Nalini Edwin


By Nalini Edwin

We were feeling awkward at an awkward party. We had all been standing around the table before we began sitting down at it while we stayed standing. There was bread to worry at, dip into brightly flavored oil. In fact, there were many kinds of flavored oil: chile, garlic, rosemary, chile-garlic, lemon, lemon-pepper. Wow, check this out, we said. Yeah, we said. Yeah. We took photographs of the oil and bread with our devices. We saw photographs of the same food, shot from different angles, appearing on those devices, one after the other, like a zoetrope dismembered, its length of images unfurled vertically and captioned. Bread, read the captions, and Oil, and bread & oils, and Yes, and #BOOM. If we skimmed through the photographs quickly, the bread and oils appeared to move upward in space as the photographs moved forward in time, jumping from one position to the other in their small ramekins on the table, growing blurry in one shot, sharply focused in another, obeying and disobeying the rule of thirds. Tilt-shift, cyanotype, cross-process. Magic hour, fisheye, sunkissed. Lomo. If we scanned downward we could see photographs of ourselves, or the view from our apartments and rooftops, or, perhaps most pleasurably, our breakfasts: a latte with its perfect foam heart, a newspaper folded like the chive omelette nearby, a man’s expensive chambray cuff holding a man’s hand holding a fork. We examined these (whose sleeve, what omelette, which newspaper) and thought about them (why him, where chive, how latte heart) as we ate, and did not eat, and started to eat, and stopped eating, the bread and oil before us. Soon the tablecloth was covered with stains, darkest at their middles like eclipses. Crumbs collected here and there quietly. We pulled out devices, just to have something to do with our hands. We learned together. With each passing minute, new things poured into streams and feeds. New things were both river and fish. They were grain in a trough, the trough itself made of deadened petrified grain. New things had happened all the time, and were to have been learned. We read well and closely, were always reading, really, growing well-versed in versions of ourselves. Timestamps reminded us to think of time, but unlike food, time has a heart of mercury and would scatter outward as a billion little globes if a hand tried to capture it. We made versions of our food in time, to remember the time we ate as if in the afterlife.

Originally appeared on Fringe as their inaugural Flash Fiction Contest winner.


By Nalini Edwin

Most of our possessions come from the thrift store up the block. We shop there to indulge our deep hatreds — of waste and sales tax. We walk there to save gas. The store smells better than its brethren often do; of fresh tobacco and Love's Baby Soft. Its racks of clothes and bedclothes are tidily curated by color, although one-half of the middle-aged couple who run it is colorblind, meaning that we occasionally find outliers — sage-colored pants blooming among a row of khakis, or a bright blue dress ruining the otherwise neat progression from indigo to violet. He always purchases these pieces if they fit, finding meaning in their not being of their surroundings. I think this is dumb. Always have. Still find any number of ways to tell him so, the lacerations echoing across the length of the dinner table. He says nothing, fingers a cuff or a hem after I'm done talking. Paces me as we eat our oatmeal. We lift our spoons, drop them in unison. 

We lift our spoons, drop them in unison. Always have. Smell our possessions, which come from an otherwise neat progression that is better than its brethren. Blooming echoes lacerating the dinner table. We walk there, up the block from the thrift shop sales, which is dumb. He says nothing, tidily curates the racks if they fit his length, finding meaning in their number of ways to tell him so. Occasionally he fingers me after I'm done talking, smelling of fresh tobacco until I come, always. Clothes and bedclothes — pants (khakis), a bright blue dress — purchased, indulged with Love's Baby Soft, ruined, although hemmed. A cuff between couples becomes colorblind, going through its paces, from indigo to violet to sage to oatmeal. What does it mean to still find deep hatreds, store them across the length of middle age? Or any length? Waste taxes one-half and runs the other into gas, most often not colored, as we eat. These pieces surround our being, our meaning. I think we are outliers among the saved. Who is to find us there?

Originally appeared in Anomalous Press.

To Make A Film Based On The Incident

By Nalini Edwin

The four bodies found in May changed the picture, by then halfway torn down and partially covered with snow. The snow would likely have contacted them. So-called "paradoxical undressing." Their skin had a "deep brown tan"; notably, the bodies had no external wounds. A group was formed. Eight men and two women could support the theory of a small avalanche, or "a compelling unknown force." A mysterious "envelope" mentioned there was no precipitation in the 25 days before the site was discovered. lt was expected that this would happen no later than February 12th. The group now consisted of nine people. This route, at that season, was estimated as "Category III," the most difficult narrative line. Some facts were missed, perhaps ignored.

Originally appeared in Gigantic.