Painting by Bas Zoontjens.

As I pushed the second leg into my yellow tiger paw boxer shorts, my mobile phone rang. Startled by the shrill of a ringtone I hadn’t selected, I lost my balance and pitched forward. My head struck the edge of the new writing desk, I hit the floor, and just before my mind emptied I said to myself: so this is what it feels like to die with your pants down.

When I awoke the first thing that strolled up and muttered “hello” was the pong of clinical iodine. I opened my eyes to find that my nose, too, had turned traitor: I was sprawled at the foot of the new writing desk. I reached forward to pull myself up, and grasped a leg, which, after I whipped up my head to look, became in my hand the leg of the new writing desk.

The floor was cold;

My head hammered;

The phone rang.

I took a deep breath, and then struggled to my feet to answer what did not sound like any phone I knew. It was my phone; it vibrated in a slow circle on the varnished tabletop. I grabbed for it, and my yellow tiger paw boxer shorts, which, I forgot, was wrapped around my ankles, tripped me. I fell forward and struck my head against the new writing desk. As I crashed to the floor, I did not only think it but would have said it aloud—

A Igoni Barrett

A. Igoni Barrett is the author of From Caves of Rotten Teeth. His short fiction has appeared in Kwani?, AGNI, and Guernica, among other places, and a new short story is forthcoming in Kweli Journal. His second book will be published in 2013 by Graywolf Press. Visit his blog.

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