Fiction Friday #3: Untitled

The buffet line moved along. The wedding party was seated and eating. My brother looked at ease. Janey chewed like she didn’t want to mess up her lipstick. She seemed pleased enough, leaning into Duk and whispering into his ear. She must’ve gotten over the shame of having her wedding reception at the church gymnasium. Her family tables bustled with grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Our one table had my father, brothers, aunt, uncle, two cousins, and an empty chair for me, but I didn’t want to take my seat and listen to my aunt yap-yap-yap about Mina winning some international harp competition and Jina getting so skinny because of med school. I walked along the edge of the room, making my way to the kitchen.

This place made me miss my mom. I leaned against the sink. I thought I saw her frying dumplings at the stove, but it was Mrs. Ghim. They looked alike from behind. Short, thin, slightly hunched, straight black hair cut into a bob, a style none of the older women wore at our church. Everyone else had some version of short layers with a perm. My mom used to say she would never change her style because it made her look like a student. That was funny because she was never much of a student, didn’t like to read or write, never finished high school. If she wasn’t cooking, cleaning, or doing church, she was watching Korean soaps. What a wanna-be. This kitchen was where I’d find her before and after services cooking curry or slicing watermelons or washing rice grains, regularly swapping gossip disguised as prayer requests with the other eleven members of the Hospitality Committee. They were a dozen women, some were deacons’ wives, some deacons themselves, three had been very close to my mother. All twelve women loved to cook, eat, and feed people. They called themselves DOC for Disciples of Christ, and for a laugh, they annually voted for the member who behaved most like Judas. I wanted to put on an apron and join them, but Mrs. Hong came to me with a plate of food and pushed me out of the kitchen, telling me they had everything under control. Go sit down, eat, mingle, smile, laugh, have a good time, don’t look so sad, how are you going to find a husband looking so sad, no sensible man wants to marry a sad woman.

As I walked toward my family’s table, I saw Peter standing in the buffet line behind his wife. He nodded at me. I nodded back. He looked handsome, upstanding, faithful, a real family man. His kids must’ve been with his parents tonight. He held his plate, while his wife quickly filled it with slices of pig ears. She wore a green dress, a silk scarf with a botanical print, ivory stockings, a black patent leather handbag with the matching pumps, and sparkling earrings. It all looked perfect with that cloud of unknowing hovering over her head. I would much rather be sad than be played the fool. I walked to my table, took my seat, turned to my aunt and asked how Mina and Jina were doing.

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Published in: on December 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love your stories so much! Sometimes I wish they wouldn’t end, but then I carry them in my head for some time afterward. They end right where they are supposed to. This one is no exception. In the end, tales of Mina and Jina weren’t so bad after all

    • More to come, Bill! Your words encourage me. Thank you!


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