Vanilla By Andy Tu

October 27, 2015 Comments Off on Vanilla By Andy Tu

Kila asks me which color of snow I chose today. “White is not a color,” she says when I tell her. “It must not have tasted good.” I tell her that I did not taste it.

“Then why did Madam bring you to Snowman’s house?”

I shrug my shoulders.

“Maybe Madam is preparing you for Ceremony,” she says, taking my hands into hers. “Remember Lala? The same thing happened to her before she left.”

Kila scrubs my back with the sponge. “I’ll clean you extra tonight,” she says, “just in case.”

***

Madam holds a candle as my sisters and I pull our blankets up to our chins.

“Ceremony will be a place of magic,” says Madam as she steps toward the door. “Many of your sisters are still there, waiting for you. In Ceremony, you have snow every day. There are colors that you have never seen, better than your favorites at Snowman’s house.” Madam raises the flame to her lips. “You girls are special, do you know that? You will help many people, and their lives will be forever changed because of you.”

“Why do these people need our help?” asks Kila.

Madam blows the candle out. “They are sick,” she says in the darkness. “Now please be quiet, and close your eyes until the light arrives.”

When I close my eyes, I see the face of a man with skin like the white snow. I wonder if he is the person I am going to help.

***

As I comb my hair, Madam enters and tells me to follow her.

“But I am not ready, Madam.”

Madam smiles the way she did yesterday, after I pointed to the white snow.

“Please Oni,” she says. “Hurry. There is not much time.” Madam brings her lips close to my ear and whispers, “It is your time, Oni. It is time for Ceremony.”

***

I did not get a chance to say goodbye to Kila, but I will wait for her to join me one day.

Madam holds my hand and guides me up moving stairs. We arrive at a place that looks like Snowman’s house, but bigger. I look through the foggy glass and see that what Madam says about Ceremony is true. There are many new colors. I want to taste them all.

Madam pulls me toward a man who’s holding a stick to help him stand. For a moment, I think that this is the man I saw when I closed my eyes, but no, it is not him.

“This is Mister,” says Madam. “He is the one who needs your help. Say Hi to Mister.”

I should listen to Madam, but my lips feel stuck, and my throat becomes dry. “Say Hi to Mister,” Madam says, squeezing my fingers.

***

I have helped many people and tasted many colors. When Kila comes to Ceremony, I will tell her that white is my favorite, and that it tastes like the clouds in the sky.

© 2015 Andy Tu

Andy Tu likes to talk about writing, life, death, shadows, mirrors, and original sin.

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Nightmare’s Paradise By Andy Tu

July 2, 2015 Comments Off on Nightmare’s Paradise By Andy Tu

I was dreaming in a space between my mind and yours. We floated on murky water, drifting in circles below branches that released fall leaves and slowly gathered frost. You had nothing to say except old things that you thought were new. My interest grew indifferent, and I began to tell you a story. It starts with a girl, a girl standing in a hotel room illuminated by stained moonlight. She twirls in front of a mirror, then backs away and gets down on her hands and knees. Moving across the tiles, she hides along the shadows near the wall as she crawls over the cracks that divide the floor, her eyes blending into the deficient darkness like touches of pastel. She watches you, watching her, afraid, but you’re more afraid.

Outside your window, a man walks along the alleyway, where he is found by another like her. He’s shaking, but she will calm him down. Eye contact. No words. Her tongue peeks out from between her lips. She can read his mind, like a psychic.

© 2014 Andy Tu

What Daddy Tells Me By Andy Tu

June 29, 2015 Comments Off on What Daddy Tells Me By Andy Tu

At night, I hear mommy screaming. Her voice rises like a police siren speeding toward our house. I rush to the window and cup my ears, but it fades away. When I crawl back into bed and close my eyes, it returns.

I ask daddy about it. He says that when pain builds up, it tries to trick you. He says I miss mommy so much that I create her voice in my head. She is screaming like something is wrong, but nothing is wrong, only that I hear her. I need to be stronger.

It’s hard to breathe when daddy pushes the pillow into my face, smashing it in until I feel his hard knuckles through the feathers. When he releases the pressure, I gasp for air. My chest rises and falls quickly.

“Pain makes you stronger,” daddy whispers. “Remember that.” I nod. He pulls the blanket up to my neck, smiles, and strokes my forehead with his fingertips. He tells me I must hold in the pain when it comes, and not let anyone see it, because then it will become something else. The pain will still be there, but it won’t control me anymore.

This is what daddy talks about every night as he watches me fall asleep. The pain he feels because mommy is away in Vietnam and cannot come back for a year. The pain when he coughs from smoking. The pain that changes us.

Ms. Doran says that smoking makes our lungs weaker. I want to raise my hand and tell her what daddy says, that the pain makes them stronger, but I have to keep everything at home between me and daddy, because if I share it then it will release, like the pain, and we can’t hold it close to ourselves anymore.

Daddy says that tonight I will experience more pain than ever. I must not fight it. It will hurt at first, and I will clench my fists and teeth, but daddy will be right there with me. Daddy will control it.

The pain is sharp, like a screwdriver sliding through my flesh. I want to cry, but I hold the tears. I control them. I change.

As daddy parts my bangs with his fingers, a noise rises from outside the window, like mommy screaming, but it’s just a police siren, speeding past our house, leaving us in the quiet darkness.

© 2014 Andy Tu

Eight Legs By Andy Tu

October 28, 2014 Comments Off on Eight Legs By Andy Tu

It started with an idea. A single thought like the first strand of a spider’s web. Then it mixed and twisted into patterns. And now my head’s caught in it, and I’m thrashing at my hair, scratching my eyes out because I don’t want to see. I don’t want anyone to see. So I hide. And write. And keep my mouth shut, and act a certain way, smile for my kids, but inside I’m screaming, because just before I fall asleep I feel a tickle on my head, and I jolt and thrash again. I’m wide awake.

© 2014 Andy Tu

Andy Tu teaches English at a private school and writes in his free time. He spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer smoking weed, avoiding human traffickers, and ditching work. Life is best for him when he’s living on the edge.

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