My short story “Been Fighting Since” won second place in phoebe’s 2018 fiction contest! Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs, selected it.
“Been Fighting Since” is about twins, child soldiers, the old/new city of Berlin and the mysterious liminal state of blackout drinking. But really, it’s about whether it’s ever possible for someone who hasn’t experienced trauma to talk about it with someone who has. Even if she loves him. Especially if she loves him.
Last year, the story was longlisted for the Berlin Writing Prize. Now, it’s got a home online, in phoebe 47.2. Here’s how it starts.
Myriam drinks coffee with the ghost of Joseph’s twin as dusk falls on the Love Parade passing through downtown Berlin in a storm of techno noise. From where they sit, she can hear the amplified relentless bass and the roar of an intoxicated crowd on Strasse des 17. Juni. Earlier, she swallowed one little MDMA with the word “sky” printed on it; she knows that the drug must still be in her system because of what she’s seeing now. She sips her espresso.
Across the table from her, Joseph’s brother swings his legs. He is barefoot, wearing red shorts and a clean white tank-top. His name is Agun and he appears to be about eight years old. According to Joseph, he’s been missing – presumed dead – for two decades.
“Where is he?” Agun asks. His voice is deeper than one might expect, and he speaks English with the same incongruously posh accent that Joseph picked up in provisional schools at the refugee camps of his youth.
“I think he’s with our friends.”
“Joseph can climb higher in the thorn tree than anyone,” Agun tells her. “He always climbs when Baba calls us. Only I will come. It makes me angry.”
Read the rest — and all the other good stuff from the issue — now! For free!