Read Journey to Next World, the first leg of this story, here. Topside, the world looks bigger because our minds are smaller. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from life underground, it’s that perspective is everything. Beelzebub and I started this journey into the earth on the breath of a dream. My dream. One that haunted my sleep night after night until I followed Bub to the soft soil where we dug up the door to Next World. When I saw my handprint on the door–knew I was the key–I
Your heart got stronger because it had to beat through the scars. Wound after wound and you hardened it to keep it safe but the heart naturally wants to be soft, so it threw off the lies you said were protection spells, crashing against those walls until they tumbled. You went down with them. It didn’t feel like it, but you were free. Now you are stumbling along a path that seems too bright. Stop squinting. You are closing your eyes against hope and what comes next now that your
You tell me which is the truth and which is a lie. I may or may not confirm if you are correct. You may or may not be correct with any guess. I may or may not have put two truths and a lie into every statement. Parse at your own risk. I write under a secret name for a little known site with an assumed identity. It’s all very hush hush. When I have a cold, I eat exclusively Chinese food. Egg drop soup? Chicken fried rice? Crab Rangoon?
I’m sorry. I was hungry I guess? I’m not sure why it happened. You were there in one ultrasound. A shadow person. A double image. The doctor says I absorbed you. Mama says that makes me twice the woman I might have been. I missed you. I always set out a cup and saucer for you at tea parties. Put a mirror in your seat so I could find you in my corner vision, know what it might have been like to not be so alone. You were my greatest
I sing in jazz clubs under the name Shadia. My following saw a swell in my mid-twenties. My voice has always been husky and a bit low. I love singing under dim lights to live music. I love having a secret life, somewhere I can go when parenting becomes too much. When I’m tired of the sun or the rain or the busy-making of today’s “music.” What I like about performing is that I’m seen, but I’m also part of the background. My voice is a prop for falling in
I sat at the table picking bits of ground lamb and tomato off the “pizza” on my plate. It was a quiet evening two weeks into my 2002 trip to Lebanon. The heat was oppressive. I wasn’t hungry. I also wasn’t thinking. My aunt’s eyes were discs when I looked up. She whispered my name in high-noted horror. I quickly withdrew my hands, embarrassed to be caught playing with my food at age 22. I cleaned my fingers with a napkin and folded the sfiha in half, taking my aunt’s
A fracture in the egg’s shell allowed the white to push out as it boiled. A look and I think, “This is my brain today.” My head is a pressure cooker trying to seal off it’s own leak. Really, that’s my brain every day. I chew my fingernails down to the quick, blue polish and all. My fingers are stubby and ugly. I hold the egg in one palm, trying to match the fracture with my life line, but hot water spills from the shell before I can. It burns.
The lamp lived by her bedside. It lit the dark nights with a lavender glow. It was like jewelry for the eyes, and gave the curious sense of wearing sunglasses in the dark. Or glasses that created sun. It was clean. That’s why she placed it in this space. It was clean and the light was warm, but in daylight it felt stark. Like it was only pretending to be pretty. It was too much like her and she hated it. There was a reason she smashed mirrors with abandon,
There is something I want you to know. It is about the way I live my life since your embrace. It is the way you live in my life even after you pass, and until we meet again. In the Spring, I sit with my windows open so I can feel a connection to the world. It’s not like Kayfoun here. There is no direct connection to the land. No one lives in a flat above me. No laundry hangs outside. But I’ve come up with a way to counteract
“You’re the last person in the world anyone would talk to about a problem. You know that. I know that.” Susie pushed her upper body away from the floor by leaning on her elbows. She picked various pieces of dirt and lint off the floor. “I know.” Susie’s mother harrumphed and slumped down, preparing herself for the inevitable depression that would result from an adult chat with her daughter. Susie’s mother strongly resented the way Susie tried to coach her in parenting. Susie didn’t even have any children! Susie steeled