They arrived first: one Asian girl checking their reservation with the host and the other girl checking her frizzy hair in a pocket mirror.
“Stupid humidity—every time,” she groaned as they were shown to their table.
“Do you think she’ll show up?” the Asian girl asked. “Probably not, right? It’s been five years since we’ve talked.”
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I heard the roar of his motorcycle before I saw him, quieting to a murmur as he parked beside the shed. I knew he would use the overrun bushes nearby to hide his bike and I heard the crinkle of the leaves as he walked to the door. Five steps separated his bike from the door and I counted them in my head.
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He only had time to grab his son and run. Together, they ran with the clothes on their back and their photo identification cards stuffed hastily in his pocket. They didn’t even have time to say goodbye.
Then again, there wasn’t much to say goodbye to. Behind them was fire, merciless and consuming, devouring each house like a starving dragon. Behind them were bodies, riddled with bullets, each hole dripping bloody dreams and hopes. Behind them were the graves of his wife and daughter, the screams of their last moments forever playing in his ears like a broken record.
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“I can’t believe you’re serious about doing this. What if people see you?”
“That’s what the mask is for.” He pointed to the white mask already secured on his face, his identity hidden behind an oversized smile, red cheeks, and a wide black mustache.
“And if they decide to shoot you first and ask questions later?”Read More »
“Hmm, for a kid graduating high school as valedictorian, he sure is lacking in the common-sense department,” he said to his wife, lounging on a chair beside him as they floated on the easy tide.
“The smarts come from my side of the family, the lack of common sense is clearly from you,” his wife teased, splashing him with her foot.Read More »
It was a taunt, wiping the rain off the window so she could see clearly through it to the empty street outside. No police cars staked out on highways looking for her. No news headlines about a missing girl, described as a quiet, straight-A student, last seen walking home by herself on the last day of school. No one talking about her, asking strangers if they’d seen her, wondering if she was still alive.Read More »
“Left…left…left, right,” Daniel chanted like a drill sergeant as he and his younger brother diligently pedaled their two-seater bicycle up and down the park trail.
“Shut…shut…shut up,” Derrick mocked. “Man, this is so embarrassing.”
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The rickety ladder of the fire escape swayed as he climbed. Paint from the rungs peeled off and stuck to his palms. The metal cans clanged in his backpack, but he kept up his steady climb.
Reaching the rooftop, he hoisted himself up and swung his legs over, rolling onto his side with the ease of someone who had done this many times. He allowed himself a moment to admire the sight: luxury condominiums touching the sky, the 7 train chugging along, and a bird’s eye view of the living collage of graffiti artwork that covered the walls of the building he was standing on. Read More »
The stones of the archway were cool under her fingertips and the cobblestone pathway was unevenly potholed. The air itself smelled different here. A wet aroma of fish permeated from the market two streets over, blending with the rich spices and sharp ginger that infused the city. Read More »
Her cap was pinned to her wavy black hair on a slant. Her crimson graduation robes billowed open in the breeze, revealing a knee-length lacy black dress and matching black pumps—demure enough for the school event, edgy enough to show she was eighteen and ready to take on the world.
“One more picture, sweetheart!”
“Dad!” She groaned and rolled her eyes at the smartphone clasped in her father’s hands. “You’re going to make me miss my own graduation!” Read More »