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5 Fictions by Prathna Lor


He had a face that looked like two faces. What you’d expect a man to look like if he never sat down, or only paid in change. It wasn’t the lighting, or the angle at which you stood. You could look him dead in the eye and not know it—not know that, for days, he had been saying that it had been raining and that it had been raining hard and that nothing will ever be the same again.



When you wake from a deep slumber and find that you have misplaced your hand, it is a good indicator that it will not be a good day. The day before yesterday I sent my children to Kosovo. For what, I do not know. It must have slipped into one of their pockets, or been mistaken for a shoe. Or, perhaps, I am merely having difficulty recalling some catastrophic incident. There are days when I forget that I am a woman. I have great urges, so violent and deep. Some days I can’t help positioning myself between the fridge and the wall. It gets better as the seasons change. I want to ply another woman so bad. A crowbar, a hatchet. My own teeth can be wriggly, I’ve noticed. The centre of a woman completely hewn in half. I can’t stand it, moving from room to room. I can’t brew tea. I kick my dog. I stone my neighbour’s maples. I send my barber’s hair to the lumberyard. I don’t know what to do with my fists. My husband, he doesn’t know. What gets him wily is a clean manse. A neatly stacked deck of cards. White tennis shoes.



Family portraits will often fill my head with romantic notions concerning the disappearance of my first ex-husband, now made brother-in-law. I’m laden with too many stories. He died trying to save a child from a burning house in which there was no child, merely a widower and his dog. Or: upon returning an overdue library book he found himself aghast, outlined with so many paper cuts they seemed penciled in. An adult size holed in the shape of a man was found in the library ceiling. Or: while traversing the interiors of a local museum he found himself penetrated with a fossilized shark tooth. How it managed to pierce his heart remains uncertain. Or: descending the slopes of a high ridge he found himself legless, then bootless, in that order. Regardless, in of all these stories, I am nowhere to be found.



Being duck shaped it was only natural that I fell apart when you began to describe the interiors of a flintlock. What I mean when I say duck shaped is that I am too easily welcomed into ovens. Or too soon made proper into stomachs. I know a man who sits down to have an aneurysm. He doesn’t live here anymore. He lives on Main. Sometimes he comes in to turn the sink on and off. It loses its charm quickly, being remarkable on a menu.



I built my house upon my chest. I lived in it for years. I brought my husband over. I brewed him tea. I split his legs between the concrete. I knew his heart was too soft for baseball. He liked kite flying and murdering. Salvaging and rusting. We made several children. We called them all Ermine. We called them all home.

Prathna Lor is the author of Ventriloquism (Future Tense Books).