Fiction Friday #2: Untitled

How my mother died:

It was a busy summer. I had just graduated from high school and was babysitting my little brothers who were then eight, five, and two. I was also helping out at my parents’ carry-out in Southeast DC, trying to butter them up to let me drive cross-country, rather than fly, to Stanford University. They wanted me in the fall. In the fall, I would be on the other side of the country. My mother shamed me when I looked too happy. You feel that good about leaving? I learned to hide it, disguising my glee with worry. Don’t wrinkle eyes like that. You look like old hag. Why you worry so much? Don’t worry. That’s what Bible says. Don’t worry. God take care of everything. Our church was campaigning that summer for donations to build a school, library, gymnasium, and a larger parking lot. My mother was on her way to an evening fundraising service. She was running late because she and my father had fought. It was dark by then. She parked on the street because the church lot was full. My father would’ve normally been with her, but they fought during dinner over how much money to donate to the church. He said $1000. She said $5000. He said she cared too much about what the pastor and deacons thought of her. She said she cared about what God thought of her. He said God thought $1000 was plenty. She called him a greedy miser. He told her to shut up and listen to God telling her to mind her husband. He called her crazy and stupid. She told him to mind his own business because the money was hers. She’d saved it and earned it cooking at the carry-out. If not for her cooking, there would be no money, no house, no cars, no shirt on his back, no food on the table, no college tuition. He threw his bowl of rice on the floor. She left for church.

How many times had she drilled it into me when I was a kid? Look both ways before crossing a street.

Found in my mother’s purse was a bundle of cash in an envelope labeled FKSBC. First Korean Southern Baptist Church. $5000. Her death brought in a lot of money. Some deacons babbled nonsense about how God works in mysterious ways, God’s ways aren’t our ways, and God’s plans have a divine purpose. God, what assholes. If they were right and God took my mother’s life as a marketing ploy to raise money for a gymnasium and a parking lot, I wanted out. I had to decide they were wrong. She simply forgot to look both ways before crossing the street. If she hadn’t popped out of nowhere, as the driver put it, she would still be here in her shoes and I in mine. Without her, the whole thing was bound to collapse. Because my mother died that summer, I never made it to college, ended up working at the carry-out and raising my brothers who were then eight, five, and two, and my father left, from there on out, all money matters to me.

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Published in: on December 9, 2011 at 10:59 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Whoa. What a story. Intense! Wonderful job.

    • I so appreciate it, Eugenia. Thank you.


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