The Life and Death of a Fish
You should go to a wet market. It makes you feel alive. You see all type of fish there. Real fish, big breams, beautiful bass. They arrive in foam boxes wrestling, spilling out their own life source in desperation. Goldfish watch from their plastic bag balconies, pacing around like concubines in their Hanfu. Amongst the chaos, hands in gloves like midwives before deliverance. Knives glide up and down releasing scales in sprays of white and silver confetti. The climax of an ending. Blood follows, trailing down their bodies. A shower head clears the act, a crimson river runs down the drain. They had swum freely like gods, only to spill their guts on the day of judgement. Honesty never looked so gruesome. They will take their final resting place on our dinner plates – dressed in whatever satisfies us. Their bones will be gifted to our pets. Remembrance won’t take place, it never does, as we will journey the very next day to pick another. After all, we have become the gods.
A Broken Marriage
Most of the time I feel alright about what I did. Some things give me a pang, like whenever I see a woman like me. Well, like the old me. Stop. You were only a child; you didn’t know what you were doing. I had walked down the village, my chicken feet hands crossed over one another. I hated that jade bracelet; it would feel heavy like the humidity and responsibilities that awaited me. I would have never been able to carry the sons he would have wanted. My jade bracelet snapped when I left him and moved to England. My grandma said this is an omen when something bad is going to happen. The jade took the damage, not me. I saw him last year, he has three boys, one wife and one mistress. Her jade bracelet looks tight, she’s grown too big for it. If only I could break it for her.
A Rooster’s Funeral
My mum was born the year of the rooster. She was just like one too, loud, smart, plucky. A barefoot girl from rat tails village. She migrated to England and eventually owned one of the town’s most celebrated Chinese restaurant. Customers flocked to her tables, pecking away at spring rolls and cheap prices. Her three eggs hatched into three children, all who became farmers for her business. “This was better than the rice fields,” she would squawk. I remember the day she told me, I curled under her wing. Safety. I miss that feeling. She never did fly, but I’m learning for her. A year later her feathers began to fall. One by one they littered our living room floor. Two years later her skin was cold. A flightless bird. She never had a Chinese funeral. I always wondered what it would have been like.
Pieces of porcelain splashed against the kitchen floor like sharp frozen waves. I had awoken the house, and most importantly, my father. My father was a kind and gentle man, until you broke something of his, which was a common practice of mine. I would break his heart ten years later. Not intentionally, but I had to tell him the truth. Now I was on my knees, picking up tiny shards with my chopstick fingers. Fiddling with pieces like those westerners I’d serve at my his restaurant. Nervously I looked up and there he was, holding a broom. Whereas my mother would have hit me, my father herded me aside like some shepherd. He began to clean my mess. My siblings watched from the stairs, sauntering around the pieces, dodging injury. Adult arms glided down like necks of cranes. Their beak-like fingers reaching the surface of the kitchen floor, effortlessly plucking the last of the shards. I pushed myself against the wall with my childlike shame and watched my family clean as I tucked away my bloodied toes.
“He’s a traditional man, thats why he collects traditional things. But you like to break things, don’t you?”
It was seven days after his funeral. My grandmother had adorned the living room table with crowds of pastries, bao and duck – all of his favourites. We were not to enter the house from midnight until the next morning. The funeral had been a long procedure. I could still smell the smoke and hear the chanting ringing in my ears days later. I had never seen so many of us return at once. The elders wept and gripped onto their father’s coffin. My stoic grandmother revealed everything during those three days. But she was calm tonight. Then it happened, the dogs erupting with their barks. Our phones buzzed with excitement, messages from cousins traveling throughout the village. Did you hear that? what’s going on ? Who’s here? Then silence.
The next morning, we came in and everything was as it was. The food was undisturbed, not even a fly dared to touch what was his. She sat peacefully on her bed. He returned, he touched my face and left.