“Seven Turns Around the Sacred Fire,” by Meera Jhala, appears in the Summer 2018 issue of Kaleidotrope. It is a story about a married couple who endures many lifetimes together (seven in accordance with their marriage ritual to take seven turns around a sacred flame). And it is beautiful. It won me over.
The contextualization is sparse, but this contributes to the story’s delicate balance between detail (“The moon hung over the sand dunes”) and mystery (“I don’t know why we didn’t make the cut”). Similarly, the choice to use a first-person narrator who directly addresses the lover (rather than the reader) puts the reader in the position of an eavesdropper, listening in on an intimate conversation that spans centuries. Subtle descriptions of time and place allow the reader to find their bearing and follow the characters through their seven lives.
This is a good story to read over a quick lunch break, since it is short–but it will stick with you throughout the day.