Three selections from The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories | Fiction | Chicago Reader

Three selections from The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories 

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Compression

Akram cursed the day when he had compressed his age from seventy down to twenty, because the impotence of childhood became mixed up with the impotence of old age. Painful memories intermingled with happy ones, success united with failure, and marriage united with divorce. Laughter mixed with tears, and friends and enemies were fused in the same melting pot. The borders between positives and negatives disappeared. The magical influence of time that heals pains and calamities vanished into nothingness. And so, deciding to enjoy his true age, Akram undid the compression of time.

The Fingers of Dynamite

A group of world leaders at an important international conference appeared before him on the television screen. They were warmly shaking hands and smiling wide smiles in front of the camera lenses. But his mouth gaped open in surprise as he noticed that their interlaced fingers were fingers of dynamite.

*In Arabic, the term for a stick of dynamite is a “finger.”

Homeless Buildings

The Civil War burned up all stability and spread its ashes everywhere. The people fled the city which had been almost entirely destroyed. Because of this the city’s buildings felt lonely and drew very close to each other until they were almost touching. Warmth spread between them. They looked like homeless people in torn clothes gathered around a fire on a cold night. Years later . . . after the end of the war, the people of the city came back and began to rebuild the buildings, but when they did so, they kept their new closeness. And because of this human relationships became far warmer and closer than they had ever been before.

Translated by C.J. Collins and Osama Alomar

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