China and Afghanistan by Susan Tepper

“See my knuckles,” Teddy says making two fists. “What do you notice?”

A lot of people are milling about, it’s Times Square, 4pm in July. Hot. Radiator hot.

I shrug saying, “It’s just knuckles.”

I’m looking around the throngs of people for some place cool to duck into, an air conditioned Starbucks, anywhere. I hate winter then I hate summer. I feel like I wasn’t meant to live on this earth.

“Look closer,” he’s saying extending his clenched hands. They’re squeezed so tight the knuckles have turned a sickly yellowish color.

“Look,” I say back. “OK, you have yellow knuckles.”

“Janine, you need to examine life more closely.”

“It’s hot and ugly here. There’s fumes. There could be another truck bomb right on this corner, one that goes off this time. I want to go back to Kansas.”

He laughs then. “Kansas, huh? What are you, Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz?”

That doesn’t sound too bad. A nice Kansas twister to lift me out of the hell hole of Times Square. As I’m mulling this over, a fat woman in an ugly T-shirt bumps me hard and doesn’t apologize.

“Come on, figure it out.” He’s still with those damned knuckles shoved my way.

“China and Afghanistan?” I say.

“I am clenching two little worlds. One holds everything you dream of, Janine, and one holds nothing. Which one has the ring you want real bad?”


Filed under Susan Tepper

4 responses to “China and Afghanistan by Susan Tepper

  1. great – love the ending and small things like “I hate winter then I hate summer.”

  2. thank you, Mr. Flawnt, for your read and nice comment

  3. Loved this little story, especially the characters.

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