From Issue 36.1
Eggs. They wanted eggs, and their requests came trickling in daily in ten-point type, through the want ads of the campus paper. Five, ten, fifteen thousand you could get for doing it just once. More than that if you were experienced. We knew girls who did it over and over again, once a semester. Mostly they were girls whose parents paid their full tuition anyway, and the money quickly manifested itself as stuff: cashmere sweaters crumpled on the bathroom floor, new stilettos clicking across the kitchen linoleum, matchboxes from Le Cirque and Nobu, endless overpriced trinkets collected on excursions to the East Side. Sometimes the stuff was more practical: brand-new computers, a savings account for grad-school. Sometimes it was just bigger: a brand new entertainment center that got stolen the next week, and shame on us, because we weren’t particularly sorry about it either.
It wasn’t our eggs they wanted, so we spent weekends watching burned DVD’s and chasing ramen noodles with Corona the way broke college students were supposed to. Ivy League credentials be damned, no one was interested in paying us for our genetic material. If they wanted brown babies who so obviously didn’t belong to them, they would have just adopted. Laura Kelso, who lived in our suite–that was whose eggs they wanted. I was surprised no one had come to our door to recruit her personally; she’d practically stepped out of a want ad. 1600 SAT score, 4.1 GPA, and that’s only because some teachers didn’t believe in A+’s. Then of course, there was the important stuff: blonde, blue-eyed, 5’7, barely 115 pounds, though we suspected the green pills she kept on the shelf with her vitamins, stored in a clear plastic bottle with the label torn off, were diet pills of some kind. She’d been normal sized when we met her.
She was making bank, but we couldn’t hate her for it. Absent her new income she would have been broke like the rest of us, too good a daughter to guilt her single mother into sending more money than she could afford. Laura’s mother was a cashier at Penney’s; what she could afford wasn’t much. For a while that had given us a claim to her. She was a homegirl, an hermanita, we were in this together. Then she walked through the front door wearing Jimmy Choo boots, and we knew we were losing her. Before we knew it we hardly saw her, and then one day she invited Ellen Chambers, serial donor, and Lisette Hartley, serial bitch, into our common area for some egg donor support group, and they compared paychecks and pain-levels and wondered what had become of the little pieces of them released into the universe. We sat in Candy’s room with the door open and faked gagging. Nicole let the back pages of the Village Voice fall open, 900 numbers and round brown asses staring up at us from the floor. She said, “They’re mother material, but who wants to fuck them? If we were hookers, we’d be making twice what they were.”
We did not particularly want to be hookers, and so this was of little consolation.
What we wanted was to be a doctor, a lawyer, a spy, and happy. Nicole was the aspiring doctor, she had a love-hate relationship with her bio texts, but a love-love relationship with catalogues of all kinds. Pinned to her wall where Mos Def and Che Guevara were on ours, were ads torn out from designer shoe and clothing catalogues, catalogues full of fancifully unnecessary electronic equipment, even the occasional house ripped out of the home buyers guide to remind her of the bigger picture. Candy wanted to be a lawyer–she had big ideas about Justice, and was always dragging us to meetings with her, hoping we’d pick up some of her conviction. Truth be told, Candy could have been Laura Kelso’s dark-haired sister, but we didn’t dare say so. Freshman year at a Sisterhood meeting some girl had looked at Candy walk in and sneered, not-quite-under her breath, “What the hell is white girl doing here?” Not three seconds later, Candy was all in her face like, “Mira, my people did not get half-exterminated and have half their country stolen from them for you to be calling me a white girl ok, bitch?” You didn’t mess with Candy; she was going to be one scary-ass lawyer.
Me, I wanted to be the spy. I liked secrets. Nicole, ever the realist, liked to point out that spies couldn’t be spies on their own behalf, and I had yet to encounter a government or revolution of which I approved. So far I had not accepted the seriousness of this problem. I didn’t like to think about the future, and we were only juniors, so I didn’t quite have to. Courtney was the one who said she wanted to be happy. Nicole said this was her middle-class showing. Courtney was from one of those barely middle-class black families where the girls are always called Courtney or Kelli or Lindsay or Brooke, and the family forgoes vacations and savings and stock for a nice house in a nice neighborhood in the hopes that the neighbors will forget that they are black. Usually what happened was Kelli tried so hard to prove her parents right that she turned into a bleach-blonde rock-loving creature they couldn’t quite fathom, and Lindsay got so tired of being called white-girl that she studied ebonics on BET and came home one day dressed like a video extra and insisted that she be called Lil L, which is what all her new friends from the neighborhood her parents had moved out of called her, and Brooke got so sick of not fitting in that she was anorexic or suicidal or both. We were all proud of Courtney for coming to us relatively normal.
Laura faded from us gradually. We kept our doors shut and she began to keep hers closed as well. Whether this was in retaliation or out of oblivion we didn’t know. We never heard her in the shower, we rarely heard her enter–she seemed to glide. It was like we lived with a ghost–a snowflake, Nicole called her, and though she meant it in the harshly disapproving vein with which we spoke of most girls who were pale and delicate and seemed to be everywhere, in a more gentle sense the word had a ring of truth to it. We were living with something barely visible, something that might have vanished any second.
In tenth grade, I went through a bad romance novels phase. In bad romance novels, women always know the moment they are pregnant; the heroine can feel her lover plant his seed inside of her or something equally melodramatic. Perhaps because I subconsciously expected pregnancy to announce itself with some such motherly feeling of omniscience, I completely overlooked mine. Winter gave way to spring, and when I started getting queasy I thought maybe I was lactose intolerant. When quitting dairy didn’t help, I thought maybe I had an ulcer. Nicole, Candy, and Courtney started to notice something was off, but by the nature of their prying questions, I could tell they were thinking I was bulimic. It wasn’t until I was lying on the floor listening to Candy complain that her cramps were killing her that I realized I hadn’t had my period for two months. It had never been regular and I had grown accustomed to red spots on my underwear at all intervals. There was something almost thrilling about its off-kilter arrival. I liked surprises. When my friends swallowed little green and white and blue pills and marked the start date of their periods on calendars, I thought how boring it must be to have your body run like clockwork. Turning sideways and inhaling bits of dust off Courtney’s carpet, I understood that my dislike of the pill was irrational, but it was too late for all of that.
Of course I had a boyfriend. We all did, they were like accessories—we kept them stored at colleges up and down the East Coast and pulled them out on formal occasions or in the event of extreme boredom or loneliness. Mine I kept at NYU, where he was lonely more than I was. I had spent a good number of nights downtown, curled up in his blue flannel sheets, listening to him breathe. He was good at handholding and being subtly witty and distracting me when I was on the verge of tears, brilliant in that completely useless way where he could tell you off the top of his head the architect of any office building downtown and the historic relationship between the toothbrush and cultural imperialism, but not what day of the week it was or what train to take to where. I didn’t want to see him yet, so I bought a pregnancy test to confirm what I already knew, and then another in case the first one had been wrong, and then I threw the two sticks with their faint plus signs into the trash can, and called my mother.
People who do not call my mother ‘mother’ call her Isis. Her name conjures up a persona that she indulges with miniature altars and smoky incense when she’s not busy being a hairdresser. She was not busy at all when I called, the vague hum of her meditation music in the background let me know that.
“Angel, I was just thinking of you.”
Every time I call my house, even those times when I am calling because my mother has forgotten to pick me up or call me back or send something necessary, she tells me she has just been thinking of me. I ignored her and started talking, hoping maybe with some small talk she would pick up on the tremor of my voice. I was lying on the bed in my underwear when I called her, pinching the fat at my abdomen and trying to determine whether there was more of it, looking down at my breasts and wondering if they were any bigger. I looked the same to me. I wondered if maybe I was imagining this. Stupid girls got pregnant, careless girls, girls who didn’t worry about their futures, girls whose mothers had never explained to them about sex.
Laura had been a girl something like that when she’d come to college—not stupid, but naïve, uninformed. She’d been sitting in the back row of the mandatory safe sex lecture, wide eyed, when we met her. They divided us into teams and made us do races to put a condom on a banana, and she’d screwed it up, put the thing on backwards and had it go flying off somewhere, then blushed a brilliant shade of red and hid her face in her hands. The girls on the other team laughed.
“It’s OK,” Nicole said, putting a hand on her shoulder after we lost. “There are too many ho’s on this campus anyway. Who comes to college knowing how to put a condom on in five seconds?”
“Don’t say ho’s,” said Candy. “Just cuz somebody likes sex doesn’t make her a ho.”
They argued all the way to the dining hall while Laura and Courtney and I exchanged hellos and shy smiles.
Nicole and Candy were virgins then too, though you wouldn’t have known it by looking at them. Even on budgets they knew how to dress like city girls, girls who knew their way around, not like Laura, whose wardrobe screamed Kmart and favored the color pink. Maybe that was why we’d liked her right away: her need for us was immediately apparent, and unlike most of the people who needed us, we knew what to do for her. I told my mother about Nicole’s new Triple Five Soul sweatshirt and Candy’s plans to go abroad next year. Pages wrestled in the background. She told me how Mrs. Wilson from down the street thinned all her hair out leaving braids in too long and was trying to blame it on her.
“She’ll be back by Easter,” my mother said. “She won’t let anybody else do her hair for Easter Sunday.”
“Uh huh,” I started to agree, but my mother had already interrupted herself to read out loud from the catalogue she was thumbing through. Health crystals, mood balancing jewelry, a guide to spiritual belly dancing.
“Spiritual belly dancing, Angel. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
I imagined myself dancing for a minute, and then I imagined my belly fat, swollen, with stretch marks, and felt most unspiritual. I told her I had a test to study for.
“OK,” she conceded. “You should go out later though. Your horoscope says it’s a good day for Pisces to be in the right place at the right time.”
I hung up and thought to myself that the right place was two months ago in Rafael’s bedroom before the condom broke, but I wasn’t sure what my horoscope could do about that and I didn’t like dwelling on it. I went to bed and missed my opportunity to be rewarded by fate.
In the morning I skipped a review session and took the C train to Brooklyn to visit my father. He opened the door to my still raised fist and seemed pleasantly surprised to see me.
“Angel. To what do I owe the honor, Miss Lady?”
My father had called me Miss Lady since I was four years old, and though I had not been prissy enough to deserve the nickname since then, it stuck. Uncomfortably, dishonestly, but it stuck. I walked in without answering his question. My visits were always like this, unexpected. I liked to disrupt him. Interrupting people was the only way I could be sure of my presence in their lives.
My father’s apartment had been painted red since the last time I was in it. I could still smell the newness of the paint. It looked as though he had painted it himself; whoever did it hadn’t put down a drop-cloth and the furniture was flecked with red.
“Better not let the cops in here, Daddy. They’ll think you killed someone.”
He didn’t hear me. Instead, I heard the pop of two bottle tops, and then he walked into the living room and handed me a Dos Equis.
“I want you to hear something,” he said, before I had a chance to open my mouth. I occupied myself by running my tongue around the rim of the beer bottle. I waited for my father to notice that I wasn’t drinking. He had his back to me though and was messing with the ancient stereo in the corner of his living room.
My father was into radio then. My father was always into something; he was a collector of hobbies and habits. Sometimes I wondered how my parents could have been in the same room for long enough to conceive me, let alone be married for four years, and I imagined their marriage was just a phase during which they had collected each other until something more interesting came along. A year ago my father was into the stock market, but then he invested the few hundred dollars he’d made initially in a company that marketed giant tomatoes and lost it all. Now he planned to get famous doing radio commercials; he wanted to be the new voice of America.
The tape started. I watched its wheels spin as my father’s buttery baritone echoed out of the brown speakers, their wood paneling peeling at the edges. In two minutes of tape, my father sounded convincing selling: cars, liquor, a swanky restaurant downtown. He sounded downright ridiculous selling: golfing equipment, stain remover, The Daily News (then again who wouldn’t sound ridiculous selling The Daily News?).
“What do you think, Miss Lady?” he asked when the tape stopped.
I thought he sounded like somebody else’s father. I thought also that the man on the tape sounded like he had all the answers, and I would have given anything for him to have an answer for me.
I said, “Daddy, I’m pregnant.”
My father said nothing, finished swallowing the beer and rested it on top of the speaker. He left the room and I heard creaking in the kitchen, the squeak of hinges and then the rustling of cabinet clutter. He emerged triumphantly, smiling, and handed me a sticky, half-gone bottle of molasses.
“Take a spoonful of this every day, it’s good for the baby. Your mother took it when she was pregnant, and look how good you turned out.”
From the looks of the dusty amber thing he had just handed me, the letters on its label faded into nonexistence, my mother had taken her spoonfuls from that very same bottle.
“I might not keep it,” I said.
“Oh.” He looked uncomfortable, as thought he wondered why I was telling him this. It was simple. I had screwed up, I wanted to punish somebody. He picked up my still-full beer bottle and took a sip, then sat beside me on the couch and held my hand.
“Whatever you think is best, baby. You were always the smart one.”
The smart one. That was my other nickname growing up. It was only recently that I had been able to convince people it didn’t necessarily apply either. I got up.
“I gotta go, Daddy. I’ll call you.”
I walked quickly and let the door slam on his parting fatherly advice.
I wanted to hurt somebody, and so far it wasn’t working. My mother, when all was said and done and she finally found out, would be devastated that she hadn’t been the first to know, but I couldn’t even have that yet. I went to see Rafael not so much because I thought he should know as because he was woundable.
Rafael is an artist, in the most cliche, college student, nude self-portraits on the wall kind of way. There are also nude pictures of me on his wall, though I am not identifiable in any of them–an elbow here, a belly button there, an arched brow, the curve of my thigh. The one with my breasts is in his portfolio but didn’t make the wall. “I don’t want other guys staring at my girlfriend’s tits,” he said. He does not, however, mind people looking at the picture of his penis he has pasted to the ceiling, though he did take it down when his little sister came to visit.
Rafael was raised in Miami by strictly Catholic parents who left Cuba just before Castro came to power. His father did work for the League of Cuban Voters, his mother was the president of an anti-Castro society and the most respected woman in the church that he attended twice every Sunday until he left for school. He started sleeping with me the same week that he took down the family portrait on the wall beside his bed and put a photo of Castro in its place. I was not stupid enough to believe this was coincidence, even then. I imagined him on the phone with his mother, no I’m not a virgin anymore and maybe Castro was right about you and do you know what else ma, she’s black, even darker brown than Grandma Margarita, what are you going to do to me now?
Probably this conversation never happened. I didn’t particularly care if it did. I rather relished being his own personal Eve. It felt reckless and romantic, and besides, it gave me an excuse to take Tequila shots when I went home over winter break and hung out with my cousins, who raised impressed eyebrows when during a game of I never, I drank to both have you ever devirginized somebody? and have you ever done it with a catholic? I felt like a bona fide bad girl, rare when I was confronted with their charged presence and long record of asoundingly stupid behavior.
Now though, confronted with him, I felt like the astoundingly stupid one. I had gone there to hurt him without knowing that I wasn’t capable of it. He rambled about how we really only had to be part-time next year to finish and we could get an apartment somewhere uptown and he’d just take the train to class and we’d get summer jobs to save money, floundering when he tried to be more specific and making grossly obvious mathematical errors when he tried to compute our budget in his head. He was adorable and lost and I wanted to hold him until he felt better, but then I realized I was the one in trouble.
“Rafael, shut up,” I said.
“I love you,” he said. It was almost an afterthought.
I could hear the subtext to it, the desperate chord underneath. I love you. I love you enough. But I knew what enough turned into. One day you could have enough, and the next you had a house full of mood crystals and an apartment full of the sound of your own voice on stereo.
“I don’t think I’m keeping it,” I told him.
“Angel,” he said, then stopped. I could see him struggling. We’d had this conversation before, in the theoretical sense. Lots of someones had told him for most of his life that abortion was a mortal sin, that to even let a girl do it was to shirk his responsibility as a man and a Christian, and even though he sometimes wasn’t a Christian these days, those voices echoed somewhere deep, somewhere I had never been. Then there were all the voices he’d heard since then, the voices calling those other voices archaic and self-righteous, the voices that asked who was he to ever tell a woman what to do with her body, as though he were the boss of her. He had been told so much and become so accustomed to his own opinion not mattering that at the critical moment he seemed not to know what his own thoughts on the matter were and couldn’t finish his sentence. Or maybe it had nothing to do with that. Maybe he was just him being selfish the way that most artists are, part drawn to the idea of something that would outlast him, part worried that he couldn’t control it.
“Angel,” he said again.
Under other circumstances, this is where I would have been at a loss for words and kissed him instead, undoing the buttons on his shirt and kissing circles down his chest until the distressing moment was gone, our fingers in each other’s hair, across each other’s bodies, lingering on birthmarks we could find with our eyes closed. I would lie beneath him and raise my hips to meet his while he breathed into the curve of my neck and kept a hand cupped beneath my buttocks. I would bite his earlobe and think I love this boy and Fidel would watch the whole thing silently. Then it would be over and we would breathe heavily and know where we were wounded but not how to make it better.
Instead, I left and told him I’d call him once I thought about it. I wouldn’t though; I decided the least I could do was make him call me. I had yet to find anyone to punish for my predicament. I returned to the dorm to find the girls sprawled across the common area furniture and thought maybe they would do. It was midterm week, but no one was actually reading. My friends were eating chips and salsa while an underfed starlet railed against the injustice of life on MTV, buzzing in low volume while Nicole talked over it.
“You know what Laura has now?” she asked.
Value, I thought, but said nothing.
“Some damn $200 Paper Denim jeans. Can you believe? I’m about to donate me an egg.”
“Please girl. Who you gonna find wants a Nicole egg?” Candy asked.
“Well then you’re about to haul your light ass in there and donate an egg, then cut me a percent.” Nicole continued. “Twenty seems fair. Could get me some cute jeans anyways.”
“Right. Let me go in there and sign Dulce Maria Guitierrez Hernandez on the dotted line and see how fast they throw me out the office. Who knows what could be hiding in DNA with a name like that. Maybe the kid would only get a 1400 and its whole life would be over.” Candy laughed. I felt sick. Nicole kept going.
“Well there gotta be some rich ass black people who can’t have their own kids and think my 1500’s worth something. C’mon Courtney, your parents got money right? Think they want another kid? A better one?”
Courtney threw a lime Tostito at Nicole and started an all out food fight. I walked away from it without them noticing and tried to imagine telling them. I felt illegitimately grown up, especially as their giggles rang through my closed door. Nicole would say to be realistic. She’d go through numbers the way Rafael had tried to, only hers would add up and show how ridiculous the situation would be. Candy would say it was only guilt keeping me from doing what had to be done right now, and then she’d go on a tangent about the government’s attempts to restrict female sexuality, and when I was about to leave and she realized what she was doing she’d apologize and then have nothing left to say. Courtney would just keep asking what I wanted, which wasn’t any more helpful than me asking my damn self.
I knocked on Laura’s door, not sure what I wanted from her. She looked shocked to see it was me knocking; it had been months since we’d had a real conversation. We’d spoken only in passing, when at all: hello, cold today isn’t it, psych midterm’s going to be a real pain in the ass, that kind of thing.
“What do you want?” she asked, not quite rudely, but headed there.
“Can I come in?” I said. “I need to talk.”
Maybe she could tell it was serious, because she opened the door all the way and moved away from it so that I could enter. It had been months since I had been in her room. Her first few checks had mainly gone to her mother, to her student loans, but the last one she’d clearly spent on redecorating. The cheap navy comforter had been replaced by something purple and woven. Egyptian cotton, I thought, without knowing where the term had come from. The photos on her walls were not of us anymore, they were of her at clubs I’d never been to with girls I didn’t recognize. Her pajamas were screaming Nick and Nora at me, and her hair had recently been highlighted, and I had to look at the floor in order to pretend she was the same girl I’d once been friends with, the girl who couldn’t say Blow Pop because she thought it sounded dirty, the girl who’d been confused about how it was possible to pee while wearing a tampon before Nicole broke it down for her. I told her the whole story, with the vomiting and the not knowing and my mother’s health crystals and my father’s car commercials, and Rafael being all beautiful and tortured and useless. She nodded in a kind of horrified sympathy, and then asked.
“What do you need me to do?”
I needed her to stop looking at me. I needed her eyes to not be blue and liquid. I needed her to understand what she couldn’t possible–how it felt to not be her. I needed her to hurt, at least, and that I could handle. I asked her to come with me when I got rid of it, and she was surprised, but nodded.
“I’m asking you,” I said, “because I can’t really tell them. I was thinking though, that maybe you know what it feels like to almost be a mother.”
I let the door close as she sat there on her purple comforter, looking not sure whether to feel insulted or understood.
I wanted to schedule it in Brooklyn, on the off chance that anyone I knew would be at the Planned Parenthood in Manhattan, but Brooklyn was all booked up and they sent me downtown. The whole place was pink pink pink, shell pink carpeting, puke pink plastic chairs that wobbled if you squirmed, pale pink walls. I signed in and took a number, imagining I was anyplace else. The DMV, backstage at a beauty pageant, the take-out counter at a restaurant. The lobby was full of mostly girls, with the occasional boyfriend. A boy who looked no older than fifteen patted the round belly of his even younger looking girlfriend. Another twirled a strand of his girlfriend’s hair while she read through a brochure on contraceptives and occasionally looked up nervously, as though scared someone would see her there. A grown man squeezed the hand of the young woman next to him, who looked panicked and terrified.
Laura looked panicked and terrified too, mesmerized by the tacky not-quite-tragedy of the waiting room. I imagined (for this is what we did with Laura then: we never asked, we imagined) the doctor’s office she’d visited to be screened and tested and have her egg removed. I imagined it blue, with soft music in the background and fresh flowers on the waiting room table, next to the New Yorker. I imagined people smiled more and struck up conversation easily. The girls there to donate would feel kinship with Laura, and if the women there to receive were inclined to be jealous of her youth and beauty and fertility, their jealousy would most likely cease once they realized they could afford to buy her.
Laura herself might be uncomfortable. Her childhood was probably free clinics like this. The shyness of her voice, the way she sometimes slipped up and had to fix a grammatical error, these hinted that maybe she was what my father would have called white trash if my mother weren’t there to say it was a term analogous to nigger and he ought to apologize for using it. Imposter or not, she looked the part. She could hide her inadequacy behind salon frosted hair and a thousand dollar leather coat. Sitting next to her, I did not feel analogous. They paid her for her potential babies, they were about to vacuum mine out of me. I felt queasy. I hoped they would forget to call my number. I didn’t want or not want the baby, I didn’t have any grand political problem with abortion, I didn’t have any religion to speak of and thought that if God existed and expected me to follow any particular rules, I was probably going to hell anyway, and not for this. I just didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to deal with it, didn’t want to be any emptier than I already felt. I wanted to be full. That was one of the things the girls in Laura’s egg-donor group complained about, the painful part of the drugs they had to take. They felt “full” in their abdomens, swollen with potential life. I wanted that forever and had never felt it yet.
“I don’t want to do this,” I said.
“Me neither,” she said, which didn’t make a lot of sense, but I didn’t really care what she was trying to say right then.
“If I took summer classes, I could graduate in August. Before the baby. I have good grades, I could get an OK job.”
Not a spy. You couldn’t be a spy with a baby. It would cry and blow your cover.
“That’s an idea,” she said. “You could get a good job. You’re really smart.”
I looked down at my scuffed red and black pumas.
“What would I do with a baby though?”
“Love it,” she said. She bit her lip and looked like she might cry.
I tugged so hard on the strand of hair I’d been twirling that it snapped off. Love it, I thought. Let it be mine.
“I’d need money though. At financial aid they’d probably cover my tuition for the summer, but I’d need the security of an apartment, and something to live on ‘til I could get a job. Plus money for doctors and stuff. Once I graduate, I can’t get school insurance anymore.”
She turned and looked at me, and it was not exactly friendship on her face. More like resignation.
“Take it,” she said.
We both knew what she was talking about, and I didn’t care right then why she was doing it, guilt, or anger, or privilege. I didn’t care if she needed it or not. I didn’t even have the pride to reject the first offer and make her insist. It wasn’t that I’d planned it that way, and I don’t know when I knew what I was doing but all of a sudden it was done and I wasn’t about to feel guilty.
“Alright,” I said. “If you can afford that.”
“I’ll sign the next check over to you,” she said.
I didn’t think I deserved it, not really, nor did I think she owed me. I thought the universe was a whole series of unfulfilled transactions, checks waiting to be cashed, opportunities made of your own flesh. I thought it was a horrible world to bring a child into, but an even worse world in which to stay a child. I stood up and walked out to Broadway, Laura behind me. I watched my feet as though they belonged to someone else. I looked up at the sky, feeling grown and full of something sad and aching to be known.
is the author of the story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, winner of the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Hurston-Wright award for fiction, and the Paterson Prize for Fiction, and an honorable mention for the PEN/Hemingway award. She is a 2011 National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree and a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts fellow. Her work has appeared in magazines including The Paris Review, A Public Space, American Short Fiction, Callaloo, The Sewanee Review, and Phoebe, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2008, 2010, 2017, and 2018, and in New Stories From The South. Her second collection, The Office of Historical Corrections, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books.
Jane Odartey, “Akutu LX, 2018” phoebe 48.2