Watch Me/ Say My Name

Cali is out of work for three weeks before it looks grim enough that she talks her sister into designing a website where for a price men can message her to do anything that they want her to do. In four days, the sisters understand that “anything they want” is predictable enough that they can have a menu with set prices. What keeps the guys coming back, and they do, is that she always says their name while she’s doing what she does, with a little lilt at the end, the way

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Barbie Tag

After getting the lead role in a Hindi movie, I had sat down with Vritika, my stepma, and Dad, and asked them if I should pursue acting or continue preparing for the IIT-JEE exams to get into an engineering school. A day ago, I had called Mom and my stepdad and asked them the same question.

First time in my entire life, all the four oldies were in complete agreement. “Acting. You’re an inborn show-stealer.”

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Spring Fling

He burst through the door and rushed in, all but buckling over the scuffed-up ivory sink. What had he just done?

He ran the water as cold as the tap allowed and splashed his entire face before bracing himself with the basin. Against his tongue he still tasted her. Against his fingers his still felt her. Against his body he still wanted her. When he closed his eyes, he saw her, his body trembled, his heart quickened. A chilling disgust shot through his veins, so he forced his eyes open.

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The Breatharian

Ciara finishes chopping the red onion, tomato, avocado, squeezes the lime and mixes it in the tub so Nikki can pack it; grabs a green juice for tomorrow’s breakfast and clocks out. It’s already after two-thirty and Chicken’s waiting.

This, Ciara’s third day of her breatharian diet—no water, no food, just ether, as the ancients called it—is easier than the first two days; the initial discomfort of hunger and

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First Day

It wasn’t always a hotel, you know. It started its life as a tuberculosis sanatorium, one of those that catered to people who slept in furs. It’s high enough in the mountains for it, of course, it’s the hotel at the highest altitude in all of Europe, but at the time, there were higher sanitariums. More expensive ones, which was all that those people cared about. As if paper bills could return the chipped pieces of their lungs. The coughs these walls have heard! And none of them the delicate scraping of porcelain against porcelain that you may expect from

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Act Three

One afternoon, long after lunch, they noticed that the actor wasn’t looking so good. When he wobbled during a particularly long take, one of the crew reacted, making a faint move toward the set. The actor was leaning over a balcony railing, confronting his defiant daughter who stood in the capacious parlor of their very large house.

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Nono Memories

I want to say I came to the city to find a job at the company, or that there was someone waiting here to make these noisy days worth it, but the truth is that I wanted to escape the grasp of the small town. It wasn’t something my parents thought was folksy but encouraged, both growing up in the city fighting for a stool at the bar. One night both of them ordered the same drink at the same time and it was enough to break the ice between two strangers. They told anyone who listens that they wanted one day to have their long island iced tea on a porch

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A Good Tabernero Listens

The cantina beckons me in.

After identifying my father’s body, I’ve made my way out onto the sidewalk, blinded by the Mexican sunlight and the blinking Cantina sign across the road from the morgue. I stand contemplating the windowless tavern wedged in between two whitewashed casitas. And then like a couple of strays, sadness and fear come licking at my ankles. I scurry across the road, heels clicking over cobblestone and stumble into the dank watering hole, instantly sucking in the

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All I Have Is Yours

“You’ll never guess who called me this afternoon,” I can recall my mother saying. It was dinnertime, and she was at the stove spooning something lumpy from a frying pan into Tupperware. We — my father, my brother Lester, Bradley Willis and I — were at the opposite end of the kitchen around a pink and gray Formica dinette.

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Remembering Leta

I remember seeing Leta in front of Al’s Quick Shop as I walked past Shaker and Elk on my way to Rose House. It was 1979, or thereabouts. I remember Leta wearing white sweaters, bell-bottoms, and friendship bracelets taken from charity bags left on Rose House’s steps. I remember her heart shaped face, her wide-open brown eyes. Do-good-girls, like I used to be, think we see women like Leta, but we don’t. A woman like Leta disappears for days, weeks, travels between cities,

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