The morning light in her friend’s apartment was unreal and heavy like static snow on the television. Mercy watched smoke escape from the bright red rhombus of Waka’s lips, and for the first time, the impossibility of her own love story smacked her in the face. In her mind’s eye, Mercy recognized herself sitting across the greasy matchstick table, telling her story to her fumbling thumbs while dodging the skepticism in Waka’s eyes. She heard her own voice lilting and tumbling as in a little girl’s jump-rope song. She could see from the studious scowl of Waka’s face that her words sounded flimsy and nonsensical. So she talked faster, in hopes that velocity might somehow be mistaken for logic and articulateness.
“Yeah, but Mercy,” Waka interrupted, “he lives on the other side of the ocean.”
34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 20
A WITHERING SCAR, A PIN-STRIPE SUIT,
AND 1,000 JUDGMENTS
COLLINS I AKI
LULL, PATTERN, AND PURE
WITH YURI, ENLIGHTENED
SWIMMING UNDER FIRE AND ICE
TIMEA KINGA SZÜCS
The first time I heard of Yuri Exelrod I was on the subway with my father. We were standing in the center of a half-empty car while two men next to us argued the virtues of Exelrod’s work. One of the men had a near dwarf-like defect, was bird-rail small, with a Jew’s nose and arms so thin I could not quite understand how his flesh contained bone and muscle. The other man was three times as large, his body bloated, his black shoes clown-size with long twiny laces.
“Listen to me,” the big man’s accent was Slavic. His head was bald on top with a wreath of brown hair. He wore an overcoat even though it was summer, the side pockets containing a rolled up newspaper and a dog-eared copy of Exelrod’s most recent novel.
Three weeks earlier my mother and I had gone to Saddlebrooke Prison to bring my father home. I was eleven.