With the advent of internet, short fiction has come into its own - encapsulating as it does two essential prerequisites for Web success: brevity and entertainment. TGD publishes six of Iranian-born Mitra Hooshiar’s micro-stories. The art form itself is nothing new: Aesop’s Fables for example date from the time of Ancient Greece - perhaps even earlier.
Mitra was born in Iran and currently lives in Tehran, having recently spent ten years in Vancouver BC. Her fiction and non-fiction pieces, reports, and translations have been published in journals and art magazines in Iran since 1996. She graduated in Visual Arts and Italian language and culture (Iran and Italy) and worked for 8 years as a museum curator at Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.
Mitra started writing her own short stories on her blog in 2004, later being awarded an Honourable Mention in the “Discovery Moment” Creative Writing Competition (2008, Iran) for her short story “Indigestion”. Recently one of her stories “The Conscience of the Clothes Moth” was published in London in an anthology of short fiction:
The Lounge Companion Vol. 2 . She is now working on her first creative short story book .
“Being part of too many people’s lives is not easy; it’s like living with ghosts.” I run my finger around the rim of my teacup, staring at it as if I’ve never seen it before. The tea is still hot.
You sit in front of me at the café that we both like and you watch me with your searching eyes. Now my heart is no longer pounding and my cheeks don’t turn red, now there’s just blood rushing to my temples and my head is about to explode.
Taking a last sip of the tea, I gather up my cigarettes and lighter from the table. I fade away with the steam of my tea and leave you back at the square wooden table with its empty chair and the vase of red pelargoniums hanging above it. I fade away with a cloud of steam that leads your gaze to nowhere.
An Escape Collage
She extracts the irises from her eyes and colors them a greenish gray. She then removes all the wrinkles from her face with the erasing tool and gives herself the soft, smooth skin she never had before. Her index finger goes numb from clicking the mouse hundreds of times to sew little hairs over the bald spots on her eyebrows. For the bald patches on her head, she uses dark brown highlights around the hair roots. She then lifts the sharp corners of her lips and takes the fleshy mole off her nose.
Now she is browsing to find a man with hazel eyes. If she finds one, she could paste his face close to hers, or paste him on a couch, hugging her and resting his arms around her neck. She isn’t specialized with the software yet. If she was, she could try on those dresses she sees on the red carpet… maybe the purple one.
After hours of sitting at her computer, she stands up dissatisfied. On her desk, in seven rounded picture frames, she arranges the unrelated images; an unusual collage.
In one of the pictures, she pieces together her face and a yellow plastic duck on a green grass background and she adds several clouds around it. All these fragments hang suspended around each other.
The Conscience of the Clothes Moth
When She took you away from here and folded you, I knew it would be the last time I would see you. Today was one of those days. Days that She would shop around to find something like me. Like those afternoons She would come home from shopping and go straight to the closet. She would snatch the gray scarf from my collar and wrap it around Her neck. She tried others like us and looked at Herself in the mirror.
She would wear you two or three times and then, just like the others, She’d give you away. All those afternoons that we hung close to each other, I tried to make you understand that the only reason She bought you was because you were similar to me.
I told you already. I was worn on a rainy afternoon, just for half an hour. But in that half hour, She heard the most terrible things She could ever hear. She came back home, scrunched me up and threw me in Her closet.
I stayed there for ages, scrunched up and miserable, but I resisted, with the hope that one day She would find me again and forget about everything. She found me. I was ironed with exceptional care then hung up. It was different; it was different when you were in here. You were more like me than the others. I hoped that you would stay. I hoped that She would fold me up and give me away. Well…I finally lost my patience.
I couldn’t see any hope for myself. I was sickened every time she came and smelled my collar and touched me without wearing me. I was sickened every time she hung another beside me. It was like I existed, but I didn’t. I didn’t know whether this was Karma, or my fate. The day you left, my threads fell apart and I lost my resistance.
One afternoon, I let the humidity under my plastic cover and I crumbled.
I introduced myself to the moths as they came to me one by one:
“I was a gray wool jacket who didn’t see any meaning in continuing her life,” and the blind moths looked blankly at each other – stunned – then chewed me with no sympathy.
Some Ashes Never Fly Away
She lives in our building and her bedroom shares a wall with my living room. She walks with a cane but doesn’t limp, is rather overweight and wears glasses. We have been running into each other in our hallway for almost five years, but we’ve never had a long conversation. Just a Hi or Bye.
Two months ago, we bumped into each other as usual; but for once she stopped me and started talking – first a routine grumble about the weather, and then, asking my name, she took half her right breast out of her t-shirt and showed it to me!
“This is fake!” she said. She then went on to tell me that she had to go through another operation the following week and that she‘d be at the hospital for four or five days. “They said it spread to the other one”.
I was shocked but tried to not to show it, gently giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Then I quickly said my goodbyes and told her “You can count on me for anything you need during your recovery”. I gave her my phone number, repeating that the least I could do was cook for her during her convalescence. I was about to open the door of my apartment when she called out to me:
– “Hey Marta!!! ….my daughter’s mother-in-law is Greek …they also hug and kiss each other for greeting …but I prefer distance, you know …” saying that she closed her door.
For a while after she’d left, I stood staring at the lock on my door like a drunk unable to open it.
I didn’t hear any news of her and nor did anyone else in our building till two months later when they came to clear out her apartment. That was yesterday. Apparently she’d had unsuccessful surgery and no further treatment was given to her. That afternoon her daughter’s mother-in-law was standing at her door in the hallway. Introducing herself she told me: “She asked to be cremated”.
The house has white vertical railings. I am hanging off the bars and swinging.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
I am still swinging when the guard comes and pulls my little fingers off the railings and says things that I can’t understand.
I heard from my mum, “They are foreign”: this means I can’t understand them now.
A boy the same age as me lives in the house. I always see him walking in the garden with his mum (when she’s talking to him, her loud bossy voice goes soft).
During the day we never go anywhere near their front door: they don’t like it. But at night we search through their garbage bins. Their bins are stuffed with black shiny garbage bags, full of food, toys and clothes. I help Mum take the things home. A few days ago she found a colourful children’s book which she gave to me. I have no one to read to me, I just look at the pictures. The story is about a little girl with a tin man and some others (I don’t know what I should call them yet). They walk along a road and the others join them. On the last page, they all seem happy and the tin man has a heart in his hands. When I grow up, I want to be with the tin man. I don’t care if it’s a long road. I think he wrote his address for me on the last page of the book, here… at the back.
The smell of expensive perfume is in the air. On the sidewalk, elegant women with shiny gold and silver earrings and ironed, sharp-edged hair take quick, spike-heeled steps toward one of the high-rises in the street. Men in ties, like domesticated horses, follow them. Tall, short, chubby, tiny … it seems there is a huge party inside. In the street, there is snow covering everything and the traffic is backed up along the road. We wait in our cars, sitting and watching the flow. Car horns bring me back to reality. I move forward.
A thick layer of snow covers my back window. I open the garage door and get out of the car. Someone has written a note in the snow on the back window of my car:
“Zado hates the world!”
Until morning, I try to imagine Zado and I can’t sleep.