“Opening” by Jane Beal

2016-MQA-cover-for-website-199x300.pngMy short story, “Opening,” now appears in Dappled Things: A Quarterly of Ideas, Arts & Faith.


The Jeep rolled through a shallow ditch in the road, and Filijee gripped the steering wheel more tightly, saying as he did, “Priez pour moi . . . parce que je veux dire ma famille, mais j’ai puer.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I wasn’t praying much these days. I had just said I was Catholic. The concept of “Catholic, non-practicing,” so prevalent in the States, meant nothing in Sénégal. So, half-heartedly, I nodded and said, “Okay.”

Then he changed the subject and asked me about the birth I attended the night before.

“Qu’est-que ce passé pendant la accouchement de Kurukemeh?”


I didn’t know what to say, so I looked away from him and out at the landscape. We were passing another village. Girls were carrying water jars on their heads as they walked along the side of the road.

His question forced me to remember every painful detail of the night before.


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