The waves lap against my bare legs as I sit in the sand, face tilted up to the sun. I hop into the water and wade in until it’s up to my waist. I close my eyes and breathe in the smell of funnel cake and squawking birds.
What are you doing?
I’m enjoying the ocean.
My dad huffs. What do you mean? This is the dirtiest pool of water I’ve seen.
Yeah, you should get out, my friend adds.
My eyes snap open and I pout. I was trying to enjoy the moment.
Well maybe you can enjoy the moment when you’re not in danger of catching whatever diseases are in that water.
I glance down at the glimmering brown water. She’s not wrong. I sigh and trudge out, making it to the ‘shore’ (the poolside) in about 10 seconds. INDIANA BEACH is painted in loopy red letters across the sign next to them. The beaches crow mascot wears a striped bathing suit and gives a toothy grin, as fake as this beach.
i laze comatose in a stifling spring.
i cut away the last shreds of mourning,
a heap of black mourning at my feet.
the grass tickles my feet and the perfumed air is heavy with fresh apple blossoms.
the world will bloom long after you and i are gone.
i smell a sharp whiff of ash in the hot breeze.
i run across the meadow, a youthful stalk in the spring of life,
hands trailing the soft petals and brushing insect wings.
i kneel before a pool of stagnant water and see my distorted reflection,
the cuts from your claws unhealed scars on my face.
finally something real.
i scoop up a handful of the water, shiver as i lean in, water up to my elbows.
i scoop up the dirt and a rusted ring.
i put the ring on and hold it up to the sun.
through the rust, it winks in the light.
i return to the mourning clothes and drop your ring there.
i set it
i drop the Twinkie onto the pavement.
i stare at their desperate hands and drooling mouths
i used to peel away the buttery paper stuck to the walls, revealing the scarlet flesh beneath.
red is good, my father would say, as he stuck a stamp wet with his saliva to an envelope.
it means love after all.
the red walls were the color of the stuffed envelopes he would give me.
i hid those envelopes in a little hole in the wall, tucked away from the ominous bangs and yells that sounded outside my peeled room.
father, where are you now?
do you remember the stripped room?
do you remember me?
or do you know it all and fear me?
when you died, you spat blood on the walls, the color of your envelopes.
i took the money you gave me and ran and they never found me but i wonder if you saw what i did to them before i left.
do you watch over me now, a ghost in the red that surrounds me?
i once returned to our old home and peered into my hole where i saw the shiny scarlet envelopes, right where i left them.
Mama I am Big Man
i once held the dying embers of mourning close to my chest as white scraps of paper flew around me, charred edges sparks of flame in my despair. when I returned to the cement jungle, i felt the chasm within me deepen as i embraced the shadows and raggedy slums where the mist trailed cold fingers along their cracked artifices. i slipped into mama’s noodle shop and breathed in the flour and oil covering the undercurrent of decay and cooling dreams. the Big Man came that day and he slurped a bowl of beef noodles, guards lurking in the corners of the shop scaring mama. he drank the watery broth and left a stack of cash on the cracked table as thanks. i remember him: the musk of his cologne, and the snap of his leather gloves long after he was found dead, shot in the street. mama will you forgive me? i heard his slurps when i shot my first man. i never realized until then how frail we were-bags of flesh and blood ready to burst and bodies just waiting to happen. to the girl i was: do you look up to me? i feel his thirst and your’s when i prowl the cement jungle for my payment. to those who love me: do you remember him? i see him around me as we exchange fire and crack. i see his reflection in my eyes when i leave a fat stack of bills for a small plate of cake on
Charlotte Yeung is an author and artist with a published children’s book, Isabelle and the Magic Bird. She is published on multiple platforms for prose, poetry, and digital illustration. She is the co-founder and CEO of Big Bird Universe (BBU), an international writing club and a freshman at Purdue University. In her free time, she reads, hangs out with friends, and draws.