Written by Farahnaz Sharifi 
Translated by Mohammad Khari

Published 4/18/2012

Art by Parham Samir

I had cramps. Nothing would ease the pain. Mom kept going out and coming back into the room with a new painkiller. This time she brought a hot rock sugar drink with mint.

“Any better?”

Without looking at her, I just shook my head no. I was clenching my stomach tight in my hands. I clutched the pillow on the bed. I couldn’t breathe. My heart was palpitating.

“Get up, let’s go see the doctor. You must have caught a cold.”

The phone rang. Mom went to pick it up. She came back. “It was your sister,” she said. “She said you should stick your finger down your throat to throw up. What on earth did you eat?  Now come on, drink this up.”

I wanted to take the glass from her hand, but I was in so much pain I couldn’t sit up straight. I gestured to her that I was about to throw up. My mom quickly picked up the small bin form the corner of the room and put it on the bed. Something big was clogging my throat, keeping me from throwing up. My mom rubbed my back. Once more my head went down into the bin and I vomited with all my might. First three drops of blood dripped into the bin, and then my throat opened up more than ever before—as if it were elastic—and a big piece of flesh dropped into the bin. I raised my head to see what it was I had thrown up. “There you go, you’re fine,” my mom said.

There was a heart, in the bin, still slightly beating every other second.

“Phew!” I sighed, turning to my mom. ”What a relief!”

“It’s bloody,” my mom said, pointing to my chin. “Go wash it off . . .”


Farahnaz Sharifi (1977) is an Iranian filmmaker whose documentaries and short films have earned her several national awards. She writes articles and book reviews in Iranian magazines. She published her first collection of short stories, Sleeping in the Open Air, in 2008. (Updated Feb. 2011)

This story was originally published in Persian in: Sharifi, Farahnaz.Sleeping in the Open Air [Khabidan dar havaye azad]. Tehran: Ney, 2009.