Fiction and Drama

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?

What Good Is Love?

What Good Is Love?

Something wants out

He eats, cuts more. A thick coin of marbled purple slithers across the counter and over the lip to the floor. He scoops it up, gobbles. Five-second rule, he says. She stares at the tiles that haven’t been mopped since they moved in: Are you looking for food poisoning? Don’t believe in it, he replies, setting his bottle back on the squid stain. I don’t endorse your obsessive fixations, he says, turning back to his spitting pan, tossing in a ring and tentacle to test the oil’s heat. Charlotte arrives at last, via Uber, straight off the flight, fashionable, strangely neat, with a hard little mouth.

The Muslim Lady with a Dog

The Muslim Lady with a Dog

At least I have Champ, she’d say, what do they have? Fat and lazy husbands?

Neutering Champ was probably the right call, since testosterone unnerved him. When Champ wasn’t around I would hug Dadi-ma and sneak her my kisses. If he spotted me touching Dadi-ma in any way, I had to deal with his barking, and then if he got close enough, his biting. But Dadi-ma never scolded Champ. She’d look on with affection whenever he tormented me, as a mother does with her two bickering sons.