Porch: a short story

When she opened the door that morning, there they were again as they’d always been: two men standing on the porch. Black coats. Black pants. White shirts. Neckties. All smiles.

“G’mornin’, ma’am!” said the first one. The second one never said anything.

She slammed the door and with flustered rage retreated into the kitchen, finding herself once again unable to go on with her day. In truth, there was absolutely nothing stopping her. The sun was bright and the breeze was cool. The keys lay on the table and the car was perfectly functional. The children were still asleep. But those men. Yet even they wouldn’t motion to stop her from heading out if she tried. In fact, they offered no interference of any kind. They only offered greetings.

She halted before the sink and grabbed a dirty plate, scrubbing tetchily. When she finished with one she snatched another and cut the grease down to the ceramic bone. She clenched her teeth.

What are they doing here, she thought. Again!

She slammed the dish into the sink and turned away. She heaved a sigh and coughed up a curse. She stomped out of the kitchen.

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Jalsa: a short story

“Bro, this queer’s fleeked out or some shit.”

Ameer had understood only two words from that sentence: “this” and “or”.

The others must have been in a vernacular unfamiliar to him. After all, he was aware that American English varied by region. When he had heard the sentence in class, whispered schemingly from one classmate to another, he had scrambled to write it down. He only hoped that he had spelled it out correctly: “brow this kweerz flekout or semshet”. He had hoped to look the words up later.

Did this sentence even have a predicate?

But now was not the time for study. The call for Evening Prayer had been made, and afterwards the Elders would be gathering for the jalsa in the guest room. He went to the sink to make wudu’, or ablution, and then descended the stairs for prayer with his siblings and the guests who had already arrived. He greeted each person present with a firm handshake, a kiss on the cheek, and a kiss on the right shoulder. With marvelous precision, the men assembled in solid rows, facing east, as the foremost (and oldest) of them announced “Allaaaaaaahu Akbar…

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HOST: a short story

I was stirred awake by sounds before unheard. Gonging flinching rhythmic pounding aching switching soothing—all in one, one in all—is the only way I can describe them. Individually, they were distinct as could be—polar, in fact, related in no way—but they came together and melded into one liquid fluid flowing floating form that roused me from the depths of sleep to unprecedented tranquility. If I could find one relative word to describe this euphoric orum, I’d call it “music”. But how far it was from what we call “music”!

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