/ Hemmy Chun (Writer), Helen Huang (Illustrator)
Fiction — 4 min reading time
Take me back to the glass house in Denver. Back to when you cried and i didn’t understand why, when the culprit behind your leaking seared irises was NOT because i was sleeping in my neighbor’s crib that was forsaken to burn with the plastic trash (you remember, the one with the etched profanity that you painted over but the scars in the wood still remained). Not because i was crawling on my hands and knees already learning how to submit to men…not because my eyes were squeezed shut and my mouth ajar…but because the rain outside was pouring so hard i couldn’t hear the tears rolling down your swollen cheeks. Because the only thing i could feel was your shaking bones and the only thing i could see was your eyelashes and teeth. Bared teeth, teeth bared like a feral creature shot with metal sticks (POW!) who could not escape from succumbing to the red hands belonging to the sons of men, creatures whose heads are chopped off (SQUELCH!) and then skinned from their flesh and turned into a rug. But who’s to say it wasn’t a smile? Teeth are teeth.
The house that wasn’t really a house but a closet with transparent walls seven floors above the sidewalk gum. We were on display to entertain the streets. Glass cage where white observers could peer in and watch us eat dollar spaghetti exchanged for crumpled food stamps.
Glass cage where you would watch the dust fall like snow and blanket the floor for years and years before you finally got tired of wearing snow shoes to go to the bathroom and so you cut me open for sticky red soap and then mopped the ground with my balding hair, but it was okay because you can’t be a domestic abuser if you’re a perpetual foreigner. Intersectionality doesn’t work like that, i think.
*Recipe for my mom’s spaghetti:
¼ jar of dollar tomato sauce
- dollar spaghetti noodles
- america hates poor people
- everything’s a dollar when you need it to be
i was born inside the glass house. They saw when i came out of blackness and into a darker kind, placed my hands on the lips, held onto the coarse hair for grip, and pushed up with my rolls of limps to get here, only to choke on the umbilical cord while they just watched. my face grew swollen and they gave me a standing ovation. i gnawed on the cord with my gums until my teeth grew in and severed the connector. Encore, encore!
[Enter] i open my mouth. God. tongue is bitten. drag my body through my own blood and squeeze out of my skin. Metamorphosis!
You were so hungry you looked down and saw the sidewalk gum and floated seven stories below our feet and grabbed a fistful of the blackened Double Bubble stuck to American concrete and shoved it in your mouth and chewed it gravel and footprints and all and when you were flying back up to our glass house they shot you with a metal stick (POW! POW!) and cut off your head (SQUELCH!) and turned you into a rug. Serves you right for not sharing. i was growing tired of spaghetti.
i visited you yesterday. They tore out your hair like how they defeather chicken and put your scalp on display. Children played below your carcass and waited patiently with mouths open for the dripping brain blood to fall onto their tongues. And you obliged with drops of red dandruff. The children parted their teeth and smiled and i couldn’t stop staring at the white bricks inside their mouths. It’s the teeth, it’s always been the teeth.
i was so hungry that i looked down and saw the sidewalk gum and floated seven stories below my feet and grabbed a fistful of the blackened Double Bubble stuck to American concrete and shoved it in my mouth and chewed it gravel and footprints and all and when i flying back up to our glass house i didn’t stop going up and i flew higher and higher and higher and my face grew purple from being in space’s inky vacuum and they watched as my mouth foamed up at the corners and my eyeballs popped out and i had some chai tea with the stars while my intestine oozed out of my belly button and i meet the sun and he said sorry kid but you’re gonna die now and i floated back down to the glass house and choked on my blood while the audience roared and stomped their feet and cheered until the vibrations shattered the walls of the house.