Aliyeh Ataei’s essay Stains recently appeared in the Southeast Review.
“It was a month since Mr. Fahim had become a regular at the café where I’d been working for years. He would come in with his gorgeous and agreeable wife, sitting at a table in the corner, where the two of them would busy themselves reading a book or a magazine. Whenever I got the chance, I would introduce to them some of the latest books I had begun to like. One day in early winter, Mr. Fahim handed me a letter as soon as I served some hot coffee to their table.
‘What’s this?’ I asked.
‘Read it later,’ said Ms. Fahim.
I smiled, retreating to the back of the café.
After careful consideration, we’ve decided to ask you to be the mother of our child, read the beautiful handwriting on a pristine piece of paper—so forthright and yet so vague…”
Read more here.