I build a fortress out of snow on the driveway.
With each pile heaved, I strive to block neighbors.
They feign friendliness. Ask about my name. I’m a byproduct of the Midwest and the Middle East, by way of Idaho. I live in the middle of uncertainty.
Neighbors survey my olive complexion. Swarthiness. That’s what movie villains always are, right? Swarthy.
Neighbors conceal prejudices. Fetishize.
Looking at snow fortress in progress, menace, isolation rise to me.
Maybe I’m also throwing rocks. Maybe I should step across arbitrary lines, demand answers.
What if they call me names? Camelfucker? Towelhead? Names even worse. Sand monkey. I utter the words aloud, imagine the pain, a fusillade. Something that can’t be easily dressed, like minor wounds. It’s something that will linger, a shadow, shape my every moment, waking, sleeping, looking in the mirror. I might even strive to make them see me as someone else, discard parts of myself, change my name, act like an idiot. Surrender to hatred.
I keep building. It’s easier. Much easier.
Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His work is forthcoming or has been published in journals such as 50 Word Stories, Silent Auctions, City. River. Tree. and Ariel Chart.