Fiction | Short Story

An Old Hope

In previous pages of my journal, what I had remembered of the poem she’d shared with me, I jotted down.

Is that comfortable?

That was so beautiful, Wenwen.

Here’s the only one I know by heartThe only one?Or, at least, I think I know it by heartOkay, yeah, I’ve got it. I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox. And which you were probably saving for breakfastForgive me.. They were delicious. So sweet. And so cold.

Did you forget the rest?No, that’s the whole poem. It’s super famous.

Oh I like it.

Wenwen is so wonderful

How did you two meet?

It’s the pubes!He had no idea why I found it so exciting.

Watching this easy display of friendship made my tender piece-of-shit heart so happy.

Alright, we won’t be seeing you off then.

Thank you so much for your kind welcome and hospitality. I’ll never forget it as long as I live

This was a pennyIt used to be worth one cent and now it’s worth nothing.

It’s a silly tourist thing, a machine that turns regular pennies into souvenir pennies. If you come to Philly, I can show you.

He looks just like Tiàotiao

She’s obsessed with having a babyIt’s not healthy at our age.What would you do in her position?How dare you suggest such a misfortuneOf course, of course, I am just saying it is lucky she is young enough to at least try.

That’s funny, isn’t it?

Okay, have a think about what you’d rather do

It’s finally possible. We’re old enough, we’ve got enough savingsIt doesn’t matter to me. I just want to experience being pregnant

As soon as I turned twenty-five a few things—rather abruptly, I would say—shifted within me. The first and most startling: Upon seeing a man with a child, presumably his own, particularly if that child is a little girl—her backpack slung over his shoulder, a large hand with well-endowed veins steadying her scooter as they wait for the crossing light to change, or else her legs slung over his shoulders, his hands protectively grasping her little rainboots—I no longer felt the twinge I’ve grown accustomed to, that “aww I wish I had a good relationship with my dad” feeling. Instead I’d see him and think, . When I saw a man walking toward me with a baby carrier hidden inside his double-breasted check overcoat, a tiny plush beanie nestled in the lapel, I’d work to slow my walk in a way that was imperceptible to onlookers but could notably slow the blur of his passing by. I can only imagine that these childed men of hipster Scandinavia in their already-fathering state had proven themselves motile of sperm, and something about that presumption niggled its way into my ovaries through some hardwired biological circuit, ultimately moving farther down to cause a stir in my loins. Which was weird, since I’m a lesbian.

In the flower bed at the entrance to the school, bursts of red oleander bloomed.In the flower bed at the entrance to the school were bursts of red oleander, all blooming.Cui Meirong plucked some red, sucking at the heart of the flowers; the slightest sweetness. What is the smell of oleander flower center? she wondered. Does the center of the flower have a smell? she wondered. Then, with this thought, her nose greased with blood.

palimpsestIn your experience, is translation like that?

the way you are with your practice and body on the mat is how you are in the world what will you do with this, your one last wild and precious chance this hour to do leg raises Your parents immigrated from China to farm? No, I’m adoptedI thought I was whitewhen I was little. I mean, I imagined myself as looking like my parents. Even after I knew I looked different from them, rationally. Sometimes I’m still surprised to see this face looking back at me. I know what you mean. I don’t have any idea what I look like. I find it hard to believe anyone does.

He’s the one. Just listen to him! He’s so well-spoken

I don’t think that is hereditary

What is going on in that head of yours?To be honest, my head is still in thereWell then, let me tell you a compelling story that can compete.

Here, imagine this, will you?