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Halina Duraj

French Hairs I Have Eaten


 

I have three consecutive meals in Sarlat with tiny black hairs lodged somewhere on the food. I have a weird sense of shame about it, as if I’ve somehow caused my meals to be garnished in this way. I find myself wanting to make the hair go away secretly, without alerting my travel companion to its presence. Will she think it’s gross that I don’t send my plate back to the kitchen? I am too frightened of French servers. Each time, I eat around the hair instead: I slide it under a sliver of gristle, I cover it with mashed potatoes. After the second hair, it does feel sort of personal, even though it’s a different restaurant. After the third time, I stop looking at my food before I eat it. It’s too upsetting, and I’m too hungry. Besides, if I don’t look, I won’t see any problems. This has worked well for me in some ways in life, poorly in others.

Halina Duraj's work has appeared in The Harvard Review, The Sun, The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014 and Ecotone. Her short story collection, The Family Cannon, was published by Augury Books in 2014 and was a finalist for the 2015 Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Debut Fiction Firecracker Award. She teaches in the English Department at the University of San Diego.