All posts tagged: Fiction

Moon Hill

By SAM WHITE

The old man left the city because he was tired. He followed his doctor’s advice and went to the country to regain his energy. The exhaustion had come on slow, like a tide, or a spilled liquid stretching over the ground toward nothing. The doctor told him that Guangxi, six hours south by train, was known for the restorative properties of its water. He was surprised that a doctor of modern medicine would recommend such a traditional remedy, but he had heard of the region’s water, though he didn’t believe it. He had also heard that Guangxi was beautiful, and thought it would be welcome to relax, and see the place’s cascading hills at least once in his life. His sons didn’t answer when he called to tell them he was leaving. Their lives were well in motion, and he felt like an appendage—something vestigial, to be respected for a former purpose he now lacked.

Moon Hill
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Translation: The Wangs’ Other Child

Story by MARIO MARTZ

Translated from the Spanish by NINA PERROTTA

Story appears in both English and Spanish

 

Translator’s Note

One of the first things that struck me about this short story by Mario Martz—and one that I kept in mind as I translated—was the question implicit in the title. Who is the Wangs’ other child?

It seems fairly obvious that the main child, the one who stands in opposition to the titular “other child,” is Mei, the Wangs’ twenty-something daughter, who disappeared while visiting Central America. Mei’s likely murder is what sets the story in motion, prompting the Wangs to move halfway across the world to a country that’s entirely foreign to them.

Translation: The Wangs’ Other Child
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You Must Like It All

By MATHILDE MEROUANI

People were singing on the steps below our living room window, and Elena removed an earphone to tell them to stop.

“You’re singing very badly!” she shouted. “I’m going to throw water on you!”

A man yelled he was too hot anyway. When he said he would like to have water thrown on him, she smiled to herself, closed her eyes, and lay back down on the sofa.

“Careful,” I said. “They might break our window again.”

She said, “It wasn’t them.”

“I know,” I said. “Obviously. I meant ‘they’ in the general sense.”

She put her earphone back in.

I put down my pen, and watched her. I had done that, every now and then, since we were six years old—stopped what I was doing to figure out something about her, to think about her face, or her hair, or the way she always laughed when I talked about death. Mostly I thought about her face. I had done that so often, by now, that I was convinced she must know, and must sometimes arrange herself to give me a good view, to give me time to look, to give me time to think about her textures. I hated it when I saw her do it with other people.

The fan was only disturbing the tips of her hair at the end of her low ponytail—the top, a little greasy, was tight on her skull. She wore pajama shorts, and, as always, when she wore shorts or skirts, I got stuck on the blond hairs on her thighs. And then I moved up, and got stuck on her skin. Like wax. Like alive wax. Wax that would not melt.

You Must Like It All
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A Photon Takes the Shortest Path

By ALEX FOSTER

Every second, somewhere in the universe, a star explodes. All life within a trillion miles is condemned to apocalypse, all love forgotten. A supernova spits up a photon, a dribble of light, which rolls onward to another star and another before its path is intercepted by a giant, flailing planet Earth.

On which an ambulance, spraying its own red and blue photons into windows and lower eyelids, rockets down Michigan Avenue. Inside, a twenty-two-year-old woman sits upright on a stretcher, looking all around, proving her physical haleness by screaming at the top of her lungs, because until fifteen minutes ago, she didn’t know that she was pregnant, though she’d felt ill for some time, and then her water broke in a Starbucks bathroom.

At a moment of relative simultaneity, our photon is pulsing through clean air, through airplane windows and white linen kites. It skims a lake and pinballs in a web of sleek skyscrapers.

The woman, admittedly, would not have boasted a fully harmonious relationship with her body before all this; now, minutes after giving birth, things have devolved into open hostility. She’s clawing at her legs. She’s stubbing her toes on the steel door frame. Life is an improbability. It’s an unlikely confluence of pharmacological and genetic circumstances to be eight months pregnant and not realize. The ambulance swerves. She’ll be sick. It doesn’t help that she’s hungover. That her few bouts of morning sickness in the months past could be so easily blamed on margaritas and boxed wine.

A Photon Takes the Shortest Path
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Translation: The Men Go to War

Story by TOMÁS DOWNEY

Translated from the Spanish by SARAH MOSES

The piece appears below in both English and Spanish.

 

Translator’s Note

When I first read Tomás Downey’s story, “Los hombres van a la guerra,” I reread it. This was the ending’s doing: it called into question all that came prior, as the best endings do (I think here of Alice Munro). So I had an ulterior motive for translating the story: I wanted to understand how Tomás had put it together, how he’d written towards that ending. I’m not convinced I’ve figured it out. But in a sense, translating the story was studying it, and I hope that something of the circular way it works makes its way into my own writing. I hope, too, that readers of “The Men Go to War” have a similar experience: that the ending directs them back to the beginning for a second read.

— Sarah Moses 

Translation: The Men Go to War
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Operation Avalanche

By ROSSELLA MILONE

Translated from the Italian by LAURA MASINI and LINDA WORRELL 

“I am living permanently in my dream, 
from which I make brief forays into reality.”

—Ingmar Bergman, The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography

 

  1.  

Erminia danced the Charleston. My friend Gianluca told me how, almost every evening, his grandmother would pause on the threshold of the French doors that opened onto the terrace and trace out the steps. Her arms swinging, legs twisting, a toe to the front, then to the back, a heel swiveling to the side, a toe to the front again. She confined her movements to the doorway as though she wanted to go unnoticed, and yet somehow she demanded the attention of anyone nearby. Whenever I was at Gianluca’s, I always saw her singing softly to herself.

Operation Avalanche
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Tsunami Bride

By SINDYA BHANOO

As the parakeet-green municipal bus pulled into Cuddalore, Sai held his sign up as high as he could, his forehead burning from the morning sun. He did not want the reporter to miss him.

The sign was flimsy, made of two pieces of printer paper taped together, but it was sufficient.

He’d written SARA, THE NEW YORK TIMES in thick capital letters with a black marker. He knew of only a handful of women doing serious journalism, mostly Barkha Dutt copycats. His favorite female journalist was actually a character from the movie Gandhi. He had rented it when he was in college in Chennai and watched it alone. He was instantly smitten with the actress who played the Time magazine photographer from America, charmed by the way her short, wavy hair bounced as she squatted to the ground to take pictures of the Mahatma spinning cotton on his chakkaram.

Tsunami Bride
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Dream Catcher

By LOGAN LANE

 

FROM: Tracy Burks <[email protected]>
TO: Office of Coordination <[email protected]>
SUBJECT: How the Cookie Crumbles
DATE: August 3, 2043

FROM THE DESK OF TRACY BURKS

Dear Interns,

I will make this short but not sweet, unlike the chocolate delicacy at the center of this blunder:

Whoever is eating cookies in The Loomery, cease. Did you not see the signs in the hall outside? Did you not read the pamphlets on initiation day? Surely not, because you would’ve noticed they read in large Impact font: DO NOT EAT INSIDE THE LOOMERY.

Dream Catcher
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