Excerpt from Perils by Nahid Rachlin

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The following short story appears in our January 2015 digital issue. The entire issue is available for immediate download.

In the middle of the night I woke to Niloufar’s crying and went to her room. “Go back to sleep, honey. It’s too early to get up.”

            “Mommy, is daddy still dead? Is he going to come back?”

            I sat at the edge of her bed, caressed her hair, kissed her cheek. “Well, he’s with us, isn’t he? We remember all the things we did together…”

            Finally her eyes grew heavy and she went back to sleep. I couldn’t sleep and made myself breakfast. Loneliness struck me as I sat at the table, eating.

A year after Mansour’s motorcycle hit the lamppost, it still wasn’t easy to shake off eight years of interdependency. But worse was the gnawing question; was the accident my fault, because I withdrew from him?

It was a few days before the accident that he had shocked me with a confession. One night he came home from Farda Radio station, in Queens where we had both found jobs and settled. He plopped himself on the sofa, looking distraught.

            “Did something happen at work?”

            “I asked Peyman to transfer me to the midday program.”

            “I thought you liked the late afternoon…”

            “Let’s not talk about it.”

            After we had dinner and I put Niloufar to bed, we sat on the sofa to watch the evening news. But he was distracted. I turned off the TV. “What is it?”

Nahid Rachlin Fiction JudgeNAHID RACHLIN is the author of the memoir Persian Girls and four novels, Jumping Over Fire (City Lights), Foreigner (W.W. Norton), Married to a Stranger (E.P. Dutton-Penguin), The Heart’s Desire (City Lights), and a collection of short stories, Veils (City Lights). She has been interviewed on NPR’s “All Things Considered” (Terry Gross) and in P&W magazine and the Writer’s Chronicle. She has written reviews and essays for New York Times, Newsday, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Visit her website at www.nahidrachlin.com.