This is my selected fiction from Gutter, The Fiddlehead, Extra Teeth, untethered, PEN, The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Island Review, and Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine. My work has also appeared in Tin House, Valve, and other publications.

Lemon hanging from a tree

Five men follow me in the souk. It’s mid-morning, and the heat and the crowd snatch at my breath. Two of the men linger by the tomatoes and peas. One buys lentils and two more walk the dirt parapet where chicken heads bloody the ground.

Miriam Vaswani, Lemon, Extra Teeth 4
Red coffee cup on a wooden table
Dark Colours Of Nature

I walked to the harbour and stood facing east, braced against the cold Atlantic wind for as long as I could. The air tasted like the icebergs that sometimes groaned near the shore. Then I walked to the café where I’d had breakfast on the day I arrived. Their coffee came in a large grey mug, and they had a bench beside the window where I could watch people walk past, while caffeine lit my veins and my fingers and face thawed. I began to know people in the café by nods, but it wasn’t a place for talking or asking questions.

Miriam Vaswani, Dark Colours Of Nature, The Fiddlehead 288
Snow on the dunes facing a beach
Black T-Shirt, A Little Faded

We inspected the storm-washed beach where hundreds of dark glass fragments had been left on the sand. Worn down over time, the edges were no longer sharp. They were green and brown, and some were still coded with manufacturer’s numbers. You put several of them in your pockets. What will you do with them, I said. I’m going to make something, you said.

Miriam Vaswani, Black T-Shirt, A Little Faded, untethered 5.2

Cults have a thing about clothes. You can’t walk around in a clown costume or space suit, or naked, because that would break a clear rule. But the uniform has to be just ridiculous enough to keep people from empathising with you. It has to look like it was your idea to be a pariah.

Miriam Vaswani, Smoke, Gutter 22
Bird on a dark branch in the snow
An Old Word For Frost

How long is it since I’ve said it? Or heard it? Or felt its syllables in someone else’s mouth, pulling at my memory of thin frost on the cold roofs of the town where I learned to speak. A town without an airport or train station. The roads are closed this time of year, and so wild animals become bold and surface from the forest.

Miriam Vaswani, An Old Word For Frost, PEN anthology for the 700th anniversary of the Treaty of Arbroath
Stairwell of an old building
Small Bribes

Sébastien stands on Jasmira’s other side now, and Chaima looks at them from the window. She blows smoke through the wooden slats of a shutter they pulled closed to keep out the worst of the heat. Jasmira wonders if they disgust her, three foreigners picking through her country’s filthy laundry. And if so, who disgusts her the most. Chaima turns and puts the cigarette to her mouth again, not letting her fingers touch her lips.

Miriam Vaswani, Small Bribes, untethered 4.1
Person in a red sweater steering a car
Radio Preacher

This is the end of the island we never changed. The campers always stayed at the warmer end, near the mainland. They’d sometimes wander out here to have a look, but they did no harm. They only wanted to touch a bit of history, run their soft hands along its stony surface.

Miriam Vaswani, Radio Preacher, The Island Review
Rain on pine branches

The woman’s name is Frances; another old woman’s name, which turns a strange crank of familiarity. If they were introduced at a party, if Frances wasn’t sleeping with Wen, they’d talk about the lives of young women with old women’s names.

Miriam Vaswani, Rainwater, The Island Review
Montreal street
First Winter

Noah was sitting at the bar when I walked in, making shapes on a beer mat with a blue Bic pen. He stood to hug me, and his watch clipped the bottle he’d been drinking from. It rolled, empty, across the bar and was caught by the bartender, a woman about Shelly’s age. I was intensely jealous of her; she’d finish her shift and go home to something, or nothing, but probably not fresh grief. Children who needed help with their homework. A sink that needed unblocking.

Miriam Vaswani, First Winter, Stockholm Review of Literature
Sunflowers in a Glasgow flat
In The Dead Man’s House

I started to walk with the dead man’s lover late at night. We were both bad sleepers and fond of wandering under streetlights, pausing to admire the way black clouds covered and uncovered the moon.

Miriam Vaswani, In The Dead Man’s House, Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine
Wine bottle on a wooden table

In the trunk of his car he carried a bottle of wine chosen from his cellar three floors below Brussels. He presented it to me after we kissed, after I let him into the parking garage under my flat, between shimmering German cars with Swiss and Italian license plates, insect corpses smashed on windshields.

Miriam Vaswani, Frankfurt, Gutter 8
Hotel bedroom with white sheets on a bed and a city view in the window

I’d like to forget the name of that hotel, but I see it in every city centre, on every motorway. They still send me emails. Twenty-nine pounds for a double room in Dundee on the second weekend in May. I stepped across the border of the room into a landscape of brown carpet and hard white sheets that never fell right.

Miriam Vaswani, Hotels, Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine