Woman Who Reads They say she came from a family of moderate means. Sickness caught her in infancy when she stopped listening to the birds and her family cooing. Her scribe father translated for nobility. Instead of investing in cattle for marriage, they taught her to read and write many languages–better than most men. Perhaps they thought this would ensure her survival and let people see what they saw, that she wasn’t dumb. But after her parents died, she still ended up here like the rest of us. That’s what they say anyway. She practices her Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin—stick in sand. Sometimes, she tries to teach us, but we lack her smarts
Fighter They warn; don’t tick her off if you value your life. Red firey locks. Her major muscles upon muscles are stronger than most men. Easily provoked but not easily subdued. Strikes or spits on those who stare, smirking, saying something smug, smuggled softly or sharply. Glad she stays on our side, as long as she’s not mad at us. They say she had her baby taken from her, deemed unfit in her condition. Was she too weak after labor to fight back? I wonder if her strength came from being a mother or just from being a woman. I bet it broke her when they ripped her baby away right after she gave birth. I wonder if the father even knew to care; if they even let her hold the baby.
Many despise him, even among our flock. His father was a tax collector, a traitor to his people—trading their sparse savings for pounding poverty. Some assume his mother was of Roman birth by his sharp nose and chiseled chin, despising him even more-- never glancing his direction. But I say, he did not choose his parents. A grandpa in a 7-year-old boy’s body. Came soon after Happiness did. They’re still inseparable. His short, dirt greying tunic is more or less intact, on the verge of becoming nothingness. Sadness may be small and meek with his peppery hair and beard, but is as sharp as any street merchant. Happiness carries him on his shoulders but respects him like an older brother. Sickly, Sadness was always the first of us to lay ill and the last of us to recover. We presume this was why he was left here and are amazed that he still is alive. I think he could live anywhere, but I guess his family, his people (whoever they were or are), disagreed.
-- e placed first in KoreanAmericanStory's 2021 Virtual ROAR Story Slam. She found success as a blogger for a spinal cord injury non-profit, called Backbones, and her "Gimpy Law" blog's global readership reached 1,550 yearly views on disability issues and promoting disability awareness. e is a recovering social justice attorney wannabe with a disability affecting her speech and mobility, but not her spirit.