"Like this," I tell her. Mom uses the eyelash curler like a kitchen utensil. She clamps the small hairs and flips her eyelids inside out, exposing her meat, her sinew. "Like this," I say. She is hesitant, but lets me. "When I was young," she says, "my eyelashes were so long that you could rest a match on them." I pump the curler gently. Keep her insides inside. "I didn’t need this," she says quietly.
* * * * *
We’re at the theater waiting for mom and dad begins to daydream—the only safe activity to pass time. “I would love to see South Pacific in digital,” he says. “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair, I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair!” I laugh because it’s usually Bali Hai. Dad smiles. “I have very fond memories attached to it. Max took us to a fancy dinner that night and I had shrimp cocktail for the first time.” Suddenly I crave shrimp cocktail, but only if Dad’s Max takes me.
There’s that point on the I-15S when you come over one last mountain, and you finally see the dusty city bleached out by the sun, and you begin your descent into the Vegas Valley.
You made that trip so many times, but that one time, when you tried to recognize the desert as your new home, you cried, because it looked like Mars, so old, so expansive, so empty.
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My phone has completely died. My laptop dies a million deaths every day. I’m using this small window of revival to read my friend’s beautiful words. I love her and her C-Days. I’ve been stuck in a C-Month. I miss Mars and all the Martians so much.
All I want to write about is ghosts and rain. We got caught in a downpour today and it pissed me off, which was disheartening. The thing about Taipei rain is that it just feels like wet pollution, and in the desert it feels like a baptism. We need it so badly there. It’s an emergency nearly any time it rains in Vegas, but one I’m always excited about.
But I couldn’t find any joy navigating through seas of lithe girls and their force fields, could not handle being the only one drenched and lumbering and tracking her paw prints everywhere.
So on the metro ride home, I stared at my ghost. She looked me in the eyes as I tried to look through all the dirt-fat rain clinging to the window. Who sold you a ticket here? Why are you so bold in this weather?
Mom is a mountain. Mom is a volcano. All I do is mine her for rare elements like laughter and I wait to be blown up.
A burp in a coffee shop in a monsoon sent us howling. I held it up, waved it in the air. Eureka!
I should learn not to address you this way, but I can’t help it. Let me tell you about yourself. You made it to that hot mirage of an island. You lost your new perfume along the way. It is sweltering, honey, here. But with the right soundtrack it becomes something else. The 13th floor sulfur air tucks your salty bangs back and whistles song. Different chemistry, meteorology, here. You weighed yourself earlier and gawked at those foreign kilograms. Less but too much.
What does it matter? It’s romantic to be a monster. Think of all of them.
You bought tea last night and won some promotion. “Push,” the clerk pointed to the digital slots on her screen. 777. 10 NT discount.
It’s too obvious to say, “Everything is a gamble.” Cut it out.
You stared down the belly of the metro snake as it burrowed back to your station. You are not yet digested. You are a pain in this poor machine’s side.
If you’re looking for a better word than sweaty, try sultry. With the right soundtrack everything becomes something else, honey, here.
"What do you want me to look at? Text me." @ Sweet Tomatoes
I once felt a calm beyond me—it was summer, we had just gotten home from the water park. It was your house and you were my best friend at the time. Your mother fed me latkes and called us kindela and we were. I can see it now, how small we were in every way. Summers lose their magic like baby fat, grow slim and complicated with us, but this one was still good. It was a chubby summer. We came home and sat on the electric box planted at the edge of your yard and watched a ridiculous sunset. This was before we knew to be embarrassed by moments that seemed fabricated, too precious. I remember lying on my back and the feeling slowly washing over me. A few evolutionary stages behind, This is as good as it gets. I’m not sure—what came before that? Maybe, Remember this. And before that, Don’t worry. Don’t worry. That was the calm offered to me and my chlorine skin, to you, to your rare grass yard in the desert, to my parents who picked me up in a new car—and that smell!—and took me home.
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