Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

An Excerpt of Echoes from the Other Land

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An Excerpt of Echoes from the Other Land

Echoes from the Other Land

"Glass Slippers"

Ava Homa (c. 2010)

“Someone’s coming!”

“Just one?”

“Uh-huh!”

“Alone?”

“Yes.”

“Is it Yusuf?”

“A woman.”

Something falls inside you. You put your hand on your sister’s back, and wait for her to step down; but she raises herself higher, on tip-toes. Staring at Sara’s head, turned away from you, you want to ask her what else she sees, but your tongue, dry and stuck to the roof of your mouth, fails to move. Sara has her head pressed against the thin steel bars of the only window in the electronics shop storeroom. She raises her chin and peers through. Your place is three houses down from here, off the narrow alley into which Sara is peering. This block is honeycombed with dilapidated houses and a few apartments.

“Sara.” You manage to say her name, but in a voice barely recognizable as your own.

“Shhh!”

You draw back your hand from her back. Your fingers feel cold and a bit tingly.

“Hide your head!” Sara turns back quickly and you put your hand again on her back.

She sits on an old radio, pulling your sleeve to sit you down on something as well, something that makes a harsh creaking sound in the room’s clutter of electronic debris. It might have been a working TV once. You stare at her lips nervously, bidding them to tell you what the woman who passed through the alley looked like. Her eyes are inattentive, and she says nothing.

But who can move in this cramped room? When you breathe, your breath hits some electronic thing and makes an annoying crackling sound. Perhaps Yusuf is home and has called this woman over? He must have called her from his store. You imagine her with a large body; Yusuf likes big women. You feel the black chador that chastely covers your petite body, and gingerly slide a hand towards your small breasts—but you are in shape, your belly is flat, your face is cute, that’s what everyone says. There is the clack of high heels as her footsteps pass by the window, and you look down at your scuffed running shoes. From today on, you vow to be more feminine.

“Okay.” Sara steps up on the crate again and pushes her face against the bars. The electronic objects rattle against each other, disturbing your nerves further.

“What’s she like?” you ask hesitantly.

“Horrible!” Sara turns and frowns for you.

“Let me see,” you reply, gaining courage.

“Wait!”

“Please, Sara!” Your insides are churning. She peers intently out the window. “Sara, please.”

“Shhh! She’s going into your house now,” she murmurs.

You get up and want to push her aside. You need to see with your own eyes, for yourself. Sara is trying to squeeze more of her head through the rods and you want to scream at her to get out of your way.

“She didn’t,” Sara says surprisingly and turns back towards you, shaking her head. “She didn’t go to your house after all.”

You clasp hands together and take a step forward eagerly. “What’s she doing?”

“She walked out of the alley,” Sara says, peering through the bars again.

“You sure?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Was she pretty?” you ask shyly, blood running into your face.

“Ha ha . . . so?”

You shrug to yourself, embarrassed. “Just . . . watch for her. She might return,” you say, pretending that you can handle the situation and that you are not relieved because she simply passed by your door without knocking.

“Obviously she’s not from around here, maybe not from Qom even. And she can’t be on a pilgrimage. What’s she doing in this neighbourhood?” Sara pulls herself up to the window again....

Ava Homa (c. 2010)
www.AvaHoma.com

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