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Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.

Fiction

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

This Is Us

On having faith, and giving permission to let go

Illustration of a large bird spreading its wings. Light blue, yellow, and brown lines (with the dark blue background showing through) form ornate patterns on its feathers. Behind it float blue circles of various sizes that look like doilies.
Illustration of a large bird spreading its wings. Light blue, yellow, and brown lines (with the dark blue background showing through) form ornate patterns on its feathers. Behind it float blue circles of various sizes that look like doilies.

“How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.”
— Henry Scott Holland

Dear Mom,

The light is different here. If you saw how this place shines, I think you’d stop worrying about me. The light connects the landscape to every part of itself. It moves. It sparkles.

It links the souls together like pearls knotted in an endless strand. You know how pearls hold iridescence inside all those layers of shell? Well, if you look into the center of a pearl, you’ll get a taste of the light that surrounds me. Go do that now…


Fiction

What mother leaves her child in a burning house? June Lister.

This is the fifth installment in a series. To start from the beginning, head here.

June Lister remembers Kitty’s first shudder and scream. Shoulders born blue wrenched out of a river of blood. Fists clenched and valiant, she punched her way out of the womb. Years later, those hands would break birds. Her teeth would tear through to bone. Kitty was a biter, that one.

After the birth of her youngest daughter, June might have vomited; she might have screamed, I’d like to make a return. Can I speak with a supervisor? Yes, I’ll hold. She might have made a…


Fiction

The Quarantine Diaries, Part One

A watercolor style photograph of a city skyline.
A watercolor style photograph of a city skyline.

This is the first in a series of short stories. To read them all, head here.

When the virus put the city into lockdown, I spent my mornings on the roof of my apartment building. I liked the routine; I walked six flights of stairs to the twelfth floor, leaned against the rusty railing that ran the length of the building, and tried not to think about the world ending.

The roof wasn’t a very interesting place. Mostly it was just air conditioning vents and the pipes that spidered out of them. The only sign that people had ever been…


Fiction

The Quarantine Diaries, Part Two

Orange and white cat sitting comfortably on a giant dark grey bean bag.
Orange and white cat sitting comfortably on a giant dark grey bean bag.

This is part of a series of short stories. To read them all, head here.

When the virus put the city into lockdown, my cat started talking to me.

“You’re so lazy,” she said.

“What?”

“All you do is sit there and watch TV.”

“Nobody’s allowed outside,” I said. “What do you expect me to do?”

“For starters, you could learn to play that song you’re always humming in the morning. But for now, how about lunch?”

I got off the sofa and poured some cat food into Maguro’s bowl. She gave a quiet nod and began nibbling at it…


Fiction

The Quarantine Diaries, Part Three

A masked woman standing beneath a flowering tree.
A masked woman standing beneath a flowering tree.

This is part of a series of short stories. To read them all, head here.

When the virus put the city into lockdown, I got hit in the back of the head by a flying CD case. I don’t know where it came from, but it hurt. I suppose I could have been more careful, but who expects a CD to come hurtling through the sky, you know?

I was on my way to the local coffee shop when it happened. I just wanted to pick up some coffee beans, head home, and make a cup of coffee. I didn’t…


Fiction

The Quarantine Diaries, Part Four

Mailboxes outside apartment complex.
Mailboxes outside apartment complex.

This is part of a series of short stories. To read them all, head here.

When the virus put the city into lockdown, my job actually got busier. Delivery requests spiked. I spent the days cycling through the suburbs, stuffing pamphlets into letterboxes. They were about what you would expect: supermarkets, restaurants, local businesses, and the occasional suspicious masseuse.

I had initially assumed I would go broke. I saw the news and I looked at my cat, and I said, “We’re probably fucked.” But instead, I was scrambling to keep up with demand. Every business had something: delivery services, special…


Fiction

The Quarantine Diaries, Part Five

Dark empty city street at night, save for a lone dark figure.
Dark empty city street at night, save for a lone dark figure.

This is part of a series of short stories. To read them all, head here.

When the virus put the city into lockdown, my friend Takeshi made me go out with him to Shinjuku every night. He was a freelance writer with dreams of becoming a real journalist. He saw the virus as an opportunity. A big one.

“Most television stations won’t send their own reporters out on the streets,” he said. “Do you know what that means?”

“That it’s too dangerous to go outside?”

“No. It means there might never be an opportunity like this again.”

“You mean to…


Fiction

The Quarantine Diaries, Part Six

A slightly filtered image of a small neighborhood street in Japan.
A slightly filtered image of a small neighborhood street in Japan.

This is part of a series of short stories. To read them all, head here.

When the virus got especially bad, the city was completely locked down. People stopped leaving their houses, the shops closed, and the trains stopped running. Businesses were paused indefinitely, people worked from home, and in worst-case scenarios, makeshift dormitories and campsites were set up in facilities designated essential. The government introduced drone-delivered rations, and we were told not to leave our houses. A mist of quiet and fear settled over the country, the end of which felt very hazy.

During this time, I went on…


This Is Us

The power is in asking what if, what if, and what if again

Image of UFOs and aliens.
Image of UFOs and aliens.

If 2020 has had a genre, it’s been speculative fiction. We have all become future-casters. We’ve gazed at the maps, done back-of-the-envelope calculations, and read the arcs of infection charts. Suddenly, we speak math as our native tongue. To experience 2020 in real time has been like watching a bad flip-book in which each page comes from a different narrative. We’ve had an election narrative, a wildfire narrative, a pandemic narrative, an uprising narrative, a coup narrative. We’ve been winning. We’ve been losing. We’ve had no idea.

Each day peeled a layer from the previous one, revealed it as a…


Fiction

The afterlife is like life, only the pizza is never any good

Double exposure image of a person’s eye against a cloudy sunset sky.
Double exposure image of a person’s eye against a cloudy sunset sky.

Here’s the thing about the afterlife. It’s a lot like life, only a little worse. There exists no heaven or hell, no cashmere clouds and raging infernos — it’s a place like any other place except the pizza is never any good.

There’s no cable or Wi-Fi or the Trader Joe’s cheese enchiladas I like so much. On the jukebox, there’s one song I want to listen to, but everyone keeps playing Carole fucking King. …

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