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Thin Air Reading Series Kick-Off!

 

Thin Air is thrilled to kick off our community reading series this Saturday at Uptown Pubhouse with local authors John Quinonez and Eric Dovigi. Before they head off on their reading tour this summer, Eric and John are treating their hometown to this special sneak preview. The event runs one hour and starts promptly at 6pm. Grab a drink, hear some great literature by two awesome personalities, and meet the friendly staff at Thin Air. We’re always looking for writers to submit to our magazine and participate in our readings!

And be sure to support The Literacy Center and Northern Arizona Book Festival with their “Stuff the Truck” event, sponsored by Full Circle Trade & Thrift. Find Full Circle’s colorful truck in the parking lot of the National Bank of Arizona, 211 N. Leroux. (Hint: it’s kitty corner from Uptown Pubhouse!) Bring your gently used belongings from 11am – 2pm and support two great causes!

The Adventures Of The Moving Lump

By Damyanti Biswas

Omi remembered the summer he turned six for different reasons. He lost his first tooth, Grandpa died in a faraway Indian village, and Grandma came to live with them in their tiny apartment in Florida.

But of that summer, he remembered best the stories Grandma told him, speaking in a firm, clear voice over the sputtering of the air-cooler in her curtained alcove. Tales from myth, fables of wisdom, and the legends of the lump in her stomach.

Some days, it was the peanut she had swallowed as a child, that now wanted to grow into a watermelon. On others, it became a cask in which the frightened rabbit had taken shelter to hide from the cruel fox, or the beating heart of a princess kept safe from demons in her palace as she lay dreaming. Mingled with the adventures of the moving lump, she told him stories about souls that didn’t die, but floated off to rest on the clouds for a while before dressing up in new bodies and returning to earth.

When she died, Omi didn’t grieve. He missed touching the lump, the way it moved beneath his fingers in Grandma’s swollen stomach, but he had known that the lump lived inside her for only a while, and would one day go on its own journey. She had gone to rest on the clouds, and would return soon, wearing a new body.

Over the years, Omi thought often of Grandma, and the lump, of how those stories had taken him away from the humid, cramped rooms, the sweltering heat, and the poverty of his family that could only afford headache medicine to fight his Grandma’s pain.

Today he sat again in a darkened room, with the latest, most silent air-conditioner keeping him cool, near a bed he could crank up five different ways to keep his little daughter comfortable, and clear liquid flowing down a tube and into a cannula to keep her pain-free. He thought of the princess’s heart kept safe, the casket that protected the rabbit, wished for the same refuge for his daughter, and his wife who had fallen asleep, crumpled opposite him at the foot of the bed.

He would find that place for his family. He would make it for them, so that he, his daughter, her mother could curl up together, far away from this hospital room with its beeps, hum and swoosh, its smell of disinfectant, dried blood, room freshener.

When they woke up, he would take them there, with winding yarns about fairies changing bodies like people change clothes. He would tell them the truth, through tales of soldiers revolting against their own king, of battles lost and kingdoms won in small spaces. He would take them far away, like his Grandma.

He just had to get past the lump in his throat, get started on the stories.

Damyanti Biswas’s short fiction has been commended at the Bath Flash Fiction award. She’s published at Bluestem magazine, Griffith Review Australia, Lunch Ticket magazine, and other journals and anthologies in the USA, Malaysia and Singapore. Her debut novel in progress is longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition, 2015.

 

For All The Men Who Slept With Her

By Damyanti Biswas

From a distance, she took him for a boy. But on looking closer, Laura knew him for a boy-sized man, one of those people nature chooses to sport with.

She felt a gush of rage. She wanted to gather him up in her soft arms and tell him he looked good in his charcoal blue librarian’s uniform, his pale moustache, his curly head of hair, the way he smiled at the girl in front of her in the queue. When the girl walked off, Laura stepped up to the counter, and gave the boy-man her best smile.

Jasper, his nametag said. No surname, just Jasper, looking lonely.

“I have a few problems I’d like your help with.” Laura leaned over the counter, hoping to give Jasper a good view of her cleavage.

He smiled, his gaze not sliding down from her face, and said, “Sure, how may I help you?”

He pronounced the word ‘help’ separately from the other words, with a pause before and after. So he had chastised her, asked her to take her boobs off the table and focus on the work at hand. She showed him the book she had reserved, the receipt, bearing her name, and the title, ‘Georges Seurat, 1859-1891: The Master of Pointillism.’

He looked at his computer and nodded, “Just give me a minute.”

Jasper rose, his eyes still on his screen. He didn’t ask her if she was an art student, or smile.

“No wait, Jasper,” she said, her voice low and hoarse, as if about to confess a secret, “I have another problem.”

“Sure, tell me.” Jasper sat down again, his head still bent towards the screen.

In the distance, Laura heard cars screech to a halt, sirens. A door opened and shut somewhere behind the counter.

“You see,” Laura rustled the pictures in her book, Degas’ ballerinas, all twisted and bump-curvy, “There’s a tear in this, I want to make sure it’s repaired.”

“Sure, I’ll see to it.”

“There won’t be any charges?”

“Did you cause the tear?” Jasper looked at her for the first time, his gaze like that of a pigeon, curious, side-eyed.

“No, of course not. I noticed it, and didn’t want to drop it back with the tear.”

On the torn page, a bare breast looked up at them, like a peach pudding, its nipple red like a maraschino cherry.

“I’ll get your book now.” Jasper swallowed and turned away.

Laura stood there, under the air-conditioning, surrounded by rustles of newspaper, the hushed laughter of children, the whistling of a call tune instantly smothered. She pictured herself a wife at home in a blue apron, baking. But instead of Rashid who warmed her bed these days, she saw Jasper enter the kitchen, the poor little boy-man.

A shrivelling happened to all the men who slept with her. She sucked them up, heart, innards and all, and spat them out. They diminished as her painting grew, their life-blood colored her canvases. A witch, that’s what she was, but she wouldn’t take this one. She marched off, leaving the torn book at the counter, the balled-up receipt of her reserved book in her hand.

As she walked out to the entrance, she heard a stage whisper behind her. “Laura,” the boy-man called back to her, like a hoarse talking bird, “Laura, come back.”

She didn’t stop. She would paint Jasper this morning, and using all of an artist’s witchery, she would give his handsome face a befitting body.

Damyanti Biswas’s short fiction has been commended at the Bath Flash Fiction award. She’s published at Bluestem magazine, Griffith Review Australia, Lunch Ticket magazine, and other journals and anthologies in the USA, Malaysia and Singapore. Her debut novel in progress is longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition, 2015.

Featured Artist: Dave Petraglia

The July 2015 featured artist of the month is Dave Petraglia. A Best Small Fictions 2015 Winner, Dave’s writing and art has appeared in numerous literary magazines and journals. His blog is at davepetraglia.com.

Tubes
Tubes by Dave Petraglia
Track
Track by Dave Petraglia
Sounding
Sounding by Dave Petraglia
Bitt
Bitt by Dave Petraglia
Sago
Sago by Dave Petraglia

If you’re interested in submitting artwork to Thin Air Magazine to be featured on this website, email Angele’ at angele [dot] anderfuren @ nau[dot}edu with “Thin Air Web Submission – Art” in the title plus a LINK to your artwork and short bio. Angele’ will contact you for further information. Please DO NOT attach art to your email. A new artist will be featured monthly June 2015-May 2016.