By Rosie Ninesling
and I am balancing bobby pins on the tips of my fingers while
my sister rattles the locked door knob, there’s no fire but her voice
speaks flames, tongues of red that echo off the tiles and slowly burn out,
delicately folding me in smoky haze
and I let the faucet run away with itself and it gladly agrees and
I crack open the window because I’m still learning to breathe.
And hell to it all when I turn on the radio and my sister’s still
screaming and maybe the house really is burning down, but I wouldn’t know;
the only balance I’ve ever felt is at the edges of my hands,
so I pin my hair back and I go.
Rosie Ninesling is from Garland, TX, but currently lives in Denton. She’s majoring in creative writing and minoring in Chemistry.
By Jaya Wagle
The drawer in my nightstand is filled with nebulizer paraphernalia, transparent tubes of Albuterol and Budesonide, hand lotion, and odd bits of jewelry. The nebulizer is for my son’s upper respiratory syndrome. On days he has too much physical activity—soccer during recess followed by PE—he comes home wheezing, his breath raspy.
The nebulizer hums loudly as it converts the liquid Albuterol and Budesonide into cold vapor that he inhales through a face mask. Within twenty minutes he is breathing easy. He’s so used to the contraption that on days when his condition is severe, I can strap the mask on while he is sleeping and he doesn’t miss a wink. It pains my husband to see our son strapped to the plastic mask, breathing in chemicals to ease his breathing. He too suffers from upper respiratory syndrome, which is triggered more by allergies than physical excursions. Over the years, he has learned to control it with Pranayama, yogic breathing exercises. Every morning, he practices synchronized deep inhales and exhales, energizing his body, mind, and lungs by filling them with fresh oxygen. It took him thirty-six years to figure out that Pranayama works for his condition. He wants to impart the knowledge to our son, give him a head start.
My nine-year-old does not want to sit cross-legged on the mat and breathe in and out rhythmically for ten minutes, which prompts my husband to shake his head in bewilderment. He tells him, over and over, “Do this for ten minutes every day and you will never have to use the nebulizer again.” “But Pappa, I don’t mind the nebulizer. I can watch TV while it’s on.”
Jaya Wagle recently graduated from UNT. Her work has appeared in NTR (2014), print anthologies of Little Fiction, Big Truths, and Lamar University Press’ “Emerging Fiction Writers” series. She lives with her husband and 10-year old son in Fort Worth, substitute teaches for KISD, and enjoys practicing Bikram yoga.
By Jaya Wagle
We like to linger on that sunny rectangle, our bodies ensconced in the warmth of the sun. We stand under the leaky canopy of a chaiwalla, waiting for the downpour to stop.
I cringe every time I hear someone ahead of me order a “chai tea latte” at the local Starbucks. See T-shirts scribbled with witty sentences—”I live for the thrill of flight.” I thought I could find happiness by escaping my old life. But I miss my mother’s nagging, my father’s rules, my sister’s whining. My tired eyes observed the curlicue highway ramps and barren trees along the roads with an inexplicable sadness. To sit cross-legged on the mat, breathe in and out rhythmically for ten minutes. Drinking Red Label every night. Sense the snakes hiding under innocuous garbage bags.
The drawer in my nightstand is filled with nebulizer paraphernalia, transparent tubes of Albuterol and Budesonide, hand lotion, and odd bits of jewelry. The brass pots that sat on a ledge above my Aajji’s gas stove I claimed as my own. I have witnessed them inhale the sweet aromas of my Aajji’s ginger-cardamom chai, my Baba’s spicy mutton curry.
We stand, alone, on the edge of two worlds. We wait for the tea leaves to seep and settle on the bottom, for the water to turn a deep, mud-red. A bead of sweat trickles down my back. I hope the earthquake is not a foreshadowing of our married life to come.