Anser Journal


By Yash Seyedbagheri

For Halloween, I trick-or-treat. But I mostly try to trick, attired as a Cossack with ratty robes, one of Dad’s frayed belts, and strands of shaved beard, also courtesy of Dad.

“The tsar requires your domicile,” I growl, waving my plastic sword, as if hoping to fell a window, a plant, a bicycle. “Be gone immediately.”

Of course, people don condescending amusement. My Russian accent sounds more Italian. And my beard falls.

But there’s power in ordering people out. In being a Cossack. It connotes something majestic and orderly. Fierce. Of course, at this point I don’t know about pogroms and starvation. I’m thirteen.

My older sister Nancy and I have been moved around, driven out by landlords and parents who favor booze and breaking windows in arguments. Logic and paying bills have long been crumpled. We’ve occupied two-room apartments, motel rooms with semen-stained mattresses, a shelter or two, even an abandoned boxcar once.

Now we’re back to a one-bed motel room.

No one offers their domicile, but I keep trying. I storm suburban two-story beige structures, terrorize old Victorians with Mansard roofs, taunt the occupants of Tudors, subject Colonials to Cossack cacophony. I wave my sword, and they offer only smiles and candy. A few call me a douchebag and shut the door. Or threaten to call the police.

Some offer Snickers, York Peppermint patties, Skittles, in the smallest packs of course.

Of course, I take the candies, but not before waving my sword a couple more times.

Nan and I relish these delicacies, dividing them up like Cossacks deciding what village to raid next. At least people are giving something. And we don’t even have a fridge now. When we did, it was always rife with a couple white onions, a rotten watermelon, and lots of overpriced, overrated Heineken.

A wide living room, long windows, and a full fridge would be best. One without mustard stains and rings you can’t wash out.

Another best: A room without boxes that are always packed. And, of course, parents speaking of love, instead of cracked invectives.

Having our own beds and intimate, singular spaces, through which we murmur goodnight and dirty jokes.

But best is a trick.

So, we trick ourselves and imagine we’re consuming a cake, a lobster, something, anything, while the parents break another window.

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His story, “Soon,” was nominated for a Pushcart. A native of Idaho, Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others.