‘Some Shades of Darkness Are Competing with Other Shades’ by Vi Khi Nao

“My debauched husband was a woman and I knew no one in Kansas City,” is an incredible opening line, one that catapults us directly into the heart of the narrator’s dysfunctional relationship with her girlfriend that leaves her seeking new lodgings in Kansas City, circumnavigating a near-abduction, and then returning again to her abusive ex. I was fortunate enough to be working at NOON when this piece arrived in a suite of seven autobiographical stories, each alive with Nao’s singular voice and heightened attention to language—an incredible editorial windfall. I’ve since taught this story, and yet it remains full of mystery to me—especially the mutating metaphor involving a box of chocolates, which, like much of Nao’s writing, is oblique, startling, and utterly unprecedented.

First published in NOON, 2019

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