The Letter of Doom

Another student received the notice yesterday. Thin white paper, bluish and dried ink etched on the page like a tattoo drawn in sloppy cursive. Its head stuck out of the mailbox; a threat so huge it begged for attention. The reactions were all the same—confusion, shock, and then shame. How could a stranger know their deepest, darkest secret?

People called it The Letter of Doom. It went from being the town joke to a phantom whose name you must whisper to say. The unknown perpetrator had become a god, respected and feared among the students.

The first person who got the letter was a girl in my school called Amanda. She’d been sneaking out of her house almost every weekend to see her college boyfriend until the angels caught her red-handed. Parents liked these anonymous letters because they had become easy microscopes that looked into the lives of their teens. Some found it creepy but were still curious enough to check the mailbox that no one used for any report. Funnily enough, the letters were hardly ever wrong.

Samuel had gotten one exposing his cigarette use, much to his parent’s dismay. The infamous drug dealer, Ife, had also gotten one, not to anyone’s surprise. The neighborhood teens called her igbolabi, a Yoruba word meaning “we gave birth to weed.”

I’ve been waiting for my letter to come in, since I have become quite fond of slipping fingers in between my thighs like a hook in the sea, always coming out with a piece of me much bigger than before. Bending and twisting like a contortionist.

But I guess it’s harder to spot a sin committed in the hidden crevices of hell, that is, my room where no inquisitive spirit can slip through. When I’m not doing myself, I’m watching other people on tiny, dim screens either in the church parking lot or during lunch in the locker room.

My friend Jasmine and I were talking about the letter a few days ago. I laughed as I narrated the hilarious response of my neighbors when their son got the death sentence. She said it was more of an indifference sentence. The tone was less warning and more declarative like God was simply telling you the fact of your sins rather than warning you to repent. They had become resigned to them, to you.

Monday morning, my mum glanced at the mailbox from the kitchen. She was one of those mums. She didn’t say anything about the letter but she was waiting and so was I so I could snatch it before her eyes caught sight of it. I got ready and went outside with my bag strapped on my back, rushing towards the bus. I stopped. There it was—a folded sheet of paper peeking out of my mailbox. I pulled it out and sure enough, the illegible cursive handwriting stared back at me on the page. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.



Dear Staff and Franchise Holders,

My apologies for the confusion caused by my most recent memo. It seems a “technical glitch” inadvertently substituted the word “resigning” for the intended “redesigning.” No, I am not stepping down.

Rather, it was to announce plans that will make critical changes to our production lines. Many task teams have investigated our options in this effort, and while the Evolution Q-6R3 program has produced many improvements towards our goals, it simply is progressing too slowly. I have decided we must retool and redesign immediately. This means some of you will be temporarily reassigned to different departments and job assignments. And to our franchise holders, some models are being phased out or may be temporarily out-of-stock as we move forward.

I will be issuing a complete list of changes shortly to all Departments, but here are a few of the critical changes:

  • Complete elimination of the mosquito and housefly lines. While there was initially great expectation for these products, it seems that they do not actually serve any purpose.
  • Elephant tusks are obsolete. They are being discontinued immediately. Since we will be working in that physical area, we need to address the long-standing concerns over the elephant’s trunk. While there are many fans of this popular feature, it is my belief a few minor alterations will make it more user-friendly. These include shortening and making it more like the popular Dyson Vacuum Cleaner line. The possibility of various attachments is still under review.
  • The duckbill platypus line will be completely revamped to make it more visually pleasing.
  • Chickens and cattle will no longer taste good. Liver will be given a sweeter flavor, resembling dark chocolate. And assorted green vegetables, especially kale, spinach, and brussels sprouts, will undergo a number of taste-driven improvements.
  • Man will receive some major changes, intended to improve relationships within the species. The various color options we introduced at the kickoff of production, have proven to be counterproductive. To correct this, across the board, all future models will be a pleasing shade of pastel green. All existing models will be phased out, as soon as possible. All female models will be packaged in closer proximity to the dimensions of the popular Barbie dolls. All male models will be more generously endowed.

Again my apologies to everybody, but especially to Barb, Pedro, Xien-Cho, and Fred, who handle the HELP DESK. Thank you for handling the massive flood of calls and questions. As a token of appreciation, please take the next millennium off with pay, compliments of me. I hope all of you will return fully rested and ready to continue the excellent service you provide.

And finally, everybody please join me in wishing Archangel Bob good luck in his new assignment. You will remember Bob was the driving force behind “Auto-Correct.” Bob has been assigned to Lucifer’s staff where he will be in charge of Hell’s Sewer System.





i was one of three juniors in the senior AP Euro class. he was the captain of the swim team and sat right in front of me (when we weren’t fucking in random acquaintances’ accommodations). he brought me lunch to our exam and i paid him back with a blowjob in the testing facility parking lot—right behind a church. afterwards, i mouthwashed and we split a blunt. now he’s an angel, making up for missed matches by sending me baggies of weed i randomly find on the street.


we were seventeen and used to chain smoking. Sav bought her first bowl, Grace was a novice, and i brought the bud. Sav and i joked about this being the place we met five years prior—a memory i don’t carry with me but know it’s true because she described me as “the loud kid” in youth group. we hacked through Scooby snacks, played it off with the lie that coughing gets you higher, and we all chuckled.


i was still seventeen and she was twenty-one. she lapped at me and i laughed. a Muslim girl and a Christian nonbinary person have sex in the backseat of a Honda Fit, under the shadow of a steeple, and then spark a spliff. they lounge in each other’s laps, unable to see the world beyond their suns, the fog and the film on the windows too thick. what beautiful blasphemy.


i was a freshman and my pastor knew there was nowhere for me to smoke. she subliminally signaled that i should blaze in the back corner of the parking lot by the trailer. i spent almost every night with six people piled in my Mini, passing a bubbler back and forth.


when the cops were loitering in the church lot, we would hop to a different spot. another holy house. we’d sesh by the soccer nets, behind the community garden, almost a vacation from our normal lives. it’s been six years since i toked at a temple, and lately God has been begging me for an offering. who knew they were such a stoner?

The Sins of the Father Drive the Child Mad

Judas is amused. Despite his preconceived notions and public appearances, God could put on quite a scene. He’s well aware he’s the only one finding any joy in what’s currently playing out in the centre of the room—blame it on dark humour, his twisted soul, or whatever else you want. Judas is certain that, years from now, others will join him in chuckling when reminiscing about today’s events.

Judas is also slightly frustrated. For the first time in the past century, for the first time since he started this job, he understands why some beings described God as “ethereal”. A spike on Their mace drags across the ground, momentarily separating the muted red that spreads across the floor. As They walk, the many eyes of the angels clinging to the wall flinch every time God’s bare feet squelch on the ground. Judas thinks this is part of what makes Them beautiful in this moment: Their disregard for the disgusting sounds ringing around the room, the blood seeping into the bottom of Their dress, Their sleek black hair swinging slightly as they walk, and the faint sweat glistening on Their forehead.

One of the angels on Their left flinches with her whole body as God nears, and They slow to a stop in front of her.

“How dare you?” Their soft voice carries through the room. “How dare you act as if none of you had a hand in this devastation.”

Judas can feel a grin growing on his face; he adores it when deities who hide their rage finally snap.

“I have asked time and time again for leniency, for help, for a break, and you have all denied me.” God turns to the angel as They speak, and Judas can see the feathers connecting the angel’s many eyes trembling. “What else would you have me do? Suffer silently for the next megaannum while you all flit around, wreaking havoc on humankind, and begging me to fix your mistakes? I refuse.”

For the first time since this all began, one of the angels speaks up, “But, My Lord, you cannot expect . . .”

“But I can. You have all expected so much from me, regardless of the lives it endangered or the realms it put at risk. I am done. I cannot go on like this.”

Their voice has remained soft throughout the entire encounter, and it now echoes through the room.

“You would not accept my resignation written on paper, carved into stone, or formed from mountains. So, you will be forced to accept it when written in blood. His blood.” God turns and exits the room, arm brushing against Judas’ as They go. The room remains silent as its inhabitants gaze at the body of the Father, slain to release the Child. Judas closes his eyes, breathes in, and begins to laugh.

With Resignation

There is a letter on the desk.

God’s Spokesperson approaches. His robes swish around his blue ankles like the mist at the bottom of a tumultuous waterfall. The office around him is one that is infrequently visited. It’s not off limits but simply feared.

It is furnished with dark wood and no windows. Tomes line the walls. There is only one chair—before which the letter is neatly fixed—and it’s more of a throne than a chair. Angels with eyes covering their bodies are carved into the rich wood arch. The leather of the seat and back of the chair shines.

The Spokesperson rounds the table. He carefully takes in its contents—an unpainted clay cup that holds several pens of various styles from centuries past; a stack of plain white stationery paper and envelopes; a glass paperweight in the shape of a fruit with little air bubbles for seeds; a disposable white lighter; two skulls preserved in alarmingly pristine condition; a set of small, circular glasses with silver frames; and one silver spoon with streaks that imply it’s been used and forgotten.

Then, there is the letter. It is written on the plain, white paper.

The Spokesperson sits.

A red feather quill rests across the letter as if it was not yet finished when its writer had gotten up to answer a needy call.

The Spokesperson moves the quill.

Dear Reader,

It’s time.

As if that was all that needed to be written, the Spokesperson understands exactly what is meant by so few words. Even in the beginning, God was resigned to this fate. In the end, He will have to destroy all that He created. It is something that all the angels—including the Spokesperson himself—know that God is not necessarily looking forward to. Still, it is a necessary destruction; it is inevitable.

That’s when the Spokesperson feels the change. Somewhere in the distance, there is a great rumble, and the foundations of Heaven itself shake. A rupture follows—a crack that rattles the clay cup and pens inside. One of the skulls rolls onto the floor.

The Spokesperson rushes out. In the distance, where the white landscape stretches out and where buildings tuck into hazy mists, there is a blast of fire. Wings of flame flare upward. A pillar rises from the fire, and a fault line of red and embers divide the ground. Heaven’s grounds split open, a crack in Earth’s sky below.

Ashes flit down from Heaven’s sky, and the Spokesperson knows that the Earth is experiencing its first rain of fire. It’s the beginning of the end. It’s time.

A Divine Appointment

Winston had assumed that death would grant him some measure of peace. Being a director of HR in the 1950s was not good for his blood pressure, nor his general view of humanity. Now that he’d been dead for more than seventy years, he had in fact grown more understanding of people, and blood pressure was no longer a problem. But Heaven wasn’t exactly the paradise the church had promised.

“Move your ass!” he yelled out his window, hoping to clear the road but knowing his shouts would be in vain. The guy riding a donkey in front of him just smiled and tipped his hat. In a realm where you could pick anything you could dream of for transportation—like unicorns or warrior bears or giant crabs—that guy had picked a donkey. Maybe he wanted to reconnect with his biblical heritage. Winston acknowledged his own mount was a furry dragon, though, so who was he to judge? Donkey or no, traffic today was ridiculously horrid.

Winston arrived at Heaven’s HR office an hour late, his coworkers frantically running this way and that. Not a good sign. Maybe traffic had been bad for everyone. His boss, Marcia, headed straight toward him.

“Winston, we need to—”

“I know, I know,” he said. “The roads were a mess. Got stuck behind this Amish guy who was in no kind of hurry.”

“That’s fine Winston, but there’s something else—”

“It won’t happen again,” he said, trying to forestall the berating.

“I know, Winston. I believe you. It’s just—”

“Why’s everyone running around like startled kittens?” He realized now the office was in a next-level state of panic.

“God quit.”


“Last night. Dropped Her letter with Peter on the way out. Pretty sure She’s scuba diving in Europa.”

The traffic was quickly becoming the highlight of Winston’s day. “How many has that been,” he asked, “ten in the last hundred years?”

“It’s a stressful job. High turnover is to be expected.”

“Yeah, but still. You’d think the recruiters would do a better job of picking out candidates to prevent this from happening.”

“They could only select from the applicant pool,” she said carefully. “You know that.”

“I know, I know. It’s just, we’re going to be here all night doing paperwork, not to mention God powers training, reacquainting the department heads with the new God, the ramifications on Earth without His or Her hand to guide them. No wonder there are so many atheists now. It’s hard to believe in a God when God spends half Their time learning how to do Their job.”

“Winston, I don’t think that will be a problem this time.”

“No? And why’s that?”

“The Board voted unanimously to move to an appointment system for God’s replacement. No more unqualified applicants.”

“Wow. And what sucker have you dragooned into that headache?”


Winston stared at her, slack-jawed. No peace for him on Earth or Heaven. “Goddammit.”

Severance Package

Hi, welcome to death! Let’s dive right in.

If you are reading this pamphlet, then you are a resident of a universe whose managing deity has recently quit, self-expunged, been killed, or put in a letter of resignation. Please view the following parting message from your deity:

Fine, you whiny bastards! I’ve heard enough out of you. You think you could choose better lives for yourselves? By all means, give it a whack. I’m out of this fucking joint.

How exciting! It appears your deity has opted for the “Choose Your Own Adventure!” severance package. Please note that by electing an omniscient, godless existence, you will be perpetually aware of your life path while living and unable to alter said path once chosen.

Please select from the wide variety* of available options below:

  1. You are born into the capitalistic ideal of a family. You are the middle child, number two of three. Your parents love you very much and enroll you in an accelerated learning program. You are accepted into Stanford University on a full-ride scholarship and become a leading figure in the realm of quantum physics. You give two TED Talks. At the second talk, you meet your wife, with whom you have three brilliant children of your own. One of them—the middle one—dies from heart complications three years after her birth. You are devastated. Eventually, your grief consumes your career, your savings, and your entire family. You are mildly consoled by the fact that your dead daughter selected her brief and painful life from a wide variety of available options, just like you.
  2. You are born on the side of a county highway. You are the middle child, number five of nine. You never meet your siblings. Your mother gives you up for adoption so you might have a chance at a better life, even though she selected her life path from a wide variety of available options and therefore knows how it all will play out, just like you. You fistfight your way through half of high school before getting expelled, after which you begin to write poetry about pain. Your work is published globally. Decades later, your mother meets you at a local Cracker Barrel and tells you that she has read all your poems. She moves in with you, and for one year you both laugh every day. Then her memory leaves her, and shortly afterward, she leaves you. You make an exorbitant amount of money from your poetry.

Now, please enjoy** your life! We’ll see you next time.

* Please note that due to high demand and the interconnectivity between all things, your specific options may be limited.

** Please note that due to high demand and the interconnectivity between all things, some pain and discomfort is unavoidable. Luckily, you will remain aware of your complete timeline throughout your life. What a treat! Knowledge will spare you from the worst and most freeing of all life’s evils: uncertainty.

Where Were You During the Collapse of Reality?

In a long white room, separate from all of creation, God takes a long drag from her cigarette, inhaling deeply past her Adam’s apple. As she puffs out, the motion of a delicate hand traces the lit cigarette past a hooked nose, along a square jaw, to rest beside thick hair—the oily, voluminous black of deep space.

“That’s it,” she informs the person across from her—a former employee of hers, stout, broad, feral-grinned. She aims the cigarette’s supernova-bright cherry at an ashtray on the table between them.

“Consider this,” she tamps it out with a hiss, “my resignation.”

When the pillars of reality suddenly collapse, the thing that flattens out, that really should never flatten out, is time.

In a Toronto flat, a paintbrush leaks across canvas. An odd but ordinary occurrence. Then, it releases in a winding stream of oily globules—every pigment that its bristles have absorbed since the artist’s first fauvist portrait.

Through a pair of headphones in Belize, a guitar chord metastasizes. Sound doubles on itself, exponential, as every musical composition across history, from dubstep to nocturnes to the drum circles of early man, begins to share the space of relatively few notes.

On a loud street in Jaipur, a pot of chai unmakes. From the boiling milk sprouts a thicket of cardamom plants, tangled ginger root, cinnamon saplings, and camellia sinensis.

In a public library on the US plains, the glue rooting book paper to spines and macaroni to children’s art unfurls into, hooves first, a stampede of piebald horses.

Oceans, rivers, lakes teem with fish and mammals and older organisms, re-becoming.

Millennia of sunlight reverberate into tangible, golden threads, dense like the teeth of baleen whales.

Human beings dissipate from one confused step to the next, clouds of recycled stardust and far-traveled water no longer held together by the passage of significant time.

As God, in her chagrin, unspools every atom across her long tenure, everything in existence, everything across the concept of past and present, attempts to re-exist all at once. There, in space, between one star and the next, the Earth ceases—one tumorous mass of matter, emotion, experience.

That’s that. So there.

Across from her, God’s companion plucks the cigarette from the ashtray and reignites it.

“Shame. It was just—oh, not getting good. But it sure as hell entertained.”

In answer, God is only silent.

“Well, if you’re calling it quits,” he inhales, fire reflected in brimstone pupils, “mind if I give it a go?”

Mouth of God

Dinah was content with her sister-wives and never complained about the chores she had. She savored how her fingers pruned after washing the sheets, mesmerized by the iridescent suds that illuminated the pores and cracks in her hands. Hanging the bedding to dry outside their mountain home, away from society’s burning gaze, felt like communing with Heavenly Father. The white fabric undulated in the breeze as if the Holy Spirit moved through it. The aroma of fabric softener and bleach mixed with the earthen scent of desert sandalwood was her definition of peace. Dinah didn’t think she could be happier until her husband told her it was time to bear a child of God.

Electricity coursed through her that day, her whole body vibrating with anticipation. She tucked clean, white linens around the bed. Smoothing them across the mattress, she willed it to be a pure and adequate place to conceive her child. She prayed for a son. Strong and brave and ready to hold the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.

The ecstasy of conception was nothing compared to the rage and shame of her miscarriages. By her third loss, Dinah couldn’t find the Spirit in daily routines. The white sheets she hung to dry no longer reminded her of temple rites but of ghosts from a Stephen King novel. Stolen from supermarket ventures, she consumed wicked stories while her husband was busy with her sister-wives. More and more he left her alone to read and do the laundry.

But no matter the amount of bleach, Dinah could still see the stains of her failure, a faint red orifice. Like a letter from the mouth of God, she knew, He had abandoned her.

He had quit.

She tore down the sheets and screamed back at the red cotton lips, called them names, and swore her revenge on Him. On the God that had resigned on her.

Throwing open the linen closet, she wrestled the bedding to the ground. White cotton, grey wool for winter, even the little green teddy and flower sheets—a hand-me-down from her favorite sister-wife—Dinah heaped them all into the middle of her quaint kitchen. She rummaged under the sink until she found an unopened bottle of rubbing alcohol and emptied it. The fumes made her cough. She encircled the bedding with candles, wax pooling onto the hardwood floor.

When the flame caught hold of the cotton, Dinah was surprised how quickly it spread. The pile transformed into a smoldering blaze; the heat warming her legs, her cheeks. Her eyes watered from smoke. Once the flames were high enough, Dinah threw the stained sheets on. She watched God’s mouth, pale pink and taunting, burn into a fine ash before she left the house. In her husband’s Chevy, Dinah adjusted the seat and wriggled the rearview mirror into place. Her gaze drifted from the burning home to the road ahead of her. The engine rolled over, thrumming beneath her, and Dinah made her escape to Phoenix.

Open Stage Night at the Back Door After the End of the World

One month into the…second or third “unprecedented” end of the world, I follow the crowds and bitchy Reddit posts to find God at the Back Door. The news cycle has finally moved on from their retirement. Even SEO experts are less focused on keywording for “which god is it that’s retiring?” and more on “learning to live in the end times.”

God has apparently been spending their own hours online, too. Even in the dark, it’s clear they’ve managed to contour their nose and faux beard better than I have at any point in my five-year career. They breast as boobily on the stage as the experienced queens do, their beard-tit combo a distilled “fuck you.”

I wait until they finish their “Act of Contrition” remix before I go up to the bar and order my drink. I make eye contact with the bartender. We make a communal effort to ignore both God and the muffled sounds of chaos on the street outside.

(It’s good practice to tip the Queens, of course, but I think I’ll tip the bouncer tonight for all the effort she’s putting into keeping God’s…fans…out of the bar.)

Cecil Rock-a-fella does his damnedest to follow God’s act after the post-performance applause dies down, but I—and, arguably, the rest of the bar—keep glancing toward the stage door.

God doesn’t make an appearance. Instead, when I look away from stage and door alike, I find them stealthily sliding into the seat next to me, wearing their wig cap and dressing gown.

“I noticed your carabiner,” God says with a nod. “What brand of pepper spray is that?”

I take a long, long sip of my drink. “Generic.”

God hums. “Is it better than name brand?”

“More affordable.” I glance down at the shellacked bar, half-expecting it to melt beneath God’s touch. It doesn’t. “I could get you some, if you like.”

God shrugs.

“But if you can’t afford any,” I say, because I can’t stop running my mouth, “there’s a back way out. You don’t—you don’t have to see anyone you don’t want to.”

God’s beard cracks as they smile. “It’s fine,” they lie. “I brought the trouble.” Their smile grows wry. “If my son can manage an angry crowd, I might as well try.”

“At least walk with one of the Queens.” Cecil Rock-a-fella finishes his song. I take another sip of my drink. “We’re used to it.”

God gives me a look like I’m fishing for pity, but all I can do is shrug. Behind their head, there’s a sign on the wall—affectionately graffitied to shit, sure, but as relevant as the day the owner put it up.

“Everyone: welcome. Consent: mandatory. Nazis: punchable.”

When the show’s over, I walk out of the bar holding my pepper spray tight. God—tits, beard, and all—walks behind me.

A Lucky Misfortune

“This is delicious,” stated my date, mouth filled, beautiful as ever. I never thought I could be attracted to the way someone ate til now. She’d suggested this place and told me how wonderful the menu options were. We had crossed paths at the local Sunday market; she had been selling her homemade soaps and I bought a hundred dollars’ worth as an excuse to ask for her number. Her name was Susie and she had moved here a couple months ago. A fresh face from the limited stock of women that roamed this tiny town.

Our waitress stopped by to refill our waters, avoiding any eye contact with both of us. Mostly avoiding Susie. The waitress was nervous—or I assumed so—she looked pale, as if this was her first time being a server. She stayed closer to me, acting as if Suzie wasn’t there. Had I missed something or was I just being crazy? I looked around: it was as if every worker was avoiding Susie’s gaze. It was odd. She was beautiful, and, from what she’d told me, she came here a lot.

As the meal came to an end, the waitress delivered the bill, and I handed her my card. Upon returning, she dropped fortune cookies on the table.

“Their fortune cookies are the best; they make them from scratch,” Suzie boasted. I cracked mine open: Beauty is the devil’s best tactic.

No surprise at the random and generic comment given on the tiny paper. Opening the book to retrieve my card however, I noticed a note on the receipt written in bright red ink, Please. Get home safe.

A comment like this from a server wasn’t unusual, but something felt off about it. Suzie peered over, probably wondering what I could be making such a face over.

“Oh, they write that for everyone,” she chuckled.

The multiple beers that I’d consumed during dinner seemed to be kicking in. “I need to use the bathroom before we go,” I said as I rose from my chair. Practically racing to the bathroom, I opened the door and grabbed the closest stall.

I zipped up my pants and proceeded to the sink, adjusting my collar and making sure I still looked decent. Decent enough. As I washed my hands, I noticed a fortune cookie on the corner of the counter. Pretty sure it wasn’t there when I entered, but I had been focused on making it to the toilet, so maybe I missed it? I picked it up and it was still warm to the touch: “freshly made,” I remembered. I unwrapped the still-soft cookie to retrieve the fortune, hoping it would be better than my first.

Unraveling the greasy paper to encounter the same red ink, I read,

She is not who she says she is. Don’t end up like the others.

Missing Ingredient

Caramellic bitterness explodes the kitchen. I’ve turned my back on a saucepan of sugar for a second, and now it’s more tarpit than syrup. Dumping my disappointment down the sink, I re-gather ingredients: shredded coconut, raw sugar, a cup of water, four cardamom pods, resting in the cracks on my countertop, and a teaspoon of ghee. I’m about to mix the sugar into the coconut but freeze. Something’s missing.

I wrap my knuckles on the counter with culinary frustration. This recipe is a letter with no address. How do I move forward?

Nariyal Methai is a simple complexity. Previous attempts were catastrophic. First attempt, forgot the ghee and it fell apart. Second attempt, too much ghee made soup. No more mistakes. I phone a higher power.


– You’re finally getting married!

– Mum, how did you get marriage from Nariyal Methai?

– There’s two reasons people in Fiji make those sweets. Weddings or excess coconuts. And I don’t think coconuts are in season in Shoreditch right now.

– Have you got Dadi’s recipe?

– She never wrote anything down. No schooling. She couldn’t write her name. Why do you need a recipe? You were there when she made it. You were seven. Never left her side as she cooked. … So are you getting married?

– I’ll call tomorrow.


I hang up. Memories trespass my mind. I’m leaning on the kitchen counter, but I could be anywhere. Anywhere on the planet. Anywhere in time. And the river of time takes me back to the tropics.


Sultry is a Suva afternoon. The air is sticky as guava pulp. Cicadas sing incessantly. On a veranda, I sit on the floor and gaze at my grandmother. Dadi’s round as an orange. Her skin shines like molasses. Her sari is a sail, white, and dream-like. Seated on a board with a serrated edge, she scrapes the flesh from coconuts. She can’t speak English. I know no Hindi. We watch each other like chess players. The cruel blade cuts her. I wince. She wraps her hand in cotton and continues as if pain is endured, not healed. A tear escapes her eye. The liquid evacuee falls into the mixture as she stirs and shapes it into balls. She gives me one. Lightness. Coolness. Like snowfall in my mouth.


The mixture grows impatient with my reminiscing. I add a pinch of salt and taste. It does the trick. My tongue remembers Fiji. I shape the mixture into spheres ready for chilling and consider Dadi. She was denied paper and pen, yet her recipes are letters traveling through time. And this dessert, a letter lost now found, brings sweet melancholy. My grandmother fed her family happiness every day of her life. But what of hers? Did she dream of stars, flakes of coconut strewn across the universe? Who would she have been if she could just write her name? I reach for a sweet but hesitate and refrigerate them. I walk away. I feel full.