Something She Can Understand


Jim Eigo

Jim Eigo is a writer and editor living in New York City. His short fiction has appeared in The Chicago Review, Cream City Review and many other periodicals and collections. His work as an AIDS treatment activist is profiled in the documentary How to Survive a Plague, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012. You can read his recent flash fiction in 6S: The Love Book, The Legendary #26, riverbabble 19, Word Gumbo 2 and Polluto 8. His first published art work appears in The Poetics of Space from Intima Press.

They pray, as is the custom here, the newlyweds together, on their knees in the middle of the train station, a still spot amid the morning rush. Louder than their dispersing murmur of praise: she hears her heart beat. When the baby inside her jerks—a first—she welcomes it, a benevolent omen, incapable of reading into it anything else.

The young bride resolves to place a call to her sister at the first opportunity. She’ll ask her sister, who has experience, to interpret this sign, the sister she left behind with the rest, the one who hasn’t returned her calls, the one whose advice she might not understand even if she did. If the young woman cannot yet comprehend the sister she’s known forever, how long will it be before she comprehends the man she’s kneeling with, still such a strange man to her, his ways strange, this land, not her land, stranger still…

What rips her attention away from her thoughts? It’s a flash of light before it’s a clap of noise, though only those blinded or deafened by it will truly grasp the distinction. From the direction of the tumult they come, the commuters, carving paths through the sky above the couple, blasted angels, some just overhead, some high as the dome that was there a moment ago. Under the canopy of cries, still her husband mutters.

How might she say in this language that is not yet hers, O protect my child, O deliver us? The air that’s thickened to black thins again at length to the deep blue of day; things around the huddled couple go almost quiet. The hand she squeezes squeezes back. They are for now of a piece. But how might she make of his ongoing mumble something she can understand?

© Jim Eigo

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