Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
When I was a young girl in my fifteenth year, the Li Emperor died of illness, quickly followed with the murder of the crown prince, and the installment of Ouyang Zhen, the only son of the politically ambitious Eldest Princess, as the new emperor.
At that time I did not immediately realize the political ramifications of this…
“You can do this,” they say, in their whispers and late-night calls and hallway flyer slogans. “You can. Don’t worry.”
Their voices are slender fingers caressing me. Lifting me. I listen to them because the message is tempting, a siren-song, one that will swallow me if I close my ears. Heeding their words is survival.
The ghost fingers hand me applications, tasks, short-essay boxes and event invitations. I fill out a hundred — I keep count as I go. “It’s a numbers game,” they say, so I keep going. I fill boxes with dates and company names, with status: applied…
you’re a soft moon sunrise, a sweet cherry sunset
you’re a mochi mango mixed-up mayhem,
a whipped cream dollop with syrup and sprinkles,
melting into stove-fresh cocoa;
when i see you i cry tears of hot tea;
my mind fills with the warm heating pads and swirling steam of my love for you.
you drive sensible thoughts out,
put my logic to sleep,
make my smiles have tears;
and when i’m awake i’m dreaming,
when i’m dreaming i’m floating,
when i’m floating i’m sinking into the thoughts of your embrace —
all just because you laughed and looked my way.
As members of American and English-speaking society, it’s hard to relate to the literary culture of China. Our language, based on phonetics, is rapidly changing — if we were to go back in time, not only would we have a difficult time understanding our predecessors’ speech, but we would be at a loss reading their inconsistent spelling, outdated vocabulary, and strange versions of our modern letters. The further we go back in time, the less likely it is that our versions of English would be mutually intelligible. …
They loved me from the first moment I tasted the air. They cradled me, bathed me in little tubs under warm faucet streams. They led spoonfuls to my mouth, wiped the mess from my chin, rocked me each night when I refused to sleep. It was because I loved them too much — loved the way they were safe and home and the meaning of love — that I couldn’t bear to part with them, that I slept only in their embrace and cried in their absence.
They lifted me up, tickled my feet, brushed my teeth, played games of…
Among the fog and frost are bright plum blossoms of the palest pink, scattered across the ground from last night’s storm. A morning chill rolls down the painted slopes. In the distance, the rice plants shiver in the breeze, and at the top of the second-highest hill is a cottage with smooth white walls and a pointed, curved roof. On the patio, in vine-thatched chairs, are an old man and his granddaughter, pouring Pu-erh tea from a clay teapot, practicing calligraphy on scrolls of rolled paper. The grandfather’s strokes are sure and steady, filling the pages with messy short-hand; he…
I love you. 我愛你。The character for love, 愛, is a phono-semantic compound; from top to bottom, it’s made of a part that denotes sound, a part that denotes meaning, and a third, meaningless component added some point later in time. The semantic component is 心, or heart, but in Chinese, the meaning is never that simple. 心 means heart, yes, but it also means mind, thoughts, intention, and core. So when you say 我愛你, you are saying I love you with all my heart, with my every thought and every intention, with every decision my mind makes, with the very center and core of my being.
We existed between sun and clouds, between brick walls and ivy curtains;
we existed in the night, under silent stars and sleeping moons, in the quiet where no one could hear our breathing and our secrets.
When I loved you, I loved you with all the time we did not exist;
I took our names and engraved them in the sand, traced them in the constellations;
every hour we existed was magic, or maybe it was the magic that made us, a magic that ceases to exist when the secret is revealed.
We were alive with every heartbeat, every shushed…
When you run away with your lover at the end of the world, be sure to take his hand, not his wrist. The world may be ending, but your love is not. When you take his hand, he takes yours too; when you take his wrist, you take away the choice.
The meager supplies are dwindling, and if you were with anyone else, you’d hide them, save them for yourself, fight if you had to. But you’re not. …
I fell in love with peach skies over railroads and with misting rain through street light beams, with the shifting afternoon clouds and the late night sunrises.
I found the definition of beauty in the glitter of the Charles outside my dorm window, in the seasons turning the riverside path from green to fiery to barren to cotton candy.
The wet streets at night were cinematic, the snowy sidewalks and lawns like postcards. Every morning was bright and crisp, every evening colorful.
On the lawn by the beach, I watched the leaves and petals do loops in the breeze, watched…