Scheherazade by Emira Larson


Today he leaves for New York. So far from Sarajevo. He may forget me. Chances are. Would I be able to handle that? I can’t give him my presence. There will be nothing there to arouse his desire for me. Forgetting seems inevitable. What can I do? Except be helpless.

I am a writer. I slipped easily into the role of Scheherazade. All it took was thinking of it. I was tickled by my new idea. And new audience. Desperation had me spending nights holding feverishly to my man. Tapping at those computer keys.

The glow of the laptop and my fingers on the keyboard has created worlds to keep him close.

I wrote him stories. Sexy stories. I compensated for my bodily absence with imagination. I was Scheherazade. Via e-mail. This made me happy. And special.

The story did what it was supposed to do. He had been writing less often. Calling less. His response now suggested I had hit it. “Great story. It made me feel funny, I’d like to be back in Sarajevo right now.” Again I was loved. This was working.

I sat down in front of my laptop and fabricated worlds he would be sure to love more than the real ones. Not easy.

From time to time I held back from sending stories. I teased him. He’d ask about them. I was on the right track. All the more certain.

He started asking whether I really wanted these things to happen. He asked whether we’d do them when we got together. I was no longer so convinced I was on the right track. I was not sure I could do those things. I had written the stories to keep him with me. Not because I wanted to do all that. There was another woman in them. Women.

But in the stories I was in charge. I could shape reality. Any way I liked. In life I couldn’t. The stories were harmless. Or so I thought.

I began worrying about our next time together. There was group sex in those stories. And in them I wasn’t jealous. Suffered no pangs of conscience. Shed my inhibitions. Was this something I could handle in real life? This worried me more. He insisted more.

How could I explain to him that there are parallel worlds. And that sometimes it is wrong for them to overlap. To mingle. My mistake was showing him that the other worlds were there. He couldn’t separate imagination from what was real. He desired me in all the realms of my imagination. Not so with me.

My life was unsettled. Normal on the surface. Almost average. Everything was roiling in my mind. Then he began mucking up my worlds. And merging them. My worlds couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle it. Worst of all, I had started this all. Focused only on the goal of holding his attention. Not the consequences.

The date when we’d see each other neared. I got scared. Postponed it. He said I was afraid of living. That this was what I really wanted. After all it had been my idea. I no longer knew what I wanted. I wasn’t sure he could be the man. In my stories.

I began thinking about the me in my stories. That maybe I could be her.

But I write stories. I preferred not ruin them with bad acting so he acted them out with someone else.


Emira Larson

Emira Larson is a Bosnian-American who was born in Sarajevo, where she stayed during its four-year siege. An architect by training, she recently published her first book of short fiction, Scheherazade in Sarajevo. She writes food and travel stories as a correspondent for Gracija magazine. Her short fiction and essays have been published in numerous literary magazines. In the last ten years, she has changed many addresses, from Kinshasa to Vienna to Podgorica.

Ellen Elias-Bursać

Ellen Elias-Bursać has been translating novels and nonfiction by Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian writers since the 1980s, including writing by David Albahari, Neda Miranda Blažević, Daša Drndić, Antun Šoljan, Dubravka Ugrešić, and Karim Zaimović. ALTA's National Translation Award was given to her translation of Albahari's novel Götz and Meyer in 2006. She co-authored a textbook for the study of Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian language with Ronelle Alexander and was the recipient of a 2010 NEA translation grant.

Šeherzada u Sarajevu. Copyright (c) Emira Larson, 2013. English translation copyright (c) Ellen Elias-Bursać, 2014.