We’re Waiting to Hear Our Names: An Excerpt From Tara Isabel Zambrano’s “Death, Desire, and Other Destinations”

Zambrano cover

Today, we’re pleased to present an excerpt from Tara Isabel Zambrano’s collection Death, Desire, and Other Destinations.Its publisher describes it as a book which “”explores the rocky terrain of relationships and their fault lines, and unearths the boundaries between love, longing, and loss. Both real and surreal, lyrical and magical, sci-fi and speculative, these small stories shine a light in the darkness of seeking a human connection across space and time.” Among Zambrano’s admirers are Ben Loory and Chaya Bhuvaneswar, who dubbed Zambrano “”a new and distinctive talent in fiction.”


We’re Waiting to Hear Our Names

(Previously Published in Mojo, Mikrokosmos)


We’re kissing in the back seat of his ’86 Chevy. Two country songs down and we’re still locked in each other’s mouths like lightning and thunder.

We’re leaning against our Chevy, its front hood up. Cars, freight trucks slam by, weakening whatever honeymoon excitement still holds our dust-dimmed minds in caucus. We’re waiting for the AAA, roving the radio dial: Keep the Baby hotline, punk rock, and weight loss pitches. We’re getting into an argument. We’re looking at the horizon where the light scatters and fills the stars.

We’re rocking our twins, a boy and a girl. We’re dreaming with them, without them, swimming in a space where we’re popular names scuba diving in Hawaii and writing our love song in Bali.

We’re spending Christmas with my in-laws; we’re buying a thirty-year-old two-bedroom home that needs a clean carpet and a washer. The choices offered and the choices made, the No Man’s Land between them where we stand. We’re standing next to the lawn mower, arguing whose turn it is. We’re our hurried sex and laundry inside out. We’re Children’s Motrin in several flavors; we’re bunk beds withering into nights too short.

We’re still dreaming, riding bicycles, hair blown by the wind, cheeks red with sunlight.

We’re walking to school, driving our kids to games. We’re trying a new hair color, getting attracted to other men and women.

We’re baking cookies and cleaning the grill. We’re welcoming our kids and their fiancés. After they leave, we’re sitting on the couch together in silence. We’re going up and down the stairs. There’re only crumpled sheets and time waiting in every room.

We’re yoga in the morning, lumpy fried potatoes and meat with greasy throats in the afternoon, TV’s blank face in the night. We’re fixing the roof, changing the wallpaper. We’re growing stingy with love. We’re thinking of getting a divorce.

We’re waiting for the doctor to tell us how bad it is. We’re lying in the bed nestled with a drip. We’re asleep on the rocking chair next to the bed, an unread novel latched to our chests. We’re getting used to the sound of the heart monitor, the sight of life flickering against time, the growing knots in our stomachs. Sometimes, we’re trying to laugh, laugh hard. We’re lighting candles, thanking God for all we have, thinking we never really had a chance.


We’re waiting for our turn to speak at the funeral, to talk about those moments of intermittent joy. Signing the paperwork, we’re lonely below the dotted line. We’re moving into assisted living, our kids, and grandkids waving at us, belted and secured in their SUVs, eager to leave. Wheel-chaired outside we’re talking to ourselves, watching the onyx sky lit with smoking streetlamps.

We’re lying in our graves separated by five years. The dirt is full of answers. Sometimes, we’re whispering each other’s name, and the dry flowers above us stir. And we’re dreaming and waiting. We’re waiting to hear our names.

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