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by Özge Lena
First Impressions / Fatima Malik
My mother was already twenty-six and still my nani couldn’t find her the right match: a suitable sunni Sayyid boy who, like her, could trace his lineage all the way to the Prophet. Then, my grandmother’s friend wrote to her of these farmer clients of her veterinarian son-in-law, whose youngest brother had an engineering degree from the city. Not Sayyid, but long gone was the time for being particular. The friends agreed, and so the proposal was made and accepted, all by proxy and sight unseen. The baraat arrived the day after it said on the wedding invite—it was monsoon season and the train was running later than usual. At the reception, my mother wore a hot pink gharara with an organza dupatta which her aunt finished by hand with gold trim. Her multicolor heirloom choker came with matching chandelier earrings. My father wore a suit along with dark glasses. The reception was held at night. Her family, who were meeting him for the first time, worried he was blind. My father thought it was fashionable. My father was a rockstar.
A Portrait of Don, Who Paints His Face to Look Like a Sith Lord but Is Mistaken for a Juggalo, at a Deli Counter in a Small Town’s Busiest Grocery Store // by Donald Ryan
The girl behind the counter eyes him, rather than the spinning blade, cautiously as she slices a mound into cold cuts.
“My brother, one summer,” she says, slamming ham, “he ran off with the circus.”
Don knows what she means but pretends he doesn’t. “He went to the dark side.”
“I guess. Can’t sing about murder or whatever and not be a little dark. But not that they’re bad people. Just a bit wild. Like how we all want to be. Wild.” She lays the slices on the scale.
“Obviously, you get it. Why am I telling you?”
“It’s like how magnets work.”
“How do you mean?”
“They use the force.”
The price sticker prints like she can’t hear him.
“He far, far away these days?”
“Nah.” She hands him the bundled packet of meat. “This was years ago. “He’s down near Atlanta.”
“I guess. Inside the perimeter.”
Don takes the meat; nods, acknowledging she’s stuck on the clock, doing a job.
Images [ 1 - 4 ]
by Jason Chuang
[titles in order of appearance] Days spent in Isolation Part III, Intuition, Expiration Date, The Death Of Authenticity