For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Ice, Mating”

Uzma Aslam Khan

Excerpt

She laughed. “So who does the picking?”

“Men like him.” I pointed to an old man stooped inside a grey woollen jacket. Perhaps the ice-bride had spun it, I thought, envisioning fingers of ice melting into a warp and weft. In a whisper both soft and commanding, the old man directed two younger men on how to lower the ice-bride and ice-groom from off their backs without hurting them.

We'd followed, at a distance. The marital bed—the hole covered in shells and husk—had been dug into the side of a cliff as carefully selected as the bride and the groom. Only this side of the mountain attracted the right length of shadow for the snow to hold for ten months, 14,000 feet above sea level. The porters had heaved the ice on their backs the entire way. We were brought in a jeep.

To participate in the marriage procession, we'd sworn an oath of silence. There was a belief in these mountains that words corrupted the balance between lovers-in-transit. But now we'd reached the marital bed, Farhana and I could speak again.

We read it in Granta 112: Pakistan.