lit issue 2020


On the way home, Q stopped by the food cart and bought hotdogs, then at the flower stand two lilies fresh out of the water. Unwrapping the tin foil, she wondered how food-cart hotdogs always tasted the best before the first bite, and so did the “Turkish” barbeque sandwich on the way back home from middle school, always looking the best hanging and rotating and getting grilled in the air. The streets at dusk were different in that remote place then. The lampposts all went on at once and the night always fell at that exact moment. Q walked along the street as she used to do years ago in that faraway city, always panicking over math exams and the weekly long-distance running that seemed so trivial in hindsight, and the air at dusk always a bit greasy from the tasty smell of waste oil and fake foreign street food. The air dimly illumined by the lampposts light used to stare at her through the heavy contaminated haze and urge her to go home. But even waste oil tasted differently in this inscrutable New England city, always with winter and her windswept hair blocking the view. Q felt cheated, but on second thought it could be that the place was hygienic after all and their oil organic and clean. There’s nothing special about today, but she became wanting to buy flowers all of a sudden. Last week she had been told that all days are the same. No festivals, no artificial commemorations. It’s always Monday in Macondo. But that we all know, we all know that, and we go on living as if we don’t. The old man wrapped her lilies in a piece of cellophane with small white floral print and handed them over to Q. Really, she doesn’t like flowers that much. Lily was the only name she knew. Lowering her head as she walked down the stairs into the subway station, Q felt as if loved by many, but she had nothing to give.