top of page


Aida Zilelian

          “You take it,” I said.

          “No, you.”

          Ardash knelt closer to the straw bed the plastic baby was nestled in. “It looks less real close-up,” he observed. “You take it,” he insisted again.

          “What am I supposed to do with it?” I asked, imagining the car ride home with my father driving, his kyooghatsee[1] wife in the passenger seat and my grandmother, my sister Lucine and me sitting in the back. “I can’t even hide it.”

          “Go in there,” Ardash suggested, jerking his thumb towards the entrance of the church, which lead upstairs to where the church board members were having a meeting. “Ask your dad for the car keys—make some shit up—and put it in the trunk.”

          “And then what?” I asked.

          “‘And then what?’—who gives a shit!” he muttered, running his hand over his face. “Jesus,” he said.

          I snorted, catching a joke he hadn’t made. And then, realizing what he had said, Ardash let out a chuckle. “Jesus,” he said.

          I looked over my shoulder and started for a second; despite the musty, psychedelic frankincense that lingered, the glossy pews and stain-glassed windows that now glowed like slabs of gem in the late afternoon sunlight, I had forgotten that Ardash and I were in church.

          An hour before, Ardash and I had been sitting upstairs at the end of the long corridor, cross-legged on the maroon carpeting that was thin from wear, waiting for our fathers to emerge from another drawn out board meeting. My grandmother was visiting a friend who lived, conveniently, several blocks away from church and had taken my sister Lucine with her. When mass had ended my father had dropped off his wife at some local salon minutes away, where we would pick her up after the meeting. And I was stuck, once again, waiting with agonizing boredom for the meeting to end.

          “What do they even talk about in there?” Ardash said, not expecting an answer. There was a mound of gravel he had gathered from the parking lot and had positioned a trash can several feet away. He was aiming bits of gravel with little effort, his voice dulling with each throw.

          “I don’t know,” I said.

          I tried to sit primly on the dirty carpet, careful to keep the skirt of my dress smoothed over my knees, aware that if my father suddenly appeared I would have to jump to my feet before he saw me.

          “I don’t know how he can sit for two whole hours when he doesn’t do that at church,” I said. Ardash grinned and said nothing. Encouraged, I continued. “I literally sit there for the entire service—over two hours—with my grandmother and his stupid wife and he’s nowhere to be seen.”

          As I spoke the words aloud, I could feel within me an anger blooming so steadily that I grew quiet. Ardash continued chucking the gravel, doggedly, still not aiming.

          Every Sunday morning, we went to church. The Armenian Christian Orthodox mass began at nine in the morning and ended a quarter before noon. When I asked my mother why our services were so long, she told me it had been explained at a lecture she had attended recently, outlining the precious history of our hymns and how it would denounce tradition to take out elemental parts of the mass all in the name of time efficiency. She made it sound crass, practically, the ugliness of curtailing holiness all in the name of reclaiming a few stray hours of our day. But while she took a break from us for the weekend, we were stuck waking up at eight o’clock in the morning and squeezing ourselves into our pantyhose, our wrinkled, outdated dresses and wasting the best part of a Sunday.

          “He’s probably hanging out with my dad,” Ardash guessed, “with all the other dads outside of the church. They slip back in before the sermon. And then in the car ride it’s like a fucking quiz show—drilling me and my brother about what the priest said. Then we get home and he’s a total dick for the rest of the day.”

          I had never actually spoken to Ardash’s father. He was one of those quiet, serious characters. He wore a heavy mustache and had large, overbearing brown eyes that seemed to penetrate a person, as if assessing what ill-intended act they had carried out or were about to.

          “My dad’s not a dick,” I said, trying out the word for the first time. It felt like slipping my foot into a new pair of shoes that felt immediately and surprisingly comfortable. As if made specially to fit my feet. I almost wished my father was a dick so I could say it again without it sounding forced.

          “Tell me about your stepmom,” Ardash said, though I knew he wasn’t interested and just bored.

          “She’s not my stepmom,” I said. “I have a mother.”

          “Your dad’s wife—whatever,” he clarified impatiently.

          “She’s stupid,” I said, not bothering to search for a more accurate and fitting word. I didn’t feel like talking about her. “She barely speaks to me or Lucine,” I said. “It’s like we were a package deal and she has to put up with us because she married our father. Last week she made chicken liver,” I said, as if that summed it all up. “She sucks.”

          As a game, I started making a list of devious pranks I could play on her that would shut her up for a while. I envisioned dumping Nair into her conditioner, and I had to suppress a spontaneous cackle at the image of her head covered in bald patches, resembling a diseased feline. Maybe sneaking her mink coat out of the closet for a dose of spray paint and then hanging it back in place for her to discover on a Sunday morning.

          “I could be home playing video games right now,” Ardash said through his gritted teeth as he grabbed a fistful of gravel and threw it against the wall, nowhere near the trashcan. I was glad I hadn’t wasted the time on him with a well-worded description of my father’s wife.

          “I don’t know what I could be doing,” I said, “but I hate church. When I get older, I’m not coming here anymore.”

          I tolerated mass by daydreaming about and envying how American children spent their Sundays: an afternoon of cartoon-watching and eating a pile of Ego waffles smothered in Aunt Jemima syrup. Then, perhaps, taking in a late afternoon movie followed by a Chinese buffet dinner and an ice cream Sunday for dessert. Instead, we endured a long car ride back from church with two of my grandmother’s elderly friends who we deposited to their homes along the way, listening to my father’s wife speaking to him in Romanian (coincidentally, both their families had fled there during the Genocide), unconcerned that my sister and I did not speak or understand the language. When we finally got home, we would burst through the door and race to our bedrooms, change out of our clothes with the frantic urgency of two individuals who had been forced to roll around in nuclear waste.

          I don’t remember when they met or how. After having taken her out on a handful of dates, my father had allowed her to move into the house and unpack her life as if she was a long-lost relative who had been deserted in a foreign country. Despite her shellacked red fingers and stiffly quaffed helmet of hair, I only regarded her for what I thought she truly was: a kyooghatsee. A common villager. She always wore the same orange slippers around the house, a garish, gold-embroidered, made-in-China cheapness embossed at the top of the foot. I imagined that if she ever removed those slippers, before stepping into the shower maybe, the fine dust from whatever the hell village she left still powdered her feet and the crevasses between her toes. Nothing could temper the sheer and absolute loathing I felt for her.

          Their wedding had been an unceremonious affair that my father had informed us about over the phone, advising Lucine and I to arrive at the house wearing our best dresses. My doting grandmother, who had hen-pecked my father to remarry after my mother had left him, stood by his side as the priest married them in the presence of all the family members and friends that could fit into the house. As my father slipped the ring on her finger, I took a hard look at her, absorbing her cartoonishly lipstick-y smile and Geisha-matted face, her desperate and unconvincing feat of emulating perfection.

          In the past several months she was sounding increasingly aggravated, telling my father (in Armenian during these conversations) how she didn’t understand, that she was trying everything her doctor had recommended. I noticed also, her frequent trips to the pharmacy, where she would return with her purchase in a brown paper bag and go straight to the bathroom. Just this morning she had disappeared into the bathroom for well over ten minutes and stomped out, beelining into the bedroom. Lucine and I had heard her voice blistering through the wall.

          She began her usual rant. “I can’t take this anymore! And the doctor keeps telling me the same thing: don’t think about it so much and it will happen. It’s been months now! Months!” I relished hearing her reach irrational heights of near-hysteria.

          “She’s been upset lately,” I said. A prolonged silence had set in. We were both sitting on the floor next to each other with our eyes half open, our boredom having lulled us into a physiological coma.

          “The wife?” Ardash practically mumbled.

          “Yeah. Every time we get home from church, she’s complaining to my father about how something is not happening although she’s been listening to the doctor.” I detailed the conversations I had been overhearing.

          “Ah,” Ardash commented, the ‘aaaah’ part drawn out, as if it made sense to him.

          “What?” I asked.

          “She’s trying to get pregnant,” he said.

          “No,” I said right away. “It’s not that.”

          “Why?” Ardash asked, his eyes now fully open. “How old is she?”

          “I don’t know,” I said. “Like thirty-six or something. It’s hard to tell with all that makeup.”

          “She’s trying to get pregnant,” Ardash said again. “Trust me.”

          “Why?” I asked. Now that he had imparted a startling insight, I wondered what else he was able to put together.

          “Why?” Ardash asked, his face contorted in disgust. “I don’t know why. I don’t know why anyone has kids when they barely spend time with them. Like my dad, for example.”

“What about him?” I was all too glad to shift topics and not think about the dreadfulness of my father and this kadz, this bitch. Yet, the very idea of my father having a baby with this woman left me utterly distracted. I was barely listening to Ardash’s tirade.

          “….. summer he sends me to Camp Hayastan. On Saturdays I go to stupid ACYOA meetings. Sundays was Sunday school, obviously, but since I’m too old now—like you—I’m stuck here waiting for him while my mother’s downstairs with her group of Armenian mothers talking about next Sunday’s bake sale,” he said. Before I could add that my mother hated dealing with all those women when she was married to my dad, Ardash continued. “Like, if something has nothing to do with being Armenian or Armenia or whatever, he has no interest. He barely talks to me. I’d have to memorize a Silva Kaputikyan poem and recite it for him to get his attention.”

          My spirits slightly lifted, I decided to show off a little. “Ooh des, vortees, oor er leenes / Ays loosnee dag oor el kunas,” I began reciting and Ardash’s face flickering with recognition, joined me in the last couplet of the stanza, “Teh moruht ankam mutkeet hanes / Koh mayr lezoon chee moranas.”

          We both laughed. It was a well-known Kaputikyan poem we had all been made to memorize growing up.

          “He sucks,” Ardash concluded.

          “My dad is okay,” I said, not completely convinced.

          I thought about the first weekend of December when my father had picked up Lucine and I that Saturday morning. We had decided on the way to his house that we would look through the storage room in the basement to find our skates and see if they still fit so my father could take us ice skating. His wife was on the other side of the house, probably tweezing her eyebrows in front of her ridiculous light-up makeup mirror from 1979 or walking around in the dead animal coat she had appeared in one Sunday morning after her birthday in May. Lucine and I could hear her voice coming from the kitchen as we scrambled down the stairs on a clear mission.

          Although it was a storage room it had served for many years as a small space where Lucine and I played when we were younger. There was the oversized Barbie doll house, the main attraction being the elevator, which we played with, but without the actual Barbie doll. Lucine had her collection of Strawberry Shortcake figures displayed on one of the higher shelves, which my grandmother had given her as gifts for her birthdays and Christmases. But what I looked forward to most of all, despite having outgrown them, was an encyclopedia set for children. Their hard cover exterior seemed deceptively like an old textbook, their simple, straight-forward titles holding my attention every time: Stories and Fables, Holidays from Around the World, Green Kingdom, How Things Work and at least six others. The room itself was a pastime for Lucine and I, especially after our parents’ divorce; a small, treasured corner of the basement where we excavated through boxes of old books and filled-up marble notebooks from grade school, toys we had once loved and forgotten, all mysteriously stored away once they were worn from use.

          “Where are you going?” we heard my father’s wife calling from the foot of the stairs as we headed to the storage room. “Antranig—why are they in the basement?” she called out to my father. As if we didn’t have permission to play in our own basement.

          We were too dumbstruck to reply as we stood in front of the storage room that was suddenly empty. As if someone had taken the hose of a monstrous power vacuum and sucked up the contents of the room. The shelves, with none of Lucine’s dolls, seemed odd-looking, as if they were part of her doll collection and should have been removed along with them. The only item in the room, which I didn’t even recognize as familiar upon first glance, was a highchair propped up against the wall. It was Lucine’s from when she was a baby.

          Lucine, with her wide-eyed nine-year-old innocence looked at me and asked, “Where did they move everything?”

          At first, I wanted to believe that it had all been relocated, trying not to succumb to my recent disenchantment of life that came soon after my parents’ divorce, followed by my father’s impulsive marriage, while I stood on the diving board of puberty holding my nose.

          “It’s gone,” I said.

          “What? Gone? Where?” With pause, Lucine wheeled around and stormed up the stairs.

          I stayed in the basement listening as she began a full-throttle investigation, berating my father and his wife with questions.

          “But where is everything?” she kept asking.

          Although I couldn’t hear what they were saying, I could tell from their tone that they were trying to placate her with empty explanations. After a few moments I couldn’t hear anything else except Lucine screaming. “You’re not telling me where it is. Where is it? Where is all our stuff!?”

          By then my grandmother came to the kitchen and pulled Lucine into her bedroom. Had it been a few years ago, she would have been dragged away kicking. That was Lucine.

I crept halfway up the stairs, hoping to overhear the conversation. And of course, they were speaking Romanian again. All my life we had grown up hearing hayeren khoseer, speak Armenian, but this bitch could do whatever she wanted. It was only from their inflections and the stray phrases I understood that I was able to piece together that my father’s wife had taken it upon herself to throw our belongings into the trash because she thought it was old stuff that was taking up space in the house. Although my father replied evenly, his voice reasoning with her indignation, there was a growing edge of irritation that I predicted would lead to a violent outburst, one of many I had experienced growing up.

          “Lasa-ma in pace,” she said finally. Leave me alone. My grandmother had taught me that phrase years ago, when I told her a boy in my third-grade class who happened to speak Romanian, was teasing me. She always laughed when I said it.

          “Antranig, destul,” she said. Enough.

          Now perched two steps from the top of the landing, I hunkered down, as if I was in a bomb shelter, waiting for the storm to begin. All I heard was the scraping sound of the chair against the kitchen tile floor—my father leaving his seat, and a strained, lagging silence. I stood up and inched into the room, surprised to find his wife still sitting at the kitchen table. She was wearing a waffle-pattered beige house dress and the stupid slippers, her brown helmet hair and her nails, a Pepto-Bismol pink.

          Hot-faced, I stared at her for a moment. Her little mole eyes held my gaze, neither of us willing to break away.

          “You’re a fucking bitch,” I said to her, the shame of saying the words out loud for the first time burning my face. My voice trembled. “You don’t belong here,” I said.

          Unruffled, she said nothing, cocking her eyebrow as if unable to contain her amusement.

          In the end, my father did nothing. I don’t know if my grandmother had even known about our things being thrown away, but however she explained it to Lucine must have been convincing enough that she didn’t bring it up to me afterwards. And for Lucine’s sake, I wanted to let it go. I hoped that my father would have mentioned it on the way home, maybe made an excuse for his wife for having done what she did, but like every other Sunday, he dropped us off in front of my mother’s apartment building, waited for her to buzz us in from the lobby and drove off in his Cadillac.

          “You know what would be funny?” Ardash asked, interrupting my thoughts.

          “What?” I asked, feeling grim.

          “Imagine next Sunday when Der Hayr and the altar boys and those guys show up for the Christmas badarak and the baby Jesus is missing?” he said. “How funny would that be? How fucked up!”

          “That would be funny,” I said, as if he had suggested we fly to Mars for the afternoon.

          “We should do it,” Ardash said, now standing up and brushing off loose gravel from his slacks.

          “What?” I asked.

          “The baby Jesus. Take it. Imagine their faces!”

          I searched his face, waiting for him to cut the joke. “What? No,” I said. “That’s stupid. We’d get caught.”

          “What—stealing it? Whosecatching us?” To prove his point, he held a finger in the air, commanding silence. He paused for a few tidy seconds, and satisfied, gave me a smug smile.

          “There’s no pulse in the air. Let’s go.”

          Before I could protest, I saw him head towards the church entrance and disappear around the corridor.

          “How about I just steal one of the three wise men?” I bargained, once I realized he was serious. “Say, Baghdasar or Melkon?” I only remembered two of the three names I had learned in Armenian Sunday school.

          “As if,” Ardash spoke, replying so quickly that it wasn’t even a consideration. “How do you think you’re fitting one of those guys in your car? They’re practically life-size.”

          He was right, I knew. “No,” he said. “You have to take the baby.”

          “Can’t I just hide it somewhere in the building? Instead of stealing it?” I asked, wondering for the first time why there was any negotiating to begin with, and how Ardash wielded a position of authority when only moments ago we were just two bored twelve-year-olds and it had been his idea.

          “You know what? Do whatever the fuck you want,” Ardash sputtered, standing up. “The plan was to steal the baby Jesus. Between today and next Sunday they won’t have enough time to find a replacement. It would have been the best Christmas badarak. Ever.”

          He turned on his heels and flounced off the steeple.

          “Why can’t yousteal it?” I called out, my voice small and unheard in the expanse of emptiness.

          I stood on the altar alone now, regarding the statues more closely. Mary was kneeling next to the crib with her hands reposed in prayer while Joseph stood over them, his role in the whole business reduced to that of an onlooker. The donkey, the sheep and the goat seemed purposeless, yet vital to the evening, lending a more manger-iness atmosphere alongside the three wise men who each held a mysterious offering in their hands. Melkon was wearing a modest crown that was nestled neatly into a turban-like head scarf while next to him Baghdasar’s headpiece was shaped more similarly like a Catholic cardinal’s with gold embellishments. The other guy, the wise man whose name I had forgotten, seemed less distinguished in a long brown robe and a towel, really, draped over his head. The scene itself was wholesome in its earthy vibrancy of forest green and gold and mud red, the sheen of holiness less holy now that I wasn’t sitting in a pew. Closeup, one could admire the artistry of the statues and less the universal import it carried.

          Then a thought occurred to me so sinister, so impossible, that I knew I had to carry it out. Like puzzle pieces that fit too obviously and had been overlooked.

          As if in tandem with my revelation, I heard the shuffle of tassel leather loafers steadying down the staircase; the clansmen had concluded their meeting. I couldn’t waste a moment. I lifted the baby Jesus from the bed of plastic straw, easing it into my arms. Although it wasn’t real, it was the son of God and I supposed it deserved to be held with a modicum of reverence or tenderness or something. Who the hell knew, really, how to hold a statue of baby Jesus? I picked off the stray fibers of plastic straw that clung onto my dress and threw my coat over the statue. It wasn’t the weight of the baby that was difficult to manage, but the fact that my coat kept slipping off of it; like the rest of the figures in the Nativity, it had a slick veneer of polish that seemed repellent to fabric. I hoisted it under my arm like a football and threw my coat over it again, gripping the baby’s waist as I stepped out of the church and waited at the top of the steps that led to the street.

          My father was speaking to Ardash’s father when I saw him by the entrance and a queasy warmth spread through my chest as I slipped past him outside, waiting for him to see me. Ardash, who had essentially abandoned me, was already on the sidewalk facing the direction of the parking lot. I hoped he would look up and see me, notice what I was holding underneath the coat. Yet the part of me that had treaded past what he himself had been too chicken to carry out, the rogue in me that felt dangerous and detached now, decided I would walk right past him with my father, not caring either way if he knew what I had done.

          “Kohar, let’s go,” my father finally said, breaking away from his conversation with Ardash’s father, knowing I had been waiting patiently to leave.

          I followed him down the steps and walked behind him towards the parking lot, gripping the baby’s torso despite the sudden onset of perspiration that made it difficult to keep a tight grip with my moist hands. As I climbed into the backseat I sat on the far right and rested the baby to the right side of my hip, keeping it covered with my coat.

          My father would never ask me what I did during his long board meetings. It was as if during that span of time I did not exist. The feeling of that thought came over me as he pulled up to the front of the house where my grandmother was visiting her friend. I looked through the window with detachment as my father left the car to ring the bell and saw my sister and grandmother emerge onto the sidewalk and walk towards the car.

          As my father put the car back in gear, I felt Lucine’s elbow nudge me.

          “Hi,” she said.

          I hadn’t considered whether or not I was going to tell her about the baby Jesus. There was a singular and powerful feeling about keeping it all a secret, and less a betrayal of our closeness.

          “Hi,” I said.

          “Dad’s taking us back to Mom’s early,” she said, “because they have plans to visit the Baghdassarian’s for dinner.”

          “On a Sunday?” I asked. “That’s weird. Okay.”

          I was all too glad not to endure his wife longer than I would have to.

          Now making his second stop before heading home, my father double-parked in front of the salon and left the car only to return a moment later saying that we had to wait a little bit.

          “How long?” I asked, which was not characteristic of me.

          “A few minutes,” he said, a strange terseness to his tone that I knew had nothing to do with me.

          “I guess they have to work extra-hard since it’s her,” I said to Lucine, but loud enough for my father to hear.

          Instead of reprimanding me, I caught his eyes in the rearview mirror; they widened with the sudden cognizance that I didn’t like her.

We must have waited in the car for fifteen minutes, if not longer. It felt, all over again, like I was sitting on the maroon rug tolerating one interminable second after the next. I was about to complain, tired of sitting in silence, and then saw her walk out of the salon. My father left the car again to go to the passenger side and hold the door open for her. I rolled my eyes as she eased her wide ass into the passenger seat, directly in front of me. She didn’t turn around to say hello and began speaking to my father, in Romanian again.

          Since I could either stare out of the window or at the back of her head, I speculated her hair, unsure of what exactly they had accomplished in that salon since her head was just a stiff mass of unmoving hair, no different from any other day. From the sound of it, she was complaining again, her nasal voice rising with irritation. Had she turned around she would have found me smiling a ridiculous smile, the kind of smile that hurt my face.

          I laid in bed, my heart beating heavily as I watched the early morning light filter through the blinds. For two hours now, I had vacillated between staying awake and falling back asleep, and as morning grew closer, I found myself taking deep breaths, listening to the silence. From across the hallway, I heard the sound of a doorknob turn and my stomach jumped. Then I reminded myself that it was my grandmother using the bathroom like she did every morning and that she usually went back into her bedroom for at least half an hour. I turned on my side and looked over at Lucine. She was still sleeping with her back to turned me.

          From the parted curtains I saw the edge of our window framed by a fresh snowfall. I started thinking about the igloo that my father and Lucine and I had built after the first snowstorm last winter. Suddenly, I heard the swinging of a door open from the hallway.

          I sat up, trying to discern the footsteps and I knew right away from the obnoxious, heavy-heeled pounding that it was her. I own this house, her footsteps announced. I’m the boss. I threw my head under the covers, instinctively covered my ears and then remembered the lengths I had gone to, that I had been waiting to relish this moment.

          The highchair had been lighter than I thought when I had carried it up the basement steps only hours ago. Again, because of my sweaty hands it had almost slipped out of my grip and fallen to the bottom of the steps, but I had managed. What I wished I’d had was one of those coal miner’s flashlights. I would have looked like a glowing cyclops in the dining room as I unfolded the highchair into place and situated it at the head of the table, but at least I would have been able to see what I was doing. And despite going back and forth about whether or not to hide the baby at my father’s or take it back to my mother’s house and stow it somewhere, I had ultimately buried it under a stack of clothes in my bedroom closet at my father’s house.

          Extracting the baby Jesus from its hiding place had been easy; Lucine was a very heavy sleeper. I had almost laughed as I walked down the hallway with the baby Jesus under my arm, giddy and terrified. At first, I had tried to put it inside the highchair, positioning it as if it was ready for a feeding. But it had been too big to fit in the seat. Without overthinking it, I had kept it simple and rested it on the plastic feeding tray as if on display. Having carried it out as I had planned, I slipped back into bed contemplating whether or not I should go back and put everything away. But I knew I wouldn’t. I wondered, though, if I would still be going to church in the morning or instead, sent back to my mother’s.

          Now, sitting up in bed, I waited. I pictured the dining room table surrounded by the eight empty chairs and the baby Jesus perched on the plastic tray of the highchair. My father’s wife had set the table for breakfast the previous evening and had covered it with an ugly, felt green tablecloth.

          I could hear her shifting around the kitchen. The sound of the kitchen faucet running, the refrigerator door opening and closing, the clearing of her throat. I exhaled. The clang of a skillet and the utensil drawer pulling open with a clatter. Silence. I thought of the fake Christmas tree in the living room and how she had decorated it during the week, not waiting for us to do it all together as a family. Each ornament carefully placed, the star perfectly perched on top, the gaudy tinsel dripping ostentatiously. Every time I looked at the tree I was taken by its theatrical presence.

          Merry Christmas, you kyooghatsee, I thought. Merry fucking

          “Antraniiig!” A nasal voice ripped through the sleeping house. “Antranig!”

          I heard my father’s bedroom door bang open and his rushed footsteps down the hallway past my bedroom. I glanced at Lucine, who was still sleeping, her back still facing me. The sun, now fully illuminating the room, cast a warm patch of light on my bed as I sat laughing quietly, at first. I hugged myself.

          “How did this get here?” I heard her screaming in Armenian. “She’s evil. Pure evil. What kind of a person does this? Khent – crazy!”

          “Kohar!” my father hollered from a place as distant as my childhood. “Kohar!”

          I laughed out loud. Pressing my knees to my chest, I rocked back and forth, laughing. Merry Christmas, you kyooghatsee. Merry fucking Christmas.


[1] A derogatory word in Armenian for a low-class peasant or villager

Aida Zilelian is an American-Armenian writer, educator, and storyteller. As part of a diaspora culture, she writes stories that reflect the contemporary lives of American-Armenians, oftentimes from an untraditional perspective. Her work has appeared in West Texas Literary Review, Red Hen Press (Two Countries Anthology), Phoebe and others. She is the author of THE LEGACY OF LOST THINGS, (recipient of the 2014 Tololyan Literary Award) and ALL THE WAYS WE LIED (Turner Books, forthcoming January 2024). Her short story collection, THESE HILLS WERE MEANT FOR YOU was shortlisted for the 2018 Katherine Anne Porter Award and her short story “The Piano” won first prize in the Lighthouse Weekly contest.

bottom of page