[ f i c t i o n ]
Devils, Our Sons
[ Gulf Coast | Winter Exclusive 2016 ]
Selected for Wigleaf 2017 Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions
Our sons told us to place the steel cleavers we used to butcher hogs and chickens beneath our pillows, in case our enemies appeared. They may look like you and me but they are devils, our blue sons said. They are devils, our green sons said too. They will take the pigs, they will steal the jewels, they will rape you and our little sisters, and you must not have mercy.
[ Two Hawks Quarterly | Issue 1, No. 3, Winter 2008 ]
She remembers sliding back into the warmth of the house, where it was dark and lonely, the indigo of dusk flooding through the windows. She remembers closing the door gently behind her, steadying herself against the frame with one hand. She remembers the smell of cold stale waffles lingering in the kitchen. She remembers placing her right foot over the back of her left sneaker, preparing to push one heel out. She remembers those seconds when there was garbled noise that meant nothing.
And then she remembers this: her mother was shouting.
The Testimony of Jayce B.
[ Eclectica Magazine | Oct/Nov 2013 ]
Runner-up for Eclectica's Spotlight Award
When I pulled away, her eyes were still closed, a few crystals of salt and sand caged between her fluttering lashes. I leaned in to press my lips against the first "8" on her forehead, but then stopped. The number was slightly fuzzy at the edges, almost as if it had been written in ink and ocean water had begun to wash it away. The blur was so slight that I thought perhaps it was my own vision at fault, a product of the wooziness I felt from the kiss. Yet in another few weeks, I noticed it again, and it seemed the gray was becoming even more faded, like a bruise slowly disappearing.
[ 13th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection | June 2013 ]
Placed 5th in Competition
We wanted to shield our eyes. We could not believe how shameless they were. With her head tossed back and mouth opened wide in laughter, she removed pins from her hair one by one until the waves clung to her sweat-soaked face. He loosened his tie and released the top button of his collar. They twirled together, and we felt our cheeks burning with rage and indignation and pity.
[ Go Home! AAWW Anthology | Feminist Press | March 2018 ]
Reprinted in The Rumpus
I write a letter to you every night, wrap it around a stone, and throw it into the sea. One truth for every lie: Dear Mother, I am well, they are feeding us. Dear Mother, I’m a good shooter and I’ve learned to fight; I no longer cry easily when I’m bullied. Dear Mother, We’re winning the war and will be home any day now. Dear Mother, I know you would tell me not to scratch my mosquito bites, but I can’t help it—itch can drive a man insane. Dear Mother, You’d be proud of how brave I am, even when the artillery shells come. Dear Mother, I’m married now, don’t worry about me dying alone. Dear Mother, From my shore, I can see yours and sometimes I think you might be able to see me waving.
[ Wigleaf | March 2, 2015 ]
I dreamt last night we built an igloo out of blocks of ice you cut with a machete. We invited our friends and neighbors inside to huddle with us. Our collective body heat caused the walls to melt slightly, and everything took on a slick sheen. I was lacquered in ice, and so were you, and we wore the frozen look of happiness I feel whenever we're together. .
(This was part of a postcard option at Wigleaf. They offer each of their contributors an opportunity to write a postcard to the publication, and this was mine!)
[ Guernica / PEN Flash Fiction Series | March 10, 2015 ]
Selected for Wigleaf 2016 Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions
Reprinted in PEN AMERICA, Issue 19: Hauntings
Xin gan, bao bei, treasure, heart, liver. The night before I left our village, my mother had held me close to her breast. I was thirteen, the top of my head just beginning to pass her chin. She smelled like flour and oranges. Elsewhere, boys only a little older than me were dying, bleeding, calling for their mothers, dead. I didn’t know anymore who was doing the killing—the Japanese, the Communists, the KMT, my neighbors, my uncle, my father. My mother pressed me closer. Away from here, you will be safe.
[ Midnight Breakfast | Issue 2, July 2014 ]
Jolene wakes up every night, her gown heavy with sweat. Sometimes she dreams she is the one drowning. She claws the black waters of the lake to find it muddy, solid. She thrashes, kicks, only to discover too late she is headed down instead of up. She grasps at reeds and they cut through her fingers, the blood warm against the iciness of the water. She breathes and chokes and her lungs burn and she is dropping down and down toward a bottom she cannot see.
[ Pindeldyboz | June 10, 2010 ]
The thing is, you know you should quit it, but you can't. And it has nothing to do with the way he looks in his uniform, or the fact that his ass is actually cuter than yours, or the way your head fits perfectly into the nook under his collarbone. And it's beyond the fact that he laughs so easy, or the fact that he tells a good story, or the fact that he does a crossword faster than anyone you've ever met. You can't put your finger on it, why you're addicted, why you can't get away, why you can't stop. But sometimes you think maybe it has everything to do with the fact that he walks through fires every day and doesn't get burned, while you're like a moth to a flame.
[ Outpouring: Typhoon Yolanda Relief Anthology | January 2014 ]
I slide the damp sponge over my ex-husband’s body and think about how close his heart is. His torso used to be barrel-like, but these days it more closely resembles a cage with latex stretched across its bars. I could poke a hole in his chest and reach in. In inches, his heart would be in my fist. It would be easy to rip it out, wave it in front of Paul’s eyes and shout, Finally!
(Proceeds for this anthology goes to aid victims of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan in the Philippines.)
The Emperor's Malady
[ Necessary Fiction | July 4, 2012 ]
The maladies started the day after the Emperor was crowned: First a small sneeze. Then a cough that trembled his ribs. Soon a brightness burned in his throat and flared up to his eyes. From there the maladies grew. A twitching brow. A receding hairline and an itchy scalp, the latter producing dandruff that dusted his shoulders. A clogged ear, just the one on the right, though the one on the left wouldn’t stop humming. A snaggletooth. A mole on his neck that sprouted two hairs. A crick in his neck. A curve in his back. A rash of red stars creeping down both arms. Fingers that twisted when he snapped. Hiccups that kept on coming. By month’s end, he suffered terribly. He developed a squelched esophagus that prevented him from swallowing. A bloated stomach that kept him constantly hungry. An ache in one hip and a thigh that constantly cramped. Kneecaps that popped, shins that split, ankles that clicked on rotation. A third toe bigger than the rest. A yellowed nail. A wheeze when he walked. Terrors when he slept. Uncontrollable weeping. And headaches. Many of them.
[ Monkeybicycle | February 2012 ]
In the shower this morning, I traced your name in the glass and tried to hold it in. My tongue flopped like a fish in my mouth. My chest ached, my lips slipped. Your name came out in a hushed prayer. I thought if I swallowed the words they would make me feel whole, but instead they bounced off the tiles and swirled down the drain.
Return to Sender
[ Wigleaf | March 2, 2015 ]
When social media happened, when you added me on MySpace, then later Facebook, I messaged you carefully, trying to exude friendliness without being overeager. Hey, I said. It's great to hear from you! Maybe we could meet up sometime. You never wrote back. Instead, I began to see pictures of her: hair messy on a windy sidewalk, sun-dazed in a striped bikini, hovering over a home-cooked meal. I wondered if she knew that runny eggs make you gag, that Casablanca makes you cry, that you're most ticklish on the inside of your elbows, that once upon a time you couldn't fall asleep without the radio on. I wondered if our secrets were now her secrets too.
[ Drinking With Papa Legba | Le Chat Noir’s 2011 fiction anthology ]
Reprinted by Litragger
There is a story I know I should tell. It starts with the town I grew up in, a settlement in nowhere on the edge of nothing. We had trees and a lake. We had cookie cutter houses and a general store. A postman who brought us milk. A mayor who was elected because he was well-liked. We had morning greetings and ice cream parlors and a main street called Main Street near a train station called Train Station. We had even sidewalks without cracks. We had lamp posts made of wrought iron. We had a clock in the square that always told the right time and shiny yellow traffic lights. Things were pretty where we lived, and everything that wasn’t pretty disappeared into the forest, because we kept planting trees when there was something that had to be hidden.
The Quiet After
[ Kartika Review | Issue #11, Winter 2011 ]
The first time you told me you loved me, you said it in Korean. You thought I couldn’t understand you when you spoke to me while I slept, when you murmured to me in a language that was not mine, but the language in which your mother sang songs to you as a child, the language that rocked you gently and kissed your baby skin, the language that first told you God loved you. You whispered to me as I lay in your arms half-conscious, words and sentences that rushed through my hair, tender like a stream, and I dreamt of far-off places where all roads led me back to you. Later, I woke, and you said to me, beautiful— saranghae. I stopped breathing. You did not notice. You never knew, even after I told you I loved you first in the language we shared, that all along I knew you loved me too.
Museum For Women Who Did Not Appear
[ Catapult | June 2, 2017 ]
Perhaps one of us had a son back in mainland Taiwan, a child whose father was a murky memory, who was fed by his mother’s ability to moan with conviction. Perhaps one of us was stolen from the mountains, where bamboo grew thick and high, sold at such a young age she no longer knew how to make her way home. Perhaps one of us lost everything, and so gave everything she didn’t have.
How do we tell these stories? Who will listen?
A Brief Intimacy
[ The Good Men Project | August 10, 2013 ]
Reprinted in Medium — Human Parts
Our legs intertwined in the moonlight. The slice of night sky hanging above us from the attic window. We angled our heads and caught the single star dotting the side of the moon like a mole. It wasn’t a star, he told me. It was Venus. I cracked a joke about the goddess of love, and we laughed. We both knew this would never be love.
[ PANK | 9.6, June 2014 ]
This is the woman you love but she will not let you in. Had she ever let you in? She’s young and beautiful, graceful and elegant, too good for you, how did you never see it? You’re a stranger, a man beaten, a man heartbroken, a man with nothing to lose. And it’s all her fault. Punish her. Hate her. Make her pay.