Ari Makes Origami by ALINA CVETKOVA

[..] “I share the apartment with a girl named Marta in the hipster Sant Antoni area. The apartment is small and not too cozy. There is no elevator to the 4th floor we live on, so we get to strengthen our thighs. The apartment has a cute balcony with a few plants, which neither of us cares to water, leaving the life-support of the feeble herbs to the occasional Barcelona rain or the kindness of random visitors. The apartment has a big living area, combined with a kitchen. It’s a bit messy thanks to Marta, but at least I managed to negotiate that she doesn’t smoke in the living room, just in her room.

Marta is Catalan and very pretty. I’d like to have her looks. Myself, I have always been surprised that other people manage to find me attractive. I always feel too fat, too big nosed, too big-legged, too big-boobed, too out of proportion.

Marta, on the other hand, is everything I’d like to be. She has very small breasts and a long slender body. Slender legs too. That alone lets every fashion garment she wears look ideal on her.

There are a few remarkable traits of Marta’s awesomeness – her legs, as mentioned; a pair of dark brown piercing eyes filled with scorn (you know, the sexy Eva Green look) and thick dark hair, which smells of Garnier honey shampoo.

When Marta thinks about something, she pins her hair up in a bun, and it manages to look perfect without her even peeking in a mirror. In a few seconds, she moves her hands up again, does some finger magic, and the wave of her hair streams back down her shoulders, leaving a perfect messy look. And then back up again.

Marta doesn’t wear make up.

I feel naked and helpless if I don’t wear makeup, and people ask me if I have gotten sick or something.

Oh, Marta. I like watching her when she doesn’t notice. She also has this infectious laugh, and a deep voice, so typical of Catalan and Spanish girls.

Sometimes when we have home parties, I watch her. I watch the way she yoyos her hair up and down. The way she rolls her cigarette, pauses before licking the paper to listen to someone, and then laughs, spilling the tobacco outside of the roll, right onto our apartment floor which I struggle to keep clean.

Her tight flowery dresses and short black tops which leave her flat stomach bare.

That birthmark near her plump lips.

If only you weren’t such a bitch, Marta. But most perfect looking girls are.

Deep in my thoughts, I jump when I hear my phone buzz on the counter. I dry my hands on a towel, pick up the phone and see an incoming WhatsApp message. It’s Mom back home in Latvia. I hope she is not going to ask me again how my love life is. I wish I had a love life, but I never really found the right guy. I am too picky.

Mom still can’t get over this. When she visited a month ago I invented a boyfriend just so she would get off my back. She’d still ask how old he was and what he did for a living.

“Hey darling, how are you doing there?”

I finish drying my fingers on my sweatshirt, and type back: “Yeah all good. Doing the dishes.”

The screen lights up with an answer. “And how is love life?”

I roll my eyes and type back: “Non-existent. I hope you can accept such a failure of a daughter.”

The screen says she is typing; she is taking forever, so I put the phone down and do one more plate.

Finally the phone buzzes again. I feel a little jump in my stomach, and I tell myself I can handle it. I look at the phone from the corner of my eye, dry my hands against my sweatshirt again, and pick it up.

Mom writes: “Of course I can accept everything.” Followed by too many emojis with their tongues sticking out.

I exhale.

The screen lights up again.

“As long as you don’t go on a series of random sexual encounters or date a black guy.”

For fuck’s sake, Mom.

Another message pops up. “Or a girl”.

I freeze. Where is this coming from?

Meanwhile the next message arrives, so I push the uneasy feeling down.” [..]


“Ari Makes Origami” is a novella written by Alina Cvetkova, one of the founders of TAST. It’s a contemporary romance story set in Barcelona.

Latvian-born Alina Cvetkova is a writer who, after living in several European countries, has at the moment settled in Zurich, Switzerland. 

Alina has been writing for as long as she can remember. Having contributed to various magazines in her native Latvia, she continued writing when she moved to Sweden and then Barcelona, which resulted in her producing and self-publishing her first book of short stories, “Cyan and Other Stories”, in 2015.

Later, following her passion for literature and short story formats, she and a few others founded TAST, this very litzine you are reading.

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