by Lorna Garano

“Meaty.” That was how she described the pickled cucumber that she pinched confidently between a pair of chopsticks and chewed as if she had never—not once in her life—been hungry. I was sure I hated Madison, my brother's fiancĂ©. Pryn just stared at her with that idiotic, jack-o-lantern grin of his.

I called the waiter over, and said simply “beef.”

“Teriaki? Donburi?”

“Donburi,” I answered because it sounded martial. I reached for the sake and filled my water glass with it until the last few drops dribbled out.

Madison ran her hand through her not-quite-brown hair and turned to Pryn. She nodded slightly.

Pryn leaned back into his chair. He had lost weight since meeting Madison, and when he squeezed his lips and lowered his eyelids he no longer looked like a baby tasting a lemon, but like what he was: an angry man.

“Look, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you,” Pryn said.


That's when he told me Madison had been accepted to a Ph.D. program and they were leaving for Berkeley in two weeks.

Pryn was using geography as his last insult, his last betrayal, using the span of the US to say his final fuck you to his sister. My chest burned, as if a match had been struck against my heart.

“Berkeley. Berkeley. Oh, how perfect.”


I grabbed my purse and splayed open my wallet. There was no cash, so I threw an AmEx on the table.

Pryn pushed it back at me.

“No reason for you to start paying now.”

Madison poured half of the sake in my glass into her cup.

I wanted to say something cutting, but I knew that nothing I said would hurt Pryn—or her. The boundaries between me and Pryn hadn't shifted, they had evaporated because for boundaries to exist entry has to be possible.

I took back the credit card and zipped my purse.

Fucking remiss,” I spat stupidly and headed to the street.

A line of cars glided past me and with each one I felt a blast of air made cold by its speed. My chest now felt like it had been cored. I crossed my arms over it, and held tightly to all I had left.