Birthday Stories

By Ada Jones

On her twentieth birthday Fernanda Pessoa was offered a red winged car, and a book on ornithology. Osvaldo Moreira, the master of puppets, orchestrated a ball of Brobdingnagian proportions on the day his niece was coming of age. Maids were giggling and whirling on the accordion and trumpet concords of Algarve musicians. Wine poured into crystals, and gents were gazing at non-loquacious Fernanda through their monoculars. Fernanda was no girl to enjoy the merrymaking. She was all dressed in black muslin and gray feathers erring like a wraith underneath the umbrella foliage of her uncle’s Constantinople acacias. Meanwhile in a far off land dressed in a white gown in a snowy town Bella Rosenfeld was baking lemon biscuits for Marc Chagall. She was all tears. And so was Fernanda.

Lisbon, 1911


On her sixteenth birthday Celia Rhodes was offered a blue ladybug, and a crochet lace white dress. Celia Rhodes never married. Edwina Goldwin, her Gypsy lover, eloped to distant Delhi with a dreamy maharaja and took to raising songbirds. Celia Rhodes was expedited a whole collection of silky tiny blueish feathers which she then had sewn for her on a ball gown. The costly piece of garment figured as one of the treasures of Celia’s Wunderkammer. Late at night Celia would read from the Rêve dans le Pavillon Rouge or the Chinese Story of the Stone. Young fictional Lin Daiyou slept the sleep of endless mirages and dreaming away. In her Red Chamber she would langurously sigh and die off salty tears. Celia never travelled to India. Edwina bore the maharaja a triad of infant girls. Celia was bearing a black moon in her womb.

Bloomsbury, 1926


On her eighteenth birthday Gelda Kaufmann was offered a Chinese butterfly, and a daffodil field. She uttered a blissful thank you to her fiancé and scribbled an unending epistle, which she later in time threw off to the sea on Rugen Island. The deep Baltic Sea swallowed the greenish bottle into a haze of undulating foam and Gelda Kaufmann eclipsed away under the gauzy penumbra of her white parasol. Gelda Kaufmann was the dainty daughter of a well off jeweller of Krakow, and she was engaged to Isaac Babel, a rabbi’s son. Their union was prosperous and woven of halcyon days. The daffodil field would bloom each spring yellowish and delectable against the skinny vault of drizzly clouds. In 1932 they relocated to a Bauhaus apartment in summery Tel Aviv where they purchased a radiophone and a Limoges hand painted table porcelain set.

Berlin, 1956


Ada Jones
Old school writress strongly influenced by Pessoa, Borges Calvino, but also antique British literature – Shakespeare, Lewis, Coleridge and Swift- and Latin American magical realism. She was born under the sturdy Iron Curtain of Ceausescu’s Gulag and writes to rid herself of the unbearable lightness of being.


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By Shon Mehta

In a small town, there lived a man. He was a sculptor. Not a known one, but mere beginner in the field. Every day, he would try to carve a stone.

He kept carving and practicing. After few days, he noticed that he has carved a statue which looked beautiful.He felt proud of it, and displayed it in the front garden of his house. Many passers-by noticed the statue. A few liked it and praised the man for his creation. They told him that they would be looking forward to his next work. All this praise encouraged the man to work towards his next statue. He created his next statue, and then the next one. Soon, he had a handful of statues in his garden.
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By Sylvia Heike

I am born without sight. My first sensations of the world consist only of what I sense with my remaining four: the warmth of my mother and twin brother, the faint lingering smell of strange foods on her breath, the creamy almost nutty-sweet taste of mother’s milk, and the soft shuffling footsteps of my mother’s movement.

My mother cannot speak, so I mostly listen to the weather, comfortably nestling in the bed I share with my brother. When it rains, I feel the rise in humidity, but I never go out in the rain. The loudest sound I hear is thunder, but safe in my bed, I am not scared of its distant rumbling. Birdsong is the most recurring disturbance to my days of lull, and usually not enough to fully wake me.
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Laundry Day Worries

By Roy Dorman

“What can I do?” Lucy Fenton asked herself for probably the hundredth time. “If only I’d learned to drive, I could take the clothes to a laundromat.”

Lucy’s sitting at her kitchen table, still in her old blue bathrobe and slippers, staring at the basement door. It’s now 10:30 and she has been sitting there for most of the morning. Usually she takes care of the routine household chores early on so that she can watch her favorite soap operas while she has lunch. She takes pride in her housekeeping and looks forward to those chores that have a beginning, a middle, and an end. She likes the closure that comes with housework, even if most of the chores are repetitious and done on a weekly or biweekly schedule.
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Mandarin Ducks

By Michelle Chan

It was an unseasonably warm winter afternoon. The sun was the sole inhabitant in the sky, casting a bright cerulean blanket over the concrete fortress, city of Florence. The normally mundane Monday afternoon was enlivened by a multitude of people thronging the tourist infested Piazza della Signoria, leaving a pervading trail of good spirits through the side alleys, and into the Cherry Blossom Restaurant.
Ilaria sat alone at a table set for two near the entrance. Her face locked with tension as she checked her watch. It was already two o’clock. Robert never had lunch this late. After being married to him for two years, she knew that he abhorred tardiness and hardly ever strayed from his rigid timetable. She sat through the busy lunch hour, and the crowd began to thin. She wasn’t sure how much longer she should wait. Behind the curling steam of her hot chrysanthemum tea, she could see Uncle Lim’s disapproving eyes from the cashier’s station.

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