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News & Features » December 2018 » “No Stop of the Zeroes” by Tamar Jacobs

“No Stop of the Zeroes” by Tamar Jacobs

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, it is hard to explain a lot of things about the way the world works — especially to young children.

No Stop of the Zeroes
by Tamar Jacobs
3-year-old, 6-year-old

It is hard to explain about staring at people. Why you should do it while you are talking to people or listening to people. Why you should not do it at someone with a big belly and you wonder if there is a baby inside.

And it is hard to explain about squeezing a person’s hand hard when you shake it while you are looking in their eyes at the same time.

It is hard to explain about asking questions. You can’t ask about a person in front of that person. Not in front of the man with the big belly and you want to know if there’s a baby in it. Not about a person who is shorter than all the other people. Or fatter. Or with a lot of earrings not in their ears. Why do people put holes anywhere on their body, doesn’t that hurt. Why do they want to hurt.

No, that shorter person is not a child. That person is a grown-up. Not all grown-ups look the same. Not all people look the same.

It is hard to explain why we are sometimes called black but our skin is not the color of black. It is hard to explain why Mom is sometimes called white but she is really a color of pink-yellow. It is hard to explain why we are called a different color from Mom but our skin looks mostly like hers.

Why about Dad calling me brother and he’s not my brother and this being something about us being black (but we are not the color black I said that already).

Why the pink bright clothes and the glittering things at the store are for girls. Why we can buy any boy thing but not any girl thing. When at all the other stores we can buy anything. Why especially those shoes made all out of sparkling rainbow color little beads. My foot is the same size as that. Do I have a girl foot.

Why can’t I have a girl foot.

Why girls get to wear tutus. I want to wear tutus.

Why girls get to have long hair. I want long hair.

Why girls get to have straight hair. I want straight hair.

Why are you saying curly hair is better than straight hair when I thought you said no one is better than anyone else.

If a boy deer loses his antler is he a girl deer. Can he just pretend. Can I just pretend because I don’t have antlers. Can I have a girl foot.

Why I need to take a bath when I just went swimming in the pool. Why when you said chlorine gets rid of all the germs. Doesn’t that mean clean.

What is the thing different about a milk bubble from a soap bubble from a spit bubble. Why it is never okay to make a spit bubble or a milk bubble. What’s wrong with bubbles. Is it all those letter b’s in one word. Haha.

Why we don’t call our flesh “meat” when it’s called meat on the animals we eat, aren’t we all creatures and all alive and all the same like you said.

Can a chicken wing be alive.

Can my heart be alive.

Is the Big Dipper alive because it is twinkling like beating like a heart beating with blood going.

It is very hard to explain about why there is not a biggest top number in the whole world. Why is there no stop of the zeroes. If we don’t know the answer how do we know anything can there be other answers to things you don’t know but you don’t know you don’t know them and you think you do.

How do you know.


TAMAR JACOBS lives in Philadelphia. Her short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Louisville Review, New Ohio Review, Grist, and other publications. She placed second in a Glimmer Train Stories “Short Story for New Writers” contest, and is a Katherine Anne Porter Fiction Prize winner.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Dec 4, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , ,