- Many of these stories also appear in print. Anything I publish I'll also post here, assuming the editors are willing. So far, all of them have been very reasonable about it.
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- Hunting for Mangoes. "In the long, lazy afternoon, under the shade of a wide-leafed coconut palm, a brother and sister were quarreling. This was nothing new; Arun and Ziya had been born in the same moment, under the same star. Their exhausted mother would tell anyone who asked that they had been fighting ever since that day."
- The Sword at Your Door (WisCon 34 GOH speech). "In the stories, there's always that moment when a stranger appears to the young hero, when the wise old man shows up at your doorstep with a flaming sword and says to you -- we need you, you're the chosen one, you're the only one who can save us. I grew up waiting for that call, waiting for someone to open my door, and reach out his hand to me. The call could come at any moment; that doorway could open to another world. Sometimes, walking alone down a street, seeing a shadowed door, I would step into the shadow, just in case. It was never a magic door, but I kept hoping. I keep hoping."
- Remember. "I feel the need to tell you this in order to establish my queer, sex activist, credentials. Even though you can be queer without being sexually active, just like you can be straight and a virgin. I know that. I know you do too. But I have such a hard time remembering that I'm bisexual these days, remembering, even, that I'm sexual. Sometimes I need to remind myself that once upon a time, I had sex. I had a lot of sex. Now I have a two-year-old and an infant, and I tell people my sexual orientation is tired."
- Talking to Elephants.
- Jump Space. "Joshua glanced over to where Kate stood in the doorway, her hands twisting together in front of her. She was the calm one, but she'd never make a good poker player. Her hands always gave her away. "Maybe Mommy will sing you a song?" They were usually careful not to break the routine -- bath, book, song, bed, in strict order. The adults had long ago agreed that the children needed as much routine as possible in their itinerant lives. But Sarita hadn't come home for three nights now. The story was her job."
- The Poet's Lullaby : "The poet decided to have a child. This took her by surprise."
- The Pledge: "I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America.
I used to say those words every morning, five days a week, in homeroom, standing along a bunch of Polish and Irish-American kids, mostly second or third generation. I was born in Sri Lanka, but we came to America when I was just two years old, and I grew up in Connecticut, in a school where I was the only South Asian kid."
- The Arrival: "Four days before my departure for Sri Lanka, it is seven a.m. and I am standing in an airport in San Francisco. I was in Connecticut two weeks before, visiting my parents, have been in the Bay Area for a week, and am now supposed to be getting on a plane to Vancouver, to be on a panel about South Asian Literature at AWP, the associated writing programs conference. But I have forgotten that Vancouver is in Canada. I have forgotten that Canada is a separate country. I have forgotten to pack my passport and green card, the alien registration card that will allow me back into the United States, certifying that I am a permanent resident, with certain, limited, rights."
- Sequins: "Sarala blinked twice from behind her glasses, jarred from the image she'd held in her mind, the image that stubbornly refused to come out into the paint on her canvas. There was a body, she knew -- a body, and wings -- but more than that. Not as trite as a woman turning into a bird, seeking flight, freedom, escape. Along with the wings were powerful haunches, poised to leap, muscles tense and yearning. And claws, sharp and long; teeth, red at the tips. All caught at the moment of shifting, transformation, in that liminal space where every possibility hangs, glorious, waiting."
- Revised Itineraries, a nonfiction excerpt from Arbitrary Passions: "'Don't worry -- you can pass,' she said, her voice low, her hand reassuring on my arm."
- Counting to Ten: "Why is it that when your own life is totally fucked up that you try to fix other peoples lives?" "I don't know. You're the big sister, you're supposed to know the answers to these things." "I don't know anything. That's about all I know."
- The Marrying Kind: Leilani
slipped out of bed, pulled on a thin cotton robe, left Jared sleeping. It
was late, and they both had to get up early tomorrow for work. But she
couldn't sleep on a night like tonight -- it was thunderstorm weather, and
they were overdue. The forecasters had been predicting a storm for weeks,
but there had been nothing, nothing but the crackle in the air, the
build-up that never quite discharged. It was driving her slowly
- Lakshmi's Diary: July 2, 1969 -- My wedding day. Today I'm getting married. Raksha is a handsome man -- smooth skin, nice cheekbones. He's cheerful, generous, and owns his own business, a sari shop. Aunty Easwari has done well by me, though I thought she was going to have a heart attack when I wrote to her and asked her to find me a husband. She protested -- of course my parents, both teachers, would object to my getting married instead of going to college, but I can be just as stubborn as any of my five sisters when I need to be.
- At the Gates of the City: The snow fell gently over the gravestones, piling thick and dense on tall crosses, rectangular stones, low Gothic iron fences. Anjali sat on one of the thicker stones, a heavy coat wrapped around her sturdy frame, her long hair loose and covered in snow. She could no longer read the inscriptions, not with the snow and the nighttime darkness. But she knew them by heart.
- Under the Skin (essay): I sent
out an e-mail to several old and current lovers. I realize that this is
not the approach that most people would have taken, and I hesitated
briefly before sending the letter out, wondering, perhaps, if I were
presuming too much on lingering affection and friendship. But in the end,
I sent the letter, full of impertinent questions.
- A Gentle Man: Suneel wakes up hours
before his family. This is normal, although today is not normal, today is
a special day. Most days he makes tea, reads the paper,
eats some toast without butter before going to work at his store.
Sushila, his wife, never wakes until after nine. She likes to stay up
late, talking on the phone with her friends. When the children were
younger, he was the one who woke them, who ironed their Catholic school
uniforms and put out milk and cereal. But now the children are able to
wake themselves, and only Riddhi, his youngest, still sleeps at home. It
is Riddhi's birthday today...
- How It Started: When a hot new
dyke moves to Berkeley, you've only got a tiny window of time in which to
make your move. If you don't move quick, she'll be snapped up by someone
else, and you'll be left alone in your bed -- wet fingers for company,
waxing the saddle and wishing for love...
- The Poet and the Mathematician (a fable):
In a far away land under the coconut palms, there was a quiet little
house by the sea. It had old boards that creaked when the wind whistled
through them. It had small rooms that filled with sunshine on sunny days
and moonlight on cloudless nights. Sometimes the roof leaked a little
rain. And it had a young poet...
- Wild Roses: It started with a
phone call. Sarah had been expecting the call, but it was still a shock.
She had learned over the last few years, as friends succumbed to old age,
and to one or another disease, that there were limits to how well you
could prepare for death. It was usually cancer, of one type or another.
Cancer had gotten Daniel, too. It was hard when it was someone you'd
- The Fallen Star: Once upon a time, oh my darlings, my little ones, there lived nineteen cousins in one great house.
- Silence and the Word (part essay,
part story): This is a true story. In the dark, there's a woman in bed.
Her lover's hand is between her thighs, and he is rubbing what he thinks
is her clit, but in fact he's almost an inch off, and she doesn't know
what to do. She wants to tell him, somehow, but it's not an easy thing to
- Would You Live For Me?: ...a
mythical creature of varied powers and weaknesses. Peasant wisdom claims
that garlic worn at the wrists and neck and wreathed around doors and
window frames will ward off the monster, and that the touch of a cross or
Christian holy water will burn the undead skin, as acid would burn a
- And Baby Makes Four: Her back
was sore, despite the pillows the guys had tenderly tucked around her when
they settled her in the back of the car. Her back was sore and her head
felt like it was stuffed with cotton; the baby was kicking and the last
thing she wanted to hear right now was what she was pretty sure she was
hearing from the front seat...
Communion. "If a human saw the deep delvings of Chaurin’s people, it might faint away in sheer terror. On awaking, it would cling to the walls, begging not to be dragged any further, shown any more. Then Chaurin would insist—no, you must come; you think us animals, barbarians; you must see what wonders we have wrought! And he might pull that human to the very edge of a twisting stone stair, and with a single, careless motion, toss it tumbling down. They were ephemeral, these humans, light and slight, of no consequence. It would be easy to dispose of one."
Seven Ways of Looking at Captain Jack.
The Stars Change.
The Princess in the Forest. "The princess walks for hours, her face smooth as an undisturbed pool of water, her eyes laughing, light as butterflies. New-married, full of adoration for her husband, her prince. Rama hunts in the forest; he pursues the slender hart, lays traps for cunning rabbits. But always he comes to his Sita before the sun is down, comes to their modest hut, their gentle home in exile. He smiles to see her, lays the game aside and takes her in his arms, draws her down to the forest floor, the soft grasses, and she loves him then, as the gopis loved blue Krishna, she loves him with everything she has, everything she is."
Sanctuary. ""Kavitha eased her way out of her daughter's room, closing the door quietly behind her. It had taken longer than usual to get her toddler down; Isai had insisted on telling her a long, incomprehensible story about Daddy and dragons. When Michael got home from the station, Kavitha would have to ask him if he'd said something to Isai. In Jokertown, it was entirely plausible that Michael had encountered real dragons in the course of his detective duties -- or at least something close enough to pass for real. He was going to have to stop reading his daughter police reports; Isai was getting old enough to understand them. And even though the child appeared to be fearless, some of the things Michael dealt with on a day-to-day basis terrified even Kavitha; Isai didn't need to hear all the gritty details of Daddy's job. Not yet. Isai might be an ace, with fearsome shapeshifting abilities, but she was also only two-and-a-half years old. Michael was just going to have to learn how to make stories up. Appropriate stories."
THE CDSA signed, limited edition run.
Thanks for reading my stories -- I hope you enjoyed them!