Brought to you by the Guernica/PEN Flash Series

I told him how he made my brother eat his shit. Took his tractor, roosters, dog, and his identical drums. I told him I dreamed my brother didn’t die. That he’s in a hotel in Jarabacoa and he just left a bar. Flirted with a ghost, ate a pineapple and turned his shirt inside out so that he could forget last night. He once considered taking a bride but couldn’t find a theme for the wedding. He meant to, but then didn’t see the use. Some people like ideas, others like motion, some like one woman, others roam. Don’t apologize now, man, just measure my bone for accuracy and tell me what time it is, I told him. There’s only one ride left to the capital. One bar of soap left, one towel. That’s how fiction comes to life, you unlucky fucker. Why tell the truth? I gave the man a handshake. What other way could we show our sadness, how noise turns inside of us? How much of our body is in our moaning? Her pussy was clean, he suddenly says, she wore her favorite shoes at night, glittering silver and red. If you see her, tell her your brother’s last words were, I do not need a storm but I need your chorus mujer, then added when he reached the last block, I’ll write my name here. A story is always written in the last breath. Although we like to believe other drafts will come.

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

Ethel Rohan: Goodnight Nobody

Ru Freeman: Siege

Randa Jarrar: A Sailor

Vaddey Ratner: The Cripple’s Last Dance

Earl Lovelace: A Story in Which I Look Good

Reginald Dwayne Betts: Travellin’ Man

Nathalie Handal

Nathalie Handal was raised in Latin America, France, and the Middle East and educated in Asia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. She is the author of seven poetry collections including Life in a Country Album, finalist for the Palestine Book Award, and the flash collection The Republics, winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing and the Arab American Book Award. Handal is the recipient of awards from the PEN Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, Centro Andaluz de las Letras, and Fondazione di Venezia, among others. She is a professor at Columbia University and writes the literary travel columns “The City and the Writer” for Words without Borders magazine and “Journeys” for Publishers Weekly Arabic.

One Comment on “Last Night in San Pedro de Macorís

  1. It seems editors for the flash fiction PEN Series are very fond of the word “fuck” and isn’t that overused and a sensationalized cliched curse? I want better langage than the cliched “shit “and “fuck” overused words to create false sensationaliism and daring. The Handal piece grabs you in with “eat shit”.but, does it really teach anything or have vital meaning in the sense of poetic meaning? Does it really share life experience and have a poetic moral to the fiction? It’s just surreal, sensational and sollipsistic like so much of American abstract poetry, meaningless in the age of climate catastrphe and the death of species? Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m just wondering. Vadday Ratner’s piece has more humanity. I like a flash that brings a glimmer of humanity, or the human condition, or emotional sharing, or poetic meaning that brings an “Ah Ha moment?” Am I wrong? Ah, well, there is no accounting for taste, but I imagine readers know what I mean, even if I haven’t expressed it delicately enough…. The best part of the Handal piece is her dream that her brother is alive somewhere…. That touches the heart a bit. Sensationalized sex and fuck and shit words have to lead somewhere to the “Ah Ha moment” that touches the spirit, soul, heart, truth center of the brain. Ah, cliches!

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