you are the arch nemesis of silence armed with arguments over pricing twelve ringgits and mai yi, song yi. you lift popup canopy tents and listen to dialects as they wrap a twine necklace around your lips. your native tongue takes flight.
every night, you hum an electric blue, an orangepeel moon in your dusky hair no stars tonight. you expand into spaces next to the display of Dragon Eyes fruits you could fit a child’s silhouette but not their shadow. someone takes refuge there now, to evade the smell of durians her father—your father—is selling. he is engaged in a bargaining battle with a pair of fierce eyes and a sharp tongue.
you never go to sleep. your irises reflect tinted light from paper lanterns that cast pink and blue hues on the woman selling chicken sizzling in a pot of oil, covered in flakes of gold. she switches between Bahasa Malay and broken English that you taught her.
you hand out samples of fingernailsized dried fish with invisible scales and crunchy skeletons your forehead is sticky with sweat and pieces of sugar art, spider webbing lines of sucrose what once used to shape a panda on a stick.
a young boy buys a secondhand small rug you knitted yourself. you threaded your favorite trianglesquare pattern he runs his fingers through a forest of sunset red threads that cling to his blisters.
-- Cassandra Hsiao is a junior in the Creative Writing conservatory at the Orange County School of the Arts. She is an editor of her school’s award winning art and literary magazine, Inkblot, and has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Cassandra is also a teen reporter for three online outlets and a journalist for the Los Angeles’ Times High School Insider.