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Strawberry Eyes

Story by Anahita Vieira (Read author interview) September 19, 2022

©️ SmokeLong

There was something about the way Sepideh looked at me with those eyes when she asked “how often does he call to check in on you?” and you were only the size of a blueberry when you began developing your own eyes, outgrowths of a developing brain, which is something I learned under the blue light of my phone as I lay next to his snoring body and Googled “7 weeks pregnant” which I knew I was because I logged everything once he and I started the IVF treatments that I couldn’t tell anyone about, because “the shame of it all” as he was, of course, a real man and a real man wouldn’t need to work two jobs and take out a loan just to get his wife pregnant but Sepideh’s eyes were magnetic and I didn’t understand the pull they had on mine, didn’t understand why my stomach bloomed open like the peonies on her kitchen table, but what I did know is that on Friday afternoons what I most looked forward to, after bagging groceries at Stop and Shop, was stopping by her house for chaee and because he worked double shifts on Fridays, I only had to call him once to check in and after that I could spend the rest of the afternoon with Sepideh, free from that stupid ringtone, and how I loved the way she poured the chaee out of the Samovar and the way she asked me if I wanted it porang or kamrang and even though I wasn’t going to tell her I was pregnant with you, I asked for the tea kamrang because I was “with child” and even though she congratulated me saying “mubarak bashi” and “he must be so happy” something in her eyes had changed and all I wanted was to ask her why but instead I mustered a “Merci, yes, he is” and I drank the chaee as fast as I could then because I couldn’t bear to stay in the same room with those changed eyes and later that night, I learned you were now the size of a strawberry with eyelids that would not open for several more weeks and that you would not have fully formed tear ducts until weeks after entering this world so you were incapable of producing tears and my own eyes filled as I considered the absurdity of a strawberry that has eyelids that can’t open or cry, and I let the streaming wet my face until I realized that I had to visit Sepideh again and that I couldn’t wait until next Friday, but when I went over after my Wednesday shift she didn’t answer her door and I somehow missed his afternoon check-in call and even though I called him back within seven minutes I knew it was too late and when I got home his eyes themselves had grown eyes, as though his rage had multiplied his eyes for me, the white heat in them branding me as he grabbed me by the wrist yelling “where have you been” and “can’t you see how much I love you” as he ripped his swollen pants open and ordered me to get on all fours but the thing is that I couldn’t see through the pain and when I washed my face in the bathroom I knew that I wouldn’t be seeing her this Friday, or the Friday after that, and for many more Fridays to come and that I was now no more capable of crying than a strawberry with sealed eyelids and by the time my face healed and you were the size of a cauliflower and your eyes had finally opened there was no hiding you from anyone and there was no keeping me from Sepideh so I took the bus to her place leaving my phone behind and the truth is that I didn’t really think it through and I’m so sorry that I didn’t because if I had I would have remembered that Tim at Stop and Shop knew about Sepideh and where she lived and he would have had no reason not to tell him all of this because my husband was just “such a nice guy” and what did Tim know anyway and I would have seen it coming: the red that you will never see.

About the Author

Anahita Vieira graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Ph.D. in neuroscience. She currently works as Manager of Outreach & Communications at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her words appear in Mutha Magazine, 433 Magazine, and The Art of Everyone Quarterly. She resides in Boston, Massachusetts with her wife, rambunctious twin girls and their dog who has the heart of a saint and face of a seal. She can be followed on Instagram @anahitawrites or Twitter @geneticexpns

This story appeared in A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue
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The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

Deadline November 15!

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (The Smokey) is a biennial competition that celebrates and compensates excellence in flash. The grand prize winner of The Smokey is automatically nominated for The Best Small Fictions, The Pushcart, Best of the Net, and any other prize we deem appropriate. In addition to all this love, we will also pay the grand prize winner $2500. Second place: $1000. Third place $500. Finalists: $100. All finalists and placers will be published in the special competition issue in December 2022.