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The fog arrived unexpectedly, painting the windows with a thick, white coat that made the house seem sad and quiet. We sat in the living room with our jackets on, assuring ourselves that the others would come soon. She asked what my name was again and I pretended I had forgotten hers.

“Malini," she said.

“Do people call you Mals?"

“They call me Malini," she said.

We listened to the fog dripping from the trees, the house creaking and settling under the weight of us with our rolling luggage and water bottles. Then the phone rang—it was Amy, saying that they were stuck in town because of the fog.

“We’ll be there once it clears, ok?" she said. “How are you and Mals doing?"

“You mean Malini," I said.

“Yeah—just make yourself at home, ok? Take a nap or something."

Malini took her bag and said she was going to change. I watched her disappear into one of the bedrooms down the hall. The living room was empty except for two chairs and a centre table that was covered in dust and old newspapers. The body of a moth rolled out from under it and stared up at the ceiling, its eyes like smears of violet.

“They call me Malini," I said, peering down at it.

“They call me The Elephant Man," said the moth.



“Why Elephant Man?" I asked.

“I like how it sounds," he said. “I was also considering Ms Thang."

Malini settled in the living room with her laptop and some CDs she had found in Amy’s brother’s room—one said “Two and A Half Men/House" and the other said “Hegre Art Monroe Therapeutic Thai Massage at 1080 pixels".

“This one’s porn," she said, tapping the second CD. “You probably don’t watch porn so maybe you should—"

I left her in the living room as The Elephant Man talked about why he thought Thai porn was overrated. Down the hall, I passed old family photographs where Amy looked vivacious, plump and unrecognizable.

“You should see her now," I said. “She’s skinny and sad now."

“Does she do drugs?"

“No. She might be happier if she did."

“You like gay porn?" asked The Elephant Man.

“Yeah," I said. “Those Bel Ami guys kinda freak me out though."

At the end of the hall, we paused in front of a photo of an unrecognizable Amy who was smiling into a ray of 1980s sunlight. Then we turned around and walked back.


In the evening, Amy called to say they would not be arriving until tomorrow and we were to have whatever was in the kitchen. I could hear Malini on the phone with her, her voice rising slightly when she said the words “porn", “uptight" and “women like her". The Elephant Man rolled gently in my palm.

“’Tis true my form is something odd, but blaming me is blaming God; could I create myself anew, I would not fail in pleasing you," he said. “Also, that woman is a twatface."

“Malini Twatface."

“Let’s walk among the unrecognizable Amys again."

“Let’s. But first I have to pee."

When I came out of the bathroom Malini was standing by the window, holding The Elephant Man by his wings.

“This was on the bed," she said softly.


“I was just throwing it out."

“Don’t," said the Elephant Man. “Don’t say anything."

“Why?" I whispered.

“Because this will become very filmi if you do."

So I watched her open the window and toss him into the thick, white fog. And I didn’t say anything.

To submit a prompt (a word, phrase, quote or brief idea), mail Kuzhali at or tweet it using the hashtag #kuzhalistories

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