Shome Dasgupta


Charcoal oceans glowed with loneliness; between the waves, there was moonlight—it didn't shine, it simmered. There was ketchup on my wrist, but I hadn't eaten in days; ketchup and salt and water—that was life. I thought that I was talking to a refrigerator—I looked to the right and there it stood. I opened its little metal door, such a cute door, and stuck my hand in, but it wasn't a refrigerator—I was just pulling on my own tongue.

Twenty years ago, when I was seven, I was playing in the sand, and there was this girl. Brown hair and freckles, she came up to me one day and asked me my name. I didn't know what it was back then, but she called me Bitch. And she said, Bitch, my name is Lora, and I'm going to make you cry. I didn't cry for fifteen years, until once, while chewing gum, I felt this grey liquid swarming my eyes as I touched the drain of the kitchen sink for the first time. Sinks are so lonely.

There was this blind man reading with his elbows, for while cutting onions and celery, he had cut his own hands off by accident. His brother—I would see him everyday, standing outside the grocery store across from the coffee shop. He smoked cigarettes and paced from one end of the sidewalk to the other. I wondered if he was thinking about someone. I wondered who cared for him. Did he hold hands? He was bald, and the sweat never made it to his chin. I never talked to him, but I knew he liked mustard, because, well, most people I didn't know liked mustard.

Veronica was a girl. She used to look at guys with eyebrows and lips. I never saw Veronica again, but once I dreamt she was dreaming of me, and I was a ghost in her dreams. Ghosts were never alone.

In the evenings, when the world—because when it was evening here, it was evening everywhere—when the world sat at the dinner table and ate lettuce and carrots, while talking about Dalmatians and broken clocks, I always found myself in the fireplace, trying to climb up the chimney. I was never successful, but I found a sock once, full of pennies and receipts.

No one knew. No one knew when it was dark. But this girl, Jessica, she had eyes like the sun--brilliant eyes, shining and humming and shouting and casting light upon the earth, making darkness jealous. I talked to her once at the Laundromat. I talked to her but she never talked to me. She wasn't really there. I just thought she was. An old lady covered in cobwebs and mothballs told me to shut up. I did, and walked out the Laundromat naked.

I never saw a lizard before, but one spoke to me the other day, while I was knitting a blanket in my den. I wished I had a den. I wish I had someone to talk to, instead of having this raccoon talking to me. Wait, it was a lizard. What's the difference when you didn't understand them anyway?

In between the branches, there were glimpses of wet prisms falling not from the ground.

She was crying so hard in the boys’ locker room, I didn't know what to say. I remembered telling her I liked her nose, and then she punched me in mine. Damn those noses. They could hurt when hit by the fury of a lady who didn't like her own nose. Why was she in the boy's locker room anyway? Didn't she see the urinals covered in my tears? Every time I cried, I saw a fire burning in my ears. What happened to the deaf? I hoped that they didn't cry.

I want to hold your hand, she mumbled. That was in biology class. On the cover of the textbook was the huge giant big enormous frog. Or a toad. I was never good in biology class, but I loved photosynthesis. It always gave me hope. Hope that one day I will see light. I will have energy.

Shome Dasgupta lives in Lafayette, LA. He is the author of i am here And You Are Gone (Winner Of The 2010 OW Press Fiction Chapbook Contest), and The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India, 2013). His stories and poems have appeared in Puerto Del Sol, New Orleans Review, NANO Fiction, Everyday Genius, Redivider, Magma Poetry, and elsewhere. His fiction has been selected to appear in The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing (&Now Books, 2013). His work has been featured as a storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Story, nominated for The Best Of The Net, and longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50.