Ahmed and Rahid (by Nancy Chapple)

Ahmed is originally from Algeria, and has the passport to show it. He received a fine education there as a civil engineer. That’s clear when you see him take a pen to describe how two parts of a mechanism fit together, or watch him expound on the details of what has happened to him: a fine-spoken man in Arabic, French and English. But he has fallen on hard times, bouncing around from one European country to the next, living on the edge. He’s lived in France, then in Sweden for quite a long time. The last time he was in Germany he ended up in a small town in Brandenburg, though not for long enough to learn German. Wherever he goes, he’s “tolerated” by the government, neither deported nor supported.

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Tour of Duty Tourism (by Kerri Mullen)

A very wise therapist once told me that all family visits should be legally limited to no more than three days.  Three days is enough to enjoy, to reminisce, to wonder why they aren’t staying longer.  Four days and you know exactly why.

Michael’s been here for seven days now, sharing my 37 square meter apartment.  It’s not a tiny place – Berlin isn’t New York – but it’s still a small space for a 24 year old brother and his slightly neurotic 26 year old sister.  When I walked into my apartment, there used to be a weird burned coffee smell coming from the kitchen.  Now it smells like booze, man body odor and man body wash.  My own odd stink has been completely engulfed.

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Teaching Rüdiger by Nathaniel Barron

Rüdiger sits there and stares at me, his mouth hanging open like an idiot. I can see him thinking, scrunching up his brow and rubbing his face with a look of consternation like he’s either contemplating suicide, or taking a shit. Sadly, it’s neither.

“Repeat?”

Sigh. “What DO YOU…..DO….. EV-ER-Y-DAY?” Again, the face rubbing. It usually goes this way. They rub their foreheads for a bit, take a breath as if to speak, catch it, sit for a while longer just to be sure, then they get this bizarre look on their face which seems to say, “I know it looks like I’ve been thinking really hard for the last three minutes, but that can’t possibly be true because what I’m about to say is barely going to make sense. Are you ready?” Sure enough:

“I am today coffee drink.”

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