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The Short Form

“Hitting Budapest”

NoViolet Bulawayo


We all find places, and me, I squat behind a rock. This is the worst part about guavas; all those seeds get you constipated when you eat too much. When it comes to defecating, we get in so much pain, like trying to give birth to a country. Minutes and minutes and minutes pass and nobody shouts, “I’m done, hurry up.”

We are all squatting like that, in our different places, and I’m beating my thighs with fists to make a cramp go away when somebody screams. Not the kind of scream that comes from when you push too hard and a guava seed cuts your anus; it says “come and see,” so I stop pushing, pull up my underwear and abandon my rock. And there, squatting and screaming, is Godknows. He is also pointing ahead
in the thick trees, and we see it, a tall thing dangling in a tree.

“What’s that?” somebody, I don’t know who, whispers. Nobody answers because now we can all see what it is. A woman dangles from a green rope. The sun squeezes through the leaves, and gives everything a strange color that makes the woman’s light skin glow like there are red-hot coals inside her. 

The woman’s thin arms hang limp at the sides, and her hands and feet point to the ground, like somebody drew her there, a straight line hanging in the air. Her eyes are the scariest part, they look too white, and her mouth is open wide. The woman is wearing a yellow dress,  and the grass licks the tip of her shoes.

We read it in Boston Review.

Full story can be read online.