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by Sanjana Shankar

You hear about biomagnification in biology class: the accumulation of toxins as you go up a food chain. As she speaks, voice faraway and no match for the classroom full of boisterous teenage delinquents, you notice her hollow eyes, the canyons beneath them. It doesn’t help that she isn’t paid enough; and in the midst of the sweltering summer heat, the power has been gone for hours. You wonder if you are supposed to notice these things.

As she continues, you think about inherited traits, the way your hands curl into fists like your father and when you cry, how your brows crease – a perfect picture of your older brother. You think about the trophic levels in your family – which way does the energy flow? You are born with the very best and the very worst of the ones you love. You know no matter where you go, who you love, what you say, no part of that changes.

You remember the time a distant relative let slip that you were never meant to be alive: a mistake. You remember how, since then, living everyday feels like an act of defiance. You think of pea plants and your grandmother’s house; and how no amount of mendelian genetics can make you feel like a better person.

The fan creaks slowly back into life.


About the author:

Sanjana 'Sana' Shankar is a young desi writer with a self-described an affinity for cats and coffee, as well as pinterest boards, YA lit and copious amounts of Ocean Vuong. Along with her best friend, she runs Filter Coffee Magazine (@filtercoffeemag)

More of her work, including Why I Hated Springtime, features in Erato, Issue I: Bloom.

Twitter: @infinitesmals

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