by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
from the May 9, 2022 issue of The New Yorker
This week we get another story from Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, who has always been a bright spot in my New Yorker fiction reading. And I need a bright spot, since I have only been able to hide from Covid for so long and came down with it this past weekend. That said, I am not 100% sure when I’ll have the brain energy to read the story! Fortunately, my main complaint is fatigue and some cold symptoms, so I don’t think it will be too long before I’m through it.
In the meantime, check out the first paragraph, which promises some uncomfortable reading.
There must have been some sort of defective wiring in the early-warning system of my brain, because by the time the owner put his hand on my thigh I was already in way too deep. Later, I would try to piece it all together, remembering how, at my one and only interview for the job, he had offered, without prompting, to give me more money than I was asking for. “Why don’t we just make this simple and double it?” he’d said. He’d smiled. He’d held out his open hand as I pictured everything I would suddenly be able to pay for—including my student loans. Then he’d taken me on a brief tour of the office, a former FedEx with the original carpeting and an open floor plan—“I believe in transparency”—which was situated above a topiary shop, of all things. There were four other employees, all women, none of whom happened to be there at the time, and he’d said, breezily, “It’ll be nice to finally have some male energy around here for a change.” I could smell the faint scent of gardening coming from below.
I hope you are all doing well, and I look forward to reading thoughts below.