Essays    Reportage    Marginalia    Interviews    Poetry    Fiction    Videos    Everything   
Gettin’ Up

I was angry then. No. I wanted to be just like her.

Fiction | Flash Fiction
September 1, 2023

None of us knew each other. Lily Ann introduced us. I, Korean. Jenni, Mexican. 

Lily Ann and I met at a Korean girls’ junior softball league. During the league, we joked about how the coaches only gave us fruit to eat or locker dust, persuading Seonsaengnim, the head coach, to make actual food for us. These were jokes children didn’t keep inside. Not the type that sting, stick, or stay for adults. Any heat—microaggressions to insidious remarks—was sorted out bare in the open. Unlike school, there was no discord between our group of weirdos.

Lily Ann was always bringing people together. I was mesmerized by how different she was from everyone else. She stuck out. Her style was a cross between the Bauhaus artists and Rosie the Riveter. Compared to the hive of suburban preps that swarmed the Plains, Lily Ann had an edge. 

She was the closest to a star that I had ever encountered. She wanted everyone to feel that she stuck out. Always yearning for more—talking about moving to Berlin, Germany, becoming avant-garde, and living amongst artists.

I was angry then. No. I wanted to be just like her. When we first met, we did not like one another. One of the first times we hung out, it was only us two. She was serious and not as vociferous and fun as in our friend group. You’re like kinda pretentious. Do you know that about yourself? You’re always coming off like a smartass. No one likes that. No one likes you.

It was the first time that someone had said something to me that was cruel; I was found. 

After that, we were joined at the hip, concocting our shenanigans in her basement. Jennifer and Lily Ann went to the same school on the east side of town. I lived on the west side. One night, Lily Ann invited Jenni over. This is my friend from school, Jenni. I think you guys would get along. Jenni didn’t say anything the entire night. She sat there quiet. While Lily Ann did her thing as performer extraordinaire. We only heard Jenni speak—laughing and attempting to say Lily Ann’s name as the headmistress would.

Excuse me, LIL-YI ANN. Lily Ann would pick on her. 

Still in high school and living on a farm, we couldn’t do what we wanted. We weren’t old enough to go out to the city . . . to the clubs . . . raves . . .

It was Friday. We were waiting for softball practice to be over. Hammered by Seonsaengnim about how we fucked up our game. She had let out a boisterous roar. You call that a swing? Who has a swing like that? We scrambled to be better and tried to hit the ball just like Seonsaengnim wanted. The yard stick had come out. SMACK! On the ground . . .  Seonsaengnim had stopped the game. An irritable groan had come out. There . . . 
NO! NO! NO! Teul-yeo-sa! 
SMACK! E-rya-keh! 
Seonsaengnim had modeled with her hips. This is where you are supposed to get your swing
Lily Ann and I covertly texted each other. What song? Softball practice ended. 

That night, we left as fast as we could to Lily Ann’s house to get ready. Plug in. 
Playlist reshare. 
-Add song 
-Add song 
-Add song 

Lily Ann made a call. Now Jenni!! We’re home. Come over! Lily Ann’s basement was our Friday night go-to spot since there was a projector screen—our center stage backdrop.
Rainbow cubes fading in and out. 
Alice through—SLEEPY REMIX 

Bobbing our heads. Head banging. Dancing in a circle. 

-Chair in the middle. 
-Tree in middle. 
-Nothing in the middle. 

We were hungry and exhausted now. If Lily Ann’s mom didn’t make kimchi jiigae for us to eat, we would go for Ramyun. And it wasn’t any Ramyun, especially not the instant American kind. Too bland for our taste. I’m talking about spicy, sweat dripping Shin Ramyun. After we inhaled leftover kimchi jiigae, making our pores sweat out even more after hours of dancing, we were still hungry. Lily Ann got a pot of water ready and turned on the stove. Bright red packets. Timer starts: three minutes. One minute: the water is bubbling. Put in the dried noodle pack. Lily Ann impatiently waited for it to cook to eat, all the while making jokes about kids in math class. They were confusing the Pythagorean theorem for pathos of the sides of an irregular shape. Jenni and I quietly giggling in our corners while chef Lily Ann paced back and forth waiting for the noodles to get soft, checking the fridge on what other surprise ingredients to add, chopping scallion into little bits, and yelling at us to stop giggling. Once the egg went in, there was less than a minute until the Ramyun was ready. 

Silence. Only the sounds of forks and chopsticks clanging on the bowl, pushing the noodles against the bowl for us to grab. 

Something is missing, said Lily Ann. There was no kimchi. A scream. We all screamed. Lily Ann ran to the fridge to get the most important dish. We started again—eating ferociously, sipping the spicy soup, slurping the noodles. No water for us champions. After we were done eating, waiting for the afterburn taste in our mouths to leave, Lily Ann said, God, I can’t wait to leave this shit hole. Is there more? Jenni quietly asked. She didn’t say a word the entire night. She ate like Lily Ann and I, no leftovers or complaints.