Fall 2011 • Vol. XXXIII No. 4 Fiction |

A Family Matter

It's seven in the morning on a Thursday, and I'm already late for school when I walk into the dining room for breakfast and find Debi, my newborn sister, floating in the aquarium. My dead newborn sister. She must be dead—after all, humans can't survive underwater—but the magnitude of this doesn't register. Last week Ms. Monroe taught my eleventh-grade Spanish class the difference between ser and estar. A defining characteristic versus a temporary state. The example my Spanish teacher gave: Tú estás muy bonita hoy. You look very pretty today. Tú eres muy bonita. You are very pretty. Ms. Monroe is a native Houstonian, but she exaggerates her Spanish accent, perhaps hoping it'll disguise the reality that she's white and has never visited a Spanish-speaking country. "A piece of advice—if you're ever in Cancun trying to find a hot date, never use estar when it comes to a girl's looks," Ms. Monroe said to the class. She's a sallow-faced woman with frightened eyes, and she

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Keya Mitra is currently an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Pacific University and graduated in 2010 with a doctorate from the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, where she also earned her MFA. In 2008, she spent a year in India on a Fulbright grant in creative writing. Her fiction is forthcoming in Southwest Review, Arts and Letters, Slush Pile, Best New American Voices, Ontario Review, Orchid, Event, Fourteen Hills, Torpedo, and Confrontation. She has completed a novel (under representation), short-story collection, and book-length memoir.

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It's seven in the morning on a Thursday, and I'm already late for school when I walk into the dining room for breakfast and find Debi, my newborn sister, floating […]

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