Fiction and Drama

The Final Set

The Final Set

“Just another thing that people get competitive about”

Her friends, her girlfriends, insisted from the very early stages that he was seeing somebody else. That he had a girl in Texas, an old girlfriend, somebody he had met on tour, whoever, that he kept coming back to. This is what all those airplane trips are about; this is why he keeps having to meet up with the contractors and the architects in person. But Dana shook her head. She genuinely didn’t think that this is what was going on. Part of her wished that he was having an affair—because it would suggest some reasonable ambition or desire on his part, to live a kind of life she could recognize, to make up for whatever was missing in their own relationship, which she could maybe address, in one way or another, after the inevitable upset and recrimination and heartbreak of finding out. Sometimes she even asked him about it, just to provoke a response. “Please,” he said. “You know me better than that.” And she thought she did.

More or Less

More or Less

Maybe he really was going to get away with something

They fell silent. It was strange to be indoors but not at work in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. The excuses they had told at their jobs only gave them a couple of hours, but it occurred to him that it probably happened fairly often that lovers arranged to have time together and then spent it fighting.

A Cautionary Tale

A Cautionary Tale

The numbers didn’t add up and he kept having to recount

For a while, Ariel and Harriet laid low. Of course, everyone knew it was they who’d trashed Brooklyn Stable. Intense speculation was devoted to why. Finley’s idea that the damage to the bar was a secondary result of violence Harriet and Ariel had inflicted upon each other was plainly false; the nature of the damage made it clear that the violence was directed at the bar itself. Finley must have realized this as well, because he refined his theory in successive tellings such that Ariel alone was responsible for the damage, which she’d exacted in a fit of jealous rage as Harriet stood by helpless to intervene. But no one took this proposition seriously, either, because no one believed Finley could inspire jealous rage.

TRAUMA No. 215

TRAUMA No. 215

I belong to Organic Pesticides

I spent a lot of time choosing tea at the market and a lot of time preparing it. Before I got pregnant, it had never occurred to me to think of tea as a possible beverage. Or maybe before moving here. Now it’s not just a beverage but an experience, an intellectual emptying, another act of abandonment to accompany my state of infirmity. The Miden market was full of tisanes, loose dried herbs sniffed from burlap bags or metal containers, aromatic teas rich in history, teas that spoke of distant places. I gave myself up docilely to an idea of exoticism that had never seduced me before—but if maternity manuals were the alternative, then submission was all right by me.

Shatabdi Express

Shatabdi Express

Soon the train passed and the world was still again

We walked along the tracks. I offered to fill her lamp with oil so she didn’t have to go home in the dark. We returned to my room but stayed outside. There were no stars for us to look at, so we lit a small fire with some of the wood I had gathered. She pushed back her hair and lowered her head. Her earrings were made of silver and etched with a curling vine. She leaned in, and I was afraid she was too close to the fire. Smoke blew on her face. She hardly blinked.

Parasite Air

Parasite Air

"Can’t be late for my monthly DNA drip!”

“I see I have your attention. Good. Your billionaire made a fatal mistake when he plugged me into his network. He thinks I am mere taxidermy. Little does he suspect the wrath I still contain. Or what powers he has inadvertently granted. I hear his conversations. His hidden deals, his inside track. I know the inner workings of his diamond-encrusted loopholes. You want the secret of success? It’s not a matter of genius, Chester—it’s a matter of malignancy.”

The Promise

The Promise

There’s more to life than not writing

The truth is, we were all lucky enough to have experienced writer’s block at some point in our young lives. The block was the reason we were at the program in the first place. Selected from a competitive pool of talented writers who nevertheless lacked our special gift, we represented the potential of an entire generation. From the beginning, the strength of our funding, from tuition remissions to stipends, as well as the entire trajectory of our so-called careers, was based on the severity of our blockage, which was taken as a sign of the promise of our ability to create something “new.”

Jackpot

Jackpot

Nature is ze enemy

During the years when we couldn’t reach him, I had fantasies about my dad. A classmate’s mother was rumored to be a spy for China. My Syrian father had studied political philosophy in Beirut and London. I thought maybe he had become a pan-Arab revolutionary and that was why we didn’t know where he was.

The Amphibians

The Amphibians

It’s just like one big-ass wedding

Always got to wait for this goddamn drawbridge, says Des. He rolls down his window, lights a cigarette. The quiet makes my stomach light with nervousness. I exhale deeply and it’s still there. I look out the window and inhale the swamp. Finally, I turn to Des and say, You believe in an afterlife?