Fortnightly on Fridays, the Margins publishes flash fiction by emerging and established Asian, Asian American, and Asian diasporic writers.
Some of the most fascinating, and perhaps strangest and most experimental writing exists in short, finished pieces that were never meant to be novels or full-length stories. Our hope is for the flash fiction we publish to be shared, perhaps read aloud, where flickers of campfire match the ferocity of the page.
Our flash fiction series is edited by Swati Khurana and Yi Wei.
I know what it is like to travel into the quiet dusk, but don’t know what her fear felt like.
Tomorrow too I wake in the wrong country’s immense heat.
Sundays are our busiest days. While God rests, we work.
I am searching for a house, and I’m not sure I’ll find it.
Even before the world changed, you couldn’t see her with ease.
The panic and hunger that will rise in you when you see another of your kind, even though together you unlock a different loneliness in your contained camaraderie.
What if I was the reasonable one and you the overthinker?
I bring the child closer to me and inhale, prepared for the musty smell of old men. It never comes.
The witch listened to nothing but her water heart.
They have many lives, as all apparitions do, and don’t mind sparing a few
When I left, I stretched far enough away that any tethers I had severed. Now a place exists without me.
All these familiar but strange things that make up his wife.
I don’t remember the trees, though. My sister doesn’t either.
I killed my old self to see if I would finally return home to myself.
The dead decided to live upon us, demanding a second chance.
She had a dream the night before about catching a pig, which her father used to tell her was a prelude for great fortune.
There are ghosts who haunt and ghosts who kill.
I feel him taking my hands in his and kissing them every time he saw me.
There were no windows opened. There were dimmed lights. There were crumbs beneath the table.
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Most of us who love the past live among what remains.
That’s one thing I’ll say about the aliens: they really appreciate a good bowl of ramen.
They say most of her followers are moms.
I felt no joy out there, not close to the joy I felt in Daiso.
Red roof, red walls, red steps. Red everything.
Boys shouldn’t have tails, we told him.
I was alone now, except the mold still had a strong presence I couldn’t ignore.
I pride myself on not having regrets.
Where she had rubbed away the grime, her eyes shined intensely.
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Someone up there in charge of making the sky beautiful.
Kulu cranks her jaws wide open upon seeing us
Their beautiful skin is the color of perfection, the shade of impeccably cooked lechón.
Maybe you should’ve said something sooner, Robert.
Because the summer feels more hellfire than hellfire.
I had vowed to be different, but I wasn’t able to escape servitude, even eight thousand miles away in New York.
What if the world was stuck, frozen, and we could go anywhere we wanted, together?
You’re brought up by blue, Father said.
A few steps are all that separate us.
I wonder how the body knows it’s ready to feed another life. Does it even get a choice to be ready?
We—our family—had so little to give each other; maybe we needed to look elsewhere.
We heard a glass break, then saw our mother, saw what looked like tears.
It’s always only Rio standing there.
Astrological insights from twelve of our most recent flash stories
For it is what Grandma made best, and it is what we knew and ate.
I close my eyes once again and let my hands remember the beat.
You know what I am trying to do for you, Night, she says. I am trying to make life easier.
Looking is not enough. You must run this beauty between finger and thumb.
Wei forgot that he’d given up these aspirations, but he knew they were still possible for her.
“It’s started. It’s changing me. It’s happening. Now.”
She remembers the rituals she had imbued with her own significance: how her ex used to bring her a single flower after every exam, and how she’d watch it wilt on her desk as she studied for the next.
I should have studied their faces as they said goodbye, the way they smelled, the lines on their hands.
I turned around to check whether the llama was still there. There he was, as fluffy and clueless as before, lashes waving as he sat on a tattered red mat thrown on the aisle.
When she opened her door the lived-in smell burst out like gases from a can: fish sauce and charred meat, mildew and a stronger concentration of the musk he had noticed when he got close enough to her body.
Without my hands, I have no soul.
When they talk, the five sisters, their words strangle each other, pulling and plucking at the threads of truth.
Astrological insights from our twelve flash stories
I feel satisfied, triumphant, knowing I have loved the original donut well, though maybe it was only its glaze that I recognized.
I don’t know what to tell you except that children are cruel and her emails were hilarious.
She selected a single star on which to direct her attention. We are one light, she told herself.
In Chinese, filial piety is a homophone for peel.
That sweet aroma—one so acquainted with Jabril—was hanging brightly like a piece of the moon within this incantation.
We learned about our Other Brother on a summer afternoon.
In that moment who was to say what belonged to me—Munir’s mouth, my luminous skin color, a setting sun, the shady place we were in, I could never tell anyone.
Your mother always told you stories as she oiled your hair: of her youth, legends and fables, immigration, your father’s business ventures.
“Scared, Starlight?” my big brother said smiling at me as we’d strapped our harnesses into place. “Don’t be.”
It is 10:40 a.m., I stare up at the ceiling, a collection of imprints. I am trying to count how many animals I can see sheeted above my head in all four corners.
Astrological insights from our inaugural twelve flash stories
Hot outside, cold inside. Hopeful on the outside, forlorn on the inside. Or was it the other way around?
One day the woman wakes up and she can’t say exactly what it is that’s changed, only that she knows it all has.
They thought me the oddity, though they were the ones depriving themselves of air. I watched them with the same curiosity that they watched me. How? And why?
These days I’ve grown tired of my heart, how much feeling it has required, and would much prefer to laugh.
In the shelter of our happiness, his shell shone brighter and brighter until one day, it split open and crumbled into dust to reveal a baby, golden skinned and blinking up at me.
Sometimes she grew so nervous that she had to sit in her room for hours until her hands stopped trembling. She wondered if her daughters ever thought about her.
That spring my wife covered the walls of our living room in newsprint.
She should moisturize more often, drink at least three liters of hot water with lemon each day, and wear silicon sheet masks to bed to hide the stigmata of a woman who was everything.
And though I knew it was someone’s son, I unburied the rooster in the dark and kick-started a fire and roasted it on a spit, my fingers lamping with grease.
He collected the past in amber, often describing war memorials as beautiful. He called himself a gardener.
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