Page 1

U B CM F  P G  D P O U F O U T ‰ U F N Q P S B M J U Z

B ri o...............................................................P age 2 Letter from the Edi tor..........................................3

S eri na El i z abeth Moral es The W heel ..............................................................4 R ebecca K arpen The P al e B oy K i ng.................................................6 Moham m ad R afi q a heal i ng................................................................9 Tyi ana C om bs Occurence G i ven an Unfortunate N orm al cy......1 0 Lauren C heung thom s on’s l am p...................................................1 6 S eri na El i z abeth Moral es C l os i ng.................................................................1 7 V i ctori a Muang W hat Tradi ti on I s ................................................1 8 G reg D roz dek I n the Tel es cope..................................................2 2 Lauren C heung C hurchyard C om m uni on......................................2 7 Max F ergus on B l ue B al l i ng K erouac............................................2 8 S eri na El i z abeth Moral es The D eath of an Arti s t.........................................3 2 Moham m ad R afi q B uy Organi c..........................................................3 3 Ye-s eul K i m Mi ho Excerpt........................................................3 4

/BREE-oh/, ​noun Vivacity, spirit, an individual energy. The discipline of Comparative Literature is based on the assumption that the study of single texts and cultures is enriched by a knowledge of the texts and cultures surrounding them. It views literature from a broad and inclusive perspective in which philosophy, anthropology, history, language, and literary theory come together, and where the visual arts, theatre, and modern media suggest crucial comparisons. This journal aspires to embody those ideas. Brio​ is a student-founded publication that combines literary criticism with fictive works and visual art. In an effort to represent the wide spectrum of discourses that serve as the foundation of comparative study, the journal accepts submissions from any source and in any language.


Dear ​Brio.​ Readers, tem·​po·​ral·​i·​ty \ ˌtem-pə-ˈra-lə-tē \ plural, t​ emporalities noun, 1. : of or relating to time as opposed to eternity 2. : of or relating to the sequence of time or to a particular time When selecting the theme for this edition of​ Brio.​, a focus on time felt the most compelling. To be honest, temporality and everything in relation to it constantly & easily catches my attention enforcing a feeling that I cannot escape it. Perhaps too much of ​In Search of Lost Time​ has stuck with me or the frequent panic of being lost without the comfort of time. Either way, in choosing pieces for this edition, it seemed as if each were falling neatly in line with my frequented theme, whether it be through talks specifically of time, place or an abstraction of those. As artists and writers, I feel as though time - & the lack of it - is constantly haunting our work & pondered thoughtfully. This, to me, coincides with many of the thoughts surrounding comparative literature - there are numerous findings, theories and modes of creation, but they can be connected through the same findings that may also separate them. This is what I hope our readers will wander upon through this collection of work​ - we hope this issue of ​Brio.​ inspires you to situate yourself in time, whatever that may mean to you, and explore the ways it haunts, drives, and shapes you. Happy Reading, Ava McLaughlin Editor-in-Chief 2

The Wheel by Serina Elizabeth Morales

The walls creak a familiar rhythm Drafty window that will never be fixed Fear lay awake: night and fright again Behind thin shut doors sleeps a family Silent unison a few feet apart Bound in blood yet a lifetime away. Behind closed eyes I dream of being away From them. I dread their sickly rhythm, Night comes again, I set my spirit apart At night. I hope to not return again To my bed, where lies my family Too intimate and dissonant to be fixed. A hole in the wall, gaping, never fixed Once prim and pink, my father punched away Broken. Holes, lined up like a family, Became the only pattern or rhythm. Holes too simple, so he hit me again, Like that wall, I broke. Pink paint fell apart. Resilience of my heart, like time, grows apart Passage of my future, fixed Another hole bound to be bashed again, The sheets of my bedding, my path away Closed my eyes, my slow breath a rhythm I slept in the house of no family. 3

Lost in these walls were once a family 60 year old wood rots, splinters fall apart Hideous words turned into taunting rhythm Chipped brick built to protect begs to be fixed Love that I never had, as a dream, flew away I watch planes pass up to the stars again. Kids grow up, become their parents again Break new holes to build the same family Repeat, the wheel continues to turn away Until it’s rolled so much it falls apart I pray to God that it won’t be fixed I long for the day I’ll be rid of its rhythm. But for now I remember that rhythm As I do the creak of the wheel, faults fixed To repeat. Gears my destiny to break apart.


The Pale Boy King The Pale Boy King Has blood on his Hands. Who knew a wooden sword Could make a Paper doll dance? He shrieks, “Dim the twilight, Stop your Mourning. All this pleading Reeks of warning.”

​by Rebecca Karpen

Look out below! I’m gonna jump in the water! Damned be the sons, damned be the daughters Who forgive the sins of their mothers and fathers. Damned be the sons, Damned be the daughters. Damned be the daughters. There’s blood on the hands Of the Pale Boy King. It’s not as though he really cares, Never used them for much of anything. Not to fell, Not to plant, Take pride in friendly circumstance That he can own but not tend to the brush, 5

Stories trapped under his footsteps, Soddenness, much. Look out below! I’m gonna jump in the water! Damned be the sons, damned be the daughters Who forget the sins of their mothers and fathers. Damned be the sons, Damned be the daughters. Damned be the daughters. Forgive them father For they know not what they do, Never meant to cause the death of me, the death of you. I cannot forgive them father For they know ​exactly​ what they do, Raise a hand, not to stop, But to herald The death of me, the death of you. I cannot forgive them father For they know ​exactly​ what they do, Raise a hand, not to stop, But to herald The death of me, the death of you. Contend with fossils underneath that built up the avenues, Paint with a kind of yellow from the Khmer Rouge, Speak as if to the stars, But stare at your feet, Damn be those betrothed to cowardice. 6

Damned will be my sons, Damned will be my daughters Who will grow to fear the songs of their mother and father. Damned will be your sons if your tongue lie mute, They will grow up to be Just like you. The Pale Boy King Has my blood on his hands. The Pale Boy King likes to think, But never cares to understand. The Pale Boy King Is not a king at all, A child of eighty Who ignores the windows, Prefers the wall. Hears the sirens, Ignores the call. Look out below! I’m gonna jump in the water! I pray for your sons, I pray for your daughters. Pray that they don’t turn out like their father, A fool leading suckling lambs to the slaughter. Look out below! Look out below! Look out below! I’m gonna jump in the water!


a healing by Mohammad Rafiq

in the shower is a healing. i you poor thing myself as the water comes down i scald, then freeze the whole of me. to remind my skin what life’s like. in the city I rarely look up. i forget the sky, its wordless rhetoric against caring. in the mirror i countenance the scars of my face, cystic, my unibrow, the hint of it, the bent knives of my shoulders, and I’m thinking thank you. thank you for making me beautiful.


Occurrences Given an Unfortunate Normalcy by Tyiana Combs

We first met when I was five. I’d heard about you before. Some called you dangerous, but we had never been formally introduced. Until one afternoon. I ran into the living room, excitement lighting my eyes as I anticipated watching ​Arthur​ on TV. I threw everything onto the floor and leapt onto the couch but I didn’t land on the plushness I expected. Instead I landed on you. I examined you and found myself in awe. Maybe even a little in love. You were shiny and bright and beautiful. Petite, yet powerful. Mesmerizing. Before I knew it, you were gone. I was so caught up in my staring that I hadn’t noticed my mother’s boyfriend watching. He took you away, slid you between the cushions of another couch and warned me not to touch. He put a finger to his lips. I nodded to my co-conspirator and went back to my snacks and school assignments. You were our little secret. A few days later I checked to see if you were still there. Just to see you up close one more time. I felt nothing when I ran my hand along and in between the bright red couch cushions. You were gone. *** When I was six, we crossed paths again. My great grandma drove me to school every day back then. As we got out of her purple car and conversed about my morning cartoons, the typical laughs and shouts of the schoolyard began to greet me—but so did something else. A disagreement between students became a dispute between parents and you were called in to mediate. When words fell on deaf ears or when pride had been hurt beyond repair, you always seemed to be the go-to for conflict resolution. You had disrupted the morning routine, sending people running and crying and yelling. 9

And you yelled back. With the loudest voice of all. Time seemed to speed up, fast forward, as people began moving in all directions. Even the crossing guard abandoned her post. She ran as far as she could until she could only crawl. We ducked, my great grandma ushering me along as we half ran, half stumbled back to the car as fast as we could. But I had already seen you. And in that split second, you were no longer the shiny thing of beauty my memory had preserved you as. You had dimmed, darkened, gained a little weight. You were almost unrecognizable. A teacher pulled up beside us and asked if we needed a ride. We shook our heads, caught our breaths, and climbed back into the purple car that suddenly seemed so small. Later on, we learned you were the very last thing a little boy saw that day. We released pretty balloons for him every year after. *** Once when I was nine, you showed up again. Back then, we turned the tiny porches connected to our houses into our playgrounds. The neighborhood boys always teased us, preferring to ride their bikes and toss around any ball they could get their hands on. Those afternoons were the perfect way to decompress from school. Jumping rope, running races, listening to the radio—we did them over and over again but it never got old. That day I was sitting on the steps with a few friends, playing with dolls. Dressing and undressing the mini mannequins. Giving them names, jobs, and identities. I had a doll named Sasha in my hand. She was so pretty, poised and polished. I wanted to be her. We could make an afternoon last forever with a little imagination and idealism. This time I didn’t see you. Instead I heard you calling. Then I heard my mom calling, telling me to get inside. Away from you. Everyone scrambled for cover as door after door was flung open, parents screaming for their kids to come home. I remember racing, 10

stumbling up the stairs as I finally crossed the threshold. We weren’t allowed to go back outside that day. Our toys were left deserted on the ground but no one bothered to go collect them. No one knew where you had gone and apparently that wasn’t safe. It was disappointing to have a good day ruined by something so small. Something almost as small as the doll I wanted to be. Something small enough to fit underneath a shirt. *** One time I thought I saw you in high school. We were sitting in class. Most were pretending to pay attention while others blatantly doodled in the margins of their notebooks or snuck glances at their phones under their desks, when unexpectedly an announcement was made over the loudspeaker. The female voice was muffled and distorted, possibly from the old technology or possibly from alarm, as she spoke two words. Now I can’t remember what those two words were, but I remember what they caused. Abruptly our teacher was rushing to turn off the lights and shut the blinds, racing from one end of the room to the other. The complicated math equations littering the blackboard were easily forgotten as we rushed under desks, inside closets, squeezed into corners. Those who had been pretending to pay attention were instantly focused on making their way to safety under whatever cover the small class could provide. The former doodlers had flung away their pencils and abandoned their notebooks. The phone sneakers sent panicked texts to parents saying they were okay, saying a possible final I love you. We sat still for hours, eventually letting the fear and adrenaline drain from our bodies as exhaustion and boredom took their places. Eventually we were told that it was all a false alarm and you had never even been on the premises. Though I knew I shouldn’t have 11

been impressed, I was. Even without your presence, the mere suggestion of you was able to disrupt an entire afternoon and hold us hostage. *** You appeared so much in our lives that you no longer received a spectacular announcement of arrival. But you always left with a piece of us. You were truly in the flesh when my cousin encountered you. I had just seen him the weekend before. We had been celebrating his grandmother’s seventieth birthday. You tried to take him away at twenty-five and leave behind his baby, who was as small as you. He was rushed to the hospital, but you didn’t stick around long enough to know that part. You never did. My cousin recovered but had to wait a while to see if his legs still worked. You did that. And you’ve done so much more, so much worse to others. Even when I didn’t see you, you were always present. You reached me through others and nudged me if I ever failed to remember you, nudged me if we spent too much time apart. I never needed to be nudged. You were too special for me to forget. *** Then I started to see you all the time. Not so much in person anymore. Mostly just on the news. You began to nudge me day after day. With new bodies after new bodies. But you didn’t look the same. You were harsher, heavier. More muscular and menacing. Both less powerful and more. You but no longer you. Yet somehow still... mesmerizing. From Odessa to Dayton, El Paso all the way over to Virginia Beach, California a couple times, then church in Charleston down to the waistbands of boys I danced with. You gave boys power. You made them men. Kids went from playing with a pretend you to running from the real you in their 12

neighborhoods and schoolyards. I had seen so much footage of students being escorted from schools splattered with the blood of classmates that I began to see video PSAs teaching children how to act if you ever made a surprise appearance one afternoon. Sometimes I wonder if we’d meet again. At the movies or a music festival. On campus or on a corner. During a traffic stop. Normal things were suddenly laced with caution because you could be wherever, whenever. You became the longest relationship of my life and our reunion was almost inevitable. I just hoped you’d spare an old friend. *** It happened so fast that I never saw you coming. One second everything was fine and all was well—it was a normal day. But I assume that’s how it always began. Most people don’t recognize it or realize it when you’ve arrived. That was what I had always found so fascinating about you—how your very existence seemed to dwell in dichotomy. How despite your frequent interactions with people on a near daily basis, you were never very social. How you appeared in silence, unnoticed and unseen until your unanticipated presence blocked out everything else as you seized full control of the room, bending everyone to your will and your way. Before we knew it, you were there. No introduction to your audience, just straight to the show. I heard you cracking and cackling, commanding as people were running, barreling into each other in every direction trying to get to safety—trying to get out. The sun was so bright. It was blinding and your call was deafening. Your voice always the loudest. The most melodic. It was disorienting and distracting and tripped me in my escape. Or maybe I tripped over something or someone you had already become acquainted with. The details are foggy. The 13

details don’t matter. After death none of it matters. Though the moments replay in my head now, remixing and scrambling themselves—refusing to reveal the true order—I no longer look for an explanation. What I remember fully is your face. So different from how you looked the very first time we met all those years ago. So different from how I saw you and embraced you all those years ago. Our moments ran through my mind—from the beginning I didn’t expect, to the ending I had begun to dread. It’s funny to think of you going on without me—to think of how our story has ended, yet you’re still just getting started. ***


thomson’s lamp by Lauren Cheung 

      i’ve got nostalgia for her  lips ( i never dared touch )  stuttering words stolen from crosswords:  something tremulous in the threading   of her bones, in the sewn up seams of ! her!  laughter lines.   my body  singes. electric, open circuit through my unraveling  fingerprints.    i can’t turn on the lights.                    15

Closing by Serina Elizabeth Morales

The night closes in Lurches over my body As the old tree by the prairie Ignites my solitary A July moon shadows Little gray fan pounds The sweat of a cruel summer My heart on the mattress cotton I’m as bedridden as the stars In their everlasting expansion Unable to shake my place Only to fill up empty space My lids heavy But like my soul, relentless Relentlessly steady Destined to meet an end Fought until our demise It’s not long now My eyes low, hold dissipates The world is closed, Come back another day. 16

What Tradition Is by Victoria Maung

strands of baby hairs from my bangs poke at my eyes as i squeeze them shut, flinching at my aunties’ fingers snatching my nose with their grip, molding it like clay, perfecting it into a glorified round mound of prosperity. i retrieve the Chinese newspaper from the driveway while they work away in their uniform outfits: black from head-to-toe, donning no accessories or makeup. they swear by mascara, weapon of choice in battle against old age but today, their skin is taut, lacking their armor. i cannot help but notice the wrinkles creasing their skin, the effects of his passing having taken a toll far deeper than i imagined. i retrieve the papers and help unwrap them and we decorate the bathroom mirror, each paper, inky touch staining ours, until a sea of traditional characters fill the space of where our faces should, the space of where his face was once reflected. we return to the kitchen, cooking until family shuffle in with strained hellos, somber handshakes. the hallways of our household run black with family, like my aunties’ mascara did with the first phone calls, filled with nothing but the distance between continents. we gather together, folding boats of paper money and throw them into the fire; our familial monetary offering for wealth in the afterlife. perhaps you say you understand these things, these traditions, but there is one you will never be able to fathom: the light we leave on in the family room, the one with a dim yellow glow illuminating the span of ancestral portraits. now, his with a red bow atop the frame. it is the light we leave on as reminder he is still with us, a facade for outsiders to convey that nothing within the house has changed, that everything is the same. but you will never know this because you will never be able to understand what Chinese tradition is. 17


南無阿顔に 18

Corn Flakes My grandfather teaches me to deliver the cereal to him at exactly three p.m. I rush to the pantry and begin measuring the perfect ratio of Corn Flakes and milk. I imagine this is my pre-bartender training, concocting daiquiris and pouring gin and tonics for my customers. I am running in this race to please. I take the red Chinese lettered bowl and pour enough cereal to fill slightly more than half. The milk flows out, grazing the corn flakes like water on rocks, filling the basin until the cereal is drowning in a milky sea. I deliver my package to him and he wrinkles his nose at me, chiding in Hakka, shaking his head at the disproportionate ratio of milk to cereal. Day after day, I try and try again, to please. And then there is the day I get it right. In ancestral offering, I lay the red bowl on the yellow tarp we have laid out. The second-nature of childhood resurfaces. Take the Corn Flakes box and tap it, ever so slightly, the cereal pouring out in a slow trickle, while the milk simultaneously flows out of the carton, intertwining its being. Cereal, a centimeter above the half point of the bowl. Milk, trickled throughout; the undercurrent of a river supporting a raft. The sun peeks out from the clouds, shedding light on his tombstone’s portrait; I smile. I would like to think that on this day he is smiling too; smiling, that I have finally gotten it right.


桑枝 八月


In The Telescope​ by ​Greg Drozdek

At Rise: Galileo and Priest stand in his studio in Padua. The Priest’s face is hidden by a large hood. There is a telescope by a large window. The year is 1613. GALILEO​:​ ​I have found craters, deep pits on the moon! They are beautiful!​ PRIEST​: ​Impossible!​ GALILEO​:​ ​I have seen it!​ PRIEST​:​ ​State your faith!​ GALILEO​:​ ​I believe in one God, The Father, the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth...​ PRIEST​:​ ​Yes, yes, we know all that. ​ GALILEO​:​ ​King David wrote in his psalm, “Lord, our Lord, how  majestic is your name in all the earth! When I consider your heavens, the work of  your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have  set in place…”​ PRIEST​:​ You will not justify this with scripture. It says nothing of craters. ​Thirteen years ago, Giordano Bruno was convicted of  heresy for writing that​ ​the earth moved around the  Sun, and that there were many planets throughout the universe where life, yes, living creations of God,  existed.​ GALILEO​:​ ​Please help me, Lord, escape Bruno’s fire! ​ PRIEST​:​ ​How did your craters get on the moon? ​


GALILEO​:​ ​I am not ready to say what I think. ​ ​Please, will you tell me your name?  Why do you hide your face, Father?​ PRIEST​: ​I think it best for both of us if you do not know who I am. I want to help you, but I  may fail. In that case, I will be one of  those who must punish you. Do you understand, my son? ​ GALILEO​: ​You will burn me?​ PRIEST​:​ ​Slowly. I am trying to​ ​save you from  that fate! As for​ ​the fire that awaits you  after the earthly one… ​ GALILEO​: ​No!​ PRIEST​:​ ​Think on that!​ ​(​Galileo closes his eyes and prays. The​ p ​ riest watches him. He slowly comes over to​ ​the telescope.)​ ​Rise, my son. ​(Galileo rises.)​ ​Come to me. (Galileo comes to him. The Priest puts his​ h ​ ands on his shoulders.)​ ​Tell me what you really think.​ GALILEO​:​ I think that other heavenly bodies, now destroyed, have crashed into the moon and have left their marks on her surface.​ PRIEST​:​ ​This is absolute blasphemy. Go, look again, and see something else.​ If it is not in scripture, then it cannot be. GALILEO​:​ ​What I see is there.​ PRIEST​:​ ​This is dangerous for you.​ GALILEO​:​ ​I know. ​ PRIEST​:​ ​I have an easy way out for you.​ GALILEO​:​ ​What is that?​ PRIEST​: ​We will burn your telescope.​ GALILEO​:​ ​No!​ PRIEST​:​ You may well be burned if it is not. GALILEO​:​ ​Would you look inside, just once?​ PRIEST​:​ ​ You would like that.​ 22

GALILEO​:​ ​You will see the most beautiful…​ PRIEST​:​ ​I do not need to be convinced to be curious! All men are curious. You must put your trust in me.​ GALILEO​:​ ​I do so, Father. I know you are here for my good. I  must show you that what I see is true! ​(The priest goes and sits in a chair. He watches Galileo. He takes off his hood and reveals a young handsome​ face. He is the  Cardinal of Padua. Galileo is shocked and goes to his knees!)​ GALILEO​:​ Cardinal Bellarmine! ​(He offers his hand. Galileo  kneels and kisses it.)​ Where is your ring, your eminence?​ BELLARMINE​:​ ​I take it off from time to time. Stand.​ GALILEO​:​ ​You should not be here!​ BELLARMINE​:​ ​Yes. I have a few spies outside that will warn me if  anyone comes.​ GALILEO​:​ ​If you are seen here… ​ BELLARMINE​:​ I am first a man. I am here as a man. As long as this stays between us… I am intrigued. Let us proceed quickly. There is another way out for you  Galileo Galilei.​ GALILEO​:​ ​What is this way?​ BELLARMINE​:​ ​You want me to look in your telescope. GALILEO​:​ ​I do. BELLARMINE:​ Why do you want this?​ GALILEO​:​ ​You will see that there is nothing wrong with what  I see.​ BELLARMINE​:​ ​I cannot “see” proof of anything not in scripture. Use your words very carefully! Can not have a look, and you benefit as well? GALILEO:​ How? 23

BEllARMINE:​ If we were to come to an understanding? You could look and I could as well, with no danger to each of us. I never came in secret to see you. You never did anything wrong? GALILEO​:​ How can this be done? BELLARMINE​: In our time, we must protect ourselves from accusations. GALILEO​: ​I see. BELLARMINE​: I have a letter. You will sign it. It concerns this word, “on?” Is this not so?​ GALILEO​:​ Your letter says that the craters are in my  telescope. They are not on the moon. They are in my  man-made, and thus, imperfect telescope.​ This is not true! BELLARMINE​: You guessed my way out! GALILEO​: Yes. I have thought of writing this to protect myself. BELLARMINE​: You should have. ​(He stands and comes to the table and puts the letter on​ ​it  for Galileo to sign. Galileo comes to the table. Bellarmine goes to the telescope. The two look at each other  for a long moment.​) Don’t think, just sign. (​There are three knocks at the door.) ​ ​ ​Now, we must move quickly!​ ​(​Galileo looks at the paper. He gets his pen and signs it. Bellarmine looks into the telescope. Galileo watches him.)​ GALILEO​:​ ​They are beautiful. Are they not?​ BELLARMINE​:​ They are… as you have said. Truly!​ ​(​Bellarmine stops looking at the moon and smiles at Galileo.)​ ​ ​Looking has its price. ​( Bellarmine opens his arms. Galileo gets his robe and puts it on him.) ​  Others will not show the flexibility and 24

understanding that as I have. ​(Bellarmine takes the letter and rolls it up and puts it in his cloak. He stands by the door.) ​  Be careful how you look and what you say.​ GALILEO​:​ I will look as if my life depends on it.​ BELLARMINE​: ​It does. I assure you.​ ​(He puts up his hood. He knocks at the door and it opens for him. He takes a final look at the telescope and then at Galileo before closing the door behind him. Galileo waits a moment then goes to his telescope. He takes a deep breath and looks inside. The lights fade to  black as Galileo smiles as what he sees.)​                   END OF PLAY​



  oh bereaved angel, i always find you   in my periphery, lingering at the clerestory   where the umbra of your eyes    clouds the rose windows in   the chapel our bodies once filled.  i want to inhabit the space    between your lips, on the flat of   your tongue where i know it to be  sweeter than Knowing.    entre nous​, our own liturgy: my   tenebrous wings might permit your half  familiar warmth, stained glass    stretched between the expanse   of your trenchant shoulder blades.  but besmirch me once more    so that i may know the light;  so that i no longer have to entreat  for your love. 


Blue Balling Kerouac ​by Max Ferguson The Chicago Test was a big talking point back in high school. The whole aim of the challenge was to drive from Los Angeles to Chicago and back, and if you and your chosen teammate both arrived home in the same car showing no lasting signs of harm inflicted by the other person, then you passed. People usually did this to confirm compatibility with others, sometimes with a group of friends, but most often with a romantic partner. I never attempted the Chicago Test myself because I drove a 1998 soccer van -- a weld of metal that shook like it was about to implode when it hit any incline steeper than your average driveway. But after I transferred to college in New York, a new kind of Chicago Test presented itself. This one, however, wasn’t organized as a test of compatibility. In fact, it shouldn’t have met the 2,000 mile requirement at all. The trip was to go from Manhattan to Milwaukee with three stops at most. And it wasn’t until Jersey Bridges began to intermittently shade the roof of the car that I found out about a surprise detour my girlfriend of two months had planned for us. I would say most consider a detour to be a minor, out-of-the-way pit stop, maybe just a trip to a restaurant someone has been dying to try. But to Tatum, a detour was apparently a 10-hour drive to Charlotte so she could introduce me to her dying aunt. “That sounds lovely,” I said as she repeated activities that we would do around her hometown once we arrived. “But you know we’re only staying for like a day, right?” “I know, I know,” she’d say, “There’s just so much culture,” which I always thought was a creative way of saying ‘racism.’ Even though I had only been dating Tatum since the start of the semester, I was already growing a bit dissatisfied. It’s a problem of mine. I tend to fall in love with the short-term and the short-term only. And what I mean by “a bit dissatisfied” is that I actually quite 27

hated Tatum. In her defense, I’ll hate anyone who so much as asks me to drive up to the next window in a fast food line. And it just so happened that Tatum’s request was to cross four state lines to lock palms with a premature cadaver, or, as Tatum was temporarily calling her, “Aunt Nancy.” I was hoping that my car wouldn’t break down on us with this new demand on the directory. The vehicle was only a touch better than my old van, though not prettier. I drove as slowly as I could the entire way. Everyone honked, even a policeman at one point, which was surprising because I thought they only had sirens. The cop got me worried. See, the car I was driving wasn’t mine -- though it wasn’t anyone else’s either. I had been given it from my cousin in deep Long Island. He said he just wanted it gone and gave it to me with nothing but a registration form that a guy with an impossibly Russian name signed off on years back. It was a headache, but the vehicle was free. So I took it, and proceeded to skip studying for the rest of the year to think of scenarios where I get stopped by the police and attempt to explain the situation. Here is what I had so far: “Yes, officer. I know my license is from California and that I live in New York and that I’m currently driving in New Jersey with a car that’s registered in Ohio and to a guy whose name looks more like algebra than English, but I assure you, sir, I did this all with complete naivety and I regret nothing.” Though, I did regret one thing, the fact that that same car would vehicle my body to Aunt Nancy, someone who, we soon learned, would die just two hours before me and Tatum were to arrive. Don’t feel sad for her. Aunt Nancy apparently went with peace and good final words. I’m kidding. She had a violent stroke and died right before the paramedics could reach her. Coincidentally, she passed at about the same time Tatum texted her that I was an art student. 28

With Nancy out of the picture, Tatum and I headed up to our original destination of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s runner-up capital. My girlfriend was crying for a lot of the remainder of the drive. It was then when I realized that my grieving process is much more procedural than most. My family on my father’s side are all English. Bluecoats generally croak at 75, maybe 76 if they aren’t drinkers. And my mother’s side is Polish -- people who are one sunburn away from skin cancer starting the day they’re born. I’m used to the pretty frequent pruning of my family tree. And from what I gathered, this was Tatum’s first non-dog death. Tatum had wept herself unconscious well before we made our U-turn in Virginia, of which I used a round-about to make the maneuver. The round-about is a piece of engineering I’ve always quite adored. It’s statistically safer than traffic lights, uses no electricity, and actually takes less time to pass through than a four-point stop. The round-about is adopted everywhere besides the US because Americans hate change, which is why we let inflation shoot so high that soon coins will cease altogether. Bad joke. When we hit Ohio’s southern border, Tatum was still sleeping. I felt comfortable, knowing that my license plate now matched the appropriate state. It was also then that a thought crossed my mind, and paired with every active ounce of irritation and repression so far this trip, I broke out into an insane laughter. The thought was about one of my roommates in my first dorm, a study-abroad Korean guy who was obsessed with masturbation and handjob massage parlors. Anytime I’d come home with a problem or concern, no matter how mild, he’d end up prescribing that I jerk off. “Bro, I’ll throw on some headphones, just go handle yourself in the bathroom,” Ozzie would say. And then I’d have to explain that the new smudge on my white shoes wasn’t that catastrophic. 29

The specific instance I was laughing about was when my friend Will came to visit from back home in California. I remember being in class one day, about an hour in, and receiving a vibration only to look down to a text from him that read: “Ozzie said he was taking me to get crepes but I think I’m in a BDSM dungeon.” My laughter woke up Tatum. I expected a glare to be reflecting back at me. But it seemed that my laughter had only left me to pass on to her. She was completely beaming-red, snorting over the dashboard, tears returning to her eyes again but in a different fashion. I started to laugh again too, hard enough that I knew I’d feel it for the rest of the day. We pulled over to get our breathing back. I reached my hand over to wipe a trail of mascara off her cheek bone, and then she kissed me -- our first kiss since New York. I unlocked from her lips. The kiss was something we needed. We both drew in a deep inhale of the air in front of our faces. I think I realized that I did love her. But as a sudden flash of blue lights struck my eyes from the side mirror, and I turned around to see a cop already halfway out of his cruiser, all I could do was stare her straight on and say, “You did this.”


The Death of an Artist ​by Serina Elizabeth Morales

Painting against the wall Flowers in eternal bloom Winter behind the wooden window Blue nights, shut curtains Familiar color catches my eye The color like foliage Smeared across my eyelids Water bleeds a pool of green Sun hung orange, late summer The dread of home Arrived late evening My father waiting His anger too patient The red anger pops The spring of his fists


Buy Organic by Mohammad Rafiq

After death, the soul hovers over the body, Not knowing what to do, a suspended thing. Questions arise and die behind the eyes — Without coffee, what am I? Factors occur— A flattening of the stomach, due to a lack Of affordable organic raw vegan food options. The sin is that of Sulaymān — arrogance, An imagined separation. A ​zì bì zhèng Of the soul, a sealed-away-ness. I can’t think About that — Instead, I think about the state Of my gut flora. I worry about it. Worrying too Is a sin, recall. There is some wisdom I know Not, that makes this all okay. I trust in that. I drink raw milk from happy cows. And I do Brew Ayurvedic balanced tea of haldi. Inshallah, I will live still. Change. Feel And believe. I will kneel before my Lord, I will surrender, I’ll say: Lord! What You will For me is better than what I will for me! I will Believe it, Inshallah. Then I will die. Then you Will die. Then we will become different Things. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. 32

미호 - 한국어 푸른 빛 바다가 나를 삼켰다. 구명조끼도 입지 않은 채 파도에 몸을 맡겼다. 숨이 막혔지만 동시에 이불에 덮인 것 같은 이상한 편안함이 밀려왔다. 저 멀리서 무언가 반짝이는게 보였다. 가지런히 나열된 은빛 비늘이 햇빛을 받아 빛났다. 다부진 어깨와 팔이 날 감싼 뒤 수면 위로 나를 올렸다. 은빛 지느러미가 힘차게 움직였다. 우아한 곡선이 아름다운 지느러미였다. 눈이 떠졌다. 손을 더듬어 시계를 찾았다. 새벽 5시 10분이었다. 불과 며칠 전 만 해도 기말고사를 포기한 후 할머니 댁 가까이 있는 바다 위에서 기분 전환 하려고 유람선을 탔는데, 사람들이 안 보는 틈을 타서 누군가 배 위에서 나를 바다로 던져버렸다. 맥주병인 나로선 그 땐 정말로 죽었다 싶었는데, 웬 걸, 한 인어 청년이 날 근처 해변으로 밀어주었다. 내 몸상태가 좋지 않다는 것을 눈치챈 그 청년은 어느 정형외과 의사에게 날 소개시켜주었고, 우리는 오늘 다시 만나서 점심을 하기로 했다. 바다 식당이라고 해서 횟집인 줄 알았는데 알고보니 인어와 인간이 함께 식사할 수 있는 복합적 다이닝 경험을 제공하는 프리미엄 레스토랑이었다. 보통 식당 소개가 거창하면 음식 맛이 없을 것 같은 생각이 들었지만 맛 하나는 자기가 보장한다고 하는 시우 씨였다. 어떻게 식당 안으로 들어갈까 걱정했는데 인간은 그냥 평범하게 가게 문을 열고 들어가면 되었다. 지정된 방 안에 신발을 벗고 들어가니, 식탁 아래 발이 뚫려있는 구조였다. 반은 물이 채워져있었고, 반은 물이 못 들어오게 막혀있었다. 시우 씨는 물이 있는 곳에 어떻게 기다리려나 궁금해하던 참에 식탁 아래에서 머리 하나가 솟아올랐다. 시우 씨였다. 방수처리된 가방과 저번에 보았던 외투보다 좀 더 짙은 갈색의 외투를 입고 있었다. “미호 씨, 늦어서 죄송해요, 바다에서 들어오는 통로가 어딨는지 잠시 못 찾았어요.” “이렇게 들어오는구나. 잘 지내셨어요?” “네, 물론 잘 지냈죠. 뭐 먹고 싶으세요?” 내가 먹을 음식을 고르는 동안 시우 씨는 벽에 걸린 수건으로 상체의 물기를 닦았다. 33

Miho: An Excerpt ​by Ye-Seul

The green sea engulfed me. I leaned on the waves without a life vest on. I couldn’t breathe, but a strange sense of relaxation washed over me as if I was under a comforter. I saw something twinkling in the distance. Silver scales, all lined up and tidy, sparkling in the sunlight. Sturdy shoulders and arms wrapped around me and lifted me above the waters. A silver fin moved with strong thrusts. It was a beautiful fin with elegant curves. My eyes opened. I searched for the clock. It was ten past five in the morning. Barely a few days ago I had ridden on a ferry at the sea near my grandmother’s house to refresh after I had given up on finals. Then someone threw me off the deck when people weren’t looking. I, being a terrible swimmer, thought I was dead for sure when a young merman pushed me to the nearby beach. He noticed that my body conditions weren’t well and introduced an orthopedic surgeon to me. We were supposed to be having lunch together that day. I thought the Ocean Diner was a sashimi place like its name, but it turned out to be a Premium Restaurant that provides a sophisticated dining experience where merpeople and humans can dine together. Usually, when the introduction of a restaurant is flamboyant, I thought that the food would taste bad, but Siwoo vouched for the flavor if anything. I was worried about how I would enter the restaurant, but humans went inside through an ordinary door. I took off my shoes in front of the assigned room and found that there was an open space to put the feet under the table. Half of it was filled with water, and half of it was blocked so that water wouldn’t come in. I wondered how Siwoo, the merman, would enter the area filled with water when a head rose up under the table. It was him. He had a waterproof bag and a slightly darker brown coat than the one I saw last time. “Sorry I’m late, Miho. I had a hard time looking for the tunnel that you can enter from the sea for a moment.” “So that’s how you come in. How have you been?” “I’ve been well, what would you want to eat?” 34

“뭐가 맛있어요?” “닭가슴살 샐러드가 괜찮아요. 게살크림 스파게티, 모둠 알탕도 맛있고요.” “참 다양하네요.” “그죠? 다양한 손님들에게 맞추려고 그런 것 같아요.” “그럼 그 세 개 다 시켜봐요.” 음식 맛은 실제로 훌륭했다. 재료도 신선했고 양도 많았다. 나도 한 식사량 하는데 시우 씨는 나보다도 더 많이 먹었다. “미호씨 몸 상태는 좀 어떠세요?” “노 선생님께서 그러는데, 최악이래요.” “괜찮으시면, 제가 요즘 같이 운동할 사람을 찾고 있어요. 조만간 제가 육지에서 다시 대학을 다니게 되거든요. 같이 만나서 운동 하실래요?” 네 년은 밥 처먹는 것 외에는 할 줄 아는게 없지! 눈을 찡그리고 엄마의 목소리를 물리쳤다. 운동을 해야 한 다는 건 알고 있었지만, 몸이 건강해야 한다는 것 외에는 적당한 동기가 없었는데, 이 사람과 함께라면 나 자신을 이길 수 있을 것 같았다. 이 사람이라면. “뭔가 목표가 있으면 좋을 것 같아요. 저는 너무 심하지 않게 5Km 마라톤부터 시작하고 싶은데, 시우 씨는 뭘로 하고 싶으세요?” 내가 물었다. “음, 저도 사실 육지에서 한번 뛰어보고 싶어요. 땅에서 걸어본지 꽤 되어서. 우리 일주일에 다섯번 씩 만나서 달리기 훈련해요.” “다섯번이나요?” “다섯번이 힘드시면 세 번으로 해봐요. 저녁이 좋으세요, 아침이 좋으세요?” 매도 먼저 맞는게 나을 것인가, 몸이 깨어있을때 하는게 나을것인가. “저녁에 하고 싶어요.” “그럼 내일부터 헬스장에서 만나서 같이 뛰어요.” 음식 값은 서로 계산하겠다고 실랑이하다가 내 목숨을 구해주고 노 선생님 만나게 해준 답례로 내가 계산하겠다고 강력하게 주장하자, 시우 씨는 답례로 후식은 자기가 사겠다고 했다. 시우 씨가 물기가 없는 곳으로 나와서 나더러 돌아보지 말라고 했다. 수건으로 물기를 닦는 소리가 들렸고, 옷이 가방에서 꺼내져서 누군가 입는 소리가 들렸다.


“What’s good here?” “The chicken breast salad is good. So is spaghetti with crab and cream, and assorted fish roe soup.” “That’s quite a diverse menu.” “Right? I think it’s to accommodate the diverse guests.” “Let’s order all three of them.” The food actually tasted quite splendid. The ingredients were fresh, and the portions were large. I was not a small eater, but Siwoo ate even more than I. “How’s your body condition, Miho?” “Dr. No says that it’s the worst.” “If you don’t mind, I’m currently looking for someone to work out with. I will go to college again on land pretty soon. Would you like to meet and work out together?” All you can do is fucking gorge on food!

I squinted my eyes and fought Mom’s voice off. I knew I had to exercise, but there wasn’t an appropriate motive besides my body’s well-being. But if it was to be a challenge made with this person, I felt I could overcome my lack of motivation. If it was only with this person. “I think it will be good if we have a goal. I would like to start with a 5km marathon, what would you like to do?” I asked. “Hm, I would like to run on land for once, too. It’s been a while since I walked on land. Let’s meet five times a week to train for running.” “Five times?” “If that’s too hard for you, let’s make it three. Do you prefer the evening or the morning?” Would it be better to suffer early, or tire myself out when my body is awake? “Let’s do it in the evening.” “Then let’s meet at a gym and run together starting tomorrow.” We bickered about who pays, and when I insisted that I pay Siwoo for saving my life and helping me meet Dr. No, he volunteered to pay for dessert in return. Siwoo came up to the space where there was no water and 36

told me not to look back. “이제 됐어요.” 돌아보니 분명히 아까까지 있던 지느러미가 없고 대신 다리 한 쌍이 청바지와 양말을 입은 채 달려있었다. “물기를 완전히 닦는게 좀 까다롭지만 할 만 해요. 미리 말씀드리는데, 제가 육지에 나온지 좀 오래 되어서 걷는게 되게 느릴거예요. 넘어질지도 몰라요. 이해해주셨으면 좋겠어요.” “아유, 걱정마시고 천천히 걸으세요.” 우리는 식당에서 나와서 청초호 근처에 있는 유럽식 커피를 파는 카페로 갔다. 가는 동안 내가 너무 자주 시우 씨를 힐끔힐끔 봐서 시우 씨가 불편해하지 않을까 생각했지만 시우 씨는 온 신경이 두 다리에 모여져서 다른 곳에 신경을 쓸 수가 없었다. 아기가 걸음마하는 것과는 달랐다. 성인이 오랫동안 앉아서만 생활하다가 다시 걷는 방법을 연습하는 듯 했다. 다리 하나를 완전히 다 떼어서 발을 앞으로 완전히 딛은 뒤 다른 다리를 떼고 움직였다. 10분이면 걸어갈 거리를 30분 걸려서 도착했다. 높낮이가 다른 길을 만날 때면 시우 씨가 휘청거리는 바람에 내가 옆에서 잡아주어야 했다. 한번은 시우 씨가 급하게 중심을 잡는 나머지 내 발을 세게 밟았다. 아팠지만 시우 씨가 무안해할까봐 티 내지 않았다. 발 밟는 세기를 느껴보니 다리에 힘이 부족한 건 아니었다. 도리어 힘이 너무 들어가서 움직임이 힘들어보였다. “리듬을 타보세요. 하나, 둘, 하나, 둘.” 순간 내가 걷는 방법을 알기 쉽게 설명할 줄 모른다는 것을 깨달았다. 나도 돌 지나고 걸음마 연습할 때 어떻게 처음 했는지 기억하고 있었으면 좋았을 걸 하고 생각했다. 내게는 거의 본능에 가까운 걷고 뛰는 행동이 누군가는 순간순간 힘들 수도 있다는 걸 알게 되었다. 시우 씨는 힘든 기색 내지 않고 카페까지 열심히 걸어갔다. 이렇게 육체적인 도전을 한 다는 것이 그에게는 즐거워보였다. 잘 정돈된 눈매를 가진 갈색 눈이 반짝였다. 비너 멜랑주를 두 잔 시킨 뒤 서로에 대해 더 질문했다. 달콤한 크림 밑으로 쌉싸름한 커피의 향기가 기분좋게 목으로 넘어왔다. 시우 씨가 전국 배 장거리 수중 수영 챔피언이라는 것, 스포츠매니지먼트 학과라는 것, 외동아들이라는 것, 좋아하는 색깔은 해바라기에 있는 노란색이라는 것을 알 수 있었다. 왜 하필 해바라기냐고 물어봤더니 자기 고향에는 없는 색이어서 더 아름답게 느껴진단다. 상큼한 미소와 장난기 넘치는 목소리를 듣고 있자니 시간 가는 줄 몰랐다.


“It’s all set now.” When I looked back, instead of the tail fin that was there just moments before, there was a pair of legs with jeans and socks on. “It’s a little tricky to wipe all the water off but it’s doable. I tell you in advance, but it’s been a while since I came upon land and my walking will be extremely slow. I might fall down too. I hope you can understand.” “Oh, don’t worry about it. Take your time.” We came out of the restaurant and headed towards the café that sells European-style coffee near Lake Cheongcho. I was worried that Siwoo might feel uncomfortable with me giving glances at him too often, but Siwoo had his entire nervous system focused on his two legs and had hardly any room to care about anything else. It was different from a baby trying to walk for the first time. He took one leg completely off, placed it completely on the ground again, and then moved his other leg off. We took half an hour to get to a place that would otherwise take 10 minutes. Whenever we met a different level of the ground, Siwoo lost his balance and I had to hold him next to me. One time, Siwoo was in such a hurry to get his balance back again that he stepped hard on my foot. It hurt, but afraid that Siwoo might be embarrassed, I didn’t show the pain. Feeling his power as he stepped on my foot, I knew he didn’t lack strength. Rather, he struggled with his movement because of too much power. “Try walking on a rhythm. One, two, one, two.” At that moment I realized that I don’t know how to explain how to walk for someone to understand easily. I regretted that I didn’t remember how I first practiced walking after my first birthday. I learned that walking and running, which is almost like second nature to me, was another person’s constant agony. Siwoo didn’t show his tiredness and walked hard to the café. Going on a physical challenge like this seemed to be a joy for him. Brown eyes twinkled with well-trimmed boundaries. After ordering two cups of Wiener Mélange, we asked more about each other. The bitter fragrance of coffee under sweet cream flowed smoothly into my throat. I learned that Siwoo was the National Long-distance Underwater Swimming Champion, he studies Sports Management, he’s an only child, and his favorite color is sunflower yellow. I asked why sunflower of all colors, and he answered that the color doesn’t exist in his hometown and that increases the beauty for him. Watching his refreshing smile and listening to his playful voice made me forget the passage of time.


“그러고보니 아직 나이를 안 여쭤봤네요. 몇 년 생이세요?” “95년생이예요.” “우와, 나돈데! 우리 동갑이었네요. 말 편하게 할까요?” 기뻐하는 시우 씨의 표정을 보니 나도 기분이 좋았지만, 말을 놓는 것은 아직 망설여졌다. “저는 저보다 나이 적은 분들에게도 꽤 오랫동안 존대하는 편이어서요.” 이 말을 내뱉고 나서 나는 바로 후회했다. 더 가까이 다가가고 싶었지만 너무 좋게만 흘러가는 상황이 불안했다. 만약을 대비해 서로 상처주지 않도록 존대하는 편이 낫겠다고 생각했다. 그렇지만 아쉬운건 어쩔 수 없었다. “미호 씨가 그렇다면 . . . 어쩔 수 없죠.” 시우 씨와 나는 이 대화 뒤로 아무렇지도 않게 커피를 홀짝이며 서로에 대해 더 질문했다. 내가 아기 고양이를 키우기 시작했다는 것, 누군가 내 옆에 차를 몰고 와서는 타라고 했던 것 까지 화제가 미치자 시우 씨는 고개를 갸우뚱했다. “미호 씨 요즘 이상한 일을 많이 겪으시는 것 같네요.” “말도 마세요. 정신없어 죽겠어요.” “오늘은 꼭 경찰서에 가서 신고하시는게 어때요?” “사실 정작 가서 뭐라고 할지 모르겠어요. 던진 사람 얼굴도 못 봤고 범죄라 하기에는 애매한데다가 물리적으로 손해를 본 것도 없거든요.” “아무튼 정말 이상하네요.” “그러게요.” “아기 고양이 이름은 정하셨어요?” “아니요, 아직요. 추천하시는게 있나요?” “아기 고양이는 어떻게 생겼나요?” “외모는 그냥 길고양이에 주황색 줄무늬가 있고, 발은 하얀색이예요.” 나는 핸드폰으로 찍은 고양이의 사진을 보여주었다. “예쁘네요. 어디 보자 . . . 치즈, 나영이, 애옹이 . . .산호. 산호 어때요?” 생각지도 못한 선택지였지만 내가 떠올린 그 어떤 이름보다도 마음에 들었다. “좋아요. 이제부터 이 아이는 산호예요.”


“Now that I think about it, I haven’t asked your age. What year were you born?” Siwoo asked. “1995.”

“Wow, me too! Shall we speak informally now?” Seeing his happy face made me feel happy too, but I still felt reluctant to let go of formal speech. “I tend to speak respectfully for quite a long time even to people who are younger than me.” As soon as I said these words, I regretted them. I wanted to get closer to him, but the situation flowing suspiciously fine and dandy made me nervous. I thought that we’d better speak respectfully so that we don’t hurt each other’s feelings, just in case. But I have to admit, I felt sorry. “If you say so . . . Then it can’t be helped.” Siwoo and I asked more about each other, sipping coffee like nothing happened after this conversation. When the topic came to the point that I started to raise a kitten and that somebody rolled up her car next to me and urged me to get inside, Siwoo tilted his head in confusion. “You seem to go through a lot of strange events, Miho.” “Don’t even mention it. It’s driving me insane.” “How about reporting at the police station today for sure?” “To be honest, I don’t know what I should say if I go for real.​ I haven’t seen the culprit’s face, it’s too ambiguous to call it a crime, and I didn’t suffer any physical damage.” “Still, it’s so strange.” “I think so too.” “Have you chosen a name for your kitten yet?” “No, not yet. Any suggestions?” “What does the kitten look like?” “For her looks, she is a common street cat with ginger stripes and white feet.” I showed pictures of her that I took with my phone. “She’s pretty. Let me see . . . Cheese, Na-young, Meowster . . . Coral. How about Coral?” It was an unexpected choice, but I liked it better than any other name I came up with. “All right, this child is Coral from now on.” 40

“​잘 지어준 것 같아서 좋네요. 내일부터 운동 같이 시작하는거 맞으시죠? 잘 부탁드립니다.” “저도 잘 부탁드려요.” 카페에서 나온 뒤 시우 씨가 다시 바다에 걸어가는걸 도와주었다. 시우 씨는 청초호 물 가에 앉아서 나보고 돌아보지 말라고 했다. 등 뒤에서 풀밭에 앉는 소리, 바지와 신발을 가방에 넣는 소리가 났다. “이제 됐어요. 오늘 즐거웠어요. 미호 씨, 다음번에 뵐 때는 너무 안으로만 참지 않으시면 좋겠어요. 조심히 들어가세요!" 나는 뒤돌아서서 어느새 물 속에 있는 시우 씨를 향해 손을 흔들었다. 시우 씨는 내 쪽을 보며 헤엄치다가 물 속으로 사라졌다. 아프다는 티를 안 내려고 해도 다 드러났다 보다.

다음 날 저녁 헬스장에서 만난 우리는 몸을 풀고 런닝머신 위에 각자 올라서서 운동을 시작했다. 시우 씨는 천천히 걸음을 연습했다. 가는 도중 걸음이 꼬이는 바람에 기계를 멈춰야 할 때가 있었다. 그에 반해 나는 내 심폐지구력을 과신한 나머지 쉬지도 않고 빨리 뛰다가 10분도 안 되어서 얼굴이 하얗게 되어서 숨을 쉬는 것 조차 힘들어 거울에 기대고 앉아서 헤롱거렸다. 하늘이 뒤집혔다. 눈 앞이 캄캄했다. 시우 씨는 내 옆에 물 한 잔 가져다주며 괜찮냐고 연거푸 물어보았다. "시우 씨, 미안해요. 나 때문에 신경쓰시고." "아니에요, 미호 씨는 쉬세요. 저는 제 운동 할 테니까." 운동을 갑자기 한 나머지 내 몸이 놀란 것 같았다. 다음부터 페이스 조절 계획이라도 짜서 천천히 늘려야 할 판이었다. 시우 씨는 걸음이 계속 꼬였지만 포기하지 않고 꼬박 50분동안 걸었다. 격한 운동이 아니었음에도 익숙하지 않은 움직임이어서 그런지 시우 씨 얼굴에는 송골송골 땀이 맺혀있었다. 시우 씨가 다른 운동 기기로 상체 운동을 하는 동안 나는 시우 씨가 했던 것 같이 천천히 걸어보았다. 이내 몸이 버티질 못해서 다시 내려와야 했다. 이렇게 심각하다니.


“I think I’ve made a good name. We’re all set about working out together starting tomorrow, right? I ask for your good treatment of me.” “I ask for your good treatment of me, too.” After we left the café, I helped Siwoo walk back to the sea. Siwoo told me to not look back sitting by the waters of Lake Cheongcho. I heard behind my back the sound of sitting on the grass and putting in pants and shoes into the bag. “All set. I enjoyed today, Miho. Next time we meet, I hope you don’t hold in everything, keeping it all to yourself. Take care!” I turned back and waved at Siwoo who was already in the water. Siwoo swam, looking towards me, and disappeared into the water. I guess my pain showed even if I didn’t try to. The next day at the gym, we warmed up our bodies and started to work out on each of our own treadmills. Siwoo practiced slow walking. He had to stop the machine whenever his steps were twisting together. Me on the other hand, I trusted my cardiovascular abilities too much and ran too fast without a break. I had to lean on the mirrored wall, with my head spinning, with my face white and my breathing heavy in less than ten minutes. The sky turned upside-down. I couldn’t see with my eyes. Siwoo asked over and over if I was all right, bringing a cup of water next to me. “I’m sorry, Siwoo. For making you worried.” “No, it’s okay. You go ahead and rest. I’ll continue with my work-out.” My body seemed to be surprised because I worked out all of a sudden. From now on, I had to increase my work-out difficulty bit by bit, planning out a pace control plan. Siwoo kept tumbling with his steps but didn’t give up and worked out for a complete 50 minutes. Although the work-out wasn’t hardcore, since he wasn’t used to the movement there were beads of sweat on Siwoo’s face. While Siwoo used other instruments to work his upper body, I tried walking at a slow pace as Siwoo did. Not after long, my body couldn’t handle it anymore and I had to come down from the machine. I couldn’t believe it was this bad. 42

운동이 다 끝난 뒤 시우 씨는 날 집까지 바래다 주겠다고 했다. 나는 걸음이 아직 서툰 사람이 행여나 길 가다가 위험에 처할까봐 걱정되어서 청초호까지만 바래다달라고 했다. 도보를 걸으면서 둘 다 지쳐서 아무 말도 하지 않았다. 순간 우리 옆에 저번에 보았던 하얀 승용차가 속도를 줄이며 다가왔다. 나는 불안해서 시우씨 팔을 잡고 속력을 높였다. "아가씨, 우리 수상한 사람들 아니예요!" 안에서 다급한 여자의 목소리가 들렸다. 그 말이 상황을 더 수상하게 만들었다. 시우 씨는 어리둥절한 표정으로 내 걸음에 맞추려고 애썼다. "그 옆에 있는 인어 청년을 위해서라도 우리 차에 타요! 위험한 사람들이 우릴 쫓아오고 있어요!" 시우 씨가 인어인 건 어떻게 알았지? 우릴 지켜보고 있었다는 것 외에는 설명할 방법이 없었다. "위험하다는 사람들은 누군데요? 당신들도 위험할지 모르잖아요!" 여자는 목소리를 낮췄다. "요즘 극성을 부리는 인신매매단의 활동이 늘었어요. 특히 육지에 올라온 인어를 점 찍어서 팔고 있어요. 내 말 못 믿겠으면 저기 버스 뒤를 봐요." 혹시나 해서 뒤를 돌아보니 검은 정장을 입은 사내들이 버스 정류장에서 우리를 지켜보고 있었다. 시우 씨와 나는 눈빛을 교환한 뒤 차에 탔다.

"잘 생각했어요. 우리는 속초의 육지 경찰과 협력하고 있는 인어인권위원회 소속이예요. 나도, 운전하는 우리 신랑도 사실 인어예요. 시우 씨, 우리 기억 안 나요?" 시우 씨는 눈을 찌푸리고 어둠 속에서 앞좌석에 앉아있는 두 사람을 관찰하다가 "어!" 하고 소리쳤다. 시우 씨는 운전석에 앉아있는 남자에게 손을 내밀었다. "나 중3때 담임 선생님이셨어요! 여기서 살고 계셨구나. 사모님도 몰라뵈서 죄송해요." "괜찮아. 오래 되었는데 뭘." 시우 씨와 악수하면서 선생님께서 말씀하셨다.


After the workout, Siwoo offered to escort me home. Worried that Siwoo might get into danger on the road because of his still awkward walking, I told him to only go with me until Lake Cheongcho. Both of us were tired, and both of us said nothing on the sidewalk. All of a sudden, the white car that I saw before slowed down and approached us. I got anxious, so I grabbed onto Siwoo’s arm and sped up. “Young lady, we are not questionable people!” An urgent woman’s voice rang in the car. The very words made the situation more questionable. Siwoo tried his best to keep up with my pace with a confused expression. “Get in the car for the sake of that young merman next to you! Dangerous people are following us!” How did she know Siwoo is a merman? There was no way to explain that besides the possibility that she was watching us. “Who are those dangerous people, anyway? You might be dangerous too!” The woman lowered her voice. “There has been an increase of activity of the currently rampant human trafficking cartel. They are targeting and selling merpeople who are on land. If you don’t believe me, look behind that bus.” I looked behind just in case, and several men in black suits were watching us at a bus stop. Siwoo and I exchanged looks, then got in the car. 7 “Good choice. We are part of the Committee for Merpeoples Rights that cooperates with the land police of Sokcho. My husband and I are driving over here. We are merpeople, too. Siwoo, don’t you remember us?” Siwoo scrunched his eyes and observed the two people in the front seat in the dark, then cried “Oh!” Siwoo held out his hand to the man in the driver’s seat. “This gentleman was my 9th-grade homeroom teacher! You were living up here. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize your wife too.” “It’s okay, it’s been a long while,” said Siwoo’s teacher as he shook hands with his student. 44

"이 쪽은 한미호 씨인데, 이미 구면이신 것 같네요." "아까 그 남정네들이 얼마 전에 이 아가씨를 뒤쫓아가고 있었어. 다행이 이 아가씨가 지레 겁 먹고 버스에 올라서 도망치는 바람에 놓쳤지. 잘 지내고 있었네요, 미호 씨." 나는 그제야 한 숨 돌릴 수 있었다. 몸의 긴장이 풀어졌지만 정신까지 놓을 수 없었다. 만약을 대비해서 시우 씨의 선생님은 속초 인근을 한 바퀴 돌기 시작하셨다. "절 생각해서 끌고 도망가주어서 고마워요, 미호 씨." "둘이 서로 친한 것 같은데, 이 참에 말 놓지 그래?" 사모님께서 말씀하셨다. 시우 씨와 나는 멋쩍게 서로를 바라보았다. 시우 씨는 머뭇거리다 먼저 입을 열었다. "그럼 그럴 . . .래?" ". . . 그래." "억지로 하지는 말고." "억지로 하는건 아니야. 참, 빵 먹고 싶은거 있으면 말해. 근데 시간이 좀 걸릴거야. 아직 내가 뭘 만들지는 못 해." "그래도 어깨 너머 배우는게 있을 거야." "보기 좋구만." 사모님께서 웃으며 말씀하셨다. "당신도 참, 애들 얘기하는데 끼어들지 좀 말어. 미호 양, 여기가 집이지? "네, 맞아요. 데려다주셔서 감사합니다." "앞으로도 조심해. 시우 씨는 우리가 잘 바래다줄게." "알겠습니다." 집 뒷문을 열고 터덜터덜 방 안으로 들어왔다. 방에는 불이 꺼져 있었다. 할머니 깨우지 않으려고 조심조심 문을 잠근 뒤 총총걸음으로 들어왔다. 할머니는 세상 모르고 주무시고 계셨고, 산호는 내 다리에 얼굴을 비볐다. 나는 손을 씻은 후 이불을 덮고 산호를 품에 안고 바닥에 웅크렸다.


“This is Ms. Miho Han, but I think you’ve already seen each other before.” “Those men just now were following this young lady a couple of days ago. Fortunately, this lady got scared in the pants and ran away on a bus, making us lose her. I see that you are doing well, Miho.” It was then that I could catch a breath. The tension in my body was released but I couldn’t let my guard down also. Siwoo’s teacher started to circle around the city of Sokcho just in case. “Thank you for being considerate, dragging and running away with me, Miho.” “You guys look close, why don’t you get more casual at this point?” said Siwoo’s teacher’s wife. Siwoo and I exchanged awkward glances. Siwoo hesitated, then opened his mouth first. “Do you” “. . . Sure.” “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.” “I want to do it. Oh, if you have any bread if you want to eat, let me know. But it’s going to take a while. I’m not able to make anything yet.” “You’ll be able to learn things behind their shoulders.” “Looking good.” Said the lady, smiling. “Honey, don’t chime in when the kids are speaking. This is your house, right, Miho?” “Yes, it is. Thank you for dropping me off.” “Be careful from now on, too. We will take Siwoo home.” “Got it.” I opened the back door of the house and dragged myself into the room. The lights were off. I locked the door carefully so as to not wake Grandmother up, then tiptoed inside. Grandmother was sleeping as if the world didn’t exist, and Coral rubbed her face against my legs. I washed my hands, pulled up my blankets, cuddled Coral, and rolled up on the floor. 46

눈이 떠졌다. 바깥은 여전히 어두웠다. 산호는 내 옆에서 새근새근 자고 있었다. 나쁜 꿈을 꾼 것 같이 입 안에 쓴 맛이 느껴졌다. 날 잡아가려던 그 사람들은 내가 여기 살고 있다는 것을 알 까? 만약 그렇다면 할머니의 안전을 위해서라도 내가 피해드려야 하는게 아닐까? 아니, 도리어 내가 할머니를 지켜드려야 하지 않을까? 그 사람들은 날 콕 집어 잡아가려던 걸까? 밤 늦게 혼자 누워 온갖 생각을 하는 내 버릇이 다시 도졌다. 상황을 봤을때 내가 내린 결론은, 내가 건강해져야 한 다는 것이었다. 내가 살기 위해서라도, 주위 사람들을 지키기 위해서라도 조금씩 체력을 키워야 했다. 더듬더듬 손을 뻗어서 내 핸드폰을 집었다. 생각을 좀 돌려보려고 운동 동영상을 찾아보았다. 시계에 눈이 갔다. 새벽 5시 55분이었다. 어제 있었던 일이 생각나면서 자리에서 벌떡 일어났다. 아침 6시 15분 까지 내 새로운 직장에 가야 하는데! 작은 부엌 싱크대에서 고양이 세수를 하고 어제 입었던 외투 그대로 입고 집에서 나왔다. 순간 핸드폰을 안 가지고 왔다는 게 생각나서 다시 문을 열고 들어갔다. 들어가니 산호가 깨어있었다. 나는 산호에게 작은 목소리로 작별 인사를 하며 쓰다담으려다 순간 내가 음식을 만질 수 있다는 생각에 쓰다듬지 못했다. 마음이 아팠지만 일은 제대로 해야 했다. 직장에 아슬아슬하게 도착했다. 가니 팽효주 아주머니께서 머리가 희끗한 중년 백인 남자분하고 준비를 하고 계셨다. "왔어? 인사해. 우리 남편이야. 나 프랑스에서 미술 공부할 때 만났어. 네 선생님이셔. 앞으로 날 부를땐 사장님이라고 불러." 사장님은 그대로 테이블을 세팅하러 가셨다. 남편분은 키가 나보다 그렇게 크지 않으셨다. 나는 165cm 여서 작다는 말은 잘 안 듣는 편인데 나보다 겨우 5cm 정도 차이 날까말까였다. 메종 드 수크레는 그날 팔 빵을 그날 만들었다. 반죽을 준비하고, 생크림을 휘젓고, 오븐을 예열하고, 계란의 흰자와 노른자를 분리했다. "오후 3시부터 5시는 간단한 식사를 하고 저녁 장사 준비를 해야 해. 미호 씨는 손님들 오시면 할 일이 많을거야." 남편 분 (성함은 제헤미 파팽이라고 하셨다) 이 계란 흰자를 휘저으시며 말했다.


My eyes opened. It was still dark outside. Coral was sleeping next to me, breathing soundly. A bitter taste lingered in my mouth as if I had a nightmare. The people who were trying to take me away, do they know that I live here? If they do, shouldn’t I have to leave this place for my Grandmother’s safety? No, should I protect my Grandmother as well? Were those people trying to kidnap me as the focused target? The habit of my mind running wild while I’m lying down alone late at night surged again. The conclusion I drew from the situation was that I had to get more fit. In order for me to live, in order for me to protect the people around me, I had to increase my stamina, bit by bit. I searched for my phone and picked it up. I looked for workout videos to distract myself. My eyes went to the clock. It was 5:55 a.m. The events that happened yesterday came back to my mind, and I sprang up from my position. I had to get to my new job at 6:15 a.m.! I did a quick wash-up in the tiny kitchen sink, put on the exact same coat as I wore yesterday, and got out of the house. Just then I remembered that I didn’t have my phone with me, so I went inside again. There, Coral was all woken up. I said a quiet good-bye to Coral and was about to pet her, but then I stopped myself, due to the idea that I might touch food. My heart ached, but I had to do my job. I arrived just barely on time. There, Ms. Hyo-joo Paeng was preparing for that day with a gray-haired middle-aged white gentleman. “You’re here! Say hi to my husband. We met when I was studying fine art in France. He’ll be your teacher. From now on, address me as ‘Boss.’” The Boss immediately went to set the tables. Her husband wasn’t that tall compared to my height. I am 5 feet 4 inches tall, so I rarely get the notion that I’m short, but he was barely two inches taller than me. Maison de Sucre baked what got sold that day, on that day. We prepared the batter, whipped fresh cream, preheated ovens, and separated the egg yolk from the egg whites. “From 3 to 5 in the afternoon, we need to eat a simple meal and prepare for the evening. You’ll have a lot of things to do when the guests arrive.” The Boss’ husband (his name was ​Jérémie​ Papin) said while whipping a bowl of egg whites. 48

아침에는 간단한 식사로 커피와 빵을 사고 나가려는 손님들이 쉴 새 없이 왔다. 재료 손질 하랴, 빵에 계란물 발라서 구우랴, 설거지 하랴, 주문 받으랴, 조리대 청소하랴, 쓰레기 버리랴, 누가 내 머리카락을 여러 갈래로 세게 잡아당기는 것 같았다. 이 가게는 크림빵이 날개돋친듯이 팔렸다. 그래서 그런지 크림빵만 쉴 새 없이 구울 때도 있었다. 아침 식사 하는 손님들이 나가면 브런치를 즐기려는 손님들이 왔다. 나는 팽 사장님 남편분을 소개받은대로 파팽 선생님이라고 부르며 온갖 허드렛일을 도맡아 했다. "미호 씨, 이거 7번 테이블." 아침을 거르는 바람에 배가 고파져서 손님이 먹을 음식을 내가 먹고 싶은 충동을 몇 번이나 참으며 홀을 바쁘게 뛰어다녔다. 가게는 2층으로 되어 있어서 1층의 반은 주방과 베이커리가 차지하고 있었고, 나머지는 손님들이 앉을 자리로 마련되어있었다. 오후 12시쯤부터 발바닥이 아파오고 오른쪽 허리가 쑤시기 시작했다. 그에 반해 사장님과 선생님은 지친 기색 하나 없이 손님들을 받고 있었다. 브런치 손님들이 끊긴다고 생각이 될 때 쯤 점심을 먹으려는 손님들이 왔다. 오후 3시가 되어서야 앉을 수 있었다. 나는 선생님께서 만드신 크로크 무슈와 마담을 게걸스럽게 해치우고 좋아하는 우유를 크게 한 잔 마셨다. 소화 시키고 쉴 시간도 없이 오후에 팔 빵과 음식 재료를 손질해야 하는 시간이 돌아왔다. 허리가 쑤시고 발바닥이 아픈건 어쩔 수 없었다. 내 사정이니까. 저녁 시간에 새우 크림 스파게티를 2층의 19번 테이블에 가져가는 중, 계단에서 그만 균형을 잃고 휘청거리다 그대로 벽에 몸을 부딪히면서 음식을 고스란히 쏟았다. 하늘이 노래졌다. 심장이 쿵쿵 뛰었고 손발이 차가워졌다. 급하게 음식과 접시를 치우고 손님들에게 죄송하다고 연거푸 사과한 뒤 주방에 가서 스파게티를 쏟았다고 모기 목소리로 말했다. “뭐라고? 가까이 와서 말해.” 파팽 선생님께서 기름에 마늘을 볶으며 말씀하셨다. 나는 차마 거역할 수가 없어서 가까이 가서 목소리를 가다듬고 말했다. “2층 19번 테이블 새우 크림 스파게티 쏟았습니다.” 파팽 선생님은 한 숨을 내쉰 뒤 나더러 스파게티를 직접 만들라고 했다. 이 때는 이 분이 나보다 몸집이 어마무시하게 큰 거인같이 느껴졌다.


Guests came non-stop to buy coffee and bread as a simple breakfast. Preparing the ingredients, brushing egg wash on bread and baking them, washing dishes, receiving orders, cleaning the countertop, taking out the trash, it was as if someone was pulling my hair strands hard in many directions. This shop had strong sales on buns with cream inside. So, there was a time when we were only relentlessly baking cream buns. As the guests who came for breakfast started to leave, the guests who came to enjoy brunch started to arrive. I called my Boss’ husband ‘Master Papin’ as I was introduced and did all kinds of basic tasks. “Miho, bring this to table no. 7.” I ran around the halls, gulping down the urge to eat my guests’ food. The shop was on two floors, half of the 1st floor consisting of the kitchen and the bakery, and the rest filled with seats for the guests to sit in. Around noon, the bottom of my feet started to feel sore along with the right part of my back. On the other hand, my Boss and my Master were receiving guests without a hint of exhaustion. When the brunch guests were leaving, there came the guests that were here for lunch. I was finally able to sit down when it was 3 p.m. I gobbled up the Croque Monsieur and Madame that my Master made and gulped down a big glass of milk, which I like. Without having time to digest, I had to prepare the bread and the ingredients. My aching back and feet couldn’t be helped, it was my thing to deal with. While bringing a dish of cream spaghetti with shrimp to table no. 19 on the second floor, I lost my balance on the stairs, wobbled, and slammed myself to the wall as I spilled all the food. The sky was falling. My heartbeat like a drum and my hands and feet became cold. I cleared the food and the dish as soon as possible, apologized to the guests over and over, and said in a mosquito-like tiny voice that I spilled the spaghetti when I went to the kitchen. “What? Speak closer.” Said Master Papin as he stirred the garlic in oil. I couldn’t say no, so I cleared my voice and said again. “I have spilled the cream spaghetti with shrimp that was for table no. 19 on the second floor.” Master Papin sighed and told me to make the spaghetti myself. At that moment, he felt like a frighteningly big giant that was significantly larger than me. 50

“스파게티 주문이 네 개나 있어. 이것까지 합해서 다섯개야. 내가 하라는 대로만 해.” 나는 침을 꿀꺽 삼키고 앞치마를 두르고 손을 재빠르게 씻었다. 선생님께서는 프라이팬 5개에 동시에 기름을 두르고 마늘을 볶으면서 거의 다 삶아진 스파게티를 꺼내라고 하셨다. 나는 싱크대에 쏟지 않게 조심하면서 체에 스파게티를 부었다. 올리브유를 살짝 뿌린 뒤 프라이팬 세 개를 맡아서 크림을 부어 데운 뒤 새우, 브로콜리, 양파를 넣고 육두구와 소금을 조금 뿌렸다. 소스가 끓어오르자 면을 넣어서 조금 더 데운 뒤 후추와 파슬리를 뿌렸다. 손이 바쁘게 움직이며 프라이팬 사이를 왔다갔다 했다. “지금 하는거 잘 봐둬. 앞으로 시켜먹을거야.” 선생님은 내 등을 툭 치면서 씨익 미소를 지으셨다. 그 미소 하나에 팽팽한 고무줄처럼 긴장했던 심장이 사르르 풀어졌다. 나는 접시들에 스파게티를 담고 조심조심 손님 테이블로 날랐다. 아까 음식을 쏟았던 그 손님은 날 흘겨보면서 음식을 받아들었다. 나도 달리 할 말은 없었다. 배고픈데 음식이 직원 실수 때문에 늦게 나오면 짜증이 나는건 당연하니까. 마지막 다섯번 째 스파게티를 놓고 나서야 한시름 놓을 수 있었다. 어느새 문을 닫을 시간인 밤 10시가 다가왔다. 지금 경찰서에 가서 여태까지 일어난 일을 말 해야 하나 말아야 하나 고민이 되었다. 기껏 얻은 직장을 내 발로 걷어차는 것일수도 있지만, 내가 지금 어떤 상태인지 마냥 참지 말고 도움을 요청하는게 좋다고 생각해서 영업이 끝난 뒤 사장님께 가서 드릴 말씀이 있다고 했다. “미호 씨, 괜찮아. 첫날에 실수할 수도 있는 거지 뭐. 우리도 초보때 실수 많이 했어. 배상 하라고는 안 할게.” “아니요, 오늘 쏟은 스파게티 이야기가 아니고요, 요즘 누군가가 절 해치려는 것 같아요.” “아니, 미호 씨, 그게 무슨 소리야?” 나는 사장님 부부께 자초지종을 설명했다.


“There are four spaghetti orders right now. Including this, there are five. Do exactly as I say.” I gulped, put on my apron, and washed my hands in a flash. The Master put in oil inside 5 pans at the same time and stir-fried garlic while telling me to take out the spaghetti that was almost done cooking. I poured the spaghetti on a sieve while being careful not to spill it in the sink. I put some olive oil on the pasta and got in charge of three pans. I poured in cream, heated it up, put in shrimp, broccoli, and onions, then sprinkled some nutmeg and salt. When the sauce came to a boil, I cooked it a little bit more with the pasta then put pepper and parsley on top. My hands moved like a busy bee and went back and forth between the pans. “Watch carefully what we’re doing right now. I’ll have you work this from now on.” The Master gave a small punch on my back and smiled like a little boy. That one smile relaxed my tense rubber-like heart. I poured the spaghetti onto the plates and took care to bring them to the guests’ tables. The customer that I spilled the food moments before glared at me as she took the food. I couldn’t say anything else. It was understandable to be annoyed when you’re hungry and the food comes out late due to the waitress’s mistake. I was able to take a breather when I delivered the last fifth spaghetti. The time to close the shop, 10 p.m., approached without us knowing. I was pondering over whether I should go to the police station and tell them about what happened to me so far. I could be kicking away a job that I strived to get, but I decided that I had to ask for help for my condition instead of holding it all in. After the shop was closed, I told Boss that I had something to say. “It’s all right, Miho. You can make mistakes on your first day. We made tons of mistakes when we were beginners too. We won’t ask you to cover for the spilled dish.” “No, I’m not talking about the spaghetti I spilled today. I think someone’s trying to hurt me nowadays.” “Miho, whatever are you talking about?” I told the details to the Boss couple. 52

“행여나 저 때문에 가게에 해가 가게 될 까봐 미리 말씀드리는 거예요. 면접 때는 심각성을 제가 미처 몰랐었어요, 말씀 안 드려서 죄송합니다.” “미호 씨, 그러면 우리가 이야기를 좀 해볼게. 일단 미호 씨 안전이 우선이니까 오늘은 꼭 경찰서에 가봐. 정말 수고했어.” 나는 인사를 드린 뒤 지친 몸을 이끌고 경찰서로 갔다. 뭐라고 해야 할지 몰라서 말이 떠오르지 않고 목구멍 안쪽에서 만 맴돌았다. 경찰서는 처음이었다. 뉴스에서 허구한 날 나오는 불미스러운 사건들로 인해 평생 경찰과는 연루되는 일 없이 조용히 살자고 그렇게 다짐했는데. “그러니까, 누가 아가씨를 배 위에서 갑자기 던졌다, 그 말씀이시죠?” 책상 너머의 순경분께서 물었다. “네.” “던진 사람의 인상착의는 모르시고요?” “네. 남자인지도 여자인지도 모르겠어요.” “그리고 속초에 온 날부터 이상한 남정네들이 쫓아오는 것 같았다고요?” “네. 저번에 밤에 친구랑 길 갈 때에도 남자들이 쫓아오는 걸 그, 인어인권위원회 소속이신 어느 부부께서 차에 태워주셔서 피할 수 있었어요.” 남자들은 검은 정장을 입었다는 것, 나에게 뭘 바라고 이러는지 모르겠다는 것까지 말했다. “지금으로선 이 위치추적기 밖에는 드릴게 없네요. 뭔가 위험에 처한 것 같을때 이 버튼을 누르면 가까운 지구대에서 출동할겁니다.” “감사합니다.” “한미호씨라고 하셨죠? 부모님께 이 일은 말씀드릴건가요?” “아니오.” 너무 확실한 나의 대답에 순경 분은 당황하신 듯 펜 끝을 책상에 두드렸다.


“I’m telling you just in case this causes harm to the shop because of me. I didn’t realize how serious this was at the time of the interview. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before.” “Then Miho, please give us the time to discuss this. For now, your safety comes first, so I suggest you do visit the police station today. Great work, by the way.” I said good-bye then dragged my weary body to the police station. I didn’t know what to say, as words circled in a loop at the back of my throat. It was my first time at the police station. I had promised myself that I will live a quiet life and not have anything to do with the police all my life, seeing all the pitiful things I saw on the news on any given day. “So, you mean someone threw you off the ship all of a sudden, right?” Asked the constable across the desk. “Yes.” “You don’t know what the thrower looked like?” “No. I don’t even know if the thrower was male or female.” “And you think strange men are following you since the day you came to Sokcho?” “Yes. I was able to avoid them when I was walking at night with a friend, thanks to a couple that drove us around who were part of the Committee for Merpeople’s Rights.” I told the officer that the men wore black suits and that I have no idea why they would do this to me, or what they expect of me in any way. “For now, all we can give you is this GPS. If you press this button when you think you’re in danger, a station nearby will come for you.” “Thank you.” “You said you’re Miss Miho Han? Are you going to tell your parents about this?” “No.” My answer full of certainty surprised the constable, and he tapped the tip of his pen on the desk. 54

“그래도 만일에 대비해서 알리는 걸 전 권하고 싶은데.” “알려드려봤자 그리 탐탁해하지 않으실거예요.” 순경 분은 작은 숨을 들이쉬고는 고개를 끄덕였다. “알겠습니다. 일단 알리지 않는 걸로 하지요. 만약 무슨 일이 생기면 책임은 본인이 지셔야 합니다.” 경찰서에서 긴장한 나머지 몸이 파김치가 되었다. 일주일에 세 번만 나오면 되서 얼마나 다행인지. 내 체력의 한계가 너무 적은게 분했다. 집에 오는 길에 바닷가에 들러서 파도치는 겨울 바다를 보았다. 네 년은 밥 처먹는 것 외에는 할 줄 아는게 없지! 엄마가 아는게 뭔데? 난 반드시 제대로 할 줄 아는게 있어. 그게 무엇이든지간에 찾아낼거야. “I suggest that you do just in case.” “They wouldn’t be so happy even if I do.” The constable breathed in a small sigh and nodded his head. “All right. We won’t tell them for now. If anything happens, it’s your responsibility.” I lead my body home, which had become jelly. I was so nervous at the police station. I was glad that I only had to work three days a week. I was mad that the limits of my stamina were so low. I stopped by the beach to look at the winter waves on my way home. All you can do is fucking gorge on food! What do you know, Mom? I must have something I can do properly. I will find it, whatever it may be.


The Fall 2019 issue of Brio. Literary Journal is edited by:

Ava McLaughlin.​ Ava is a junior majoring in Comparative Literature with a minor in Film Production. She enjoys writing fiction but never poetry. She is the Editor - in - Chief of Brio. Will Wise.​ Will is a senior majoring in French and Politics. He is our photo editor and cover designer. He also cannot make a respectable french omelette despite his major. Emily Ostlander.​ Emily is a junior majoring in Art History and Urban Design/Architectural Studies. She is our art editor and cover designer. She is most likely rewatching BBC’s Pride & Prejudice. Laurel Martin.​ Laurel is a​ senior in History & Anthropology with minors in French and Art History. She admins a meme page on Facebook. Trisha Gupta.​ Trisha is a junior in English & American Literature with a minor in Chemistry, on the Pre-Health track. She loved studying abroad in London, and enjoyed getting to see the tulips in Amsterdam! Amy Lenkiewicz.​ Amy is a senior double-majoring in Art History and English and American Literature. She often thinks about the time Shakespeare called an eyeball "vile jelly." Lara Dreux.​ Lara is a junior double-majoring in English and American Literature, and Journalism. She cannot pass by flowers without stopping to sniff them. Jace Chen.​ Jace is a sophomore in Comparative Literature. The small little crum crackers at the bottom of Oyster Cracker boxes make her exceedingly happy. Jen Khai Yew.​ Jen Khai is a junior studying a bit of everything. He is from at least 3 places. Visit our website : ​


Profile for Brio. Literary Journal


Fall - 2019


Fall - 2019