A brief progression of natural disasters by Tara Isabel Zambrano

A brief progression of natural disasters 


When you insert your fingers inside me, I imagine the scar on your wrist, advancing like a crack in the windshield, cascading sticky junk out of me, its smell filling the room. I say your name out loud and you whisper, shh… we aren’t young anymore.


When you say you’re still hungry and cut yourself while slicing an apple. I suck on your finger, a faucet now, your blood swimming in my veins, a lava-sheen sealing all the open spaces under my skin.


When the storm warning goes off and we sit together in the closet ― an inch separating us. We talk about the towns we grew in, people we’d want to meet again; shake their hands and kiss their foreheads. As a middle-schooler, you followed the rail tracks across towns, over the swelling rivers, the markings like barbed wires on the maps ― snaking, touching and leaving.

I count the towns where we’ve had sex. I think of the places I’ve had sex with someone else.


When the night is pale and noisy, we don’t ask each other – Are you awake? We hear our breath, the creaking bed strings, the deep creases on the sheets like fault lines. We try to make shapes from our clothes hanging in the corner.


When you get up even though your sleeping pills and water bottle are on the side table next to the bed. I stir as if I was asleep, and you say the house walls are closing in on you. Outside, on the pavement, you look up at the star-throbbed sky and ask what day it is. We keep going around the neighborhood, trotting through the darkness until we are slick with dew.


When you come back and sit in the study, talk about the love letters we wrote to each other, the stickers we used, the way we signed our names. You say you miss writing letters. You say despite your best efforts there’s a missed turn flagged on the road of our marriage. Your eyes gaze into mine as if you know about my screw ups. I suck the air and turn around to leave, my secrets flying like debris within the funnel of my body, my heart a rotating steam devil.


A Brief Progression of Natural Disasters


Tara Isabel Zambrano works as a semiconductor chip designer. Her work has been published in Tin House Online, The Southampton Review, Slice, Bat City Review, Yemassee, Passages North and others. She is Assistant Flash Fiction Editor at Newfound.org. Tara moved from India to the United States two decades ago and holds an instrument rating for single engine aircraft. She lives in Texas.


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Image: Raden Saleh Public Domain