The Cafe Irreal: International Imagination 

Issue Sixteen

Long November by Michael Farrell
Houses in Their Backs by Sean Ferrell
Warnings Accompanying Your Inflatable Universe by Justin Kahn
They Are Translucifying by Susan Lantz
Carolina in the Morning by M.E. McMullen
Broomsticks by Mari Ness
The Girl with Glass Skin & Combustion by Michael Obilade
At the Cafe by rovesciato
Cellular by Girija Tropp
Rose Red by Andrew Wille


irreal (re)views


The Girl with Glass Skin
and Combustion
by Michael Obilade

The Girl with Glass Skin

It was a small and quiet town in the mountains — the kind of town both travelers and natives wrote love letters and poems for and about. There were three wells, three roads, and three babes born the day I arrived. One of the three was a girl. I saw her an hour after she first opened her eyes, and two hours after she had drawn her first breath.

"Hold her," her mother told me. I looked at the girl, wrapped in a blue blanket. She had her mother's eyes.

"I can't." I spoke as I reached to hold her. She was light — not in complexion, but in weight. She was a package of thoughts. She looked at me, and I looked at her. The midwife looked at both of us.

"Is there any hope?" her mother asked finally. "Death will come if she is touched. I cannot hold my child. But I will not live without her."

I could not find an answer. But as I turned to give her back, it dawned upon me.

"Death will come if she is touched?" I murmured. The midwife nodded. The mother cried softly. I could hear the wind, blowing from the mountains. I looked at this girl whose skin was like glass, and she looked at me. She was a clear white and blue. A newborn glacier.

She smiled, almost imperceptibly. I reached out and kissed her. I shattered like a glass, one dropped from great heights. She fell from my arms, still swaddled in blue. Her mother caught her. Before my ears reached the floor — before they, like the rest of me, shattered into thousands — I heard her speak.

"She has her father's lips."


The evening I received a blue rose from my ex-wife, I finally understood what she had told me throughout our twelve years of marriage: everything is connected. It was the eve of Cinco de Mayo, and a woman I still loved was sleeping beside me, her breasts white in the moonlight. Her arms rising and falling with my chest. I had to be in Rio de Janeiro by sunrise, but I did not want to leave. The red ghost of our marriage took my hand, and led me to the door of my hotel room. There it faded from red, to blue, to white, to ether as I picked up the newspaper. The date was tomorrow's. A blue rose grew out of the paper, whose headline announced the death of a Brazilian dignitary and his ex-wife, perished in a fire that arose from the passion of their love. I dropped the paper; I did not need to read it. I simply returned to the woman I loved, and together, we committed arson.

Michael Obilade is a Nigerian-born musician, poet, and aspiring novelist. Although he lives in Illinois during the summer months, he is currently attending college in New England, where he eagerly awaits each winter's snowfall.

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