Elizabeth Kostova Foundation

BLIND ORACLE OF MECTAN*, a short story

He is the blind oracle at Unchained Melody Massage Parlor.

He specializes in foot rubs. He can stimulate all kinds of glands with pulls and pricks of the tendon and phalanges.

He can, for example, make a person grow taller by pushing on the well of the big toe, which is the pituitary gland reflex point. Everyone knows this.

He can also tell people's fortunes.

He made his first prophecy on April 26, 1521.

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 11:13
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THE OLD MAN AND THE MOUNTAIN, A short story

It's difficult to talk about this, it's difficult but someone should do it, the old man wanted only to confess his sins before his death, there was no priest in the village, I had lost my way in the Blue mountain, I heard some voices and went downhill through some thorns, I met some old people and asked them where I was, they were crying like infants, especially an old woman, she turned out to be the old man's wife, she explained everything to me, she didn't tell me where I was, only told me come to confess him, poor man, he shouldn't take his sins to the grave, I agreed, instead of arguing

Wed, 03/27/2019 - 09:23
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SHADOW MAKERS, An excerpt from a novel

When she looks up, Finn sees that Murphy is on his porch, feeding the magpie family again. Finn frowns. She hadn't heard the birds make a sound. She wonders if Murphy has been watching her, and feels embarrassed, now, about the things she's done in chalk. But when Murphy sees her watching he smiles as if seeing her for the first time today. He beckons her over, and Finn leaves her chalk pieces and walks across slowly, side-on to the porch so as not to frighten away the magpies he's feeding.

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 16:47
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FROM PETERSBURG WITH LOVE, AN EXCERPT FROM A TRAVELOGUE

Russia's former imperial capital captivates visitors with its history,

its culture, and the splendid riches of its palaces

The dark river flows and does not sleep,

it whispers quietly, tells tales to keep,

about tsars, tsaritsas, and their palaces,

about their past of glory and their countless odysseys.

The river knows, it's seen it all, through this enormous town it's always flown,

under many bridges it now runs, so that its loyal night guards they become.

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 14:25
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WHEN WE WERE VIKINGS, An excerpt from a travel essay

The sun doesn't set in the summer there so we played cards for hours in the ceaseless twilight; during the daytime, we hiked an old Viking trail. We carried our backpacks through the wilderness and set up camp each night by rivers and waterfalls. We found a fragment of whale bone on the seashore, curved and large as a giant's tooth. It was porous, but as heavy as the stones surrounding it.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 11:35
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IN THE SHADOW OF THE DISEASE, An excerpt from a memoir

The day I was admitted to the hospital, I just laid there and stared straight ahead—a piece of paper had been stuck to the closet, and the closet was blocking half of the window. Out its other half, I could see some thick black branches. The piece of paper said, "Inventory of Items in Room 7." I had the surgery the next day. I put on my regular pants because my cell phone, which I'd put on silent, could fit into pocket. As if I'd be able to inform anyone what was happening to me while I was under general anaesthesia… They did a biopsy and the express results came back in about 20 minutes.

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 07:41
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I'VE BEEN WRONG BEFORE, An excerpt from a memoir

I went out for a run one lightly rainy morning – on Halloween, actually. Movement kept at bay the dreadful sensation that the island hungered to swallow me up, annihilate my spirit. And so I laced up, pulled the hood of an old sweatshirt over my head, and ran along the road that served the beach house. Relief came only when the road fed into a park, and the park into trails that twisted through the woods. My sneakers splashed mud up onto my shins and calves.

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 12:28
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WAITING FOR THE GOATS: NEW MEMORY FROM OLD BULGARIA, An excerpt from a memoir

My gaze passes onto the other hill, Kalakoch, the kale and its mysterious banks and ditches. The place could have been a Thracian hillfort and some say it was later used as a refuge when the Goths and the Huns and the Avar tribes streamed across the Danube to raid the Byzantine Empire. After that it was a place of quarry for building stone and a tryst for young lovers. Out with the sheep they would pick around the stones and pots and tell stories.

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 12:20
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THIS DRUM BEATS LIKE A HEART, A travelogue

I wake up with the increasingly sticky morning heat and the crushing smell of the traditional feijoada's black beans with pork that Suzanna is already stirring in the tiny kitchen. Suzanna is the live-in maid. All middle-class households have one here – just because they can. Ours is 22, with warm sparkly eyes and three kids, the youngest of whom she had at 16. Preta (Portuguese for black), she says, poking an index finger at her chest.

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 15:36
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THE TEXTURE OF JOY: A STOWAWAY STORY, An excerpt

In many ways, you could say that Justine never really left Ghana, even with all the ships, even with all his time in Bahia. Calling himself Sankofa was just another thread stitching him back to home. In his kitchen in Salvador, when I visited, there was a plastic container sitting on a shelf next to jars of raw cane sugar and cacao nibs. He tilted it to show me what was inside. "I’m making banku," he explained, as water washed over the fermenting cornmeal dough. "It will be ready in a few days." He still speaks fluent Fante even though most of his days are spent in Portuguese.

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 13:49
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THE MASTER, An excerpt from a short story

It was the winter of 1980, the year of my birth and of my grandfather's death, when Grandma Nelly first put on Dencho's Dress, as she used to call it, and never took it off again. I remember she even used to wear it at night and sleep in it, with her arms crossed over her chest, as though to embrace herself as strongly and as tightly as possible, tucking her fingers underneath her ribcage. When I asked her why she did that, she would smile and say it was a way for her to embrace two people at once—my grandfather and herself.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 13:33
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THE MASTER, An excerpt from a short story

It was the winter of 1980, the year of my birth and of my grandfather's death, when Grandma Nelly first put on Dencho's Dress, as she used to call it, and never took it off again. I remember she even used to wear it at night and sleep in it, with her arms crossed over her chest, as though to embrace herself as strongly and as tightly as possible, tucking her fingers underneath her ribcage. When I asked her why she did that, she would smile and say it was a way for her to embrace two people at once—my grandfather and herself.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 11:32
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MITOSIS, An excerpt from a short story

Metaphase

It was a Sunday. She rolled over. "Good morning." It was one of the things he loved about her, so perceptive. It was a good morning.

"It's a girl," she said. "I can feel it."

"Me too." Being a half-truth, he said it with frontloaded conviction. Whenever he touched her, touched them, he felt nothing. His daughter, hiding from him. Waiting to surprise him. His wife felt everything and he was left to imagine the hands stretching and feet kicking and how nothing in his life would ever be the same. "A girl for sure."

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 13:32
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MITOSIS, An excerpt from a short story

 

Metaphase

It was a Sunday. She rolled over. "Good morning." It was one of the things he loved about her, so perceptive. It was a good morning.

"It's a girl," she said. "I can feel it."

"Me too." Being a half-truth, he said it with frontloaded conviction. Whenever he touched her, touched them, he felt nothing. His daughter, hiding from him. Waiting to surprise him. His wife felt everything and he was left to imagine the hands stretching and feet kicking and how nothing in his life would ever be the same. "A girl for sure."

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:36
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SEEING ME OFF, A short story

Listen to me, boy. Sit down and listen to me carefully. I have something important to say to you. Do you remember that forest ranger everybody used to call the Indian? He was no Indian, had never even seen an Indian, but he used to say the only book he had ever read in his entire life was Winnetou, so everybody called him the Indian. Make sure you read the right books, my boy, because you never know what name people may decide to give you…

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 13:12
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SEVEN BEDTIMES FOR SEVEN BONZOS, An excerpt from a short story originally published in Yeti magazine

According to their testimony, the three co-defendants had met while flipping ollies in the drained swimming pools of suburban southern California and a decade later had gone on to serve as graphic designers and principal investors in Abacus 5, their own product line of extreme sports clothing. Without seeking prior permission from myself or my former employer, Black Star Photo Agency, Abacus 5 had printed a series of T-shirts that used elements of eight photographs spanning several phases of my career, albeit significantly altered from their original form.

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 13:18
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