Story no. 14.
Niyati pulls the covers down from her face and inspects her fingernails. She looks at her phone. Her forebrain reads that it is time to wake up. Her reptile brain replies that it is still tired. Niyati pulls the covers back over her face.
Niyati does not wake up.
Niyati realized she had overslept at nine thirty-seven and rolled out of bed cursing. Her phone alarm is a barking dog and it, like the train whistle, like the piano playing, like the horn honking, does not rise above the aural texture of her dreams. By ten she has poured a cup of coffee and is staring at her pad of watercolor paper.
Story no. 13.
Except for the laces, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed that I had just put the wrong shoes on my feet. The black tennis shoes I had taken off had pink laces and the black tennis shoes I put back on had yellow ones. When I held the shoe right up against my face, I realized that these also had smooth, pleather-y bits on the heels and toes, whereas mine were made of netting.
Story no. 12.
The house always had fourteen rooms, but they were not always the same fourteen rooms. Sometimes Siri opened a door into the basement and spent the quiet hours looking through kitchen after kitchen, opening ovens and rummaging through cabinets. Usually there was no silverware, but occasionally she poked herself on a fork. Other times the door ushered her up an enormous spiral staircase, and the fourteen rooms were all rumpus rooms, all made of glass, ascending alongside the stately climb of the central corridor. A few times the front door had left her in a long string of bedrooms, mostly painted purple, all with mysterious wardrobes and bookcases tucked in the corners and the closets. Once or twice the house hadn’t even been in only one building, but dispersed throughout the attics of five or six different townhouses. She had had to guess from the shape and color of the shutters which ones she ought to enter and search.
Story no. 11.
The train ride to Disreka’s village was a long one. Agbet’s face assumed the expression of grave contentment that so enraged Cemberin when he saw it on his father’s face. It was a Cathdari mannerism that he had never been able to master, this ability to keep every thought he had from running across his cheek muscles in spasms.
Story no. 10.
Analise wasn’t sure where the packages were coming from, nor could she guess when the next one might arrive. This one, like all those before it, was delivered by parachute. All of them had dropped gently into her life when she alone – playing in the back garden, sitting in the hallway after being sent out for disrupting class, and this time, walking home from school. The wooden box was wrapped in brown paper, and the top slid free from two slots cut into the inside of the box.
Story no. 9.
In 1982, a man named Jaime Gonzalez moved from San Juan to the Bronx. Jaime was sick of living in his old neighborhood on the island for a lot of reasons – the heat, the poor sanitation, the bad prospects – but chief among them was that he had the rare talent to taste love, and it was driving him insane.
Story no. 8.
Once there was a woman trapped on a dock.
It was narrow structure built of slats of woods, unstable, almost flooding as it tipped from side to side. An old rope anchored it to a few metal posts rising from the ocean. They were stable enough to keep the dock from floating away entirely, but they could not hold her weight – she had tried to climb up on one during the long vigil of the night, and they swayed and bent dangerously. The shore – well, she couldn’t see it. Shadows twined through the yellow-brown water underneath her. They had been following her boat all this time (her boat, which now sat somewhere deep below her, obscured in the mud, with all her possessions in it.) One had risen to the surface a few hours ago, in case she had forgotten them: a pack of long, lithe sharks, some gray, some white, some brown-striped and spotted.