Whorl by Jessica Cavero

Whorl

We align the tips of our fingers as if touching through a pane of glass. The borders of our faces dissolve. I can’t trace where mine begins. All those speculative futures in which he is not dead before thirty-five. We share our hopes out loud with the universe. We want the universe to listen. He will get a raise, a satin, white ribbon the boss dangles over his nose. He will afford therapy, doctor’s appointments. Baths that make the whole room smell of grapefruit. I will never lean farther than I need to when I am alone on rooftops, I will remember how to breathe, I will know what the tarot readers mean when they draw Temperance. I will learn to be grateful for my life. One day, I tell myself. One day he will earn enough to take care of his mother. One day I will hold her hands and study the whorls etched on her fingers and know, because he taught me, how to say the word in Vietnamese for hello. I will tell her a story. Did you know when the teachers asked me to write down what I wanted to be, I scribbled with the ashy nub of my pencil into the blank space my body could fit into — I answered: A Singer. And how they laughed and said I was quiet, so quiet I needed a bell, like a kitten one of them said, and what was my second choice? Did you know eels, when they are old enough, migrate from the rivers and disappear into the ocean? Did you know this journey could take years? I will know how to form the words for I am learning how to be good daughter. A new person. An echo. We will become fluent in the language of becoming. We will want nothing more than that.

 

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Jessica Cavero is a queer Asian-Latinx writer living in New Jersey. Her short story “Toguro” won Nimrod’s 2017 Katherine Anne Porter fiction contest and her flash fiction has been published in SmokeLong Quarterly. You can find her on Twitter at  @itangeishatrash. She is working on a novella based on “Toguro”.

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Image (modified) National Institute of Standards and Technology Public Domain