Natasha Rao
What It Was Like

We had sushi that was so fresh we blushed.


Every seventeen years the cicadas rasped a kind of warning, showed us with increasing urgency the need to leave our old bodies behind.


I thought I could make some kind of difference. I thought I could memorize enough facts to stay composed in debates and not cry after one glass of wine when my brother says we can all just go to Mars.


I thought what I did was forgivable, in the grand scheme of things. That your love was an inexhaustible resource.


Terrible people made terrible decisions. Good people made terrible decisions. Which was I? It depended on the color of the light in the bathroom, the angle at which I held my face to the mirror.


I lived in a city at sea level. See, levelheaded now, the frailty underfoot.


We pretended not to notice. We loved receiving shipments to our home, ceremoniously slashing packages with scissors, cleaving, leaving nothing but confetti.


It was like sitting across from you at dinner and wondering when to tell you. Knowing the worst is coming and simply ordering another drink.


Meanwhile the bubbles in the glass keep rising. It was luxurious. It was inevitable. It was a thick piece of fatty tuna, brimming with mercury, somehow effortless to swallow.


Found In Volume 50, No. 04
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  • Natasha Rao
Natasha Rao
About the Author
Natasha Rao is the winner of the 2021 APR/Honickman First Book Prize for her book Latitude, which will be published in September. She holds an MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow.