It is 10:40 a.m., I stare up at the ceiling, a collection of imprints. I am trying to count how many animals I can see sheeted above my head in all four corners.
February 12, 2021
It is 10:40 a.m., I stare up at the ceiling, a collection of imprints. I am trying to count how many animals I can see sheeted above my head in all four corners. An amoeba of geese flying home, a rabbit outrunning the sly fox, tadpoles swimming upstream the drywall. Mom asks me again and this time I tell her I don’t want to hear my father espousing faith by works out of our home chaos. She quietly takes the iPad away, puts it in the study where I can still hear it faintly murmuring, and I think she doesn’t turn it off on the chance dad checks Zoom mid-sermon and in between Mandarin translations of his words, we still show up as a black square, muted. I sit cross-legged on a pillow at the knee-high Japanese table older than me, cracked plastic exposing the colorful peacock beneath. I take out my crafts bag, sorting my beads, judging what combination would dangle best as Dan sings Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. The rhythm and syllables line up just right like the shepherd-boy-turned-king knew we would attempt to sing Psalms again in another language. Dan preaches on keeping a joyful heart, the dangers of vanity, and honoring your mother and father. I can’t look at her. JESUS it was only three nights ago she was screaming everyone in our family was doing that which was right in their own eyes and our household could not be saved. And for the first time in the past two months, I let the sun go down on my wrath, smothered by the unexplained quarrel in the next room. I was meaning to pedal out my angst but fell asleep on the couch instead and I dreamed of her brown hair and honey syrup eyes and I dreamed that I kissed her. I was on a cloud. There I am eleven again, standing in front of the bathroom mirror wondering if I was fearfully and wonderfully made, why had the wicked one snatched away what was sown in my heart? I woke up 5:45 a.m. disappointed, panicked my contacts were still in my eyes, and trying to recreate the nostalgia through movie scenes. But it only recalled that two weeks ago on my birthday, Po Po called me from Vancouver and with her nose bridge and two eyes peeking from off-screen, she tells me that Gong Gong cried when he saw my tattoo and septum piercing, that he prays for me every morning. A way of saying we love you, but we worry about you. An echo of my parents saying you aren’t the same happy girl we used to know. Mother still tells me this story. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able. She was sixteen, a parachute kid trying to buy a rundown kaleidoscope house with her family’s life savings. A reproaching of, we didn’t sacrifice a country for you to have fallen away. Father never talks about middle school, tells me instead, he is more Christian than Chinese; the LORD God was with him, island to continent, even when his parents didn’t follow. The boy is torn by divorce. The boy is a man who tears. But how does one contain the multitudes of desiring the truth of yourself and not to be the cause for all the wickedness of man? Maybe past life as a chain-saw, death in my hum. My family will not know how to hold a child that has never dwelled inside my womb. Yet somewhere, twenty years ago and spring-primed, a girl was born; her father was playing Canon in D over the stereo because he heard on public radio that classical music improved your child’s intelligence. She was tucked in pink blankets, her parents held her and were quiet. Appraising this small wonder, they named her after the God who provides.
Read more flash fiction, including stories by Jasmine Sawers, Mai Nardone, Seema Yasmin, and more, here.