The Chinese centre is located on the point at which East Frobisher enters Madison Avenue. I know, and it's been discussed as moot point from the time before I was actually conceived (because the old, widowed women playing mojang need to paint the white slabs with something; eggshell, creamy fat, solid like Mrs Yu's acrylic nails) but it all sounds like a jingoist tried to jettison his offspring into Chinatown, only managing to marry them off to common things that everyone uses. I imagine that this is how it would feel to fuck a toilet or the handsome son of the bathroom showroom owner. He's Muslim. It would not do—I only work there to make coffee: the money pays for fashion (thing that anorexic boys try to stab themselves with; I wrestled one behind the junkyard on the day of Robert E. Johnson School's summer fair. He tried to kick my thighs. I strangled our throats with a broken lamp). Loose change.
the mysterious case of (moby) dick
I listen to my stomach. I'm unsure what lunch is, as I only learned to eat gluten and protein recently, but this kitchen is the recess of my spine. I know its aches. I know what feels good; from the age of two, I laid on my back in the larder, the ceiling an oppressive force on my chest.
There's nothing more serene than a woman in the kitchen. Unfettered, feathered, and grasping a full length of cucumber with a sharp knife. I loved to dress in what I ate—a bottle of soy sauce staining my neck; now, I wrap a saucepan around one hand, thread a chopstick though my thumb ligaments. It's time to cook and there are men in the next room. I'm paid for their comfort. I could run, but then, who would chop the garlic? They sit dutifully, on pause whilst I'm a sparrow that tries to hunt; this is the nature programme. Things are going to get salty, David Attenborough. I leave myself to the callings of our society, small society, open doors—a ground that breathes; some days I feel I would give anything to mould myself into a chair.
I come out with beer, because that is forbidden. Behind it, a white hull of flesh, stripped into rashers of fat; they are carnivores; they don't eat the blood. I turn it into tofu (they keep the belief that all men are good husbands to their wives and this is what makes bed kosher). I would wrap their eyes in paper prayers and make them watch, but I was never taught calligraphy. They believe I'm a magician, even though the rice is burnt. Black magic from the West, they say. Ouija board. Heidi Yu is an unknown variable; they aren't allowed to feel her. She's the like the April day; false-beatific and you see her loveliness showing in patches on the walls. It's like I haven't blended my foundation properly; every time I see her I'm self-conscious of the fact that my eyebrows look like half-moons, my hair like ripped silk. Sometimes I wish.
I could serve the soup directly, but that would mean I'd have to walk around clearing up the bowls; here the men have no philosophy, and they follow their forefathers: women should teeter about like jianyinpusa, and work on studying enlightenment, as that is the only way to secure a kind, wealthy husband who will pick up the babies. I wonder what they'd have to say about Kant; my father calls the uneducated heathen. He pretends he still knows calculus, that the stars follow god's thumb; Goethe's probably the better bet. I checked what day it was and decided to let the soup go cold. No-one likes sweetcorn anyway. Costco was having a sale; we bought the offspring of an entire field. It's adoption really.
I go back and suck a banana as I'm raw. But not vegan, as that would be too difficult—I'm the kind that watches videos of healthy lifestyles whilst eating a chocolate; two years ago my school sent a letter to my parents detailing my BMI; they can't remember how to add up, and I don't mention how walking feels like I'm fucking another person. I don't use a rucksack; I'm not exclusive. I try to only screw one person at a time; I dropped out of Latin class. I'm a big girl and do everything myself.
freefall is another word for jumping
A year ago I tried to be Chinese. I believed a smart boy loved me and mom rinsed my hair at the kitchen sink, slashed a long, hot bob. Two weeks before I got a tattoo of his favourite quote. Three weeks before I sent him a photo of my breast; it had to go through Photoshop because my eczema was peeling skin away from the working parts. Afterwards, I brought a grey rucksack and wrote down the schedule of classes for school. Over sports I wrote 'personal relaxation time'. Over the Biology lessons I wrote high. And I stuck three oranges, two apples and a bible into it, for courage.
People talked to me.
Two girls threw pads at my head (only demure). They joked that my father was a communist, a travelling salesman; they pretended to break their knees. Oh what a lovely war, spice girl. What's your name? Tamsin got expelled; she pretended she was sent to a gulag—sometimes I still get her snapchats. She's pregnant.
That week in math class I sat next to Nick who passed me his notepad. It had a naked stick-female on it wrapped in bondage, and there was little arrows labelling boob and clit which he pointed out. What is it called?: Me (his other hand hated the bright lights, scuttled under my t-shirt, warm space where my bra clasp is—we were at the back and the teacher thought it was a hyperbolic function. In the toilets, he took off his belt; I gagged my mouth with paper towels—the only sound was his Eminem quotes).
I cleaned up my knees after. I switched on my phone; the pretty boy had moved back to Hong Kong; he wasn't Asian; I couldn't see him anymore. Tamsin called me, as it was time for us to talk, but I slept. When all that was left was the moon, I told her about the times I'd jacked off behind school's oak trees. She did nothing but play music and comment ironically about her hacking cough, as she was frightened one of us would die unnaturally; I told her we ought to waste our lives as nothing is more important than a good death and that was that.
She pretends she's having sex.
I remember another night when morning seemed three months away, when I broke my arm (it was a tree, cut through a motorway; the cars were toys, and the night was gasping. My girl liked to lick the acne off my nose); I send her a topless photo, and dim the lights.
I was gifted a copy of Chen Chen's completely insane When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, as an early birthday present; I thumbed through in about an hour, whacked my keyboard for another two, and this came out. It's an anti-translation, of sorts, on my experience of being queer and Northeast Asian, in an environment where that's not enough, obsessed with my confessing that it's not enough. A general attack on everything, including myself.