by Nod Ghosh

Behind the letter ‘O’, I realise my life means nothing without you.

It’s not warm. Neon lights create very little heat. The ‘E’ flickers on and off like the start of a fit, and the ‘L’ lies over loose shingles. We have some protection here, when the wind isn’t blowing the wrong way.

I pull the fur of your hood back and swipe your brow. Drops of rain mingle with pearls of sweat. You moan, and creak the thick plastic I have draped around your body. Your fevered voice reminds me of when you were little.

“Aak deen shob thik hoy jabay,” Ma used to say when floodwaters threatened. One day everything will be all right.

We came to this country for a better life. We came to survive. With Ma and Baba gone, it’s just you and me.

I’ll visit the garbage, bring wieners, burger buns with green spots removed. If we’re lucky, cola dregs in a paper cup.

“Jol khabo,” you cry for a drink, lick the rain from your lips.

A man leaves the motel. The roundness of his belly strains through the whiteness of his shirt. He slams his car trunk and looks up. Maybe he heard you. I push my hand over your mouth to subdue your voice. Your face is firefly hot.

“Aak deen shob thik hoy jabay,” I croon.

You close your eyes little brother, and I long for you to open them again.

I cradle you in the ‘V’ of my arms.

◊ ◊ ◊

Nod Ghosh
Nod Ghosh is a graduate of the Hagley Writers’ Institute in Christchurch, New Zealand. Short stories and poems appear in various New Zealand and international publications. Nod is an associate editor for Flash Frontier. Further details: http://www.nodghosh.com/

11 thoughts on “O

  1. Not an easy read for more reasons than one. The pain is palpable. The reminder of an all too real underworld grates. My only suggestion– the V strains for effect. I wanted to stop after cradle you in my arms. AGB

  2. This story has tremendous resonance. It’s a good reminder, too, that it’s not the number of words in a story that makes for a powerful effect. Thanks, Nod, for this wonderful piece!

  3. This story combines originality, e.g., the neon sign setting for the two main characters, with such a strong emotional charge toward sorrow and pity and anger at the world. It’s fantastic, actually.

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