Printer Friendly

Truth.

At the exact moment my neighbour tells her lover "I'm leaving you," a rainbow appears somewhere behind her. And there's the ch ch ch sound in my ear, because I've heard it all before, the truth about how beautiful love was, has been, and so on, and so forth, in the past tense.

Their arguments are always audible, because she raises her voice and he mutes his, and there is a deafening sound in both my ears when she says things like "I've had enough" or "I don't recognise you anymore." Or "Go to hell." Their kitchen window is always open, even in winter.

Right at the beginning, when I first moved in, I thought they might be actors rehearsing a play together at the kitchen table, her voice so clear and deliberate and his pauses so well timed. I listened and listened for clues, but there was always silence after she banged the door. Any minute now, a champagne bottle will pop, a plate will get smashed, a mirror will break, a tantrum will be thrown, a baby will cry, a canary will sing, any minute now. But nothing ever happened, and I fell asleep, my ear glued to the pillow. Ch ch ch, ts ts ts.

Once, in a dream, her boyfriend hugged me so tight on the stairs I could hardly breathe. I was on my way down to work, and running late, as usual. It was raining outside and he stopped me on the stairs, held me tight and asked desperately: "Do you hear our arguments? Do you know that I hate her?" I looked at my watch and I looked at his dark, shoulder-length hair, and tried to speak but no sound came out of my mouth. "I have nowhere to go," he said, "except hell." And I kissed him on the mouth, and woke up, soaked in rain, flooded in sunlight.

There's my wall, there's their window, there's them. And there's that bitch, Truth, who sniggers at me and makes that sound, ts ts ts, ch ch ch. Because, she says, you know what this means, right? You know all about love, don't you? Go and knock on their door, go and tell them.

The truth is, she never loved you. The truth is, you trapped him. It was an illusion, the rainbow was a liar, all those colours were fake. Love is a bubble of emptiness. And one day, years later, you will come face to face with each other on a busy street and there will be no questions asked, because there are no answers.

She tells him "I'm leaving you" and half a pizza grows cold. He counts the olives on its surface waiting for the rest of his life to come.

Nora Nadjarian is a poet and short-story writer from Cyprus. In addition to three poetry collections, a book of short stories, Ledra Street (2006), and a chapbook of fairy-tale inspired microfiction, Girl, Wolf, Bones (2011), she has had work published online and in journals worldwide. She has also won prizes and commendations in international competitions, including the Commonwealth Short Story Competition and the Sean O Faolain Short Story Prize. Her work was recently included in the anthologies Best European Fiction 2011 and Being Human (2011).

Q&A with Nora Nadjarian

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Q: Is there a quote you like or think is particularly fitting or relevant to very short fiction, whether by a fiction writer or by someone in a field other than literature, be it the arts, sciences, philosophy, religion, or other area?

A: "A word is a lot."--Etgar Keret. That one extra, often decorative and unnecessary word can be so annoying. I cut out words ruthlessly.

Q: Do you have a favorite flash story or writer, or favorite book of very short fictions?

A: I love Etgar Keret's tiny, zany, odd, often heartbreaking stories. My favorite story of his has got to be "Hole in the Wall." The last line gives me the chills, every time: "That he wasn't even an angel, just a liar with wings." I also adore the spare, poetic world of Simon Van Booy in Love Begins in Winter and The Secret Lives of People in Love. I see his longer work as a series of chillingly beautiful flash.

Q: What are you reading now?

A: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery.

Q: What does flash fiction offer readers that slow fiction doesn't?

A: It's hard to define flash fiction. I like to think of it as the "heart" of fiction, the essential that is required for the story to be alive, to breathe. I have always loved stories that imply rather than expressly state something, leaving things out rather than cramming the page with words. Minimalism can punch you in the face and make you sit up and take notice.

Q: Did any of your longer work begin as a short-short story, or vice versa?

A: I have sometimes "padded" my short-shorts into longer stories, but have always felt that they have lost rather than gained in the process.

Nora Nadjarian is a poet and short-story writer from Cyprus. In addition to three poetry collections, a book of short stories, Ledra Street (2006), and a chapbook of fairy-tale inspired microfiction, Girl, Wolf, Bones (2011), she has had work published online and in journals worldwide. She has also won prizes and commendations in international competitions, including the Commonwealth Short Story Competition and the Sean O Faolain Short Story Prize. Her work was recently included in the anthologies Best European Fiction 2011 and Being Human (2011).
COPYRIGHT 2012 University of Oklahoma
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Very Short Fiction
Author:Nadjarian, Nora
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Short story
Date:Sep 1, 2012
Words:1106
Previous Article:Baku.
Next Article:Continuity of Hell.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters