:: Fiction

Sea Women published 12/11/2019

Everyone in the city had begun stockpiling the same blue masks since the curfew began; just last week the government ordered that one truck be sent to every street in Tokyo as a precaution. I caught the new receptionist stuffing great handfuls of those masks into her handbag one morning. I wondered if there was a black market somewhere in the subway where one could sell them, some place underground to repurpose all those concealed thin wires. Even if the fog would last one hundred years the masks would still outnumber and outlive us all; those boxes would just continue to accumulate in the receptions, in our hallways, spilling over and replicating like bacteria growing on the skin of our evacuated apartments. Eventually we would run out of mouths for them to cover.

A story by Jay G Ying.

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Untranslated: An excerpt from Apnea by Lorenzo Amurri published 31/10/2019

I’m in a London airport, I have to go back home, to Rome. I’m on the plane and I’m looking at myself from outside; I see myself talking with the hostess, but I’m sitting a few rows away. I’m in Fiumicino, I’m coming out of the airport. It’s pouring down and no-one has come to pick me up. I don’t have any money and I don’t know how to get home. I see a blue Italian Army bus; it looks empty. I get on and on the driver’s seat I find a carabiniere’s hat: I put it on my head as disguise and I try to turn on the vehicle, certain I’m not being seen. The bus is full of carabinieri, the windows steamed up with humidity had deceived me. At once, two arrive to stop and handcuff me. I start to negotiate for my immediate release:

“How much do you want to let me go? Shall I sign two cheques right away?”

An excerpt from Apnea by Lorenzo Amurri, original translation by Anna Giulia Novero.

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Nicole published 29/10/2019

It is no coincidence I saw Nicole. While I concede Norwich is small and it is difficult to avoid acquaintances, I have seen Nicole almost every day for the last two weeks. Pushing open the front door of the pub where I was already waiting at the bar for someone else; buying a flapjack in the queue in front of me at the café in Eaton Park. On Tuesday, I watched her carry two brown pints smugly back to her new boyfriend who was waiting at a table by the river. He was sitting under a red fairy light, bewildered and moony. I rubbed pocketed coins; looked wildly for anything else to watch.

A story by Jacinta Mulders.

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The Loony and the Bright Spark published 15/10/2019

The loony and the bright spark. It could be the title of a fairy tale, a bit like beauty and the beast, a sad story with quite a happy ending. The full title would be the roadside loony and the bright spark at the construction company, but that’s got less of a ring to it, for a sad story with a more or less happy ending. My story is sad too, but it has a sad ending, very sad, or rather it never ends.

A story by Emmanuelle Pagano.

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The Flies published 09/10/2019

No one approaches this clearing: no forest trail leads to it from any property. True for the seated man and the trunk holding him, successive rains will drench bark and clothes, and suns will dry lichen and hair, until the regrowth of the forest unites trees and potash, bones and shoe leather.

By Horacio Quiroga, translated by Ellisa Taber.

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Kings Accelerated into Queens published 07/10/2019

Z is the end of England and her name after she was Linda and purple and fat. She had filled a measuring jug with 20/20 Electric Melon and fallen backwards through time into Royal Preston Hospital—swam breaststroke alongside Lancastrian hags between their varicose shoulders repeating at regular intervals, wrists snapped into hands adorned with crows.

A story by Matthew Kinlin.

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Charlie Elliot published 30/09/2019

You don’t know if you were born wrong or if it’s because on the way home from the hospital there was a big storm and your daddy wrecked the car and your mama dropped you in the floorboard. Y’all all survive but you aren’t right. You are the oldest son. You grow up to be the tallest of your brothers and sisters.

A short story by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips.

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The Long-Term Effects of Vice Versa published 29/09/2019

Take your time he tells himself, however he can’t take a thing. He’s convinced he, hexxed, lost it in the famously tall grass or he gave it away to someone by accident in a wad of things.
Still, he’s been rushing it.
He has to tell himself again, It’s like this: slow and at least seemingly redundant, or just as likely, unlike that. It’s much easier if you can lay it all out in front of you though. Supposedly. They say it’s easier — having it spread out and smoothed out. Something about seeing the full picture, about how to get a good look at it at all and if that’s possible.
Step back a little, a little to the side.

By Nathan Dragon.

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Notes Without A Text (excerpt) published 27/09/2019

The notebooks Roberto Bazlen kept between 1945 and his death in 1965 were not, like the notebooks of many writers, intended to be read by an admiring posterity. Their entries were written out of personal necessity, and for that reason, among others, they reward rereading.

Even when he was writing for publication, Bazlen’s style was telegraphic. “I think it’s no longer possible to write books,” he posits in one entry:

That’s why I don’t write books—
Almost all books are footnotes, inflated into volumes (volumina).
I write only footnotes.

An excerpt from Roberto Bazlen‘s Notes Without a Text, introduced by translator Alex Andriesse.

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The Statue of Camargo published 23/09/2019

“The story of your cousin? Democracy’s Martyr? The victim of the Sultry Sect? Would you like me to tell you the story, Don Fernando? I assure you, it’s very short, and it’s become even shorter over time. There are stories like this one that lose momentum along the way. At first, they seem very lush, full of important details. How the man walked, the words he spoke that day, and we wrack our brains trying to remember if there was a sense of doom in his voice or a premonition that made him nervous. It’s not that we’ve forgotten the details, it’s that they hang in the air, as if disconnected from each other. For example, I wouldn’t know how much importance to attach now to something that consumed my attention back then: the fact that your cousin always wore a jacket when the guayabera was basically a uniform among us. Maybe it expressed something in the recesses of his soul, an inherited ideal, a quality that was intrinsic to who he was. Maybe. But, now, thinking about his life, it seems like a minor detail.”.

A short story by Alejandro Rossi, translated from the Spanish original by Janice Goveas.

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