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Randa Jarrar: A Sailor

April 16, 2013

Her husband wants to know what she had in common with the Turkish sailor.

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Image from Flickr via tesKing (Italy)

By Randa Jarrar
Brought to you by the Guernica/PEN Flash Series

She fucks a Sailor, a Turkish sailor, the summer she spends in Istanbul. When she comes home to Wisconsin, it takes her three days to come clean about it to her husband.

He says this doesn’t bother him, and she tells him that it bothers her that it doesn’t bother him. He asks if she prefers him to be the kind of man who is bothered by fleeting moments, and she tells him that yes, she prefers that he be that kind of man. He tells her he thinks she married him because he is precisely the kind of man who doesn’t dwell on fleeting moments, because he is the kind of man who does not hold a grudge. She tells him that holding a grudge and working up some anger about one’s wife fucking a sailor is not the same thing. He agrees that holding a grudge isn’t the same as working up some anger about one’s wife fucking a sailor, but, he adds, one’s wife, specifically his own, would never leave him for a sailor, and not a Turkish sailor. In fact, he says, she did not leave him for the Turkish sailor. She is here. So why should he be angry?

Now, she becomes angry, and asks him why he assumes she did not consider leaving him for the sailor. Besides, she says, she and the sailor shared a Muslim cultural identity, something she does not share with her husband. She asks him if he thought of that.

He says he had not thought of it, and that even if she had considered leaving him for the Turkish sailor, she must have decided not to. And he acquiesces that the Turkish sailor and she must have shared a strong bond over being culturally Muslim, because, he says, he cannot imagine what else she would have had in common with a Turkish sailor.

When she sees him placidly gazing at her, and refusing to say any of these things, she understands that this is his way of getting back at her for fucking the Turkish sailor.

Plenty! she shouts at him. She had plenty in common with the Turkish sailor.

Her husband wants to know what she had in common with the Turkish sailor.

She had nothing in common with the Turkish sailor except that she was attracted to him and he was attracted to her and they spent a night in an unairconditioned room in Karakoy, by Galata tower. In the morning, she woke up to the sound of seagulls circling the tower, zooming around it hungrily, loudly. The Turkish sailor had heard the seagulls too. Then, she had left. That was really all they had in common: the cultural identity, the sex, and the seagulls.

She tells her husband this story. He asks her what she wants him to say. She tells him to say that he is angry that she fucked a Turkish sailor. She tells him to say that he wishes he had fucked her in the unairconditioned room near Galata tower. She tells him to shout it.

Her husband refuses to say any of it. His refusal is quiet, itself not angry.

When she sees him placidly gazing at her, and refusing to say any of these things, she understands that this is his way of getting back at her for fucking the Turkish sailor.

And she also understands that this, his lack of passion, his sense of logic, is one of the reasons she fucked the Turkish sailor, and, it is also the reason she came home.

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Randa Jarrar is the author of the critically acclaimed novel A Map of Home. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Five Chapters, The Oxford American, The New York Times Magazine, The Utne Reader, Salon.com, and elsewhere. She has never fucked a sailor.

Check out more fiction from the Guernica/PEN Flash Series:

Ethel Rohan: Goodnight Nobody

Nathalie Handal: Last Night in San Pedro de Macorís

Ru Freeman: Siege

Vaddey Ratner: The Cripple’s Last Dance

Earl Lovelace: A Story in Which I Look Good

Reginald Dwayne Betts: Travellin’ Man

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One comment for Randa Jarrar: A Sailor

  1. Comment by Ariel on April 26, 2013 at 11:55 am

    A fine little story!

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