The following is an excerpt from the story Ashore, an Island, by Jonathan Messinger, appearing in Annalemma Issue Six. Image by Ghazal Hashemi.
My mother didn’t understand that Dominica was a different island than the Dominican Republic, so in the months leading up to the belated honeymoon she would say, “Kyle is finally going on his honeymoon,” she’d say, “to the Dominican Republic.”
And you would think it would be that finally, the inherent judgment of adverbs, that would have driven my brother crazy. But because my mother had entered this age of enlightenment, we all knew the finally came more from relief for her hard-working son than it did from admonishment.
Instead, it was her persistent confusion of the French Dominica with the Spanish Dominican Republic that made of my brother a red-eyed maniac.
“It’s Dominica, ma!” he’d yell.
“That’s what I said,” she’d calmly respond.
“It’s different. It’s not the Dominican Republic. It’s a totally different island.”
“Well, I don’t know, I don’t know,” she’d sing-song, not wanting a fight.
It progressed past the point of civility, to where my brother and mother no longer spoke to each other. And suddenly there was a need for me, the little brother without a wife, without a steady job and without the ambition to find one. Suddenly the family warmed to me, which was a new sensation. While my family froze each other in the chambers of their bruised love, I was treated like a freshly delivered pizza, or, whatever makes families happy these days.
I have to confess, I didn’t know why my brother lost his cool over my mother’s confusion. She’d always had weird language hiccups, and yes they could be frustrating, but they’d always been something of a joke for our family, the way families laugh at our balding fathers or our nephews with heads shaped like vegetables. Kyle never lost his cool when my mother consistently called a piña colada a pina calooda or the famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld Jerry Steinfield.
Click here to pre-order your copy of Annalemma Issue Six, which ships April 12th.
Jonathan Messinger is co-publisher of featherproof books, books editor of Time Out Chicago, and co-founder of The Dollar Store reading series. He’s the author of the story collection Hiding Out, and is at work on the next in the series: Hiding Out 2: Hiding In and Hiding Out 3: Don’t Stop Hiding.
Ghazal Hashemi is an artist and writer born in Tehran, Iran. She is currently living in a beach town the size of a shoe box.