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Fiction: 2020s

Fiction of the Day

The Beyoğlu Municipality Waste Management Orchestra

By Kenan Orhan

Selim the half-wit hoarded everything—that was the story they told me my first day in waste management. Selim had lost his wife, and I guess everyone figured he took up hoarding as a way to fill the void. It started out with stuff his wife might have liked—small earrings, a tea set, owl statuettes—picked out of garbage bins. Well, Selim ended up with a house packed to the rafters with trash he thought was gold. He tucked it onto shelves and into stacks, put it in cupboards, crammed it under floorboards, couch cushions, and the mattress, until there was no space left but overhead.

A Summer Party

By Christina Wood

Rosemary looked over the party; her parents and her parents’ friends down below on the sod lawn. Seersucker and espadrilles; white cotton dresses; Brazilian jazz; the costumes of their heyday. They drank beer and Long Island iced tea and white wine punch, a recipe Rosemary’s mother had clipped from a magazine. Two pitchers on the patio table, under the shade of an umbrella, and two more, waiting in the fridge. Ice cubes slugged into the ice chest; smell of window screen like rust. There were Mr. and Mrs. Carson; Mr. and Mrs. Wentz; the Pattersons in matching hibiscus print; Patricia, who cut Rosemary’s hair; Lauren’s father and his nameless new wife.

Mathematics, under Which Is Love, Whose Bed Is Language

By Adania Shibli

A PAPER


And so it goes, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and empty; and on its deep face was darkness. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw the light, and He was pleased. And God divided light from darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And light stole the darkness of the night from the paper. And the writer saw the whiteness of the paper and that it was empty. And the emptiness of the paper filled the writer with emptiness. And the writer called the emptiness of the paper the death of the writer.

So Many Different Worlds

By Anuk Arudpragasam

On the evening of the accident Ganesan was on a bus from the office in Fort, heading in the direction of the National Cancer Institute in Maharagama. The bus was making its way in starts and stops, accelerating and braking as the driver tried, ruthlessly, to overtake on the crowded roads, and Ganesan was gazing out through the half-open window, at pedestrians waiting impatiently at traffic lights and bus stops, at passengers in other vehicles staring silently into their phones or out at the monotonous evening. The light hadn’t yet begun to fade but the day was coming to its end, the city’s commuters all lost in the long, mindless journey from place of work to place of sleep, their last remaining obligation to the outside world. Ganesan squinted out at the passing street signs now and then to see whether he was nearing the hospital, but unable to decipher their wording from afar, in no great hurry to reach his destination and not especially concerned about getting off too early or too late, he soon forgot what he was looking for and let his eyes glaze over, the few sharp edges he’d managed to summon to his field of vision dissolving back into peaceful ambiguity.

A Supernatural Landscape of Love and Grief Not Unlike Your Own

By Peyton Burgess

Sometimes PB to my students, Sack to my friends, and always Pete to my family, my name is Peter Burgundy and I worry that death has been my only inspiration to be a better person—that death has had a way of making life understandable. And oh whoa, how I worry that this will be the case till kingdom come—walking through every day to the quiet beat of grief ’s unfinished heart.

Somebody shouldn’t always have to die, right?

Uhtceare

By John Jeremiah Sullivan


CHAIR


When I was small my parents would host a lot of parties. I don’t know if they had more friends then or were just, as people say, “at a more social place in their lives,” but at least once a month there would be a bunch of adults in our apartment, drinking crappy wine and trying to play our untunable piano. There is something powerful for a child about your parents having people over. It’s not anything that happens at the parties but the evidence they give you that people feel safe where you live. That must go back to the savanna. Sometimes things happened at the parties that I was probably too young to see, but nothing scarring, just grown-up scenes.

Hive

By Mary Kuryla

The thing about the shape of a bee, which might be why it is often drawn curved around a flower with the black head bowed over the thorax and the knees tucked in lovely and benign as a comma, lucent wings arching from stripes furred to catch pollen blurring with light, is that the shape of the bee is like the honey it makes, sweet, healing, golden-lit from within such that a bee fallen dead on the rug or balled along the base of a window frame still holds the comma shape, and while it may be that