Sitting in a café on a Monday morning by Kim Rooney (高小荣)

Sitting in a café on a Monday morning

Things I enjoy making: cappuccinos, and the taste is growing on me; scarves, but only for friends; cupcakes, recently morphed into muffins because most of my friends left their sweet tooth in high school; happiness, but that makes me sound like a machine, which I am not; lists

Things I worry about: if I forgot to lock my apartment door this morning; at what point does eating Quaker Oats dinosaur oatmeal become an inadequate substitute for better food; does the clear superiority of dinosaur oatmeal even matter in the midst of global current events; the depressed ache in my chest; the marbling rot I feel gnawing despite my best efforts; if this essay could come off as manipulative

Things I’ve misplaced: my favorite blue tank top; the tan heels I wore to exhaustion in Shanghai; the cheap fountain pen my ex gave me, which I think is for the better — it always leaked ink, and it’s a better metaphor than it ever was a pen

Things I carry with me #1: earbuds, although I’m in desperate need of new ones; my phone; a Lactaid pill; the cat keychain with sharp points for ears, which my friend gave me along with the sage advice, “don’t get raped”; the selves that existed before I failed to follow her advice; the self stunned into silence when he laughed, “I was just trying to wake you up”; I don’t think I was supposed to wake up

Things that hurt #1: hot oil the pan spits up when I cook an egg for breakfast; climbing up a mountain just after dawn; climbing up a mountain just after dawn with my then-boyfriend who saw my home country as a playground; wondering how he must have thought of me; thinking around the black spots in my memory from the first night we went drinking together

Things that I carry with me #2: sitting on the cool tile floor outside his dorm room in Shanghai at the end of my first trip back to China, unable to move despite the monsoon season storm wetting the dried skin between my toes; calling my friend in America because I didn’t yet have the words for what had happened, for why it hurt

Things that hurt #2: calling what he did abusive; calling it assault; calling it rape

Things that keep me up at night: who will win this season of “The Great British Bake Off”; deadline shifts at work; Barthes essays that contain too much Greek; staring at myself in the mirror, running my fingers along the jut of my cheekbones, tracing lines between splotchy freckles, wondering if the shadows on my face were this sharp before that night; deciding to make chocolate chip cookie dough; making cookie dough; eating cookie dough past midnight

Things that hurt #3: my aunt telling me, many months later, that I have to take responsibility for putting myself in that position; knowing she is wrong while losing the voice to say why, even to myself; lying in bed, covered in sweat after waking from nightmares where he’s there; opening my backpack to find splintered wood instead of the hairpin my friend gave me in high school

Things I’ve found: the hairpin I bought in Alaska; vegetarianism suits me more than I thought it would; cinnamon rolls are too much even for my sweet tooth; the dexterity in my fingers is lacking; a cautiously renewed interest in hiking; not using words to describe my pain will not save me from feeling it

Things that I remember: too much, not enough, that lists will help


Sitting in a cafe


Kim Rooney (高小荣) is an emerging writer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her writing has appeared in Forbes & Fifth, Three Rivers Review, and The Pitt News, and she has contributed to Pittsburgh Magazine and The Review Review. She has a short story forthcoming in Kweli Journal. When she isn’t writing or working as a barista, she fills her time with cooking, singing, and crocheting.


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Art (cropped) Romaine Brooks CC1.0