she got the call as his next of kin, she still went through his things.

  • She tells him her mother died in childbirth. The midwife dipped a finger in the umbilical cord blood, rubbed it on her baby lips so she’ll be beautiful. A beautiful killer.

    They tell each other it’s okay, they are safe now.

  • "Spain"

     "A Dripping Childhood Memory"

    "The Beginning of the Era of the Booty Call"

     

    —Yardenne Greenspan, trans.

  • Skunk, my rabbit, greets me kicking his heels up. He follows me to the tiny kitchen. Strawberry for him, snifter glass for me. My twin sister bought Skunk after my unsuccessful surgery last year – “They make good companions and you don’t have to take them outside.” She’s hot, thin as an anorectic vegan on a candida diet.

    I thought it’d be cruel to keep him caged, so I let him wander around and poop everywhere. I’ve made my peace with the smell.

  • I ran into a family acquaintance on a whale tour. She was wearing binoculars around her neck.

    She said: what happened to you? I heard you became a homeless junkie in the city or something, that you’re a prostitute at the side of the road - someone even told me you OD’d.

    And I said: yes, it’s all true.

  • It is noon when we enter the classroom for our last period. We try to avoid the surgical mask of our math teacher—she probably has mouth cancer, a desperate teething tumor, we suspect, although she explains she’s afraid of our germs. The headmaster comes in right after us and whispers in the teacher’s ear. So close to the mask it gives us the chills. They both approach Gali, the tuna-sandwich girl who always smells like tuna. We all guess what this is about. We all know she won’t cry. None of us do when they tell us our daddies have crashed.

  • She never threw bananas on a rooftop before. Certainly not four in a bundle. An onion, yes. But that couldn’t be helped at the time. The short-term renting neighbors were playing trance music too loud. She couldn’t get their attention in any other way. The golden ball landed on their terrace with a note attached to it: Keep the music down, I’m sick. Thank you. (She wasn’t sick or thankful.)

    However, there was no note on the bananas. The message was clear to their recipient. He was sitting naked on the sofa, working on his computer.

  • Today he carries a bouquet of plastic sunflowers. He’s himself, naked face. An okay guy, not the kind you turn your head after. We nod at each other. For a second I slow down and almost look back, but I’m late for a presentation. The boss is presenting us with a new apartment. The girls discuss who gets to work there. New location meant new mattresses and freshly coated walls.

  • At first, Lucia thinks her ex-boyfriend sent her the package as a joke. There are a dozen dildos in the box, all of them with birth defects—strange shapes, hideous colors, missing testicles, extra holes—but the one she can’t take her eyes off is the flaccid dildo. It looks just like him. She takes out the dildo, examining it up close. The veins seem so real, but something’s not right. He never had self-deprecating humor. It couldn’t be from him. Lucia turns the box around, trying to find a return address. There’s only a tiny white sticker with the name “Senzhen Ltd” on it. The stamp is Chinese.

  • The mirror in the elevator goes all the way down to the floor that’s carpeted in red. The carpet smells like there had been a fire and they’d replaced it, but couldn’t get rid of the smell. At least the soft light was complimentary.

    You didn’t wear anything special, just a pair of jeans and a black Nirvana T-shirt. The guy who set up the meeting—you went out a few times—was waiting in the lobby with instructions. He was pleased with the way you looked.

  • The Norwegian woman continued: it's a catering job, oil drilling rig in Norway. She was lucky to have it, they just keep making cutbacks.

    Every two months she lands in Oslo and a helicopter takes her to a drilling rig in the middle of nowhere. She looks after the 118 workers who live on it. There were 120, but two of them drowned in their sleep; an explosion, god rest their souls—their nook just fell into the water. But there's no need to worry, it rarely happens.

  • Juanma hadn’t penetrated her yet, but she kept showering thoroughly and waxing her parts, just in case. She continued to cross through the Plaza and not around it, to save time. The birds always started a riot when she passed, diving at her, screaming and shitting. But she didn’t mind, it was always the same dress, which by now was stained beyond help.surgery