Showing posts with label 21st century fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 21st century fiction. Show all posts

A Christmas Story: “In Waiting” (Excerpt With Link to Full Story)

Pregnant Woman:
Background: Jeff Weese (Wikipedia)

Say, you’re right. This place could stand a few decorations.
Maybe a Christmas tree, some lights strung above the bar.
Next year for sure.
Don’t know about a Manger scene, though. Can’t picture competing with Baby Jesus in my own casino.
Just had the Grand Opening last week. Bad timing, I know, but that’s how the chips fell. I suppose I could’ve waited for the New Year’s crowd, but why not get a jump on my customer base?
Another Virgin Mary, coming up. That’ll be two bucks.
Say, my prices are cut to the bone as it is. Down at Wally’s, that drink would’ve cost you three bucks, maybe more. Don’t know how he gets away with it.

‘Course I’ll close for Christmas tomorrow. I’d fear for my immortal soul if I was to allow gambling and carousing in my casino on Christ’s birthday.

(Disclosure: this story is written by Jennifer Semple Siegel, the webmaster of this site.)

The Right Career (by Zorica Petkoska)


“Six years for a bloody bachelor’s degree! Two times in the hospital because of a ruptured eye capillary! All those damn all-nighters! And for what!!!” Bobbie was swearing at full speed in his dressing-room. Swearing violently, yet barely audibly.

“All that chemistry, all that physics…for what?”

“The universe is laughing behind your back.” That’s the saying he got with his coffee this morning. The café is offering “daily sarcasm” now instead of the good old perfectly boring fortune cookie.

“We’re going live in five minutes, Bobbie!” A voice reminded him.

“I’m coming!” He yelled out.

Lights. Camera. Action. He got used to this.

“Hello, my dear viewers. For today’s experiment you will need the following ingredients…”

He graduated in chemistry as his major and physics as his minor, yet he couldn’t find a job in this in this topsy-turvy society, where trained musicians moonlighted as taxi drivers and uneducated people owned large businesses. Instead he was on television, hating it all, while some kid somewhere gets drunk to death for not fulfilling his dream to work in the media. It’s a twisted little world and a twisted little story.

“…then, you add some sodium chloride, you decide the quantity according to your taste…”

He hated this circus. He should have accepted that job in the supermarket, it wouldn’t be as embarrassing as this one.

“…. One litre of H2O is poured in the mixture and you let it simmer for fifteen minutes…”

Yet, his knowledge of chemistry is a precious possession that no one can take away from him.

Just you wait, and you will all see.

The whole twisted world is wrong.

“…the state of aggregation should neither be solid, nor gas. You should get a liquid mixture through a process of hydrating some solid elements and letting some gasses expire in the liquidizing process…”

I am so sick of this.

“…you decorate with some parsley at the end and the special Easter stew is ready!”

He hated that an educated scientist like him should end up in a ridiculous cooking show. He must rely on his knowledge once again. He pulled out a syringe.

“And, at the end, ladies and gentlemen, this is one of the most beautiful chemicals – THALLIUM. Its magical properties are spreading throughout one’s body and….well, you’ll see,” he added casually.

The next moment he injected the main dish with it.

“This is an excellent poison,” he continued, “as it cannot be seen with a naked eye, and when tasted, one dies a slow, lingering death.”

The whole TV studio fell silent.

“And, of course, I am joking, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “You know how I like to add a bit of a chemistry in life, because where’s chemistry, there’s love.”

“This syringe contains hot salty water. It is an excellent trick in order to make the meat equally salty in the inside as on the outside,” he explained.

The crew could be heard breathing again. Anything was possible with Bobbie.

“Please, fetch today’s meal to the director of our station. I promised him a decent holiday meal,” said Bobbie to an assistant, a young man.

“Of course, sir.”

And Bobbie went home pleased, singing all the way: “Thallium, I love you, you are real, you are true.”

And the accompaniment to it were the sirens from the ambulance rushing towards Channel 6 Studios.

Bobbie knew they were rushing in vain. He knew for certain that the director would suffer a slow and agonizing death. Chemistry confirmed that.

And where’s chemistry, there’s magic.


Zorica Petkoska (also known as Zoria) is a graduate student of English language, specialising in translation at the Department of English language and literature, Faculty of Philology at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia. She is also teaching translation there as an assistant to a junior professor. She has been writing poetry since a very early age and published one poetry book in 1999 (The Dream’s Stars and Sparks). She has been writing poetry, prose and drama up to this day, and also engaged herself in amateur drama writing, staging, directing and acting. She writes both in English and in Macedonian.


“The Right Career” is copyright 2010, by Zorica Petkoska. All rights are reserved. This story may not be reprinted or reposted without permission from the author.

The images and artwork are copyright 2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel and may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


Taken from the Notes of a Prisoner (Dragan Georgievski)


…As I started up in this world, I was a menace, a fiend of man and woman, and I became someone else. I was born, and I ceased to become that same fiend I always knew when I looked in the small pond in front of our house. The impeccable pond, in front of our house, grew each and every day for as long as I can remember. It was situated near a village, not far away from Athens where my parents, my two sisters and I resided for a long, long time.

In the beginning, I used to love looking at that wonderful reflection every day, when I started off at school. My Greek primer in hand and my dedication to the study of Homer and Horace, painted my face in that pond, the pond that kept growing as I grew.

And then, I realised, I had become someone else. One day a completely different face was looking back from that small pond and it kept smiling back at me! I could never smile like that! I was never able to do anything, except be serious about my studies and never leave home unless it was for school or the local library. I threw a stone inside that pond and it started to make so many circles, that my analytical brain started counting them one at a time, never assuming that I was counting how many times my eyes multiplied within those circles.

I had become a man, but not just any man, I dedicated myself to the study of thunder and rain and everything that caused trouble to that little pond. But, there was something else beside my dedication to this study. In fact, I had tasted something that I had never tasted before. And it wasn’t the taste that you get when you bite a beetle which has, by accident, fallen into your mouth. I felt my own blood, human blood. Then the person looking back at me in the pond was different. The smile of that person grew larger, and suddenly the pond grew larger as well. Its appetite grew in a way. But what grew in me was a calling to serve that pond. Once it even turned into a swan. He called to me, gave me instructions and disappeared. I was ready and I did what I had to do!

Now that I recall all this, so as to present you with the facts: I have become someone else. I am not allowed my freedom to visit that pond, because I am put behind a wire. I am looking at a mirror instead of a pond, watching television instead of reading Horace and listening to the news forecast instead of studying whether the weather will lighten up, so that my jail-mate will stop nagging me about my know-it-all brain!

But a very important thing hasn’t changed, though. I have remained in service to that pond. I have managed to get my cell just opposite my master’s house, and now I can finally show you my perspective! I have taken a couple of pictures to make it easier for you…Even though, it became very clear to me at first that I have become my master’s servant, the world managed to disturb that picture by saying that I was only throwing stones into a pond that made circles inside my head. But my master instructed me differently. I was able to change that picture into something else – my own image I have kept inside my head.

Dearest reader, I provide you with those same images now, and I leave your honourable mind to bring a suitable answer to the question you asked me before. We all serve different masters, enlightened one, but I chose to serve the first and the biggest one of them all! He sits on the top of everything, hides behind every corner, goes into the soul and the mind and governs....oh how, he governs...


Dragan Georgievski (b. 1983 – Skopje, Macedonia) is currently a Senior Undergraduate student of English and Czech Language and Literature at the ‘Ss Cyril and Methodius’ University in Skopje. He has translated works from English and Czech into Macedonian and Aromanian and vice-versa. His latest work was the translation of three plays by George Bernard Shaw (Androcles and the Lion, Overruled and Pygmalion) into Macedonian and is currently working on translating Macedonian literature into English.


“Taken from the Notes of a Prisoner” is copyright 2010, by Dragan Georgievski. All rights are reserved. This story may not be reprinted or reposted without permission from the author.

The images are copyright 2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel.


People with Burnt Tongues (Ana Lakaliska)


The Skopje sky is like a silver blister, ready to splash its contents all over this city of statues. So monotonous, concrete, enveloped in a mist of exhaust fumes and the noise of heels on top of the shrill voices of street vendors. Little barefoot children, splashing in the puddles from yesterday’s downpour, chasing people, begging for spare change. Chestnuts being roasted on every corner. Massive billboards hover above our heads.

We escape into a café. We haven’t seen each other in a while. Not much is different. Mya has changed her hair back as it was three years ago. It still makes her look older. “That’s what I was going for,” she always said, when we strove to find something pleasant to remark after her unfortunate visits to the hairdresser’s. But she doesn’t really care. She never has.

I came here to write, Mya came with me to dispel the awkwardness, as if to write in public were a crime, a kinky thing to do. We pick a spot in the back, dark, understated corner; we didn’t come here to be seen, we came here to see each other, catch up.

I place a notebook in my lap, I cover it with my scarf, so that people won’t see, won’t wonder, won’t judge. We order. “An espresso for me,” I say to the waitress, while Mya is in the mood for tea.

The day has descended heavily on the city today. We walked for only fifteen minutes to get here, no more, and yet, we’re drained.

The grim day follows us through the window. The lights on the upper floor are lit, giving our surroundings the sweet mellow hue of an almost ripe peach. A soft cloud of cigarette smoke hovers, squeezing through the railing. I spot a pinch of cinnamon with the tobacco. I should have ordered something with cinnamon.

A couple is positioned in the booth across from us. They’re like ghosts; they’re made into bland shadows by the light throwing itself in from behind their backs. They sit apart, she on the sofa, he on a recliner. Two cups and a sugar shaker rest on the table between their legs.

I notice the God-awful, Macedonian pop music in the background. This used to be a classier place. Smooth jazz, world music, gigs in the evenings. Today, we’re surrounded by guys with the same haircuts, sporting the same striped sweaters and ray-bans on a day with no sun at all. Almost all the girls have their hair in a bun. That’s one trend I’ve missed out on lately, I guess.

She flips through the menu as one would do at a dentist’s waiting room. His eyes are lifted towards the flat-screen, but do not meet it. The air between the two of them seems thicker than the rest of it.

In all my eagerness to get warm, I take a sip from my coffee. I burn my tongue. I set the cup down while my face twists in a knot.

Mya cracks up. “Rash!” She smiles and dips the tea bag in her cup. I cringe and look away again.

He’s playing with a lighter. His elbows are on his knees, his head in a bow. She sits there with her hands joined on the side of her hip. They share no words.

Mya speaks about her summer vacation; about her studies; about her boyfriend’s studies. They’ve been together for ages. I listen with only one ear. She talks about the last party I missed, about a semi-known singer and her lover who is her neighbor, about another friend’s feud with one of her professors. I scribble in my notebook.

He adds some sugar to his coffee and twirls the spoon in it with a lightness of wrist often met in men whose only physical activity in the day is this circular aerobic workout. He lifts the sugar halfway towards her, not looking. Her head, as in a twitch, shakes to say no. He pulls it back softly.

Mya starts talking about the time her boyfriend and she were pulled over by a police officer for speeding and they cheated out of it by pretending she had appendicitis and he was rushing her to the hospital. She says it would have been pretty nasty if they hadn’t found a way out, since they were pretty much intoxicated and ever so slightly high, at least he was. She sees I’m amused, so she becomes even more animated in telling. Her hands are flying around. It’s not the story I’m so entertained by -- this is the fourth time I’ve heard it -- but I had never heard it from her. I laugh because I notice how the story has morphed from one gossip’s mouth to the next. Or maybe she is just spicing it up for me. She does that sometimes. Now, I’m not saying she is a liar or anything of the sort; she just likes things a little bit over the top. Like that shirt she is wearing. Too… pink. My glance strays from her once again.

The waitress places a bill on their table, joining their vow of silence and walks away, as with people she knows, people she trusts. He places two bills on top of it without looking at it. She is already in her coat and extends a step towards the door.

Mya asks how I’ve been doing these last few months. I sigh. I start speaking of meaningless things, minor endeavors, bumps on the road. Mya listens as if I’m relating the truth about the origin of the Universe. It’s always been baffling to me; I never managed to develop that keen interest in other people’s affairs. Still, I babble on.

She pushes the heavy glass door and is out of the café, while he’s still battling with one of the sleeves of his jacket. He catches up with her and his arm goes dryly around her hip, like two tree trunks fighting for territory. They walk out of sight. The crisp air from when she opened the door arrives in our corner. They’re replaced by a solitary, pale statue of a pained woman wrapped around a guitar on the promenade.

It’s one of those new, ugly ones, completely ridiculous. They haunt this city. It’s like Skopje doesn’t need its mortal citizens anymore. It has its new, sound-proof, marble and gypsum ones.


Ana Lakaliska is a student of English language and literature at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia. She has been writing from an early age and has won a number of local and national awards for her poetry. Some of her poems have appeared in collections and publications from competitions, as well as Macedonian newspapers and periodicals.


“People with Burnt Tongues” is copyright 2010, by Ana Lakaliska. All rights are reserved. This story may not be reprinted or reposted without permission from the author.

The Skopje images/artwork are copyright 2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel and may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.



Short Story: “A Pomegranate Heart” (Afrodita Nikolova)


About this video


I know that I will most certainly die. You do things and then you die. Gandhi said: “Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

See that small child eating pomegranate on the bench in the yard of the old wooden house? Well, that’s me. When I was little there were two things I couldn’t resist: looking at girls in miniskirts and eating pomegranates.

Girls will be girls, but pomegranates, that juicy wet liquid, blood soaring in the mouth to 99 degrees, that’s something.

When I was little I must’ve thought that my Momma’s right breast was a pomegranate, for I’m told that I clung to it and only to it, perpetually. I clung to my older sister too, but I guess it must’ve been that she always wore those velvet miniskirts.

I used to think that the moon is one huuge pomegranate, yellow from the outside, but red from the inside. I always had these dreams of squeezing the moon, but with my teeth. The erotic substance, the red juice bubbling in my mouth cavity as the mass of red juicy seeds sprinkled the inside walls of the cheeks. There is nothing erotic about it, yes, I know.

What I also know is that the moon is not a pomegranate, I was told so afterwards, but did that prevent me from believing in my childhood theory? No. Did that prevent the child, sitting on the bench in the yard of the old wooden house, from expecting every winter, the snow to fall in red snowflakes? No. I was definitely convinced that if I don’t sink my teeth into the moon’s core, than someone else will do it and he will fail to do it properly and the red dense liquid will fall onto the clouds and it’ll get stuck in them as food gets stuck in teeth, or maybe as gore forms on an infected wound. That’s why I expected to see, every damn winter, how these clouds release the moon’s gore on the surface of earth, as red snow. Even then I knew of envy. Maybe I didn’t know it was called so, but I did have this unknown warm suffocating feeling inside, every time I thought someone else would spill the moon’s insights, let alone that I won’t even know about it, because there maybe won’t be snow to foretell it, or if it came as rain maybe I’d think it was only muddy rain. People envy, children too, the one who says he doesn’t lies, but I envied someone without a face, body, name, without even being sure of someone’s existence, but as the globe is a cradle of so many people, I knew that some day, someone will come up with this idea. I knew that this childish idea will mature soon enough in some human mind.

I’m telling you, it wasn’t me, if it was, I would be glad to tell you it was. I couldn’t have tasted the real moon’s substance. I do admit that I like eating pomegranates even now, but I doubt that even Neil Armstrong could have tasted something of it on the moon. It is totally absurd and imaginary.

When I was an adolescent, my Poppa used to be my best companion. I knew then how stupid was to have been in fear of my childhood theory so I shunned it. It was then that I clung to Poppa, more than to any other member of my family, though he didn’t wear a mini skirt, and though I still loved eating pomegranates and staring at girls in mini skirts.

He unlocked the door of reality to me, the medicine and mystery of human body function.

Thanks, Poppa, I owe you the degree I’ve acquired in medicine, may you rest in peace.

He died from a heart condition. It was these clogs of blood that formed in his vessels, which stopped the flow of blood forever. The great philosopher Martin Dubrakov Pleskov ceased to be, not his theories.

Yes, I know that “great minds think alike,” my Poppa used to say that. He liked literature a hell of a lot. He told me once, I remember, to cherish the science, medical science, but he always had a subtle way of getting to his point. He instigated my becoming a cardiologist and he was a man of great humour. I know that talking about him now doesn’t make sense to you, but once, when Suzi was my girlfriend, he quoted: “…give her an onion, it’s your heart wrapped in brown paper.” You see now, isn’t that an improvement to my childish theory, to say that the moon is a heart wrapped in yellow and grey paper?

My Poppa died on the table, his chest, open in front of my eyes, under the bloody plastic gloves on my hands.

Even as I was holding the instruments, I knew I couldn’t fix his clogged vessels.

Was it difficult?

It was, but isn’t it that “whatever you do in life it will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it”?

I tell you now, dear lawyer. I’m not guilty of any crime. I wasn’t able to help the patient Majovski as I couldn’t help my Poppa. All patients are equal to me. If I say in an interview or in a book something that may imply myself being a doer of a crime, it is all empty association. And, man is not always what he says or what he does.

I do admit and it is written in my record, and in my biography that I did, after the death of Poppa, take his heart and sink my teeth into it. Does that make me a perpetrator? It is in accordance to the law that one may do what he chooses with his relative’s remains. Is it moral? Grief-stricken people are free even of the possibility to sense morality. That is my story, dear Ms Paula Korevski, you are the lawyer whom I trust thoroughly and you have to know I’m not guilty of any crime.

Mr B. Dubrakov Pleskov, a renowned cardiologist, was led to court the following week, mumbling under his breath, “the moon is a heart, a pomegranate, and all human hearts are beating moons, pomegranates.”

The case about the missing patients’ hearts is still in process. It is said that in one of his interviews he supposedly stated that he always taught his children the theory of the moon being a pomegranate when they were small. When they became adults they were well aware that the moon is only the round object that moves in the sky around the Earth and can be seen at night.

The sources continue to claim that Mr Pleskov was taken away somewhere… “Old age snuffs out the flame one has for women,” Pleskov told the media, “but it never extinguishes the gluttony to eat pomegranates.”


“A Pomegranate Heart” is copyright 2010, by Afrodita Nikolova. All rights are reserved. This story may not be reprinted or reposted without permission from the author.

The video and images (“A Pomegranate is a Beating Heart”) are copyright 2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel.

“Copper Mountain,” the YouTube track for “A Pomegranate is a Beating Heart,” is courtesy of Dan-O:
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