Excerpt from Sitting Shiva by Gayle Brandeis


The following story appears in our Summer 2016 digital issue. The entire issue is available for immediate download.


      “Shiva doesn’t sit.” Eugene unfolds his legs from the lotus position, stretches them out across the parquet floor.

      “Excuse me?” Sara looks at her brother like he’s crazy. She glances over at the mirror to see if their mother is watching them from the kitchen, forgetting the glass is covered with a black scarf. The sight of the cloth makes her shiver.

      “He doesn’t. Shiva doesn’t sit down.”

      “Is this one of your Bu-Jew things?” Sara asks. “Because if it is, you can keep it to yourself, thank you very much.”

      “Shiva is Hindu, not Buddhist.” Now Eugene looks at her like she’s crazy.

      “Bu-Jew- Hindu, whatever. We’re in mourning, Eugene—this isn’t philosophy class.” Tears prickle into her eyes. She half-expects all the windows to be covered with black curtains when she turns her head, but they are bare, streaming light. Smoke from Ground Zero rises in the distance, a cloud of ghosts.

GAYLE BRANDEIS website photoGAYLE BRANDEIS is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write, Dictionary Poems, and the novels The Book of Dead Birds, which won Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement, Self Storage, Delta Girls, and My Life with the Lincolns, chosen as a state-wide read in Wisconsin. Two books are forthcoming in 2017, a memoir, The Art of Misdiagnosis and a collection of poetry, The Selfless Bliss of the Body. She was named a Writer Who Makes a Difference by The Writer Magazine and served as Inlandia Literary Laureate from 2012-2014. Gayle currently lives in North Lake Tahoe and teaches at Sierra Nevada College and the low residency MFA program at Antioch University, Los Angeles.

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