Fiction and Drama

On My Way Again

On My Way Again

In what possible way could airports be considered inferior to actual cities, nowadays?

April on the motorway, the sun’s red streaks across the asphalt, the world all delicately decorated with a glaze from the recent rain—an Easter cake. I’m driving on Good Friday, at dusk, from the Netherlands to Belgium—I don’t know which country I’m in now, since the border has vanished; unused, it’s been expunged.

The Monks

The Monks

How is just being at the temple helping anyone, except you guys, who get to do a few less chores every day?

It’s not that I don’t like the monks. Some are chill. Two of them split cigs with me in the mornings, after our prayer sessions and before our chores. I call them Monk B and Monk C because we don’t talk or share things about ourselves, like our names. We smoke out by the fountain, away from all the statues of Buddha in the garden. I think the monks are trying to hide their smoking habits from all those Buddhas.

Revelation

Revelation

You didn’t have to go and read a thousand books to see it; you just had to stay where you were and look around.

Suddenly everything I had been looking at—not just over these past months in Moscow, but over the past few years in academia, and over the past fifteen years of studying Russia— became clear to me. Russia had always been late to the achievements and realizations of Western civilization. Its lateness was its charm and its curse—it was as if Russia were a drug addict who received every concoction only after it was perfectly crystallized, maximally potent. Nowhere were Western ideas, Western beliefs, taken more seriously; nowhere were they so passionately implemented. Thus the Bolshevik Revolution, which overthrew the old regime; thus the human rights movement, plus blue jeans, which overthrew the Bolshevik one; and thus finally this new form of capitalism created here, which had enriched and then expelled my brother, and which had impoverished my grandmother and killed Uncle Lev. You didn’t have to go and read a thousand books to see it; you just had to stay where you were and look around.

Maybe Nothing Had Happened

Maybe Nothing Had Happened

What did feet feel toward hands, their pretentious, elegant cousins?

Like many people my age, like Molly, I’d been deeply in love with this man, and had spent hours hurling myself spastically around the house to his songs, and I’d continued to be a partisan of his music and, what, brand, until the music got so boring that it wasn’t worth the energy anymore. Whatever bad shit he was into, I probably would have stayed loyal if there’d been worthwhile product. The sadness I felt watching the movie had something to do with a person’s art betraying them, of watching a man who has grown bored with the possibilities of his craft attempting to find, somewhere in his past, something worth preserving, and finding nothing.

That Longing for a Holy Completeness

That Longing for a Holy Completeness

You didn’t make a choice to go in that direction. Life—nature—pulled your strings.

Last night, I had a really intense dream telling me that my (future) baby had begun his descent to the earth: I saw that it had been given a soul or had chosen a soul and was still very high up and far away, and that this process had begun seven months ago—I mean that seven months ago it had connected to my heart, as if a baby is born first, far in advance, in the mother’s heart. The vision was about to end when I desperately rushed to whatever oracle was making it clear, and asked if it was not too late to choose the path along which having this baby was possible. I was reassured that it was not.

Not the Backward-Glancing Comrade

Not the Backward-Glancing Comrade

On Ece Temelkuran

Temelkuran, a generation removed from Gürbılek, represents something else: not the backward-glancing comrade but the daughter of one, born in 1973, raised in Izmir by a social-democrat father and Maoist mother. It’d be hard to think of a more consummate figure of what a true Turkish “new left” would look like: democratic socialist, feminist, with books on the legacies of the Armenian genocide, on the Arab Spring, on the Latin American pink tide (untranslated), chapters and articles on Kurdish politics, nearly three million Twitter followers and a vast, sui generis facility with the media. A New Left Review essay one day—a TED talk the next.

Superking Son Scores Again

Superking Son Scores Again

The Magic Johnson of badminton

We hid behind the stacked crates and spied on them. Superking Son was in the center of the circle, staring intently at the floor. His hand seemed stuck to his chin. Some ghostly vision played out in front of his eyes, and it shocked the color out of him. Cha Quai Factory Son was there too, his hands on Superking Son’s shoulders, like he was both consoling him and holding him back from doing something stupid. A wave of money flashed around the circle, only stopping to be counted and recounted, probably to make sure no one had slipped any bills into his pocket.

White People Anonymous

White People Anonymous

So again, cis people won, but this was unsurprising.

The story had gone away after that. A local organization for trans women of color, one that Penny had been a part of, put up a billboard in her honor at Tulane and Broad for a while, a smiling cartoon of her backed by the shadowy stone walls of the courthouse, looking down from curtains of text that informed New Orleans about the details of her murder. Patience’s errands only rarely took her that far south on Broad, but she’d felt peaceful and still, seeing it. She basked in the care evidenced by the billboard like it was sunlight, like she was a voyeur, as she rolled (infrequently) past it, let herself wonder what other people in other cars thought of it, allowed herself to believe that they could read text announcing the murder of a black trans woman with grace, at least with something besides indignation or contempt. At least not contempt, she prayed.

Estación Origen MADRID

Estación Origen MADRID

“I’m really up for anything,” she said.

The night romance of the city made little differences sparkle. I kept encountering things I didn’t quite know how to see: suet studded with cloves? A row of shuttered windows painted crimson. A toy store lit only with candles, crowded with grown-ups moving and talking among dolls and dinosaurs, stickers and blocks, potholder looms and simplified puzzle maps. I thought I saw reflected water flickering: the bay so close you hear it slap the boat ramp. For a moment I stood near dripping stacks of traps, an overlooked crab still struggling in one.

The Keeper

The Keeper

There are habits one gives up on breaking

When the worrying got too intense, Dorothy had a choice of palliatives arrayed in pouncing distance of the saggy patient sofa: stress balls, beads, figurines for rubbing and handling, various-size pillows for pounding and embracing, and the eternal tissue box, draped in its hand-knitted elephant-gray cover. The box was always full. The therapist must be keeping watch on the box’s levels. Dorothy respected her attention to detail. Fullness, plenitude, preparedness, a material well of empathy—excellent clinical values all. But where did the therapist hide the half-full boxes? Or did she cram new tissues into the same old box between sessions?

Insurance

Insurance

Liberal people, but probably the kind who never talk to a man like him unless something in their house gets broken.

Three children and two parents fastened their seatbelts. All five, pale and glum, looked straight ahead. No one spoke. The Broadway musical had been an expensive mistake involving water and darkness and lasers and stunningly loud sound effects. Mom put her hand on Dad’s arm. He glanced back to see that the kids were belted in. The engine turned over; she pulled out.