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The Short Form

“How to Escape from a Leper Colony”

Tiphanie Yanique


He was there on the beach when I came out of the water. Lazaro was not the name he was born with. He was given that name because he refused to die. He was sixteen when I met him that first day, older than me by two years but much smaller in size. I stood a head above him. I had some softness in places, chest and cheek, where he seemed hollow. He had been born in the colony and still showed no signs of leprosy and no signs of leaving. The world would not have him. Surely the leprosy would show soon. In truth, he had nowhere to go. His mother, a dougla, had passed on her mixed genes. One could not tell if Lazaro was African or Indian—there was talk that there was French in him, too. That his father was French. That his father was one of the French priests who came over once a week to celebrate the Mass. Who is to know? The dougla, the mixed race, might be a type of chameleon. They can claim any heritage they desire. They can claim all if they like. Though it is true that not all will claim them in return.

Full story at The Boston Review.