Excerpt from “Errantries [2]” by Sophia Terazawa

In Sophia Terazawa’s poetic and experimental short story in SAND 24, family history and global history are woven into the films the narrator watches so that “the boundaries of [the] mind and the projection machine are blurring into one.” The first page of the story is excerpted here.

Image text: Excerpt from "Errantries [2]" by Sophia Terazawa. Errantries [2] By Sophia Terazawa This is how I reshape that word mist into sương mù, la brume, a drop of fog, and the six illnesses reducing us to tears: you meet me at the cinema in Chợ Lớn, a translation smacks us in the face; you lean forward kissing my cheek. The woman onscreen blindfolds herself with a black piece of cloth. She stumbles, backpedaling from the space off a crag as if being pulled up by the strings of a puppeteer. Her hands have also been, inexplicably, tied behind her back, each event a clean reversal. Your name is Paul, the planet Paul, though I’ve called you many other things. A second film begins. “I’ll start, okay?” a soft voice announces. From the corner of my eye, I see the shadows of your profile to my right, your silent jaw clenching then unclenching, a thickset brow staring up at the movie screen. The speaker is illuminated like a morning Vermeer, bowing her head over a tattered pocket-sized book. Your hair is orange and white, thrown about in a messy sweep, the streak of blue running through it. The velvet-cushioned seats in our cinema hall have begun to creak sporadically, the air smells of musk, tobacco, tamarind paste. I see the chest under your lapels, the old captain’s uniform, rising and falling; your hand, the hand of a pale, oversized planet, clutching at one of your knees. You look like Captain America. Mùi, who is played by the actress Trần Nữ Yên Khê, has just asked if she can start, okay. Her husband off-frame doesn’t reply, but Mùi recites the translated poem anyway. “The spring water,” her voice lilting up and down, “glimmers delicately when disturbed.” Khuyến enters briefly into focus before cutting away. He has princely eyes and princely-shaped ears, a shy but full nose. He adores his wife very much. His mouth tips over. In the kitchen you tug at my waist, a memory perhaps incanted by the interlude of marital harmony. I drop my foot to feel the cinema’s carpet under my shoe. I count to the number four in English, grounding myself. The cinema is half-empty. You’ve disappeared and it’s 1951. Included here is a sketch from our wedding day. You had sent a rather fussy invitation, hours before, to your mother and your father, separately, to Terra and Caelus, earth and sky. I cried in a dirty bathroom stall at the courthouse in Rome. No one came, naturally.

SOPHIA TERAZAWA is the author of Winter Phoenix (Deep Vellum, 2021) and the forthcoming Anon (Deep Vellum, 2022), along with two chapbooks, I AM NOT A WAR (Essay Press, 2016) and Correspondent Medley (Factory Hollow Press, 2019), winner of the 2018 Tomaž Šalamun Prize.

This excerpt from SAND 24, designed by Déborah-Loïs Séry, appears as it does in the print journal. To read more, buy a copy or subscribe at our webshop.