car路pal tun路nel syn路drome: a painful condition of the hand and fingers caused by compression of a major nerve where it passes over the carpal bones through a passage at the front of the wrist, alongside the flexor tendons of the hand. It may be caused by repetitive movements over a long period, or by fluid retention. Characterized by sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning.
Table of Contents:
Foxes (by Jeffrey Yang) | page 1 Styrofoam (by Benny Feldmann) | page 3 Trickling Thoughts (by Dahyun Kim) | page 6 Freddy and Brian (by Carolyn Halley) | page 9 What I Have To Live With (by Kevin Tash) | page 11 The Punishment (by Haebin Kim) | page 13 Eve’s Angel (by Amanda Espinosa) | page 15 Friends (by Somi Jun) | page 17
About The Carpal Tunnel | The Carpal Tunnel is a high school literary magazine based at South Pasadena High School. It aims to feature unique voices and artwork from our students, as well as from yours, and your friend’s, and your enemy’s. The Carpal Tunnel is about youth, and what youth is actually like for young people. And to understand, or at least appreciate that, we want to hear from any and all. This month’s issue features short stories. Writers and artists come from four different high schools, in two different countries. Nothing in this magazine may be reproduced without the explicit permission of the author and/or illustrator. We’d love to read your writing, and will do so year-round. Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org - Somi Jun | Volume 1 Layout Editor | February 2014
The Carpal Tunnel | 1
by Jeffrey Yang:
Lynbrook High School San Jose, California Illustration: Carolyn Halley
Foxes | 2 y friend Timmy used to tell me that foxes were like a mix between cats and dogs. He said that they had retractable claws and also
long snouts. I was five years old when I first saw it, its slender body protruding from the tree line. A fox with its left leg gnawed clean to the bone, small streams of blood still visible on the milky white from my front porch. Timmy said that when trapped, one in four foxes will gnaw its leg off so it can escape. He told me that when hunters saw a closed trap with nothing in it, they only had to follow the trail of blood until they found the fox, dead or nearly dead, but sometimes they wouldn’t find anything. The trail would go cold, and the fox might never be seen again, or it might be seen by a young boy propping his callused feet on the rough wood porch in the waning afternoon and cause him to wonder. He said that people used to hunt foxes for sport, used to chase them down with dogs while on horseback and watch the hounds rip the exhausted animal apart. It was only recently that I found out that this still occurs. He would tell me that foxes were at their most alert while chased by hounds, and when he did, I always imagined the widened eyes, vertical pupils, mind racing, truly alive seconds before the dogs closed in. Timmy also said that foxes live for an average of three years in the wild, even though their lifespan should be ten. On the ninth, a week before Timmy died, I got a letter telling me to come to his house. It said that his car engine had broken down and he needed someone to fix it. The battered 300 was in front of the house, tires sunken into the dirt. The front door was unlocked. His room was filled with broken glass and spilled liquid and the lights were off. There he told me, shaking, that sometimes it would take forty fox pelts to make a single coat, that even cooking fox meat won’t remove the scent of musk, that a fox that gnawed its leg off could
never possibly survive in the wild, and he held my shoulder, lurching forward, and asked why they did it, why they tried so hard. And I could only stare at him in silence. It was the first time he had mentioned foxes to me in over thirty years. Foxes are clever animals. They can find a thousand ways into a coop to steal poultry, and as men, we would always loathe their cleverness but admire it at the same time, even as we removed their carcasses from our metal traps. And as men, after the fox was skinned and the pelt was sold for a good price, we would praise their cleverness as a technician praises the cleverness of the Model T engine--efficient, well designed, but nothing more. Timmy lost his left arm two months ago. Machine accident. The foreman said that everyone in the factory could hear the scream, that they couldn’t stop the machines in time. The doctors told us that the amputation was a success and released him after just two weeks in care. I could still see his small smile as he showed me the blackened, bandaged stump which he had been covering with a bathrobe, the anesthetic still in his system. Timmy died last week, his body found slumped over the kitchen table. The doctors told me, after examination of the corpse, that the amputation was not the cause of death. And as I watched the men lower the pine box into the wet soil, all I could think of was the way Timmy’s wide, red-rimmed eyes had stared into my own the last time I heard him ask me a question.
About Jeffrey Yang: I was born in Fremont, California, because my parents loved each other very much. I was born at a very young age, and every experience was a new one to me. I was a very impressive baby. I currently live in San Jose, California. In my free time, I like to eat, sleep and live. I have a dog.
The Carpal Tunnel | 3
by Benny Feldmann:
styrofoam South Pasadena High School South Pasadena, California
Illustration: Amanda Espinosa
The Carpal Tunnel | 4
he five o’clock sunset poured through Mr. Gerbil’s window and bounced off the back of his balding head. He clapped his hands and concluded, “Well, Miss Polly Harper, congratulations on your new job. That’s all there’s to know, aaaand,” he thought of something brilliant, “I guess I will see you tomorrow! OOPS. It’s Friday already.” From his cubicle Henry watched her force a laugh and shake hands. He poked his head back in; he couldn’t see her face clearly from across the room, but he listened to her high heels clicking against the tiled floor, and heard a whoosh from the front door closing. Monday, at nine o’clock AM, three units across and five down from the new girl, Henry poured all his energy into his paperwork with his back bent, sweat forming on his forehead despite the miniature fan flicking a cool breeze his direction. He swiped a large glob off, and the moisture stuck to his hand, so he wiped it on his pants where it formed a dark spot on top of his right thigh. He looked at the spot, felt it cooling a small portion of his leg, and resumed working. Packing peanuts lay scattered on the carpeted floor, forming a semicircle pouring out from the UPS box knocked over next to Henry’s shoe. It had spilled the week before last, but Henry enjoyed pushing the peanuts with his feet during breaks, forming large, uneven clusters, then sweeping them all to one side or the other, or maybe shutting his eyes, tilting his head up, and blindly kicking the styrofoam packing peanuts into the neatest letter “H” (for “Henry”) he could. When he opened his eyes, Henry laughed good and hard, because he could never do it. Sometimes he was convinced it was a perfect letter “H” before looking. It wasn’t. Henry leaned back, heels clicked by, and the clock struck 9:03, all at the same time. His pupils dilated as, from nowhere, a clear thought exploded into his head. A devious thought. He smiled and frowned at once. I will trick Mr. Gerbil into giving me an extended lunch for a coffee run, but really I will get packing peanuts from the UPS for myself. He sneered. And, oh, I’ll get the coffee. Because then, everyone will thank me. It will be the
perfect first impression for that new girl Polly. His hairs stood up and his gel pen wiggled evermore vigorously above his thick Monday paperwork stack. He had not looked Polly in the face yet, but by the look and sound of her red shoes, she was what Henry imagined superstars look like before making it big. Back in the office days, he thought to himself, and chuckled. I’m ridiculous. 12:00 meant lunch break, but at 11:40 Henry gathered his files, strode sweatily past the receptionists, and slapped his SCWIZI-mandated authentication reports onto the white marble desk of Mr. Gerbil, who looked up, surprise springing upon his small, pale face. “Working hard today, Henry.” He flipped through Monday’s neat, clean, completed stack, his head traveling left to right as he read. “Oh, Henry, this is marvelous!” Henry smiled through his sweat. Mr. Gerbil finished the report, smiled at him once more, and spun around and slid the papers into a black pull-out drawer. He kicked it closed and turned back around in his swivel chair. Henry was still standing there. Mr. Gerbil frowned. Henry was looking at him. “Mr. Gerbil- I finished everything early. Iand as you can see I can go to lunch early, right?” “What was that, Henry?” Henry said quickly, “I can-” he looked around and raised his voice, “-I can get java from that place. Let me-”, he paused and tried to form it like a question, “-go to lunch early? - to do a java run for the whole office- like- no problemo.” “Rules,” said Mr. Gerbil, “Can’t let you.” “Everyone will be happy and productive, like happy little bugs. I’ll get you some, Mr. Gerbil, and I’ll throw it on your desk no problem.” Henry smiled and leaned back, relaxing his muscles. He tried to look like a real human sort of guy. It did not look like Henry imagined it looked, and Mr. Gerbil was startled. “No. Henry. Um, no thank you.” A small finger flourished Henry away, back toward his cubicle. On his way to the cubicle he heard someone say, “Aw. I love java.”
Styrofoam | 5 His heart rate increased. I knew it, he thought, Polly loves java. Henry counted down the seconds on his analogue clock. At 12:00 sharp, he spun and ran. The post office was five blocks away, and the java place was three blocks going the opposite direction, so he ordered two cups of coffee, ran to get a fresh box of styrofoam peanuts, and returned to the coffee place. At 12:37, Henry pushed open the office door with his foot, walking, balancing his and Polly’s coffee on a large box he carried with one arm, panting back to his cubicle with moisture seeping out his pores. With a final thrust of energy, Henry set the box down, forgot to remove the cups, then picked the box back up and tore it violently into an ecstatic shower of lime green packing peanuts, the cups flipping and falling, two masses of hot liquid crashing and breaking against the floor. Henry stared for five seconds, and then his tired body crashed upon his swivel chair’s cushioned surface. He felt himself floating away as he leaned back, eyes closed, his chest filling up with air, and deflating, inflating, then deflating. Whatever, he thought, whatever, whatever, whatever. Two hours later, cold water smashed across his face, and Henry was ripped from his favorite hole in his parents’s farm back to the eternal fluorescence of the office. His eyes split open and his lips sucked air like a vacuum experiencing a power-surge. A dark splash dripping from his head down completely soaked through Henry’s favorite red and pink patterned button-up, and hot rage clashed against the brisk air which tickled his chest. His fists drained into white, compressed cubes. He stood up. Mr. Gerbil was directly in front of him with his knees slightly bent, grasping an empty pail with both hands in front of Henry’s face. Behind him stood both receptionists, along with Joe, Barbara, Dick, George, Janitor Pete, and an unnamed woman with- red shoes. Henry blinked. They were all giggling. Mr. Gerbil was laughing. ‘Rules’ my ass, Henry wanted to say, or perhaps, Fuqk you.
“Mr. Gerbil,” Henry said, “how…” he tried to say something cool and witty but instead said “f-f-F-FFFFT!” They laughed. Maybe kindheartedly, Henry stopped paying attention. All he saw was white. His right fist smashed into Mr. Gerbil’s cheek, followed by his left fist sinking into the old man’s stomach, and with both hands pushing him into the crowd, which caught him like a safety blanket, their giggles dissipating. Mr. Gerbil’s face was hot pink with a dark blue circle on the left side. “Henry,” George began, but Henry already kicked down the left side of his cubicle like a cowboy entering a saloon, only he wasn’t entering. It collided with the ground, and Henry stepped over it. The cluster said nothing as he pushed halfway to the exit, stopped, and almost turned back around. The rage was nearly lost, and so, Henry realized, was his job. But he didn’t rotate the remaining 75 degrees. Instead, he closed the gap between him and the exit, forgetting his hesitation, grabbing his authentication reports from behind Mr. Gerbil’s white marble desk in the black drawer and tearing them before walking out into the afternoon glare. He threw the paper shreds forcefully into the air, realized how cheesy it was, and picked them back up again. He laid them neatly on the doorstep of the building, and walked away for good, unaware of the soft breeze which blew the shreds down the sidewalk after him.
The Carpal Tunnel | 6
by Dahyun Kim:
trickling thoughts Daewon Foreign Language High School Seoul, Korea Illustration: Minu Jun
The Carpal Tunnel | 7
t was raining. At a glance, you couldn’t really see the rain; your eyes could barely discern the thin drops of water from the grey surroundings, but you could hear the soft pitter patter sound, that rhythmic tapping that can be heard only when it rains, the swoosh-ing sound that tyres make whenever they run into a puddle, and sense that slightly dusty odour that permeates the air on a rainy day. It was raining. And she didn’t have an umbrella. Of course, it wasn’t deliberate. As she stepped out of her house, her mother had been unaware of the greyness outside and had assured her, in a loud voice, that it wouldn’t rain. She found it funny that whenever her mother reminded her to take her umbrella to school, it wouldn’t rain, but whenever her mother assured her that it wouldn’t rain, it did. She smiles at the irony. Slightly. There’s something about the rain, she tells herself, as she watches those small droplets continuously drip, drip, drip. Something that makes people lonely. Lonelier. But then again, she tells herself, sometimes you’re too sad to be lonely. She stays still for a moment, and as she tilts her head slightly, another smile, a different kind of smile, decorates her lips. A kind of self deprecating, I-can’t-believe-I-think-thesethoughts, oh-the-pretentiousness-of-this-all kind of smile that looks far too familiar on her face. She toys abstractly with the loose strands of her hair, twisting her fingers in the long, black locks while she looks at the road before her, with that smile still playing on her lips. With a sigh, she breaks away from that short trance. Aware of the fact that she would make herself even more depressed if she were to mull over the subject of loneliness and sadness and the inevitability of life (but then again, as a seventeen year old, what would she know about that?), she shakes her head and occupies herself with the mundane, yet absorbing task of watching the raindrops fall down, drip, drip, drip. For a moment, she feels content. Not
great, but good enough. The quiet surrounding her, the quiet that resembles a sort of silence, is only interrupted by the soft taps of rain, that periodic, rhythmic, regular sound. With her eyes fixed on the never changing drops of water, she feels her mind becoming empty, as if the droplets are somehow managing to tap inside of her head, chasing away all kinds of thoughts that plague her. She feels nothing and she savours it, the deliciousness of having to think about nothing. But of course, she wouldn’t be human if that serene, blank state were to persist for too long. As she watches those raindrops fall onto the pavement and into her head, small thoughts and memories start to creep in, seep into the blank, empty corners of her mind, slowly filling it up with thoughts she could live without. The tapping sounds are soon engulfed by the rush of blood to her head as she starts to see those problems, those worries, those thoughts appearing from nowhere. Her hand stops playing with her hair and falls down abruptly, and her hands slowly start to clench her skirt. Her knuckles grow white, her breathing grows heavy, her eyes jam themselves shut as those thoughts, oh, those thoughts! The thoughts about the irritating, the annoying, the frustrating, the thoughts about friendships, failures, the future with a capital F that always manages to amass followers of smaller problems, the monotony of school life, the conversations that now peter out before actually developing into something worthwhile, doubts, regrets, worries and the like; all of these thoughts, these thoughts! Cluttering her mind, filling it up to the brim, overflowing, never allowing her to turn away and escape, making her face all of these thoughts, to address, scream, cry, shriek at them. She feels her insides tearing up, as if someone were turning those thoughts into swords or daggers and mercilessly stabbing her, fully aware of the hurt he or she was giving, and relishing that hurt. Revelling in it. Her hands tighten even more on her skirt, leaving it with creases that won’t go away
Trickling Thoughts | 8 easily, and she feels her fingers grow numb; but it’s not the first time she has gone through this. She’s done this before. She knows that it will pass. She still hasn’t gotten used to feeling this strange rush of anger, though. She hears footsteps, and suddenly, very suddenly, those thoughts, those thoughts— Stop. As if they had never come to haunt her. They disappear, as briefly and as light-footedly as they came, leaving her slightly breathless and dazed. The familiar footsteps, however, remind her to stay calm. Calm, composed, collected. She turns around and smiles a sweet smile, hiding her white knuckles and the crumpled folds of her skirt. “What’s wrong?” a concerned face, a concerned voice. “Nothing.” She smiles yet another smile, a strained smile. “I’m fine.” The two sit in silence, staring blankly at the wet road in front of them. They don’t really have a lot to say to each other. As the familiar yellow bus comes from around the corner, the two girls rise and stand by the road, waiting for the bus to come closer. She clambers into the small bus, her bags swinging to and fro, without so much as a second glance backwards. The bus starts, then begins its steady way up the street, accompanied by a pitter patter sound and the swoosh-ing sound of tyres. Inside, she closes her eyes. Another day. Another start. She opens her eyes slowly and begins to watch the rain droplets trickle and fall, drip, drip, drip.
About Dahyun Kim: Sarcastic, stubborn, and silly. Those would be the three words that could probably be adequate explanations of my various personalities. I was born in South Korea, raised in the UK, was plucked out of that country and left in the wilderness of Seoul at the tender age of ten. I still haven’t quite gotten over it. In my free time I like reading books and obsessing over the fact that the lyrics of most K-pop songs are terrible.
The Carpal Tunnel | 9
by Carolyn Halley :
Freddy and brian South Pasadena High School South Pasadena, California
Illustration: Benny Feldmann
Freddy and Brian | 10
t’s not like I blame him. I don’t think Freddy had hated anyone like he hated Brian. It was one of those big hates. One of those impossibly all-encompassing hates that consumed the pair. Consumed them and chewed them up and spat them out and rolled them out as flat as paper. It was one of those huge hates, where if you took a negative, it would have been one of the most passionate and profound of love stories, except that you can’t take a negative of reality. There wasn’t a day that went by when Freddy didn’t think of Brian. He saw ugly noses and thought of Brian’s horridly crooked facial protrusion. He heard mocking cackles and saw red, the shade of Brian’s hair. Every small spillage of a drink became that time Brian dumped his smoothie down Freddy’s pants. Every hand that stopped a door just in time was when Freddy almost-but-notquite slammed the door on Brian’s head and scared him so much he pissed his pants. Remembering that always made him smile. Actually, considering all that Brian had done to Freddy, what surprised me was that he reacted over something so small. Although, I suppose it’s from things like that where they get the phrase: “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” I’m still a bit hung up on it, though. All Brian did was trip him. Freddy fell down and scraped his knees, and Brian made a quick snip about knees that I didn’t catch. It must have been offensive though, because Freddy was up faster than the lightning bolts he never stopped drawing in his notebooks. Brian only had time to take one step back before Freddy punched him. I don’t think the delayed reaction was a lack of fear. The most likely scenario involves Brian’s brain being completely unable to comprehend someone trying to punch him. Freddy gave it his all, and Brian gave absolutely nothing. Freddy’s pudgy arms moved in jerky, uncoordinated movements, trying to get as many hits in as possible before a teacher noticed the ring of students. His floppy brown hair was bouncing like it had a life of its own, his shorts were covered in dirt, and his signature gray sweatshirt was, as always, pristine. The whole scene, so completely reversed from the school’s status quo, managed to pull a few chocked laughs from a select
few in the crowd. It was the laughs that broke everyone out of their stupor. While two linebackers scrambled forward to save their quarterback, the rest of the crowd dispersed, shooting uneasy looks at the forgettable-looking kids who had laughed. While the linebackers struggled with a surprisingly flexible Freddy, Brian waved away the other players trying to help him up. Freddy started screaming once Brian got to his feet. Animalistic and barely intelligible, it was that scream that finally roused the teachers. Years of insults poured from his mouth in frightening growls and piercing, bird-like shrills. From his nose to his chin, Brian was bloody. There were a few splatters up on his forehead, but it was fairly concentrated. Both of his eyes were turning dark, and you could tell they were going to be huge, multicolored bruises with hints of green and yellow and blue and red. A teacher hurried over to him and immediately started groveling. Brian ignored the teacher, choosing instead to stare down Freddy, who had since stopped shrieking and was instead fighting back tears. He was also ignoring the teacher, although his teacher actually merited being ignored. Freddy stared back at Brian, trying not to blink and spill his tears of frustration. Just before the teacher yanked Freddy away to be disciplined, Brian mouthed one last word. Freddy looked confused and Brian looked he was trying very hard not to vomit. I never saw Freddy again after that. He had bashed Brian’s face pretty well, and had apparently even fractured something in his arm. Brian stayed on the bench that season, but his senior year was regarded as nothing short of heroic. I’ve asked a few people what they thought Brian said, but I never had a chance to ask someone who might actually know due to a lack of intersecting streams. I do wonder still, even though everyone’s graduated. I wonder about whether Freddy understood that unspoken word. After all, what do you say to a boy when you had a hand in making him snap?
The Carpal Tunnel | 11
by Kevin Tash:
What i have to live with South Pasadena High School South Pasadena, California
Illustration: Somi Jun
What I Have to Live With | 12
he sun slowly sinks from the sky and the moon begins to loom over my head with an eerie glow. The darkness is surrounding me. Acres and acres of lush wildlife and green overwhelm my very being. The dirt in the ground feels like it’s starting to impede my travel speeds. I have to keep moving forward. Forward, into the unknown space of forest. The unmarked terrain is difficult to navigate, especially in the dark. My flashlight has managed to escape from the pockets of my jacket hours before. I need to rely on my naturalistic and gut feelings to arrive back home, to the city of lights, and sleep in my empty apartment. My family has all left me, long before this. I think about my Mother as a squirrel scurries by my feet. I jump in fear as its tail brushes the side of my ankle. Thirty some-odd years ago was the last time I saw my Mother. We were at the beach, a normal family outing for most people and a nice change of scenery for those of us “city folks”. My sister, brother, and father were all out on the pier, buying fried food like French fries and funnel cake. I, being the youngest of the group, wanted to go swim in the ocean and see the “fishies”. My Mother, being the wonderful woman that she was, took me out. She entered the water before I did, gracefully swimming against the waves with strength that I did not yet have. We had fun, just as most children do with their parents when at the beach. But sadly, the fun never lasts. A college student screamed that a shark was in the water and it bit his friend. My Mother remained calm, but I did not. I freaked out, and I lunged to her for protection, unknowingly, I accidently knocked her down into the water when I jumped to her. My protection was no more. I had drowned the woman who had brought me into this world, and I have to live with that. Surrounded by the maze of trees I think of my brother and sister. They meant well, they went their whole lives trying to do what was best for me, their baby brother. When I was a much younger man, around the age of twenty-two, my siblings assembled an intervention. I had stolen $5,000 from both of them; I spent half of it on drugs, the other half I gambled away. They had my closest
friends come and they brought letters on how I was negatively affecting all of their lives. I pretended to cry during the intervention so they would just be quiet and leave me alone. The two left feeling good about themselves, feeling as if they have changed the life of my lost soul. They were wrong; they were stabbed in the back, because I continued to steal money from them. After another five years of this, they got fed up. They took off with each of their families, and moved to separate states. I was the one who destroyed what remained of my family, and I have to live with that. I trip over some roots that stick out of the ground like tiny hands. The whole world is against me in this forest. Where did I go wrong? How did I screw everything up? I ruined the life of my family, and all of those around me. It’s why I never got married, or had any kids. My Father would’ve liked to see me fix up my life; however, he passed a few years ago. He had terminal cancer and it was slowly destroying him from the inside. As he was on his way leaving this world, he was surrounded by all his loved ones… except for his youngest son. I was busy, passed out drunk in the living room of a friend of mine. My Father’s dying wish was to see his forgotten son one last time, and I have to live with that. I’m tired. The little energy I have left is wasted trying to walk through a spider web of branches. I collapse, meeting the dry hard ground. The forest has bested me, I am lost, no one is here to find me, and no one out there would want to find me. There is a rustling to the left of me, and I can’t see what’s hiding in the coat of shadows that is right in front of me. Then, it steps out, laying a giant paw on my stomach, and my heart races. It’s my time to leave, being missed by no one. His paws scratch against my stomach, my blood is staining the surrounding brown and green with red. Everything is starting to fade, I’m frightened. Between this world and another, I think of my Mother, and everything seems okay. He continues ripping me apart, I am becoming his dinner. I then feel a warm embrace, and see my Mother, and everything seems okay.
The Carpal Tunnel | 13
by Haebin Kim:
the punishment Daewon Foreign Language High School Seoul, Korea
Illustration: Benny Feldmann
The Punishment | 14
verything came in reversed to ChangYeol’s eyes, except the red circle in the white background that hung in the front of the classroom. It was the flag he had to stare at every morning, and he had always blinked at the burning boldness of the color that attacked his eyes. Same thing was happening to him, despite the fact that he was standing on his hands. Everything the flag contained, remained same. Even the stomachache that the presence of the flag gave him was there at that moment. Then he soon reached the conclusion that perhaps the flag will always remain unchanged regardless of the angle it is viewed; perhaps it is simply indestructible, guarded by the glass frame; perhaps the original owner of the frame will never be able to return to its place again. He shivered at the thought. Or it might have been his arms shaking due to the limitations of his physical strength. Then he shivered again at the thought that he might fail to complete his punishment. Mr. Nishijima’s sword clanked as he walked down the aisle towards Chang-Yeol. He could see the glimpse of his own reflection on the cold sheen of the sword. He shut his eyes. Blackness drew a temporary curtain between him and the weapon. But he became more aware of his own arms that shook as if it was going through an earthquake. He pursed his lips. Mustered his strength. For next few seconds, ChangYeol relied himself on the silence, knowing what was coming. Shortly after, he collapsed. “Damakawa Shaures,” Mr. Nishijima’s voice came with the clanking metal noise. Chang-Yeol shot up straight and became “Damakawa” for the moment. “Hai, sensei (Yes, sir),” he spat an automatic reply, continuing to play “Damakawa.” Mr. Nishijima’s disgust toward ChangYeol was rendered into his eyes. It was worse than speaking it. The unspoken cruelty lurked behind the tense eyes, his hatred toward ChangYeol all summed up in his glare. Chang-Yeol witnessed it, and then im-
mediately dropped his eyes down. He could feel Mr. Nishijima’s hand grabbing a cudgel from his backpocket. “Get down,” the voice demanded. ChangYeol obeyed. His small body was placed parallel to the ground, his hands at their labors again. Exhausted, Chang-Yeol relied on the heavy air beneath his chest. Then there came the cudgel. “One,” Chang-Yeol began counting. Tears were already present in his voice. ‘It’s okay,’ was what he repeated in his mind. It was okay. Because it was Damakawa who was getting the punishment. Chang-Yeol accepted the punishment but only physically.
Background: This story takes place during Japan’s colonization of Korea. Due to the historical nature of this story, we invite people to comment and send in reply pieces. The Carpal Tunnel takes no sides on this issue. It will simply print worthy writing.
The Carpal Tunnel | 15
by Amanda Espinosa:
eveâ€™s angel South Pasadena High School South Pasadena, California
Illustration: Amanda Espinosa
Eve’s Angel | 16
uicide. A permanent solution to an often temporary problem. Some call the suicidal cowards, unwilling to face the challenges of life. Some call them brave for having the guts to take their own life. Still others mourn the deaths of the suicidal, individuals they never knew and wished they did. Who wished they could do something, anything to keep them from committing such an act. However, we have to wonder, is it really possible to save someone with mere words and kind actions? Is someone considering suicide impossible to save? Eve pondered this as she stared at the ground, looming so far away that the few cars look like the toy cars she owned as a kid. It was almost too easy to sneak past the hospital staff and make her way to the rooftop. While determined at first, now she was having second thoughts. Was it really worth it in the end? But what was there to live for? she thought. She had nobody to support her, to help her. She couldn’t even support herself. If she lived, all she had to look forward to was a life of misery. Better to just end it while she still could. “Fine!” Startled, Eve turned around, worried that someone had seen her. She couldn’t see anyone, though, and she began to think it was just her imagination. Still, she didn’t want to risk being caught. Stepping off the ledge, she listened carefully for any signs of life on the barren roof. There it was, the soft sound of gravel underfoot. From what Eve could hear, it sounded like her intruder was hiding behind the vent. Peeking around the corner, she saw someone she definitely wasn’t expecting to see. The girl looked no older than twelve, a mix of child and adult aspects. Her hair was brown, and flowed all the way down her back. She was wearing a simple white dress, stained with dirt and grass spots. However, none of these qualities caught Eve’s eye at first, because she was preoccupied with the girl’s strangest feature. Wings. She had giant black wings. The winged girl sensed Eve’s presence
and looked up. Her eyes were filled with tears. “Well?” the girl spat at her, “Go on! Jump! Just like the rest of them. It doesn’t matter anymore!” She then curled back up into her ball, using her wings to shield herself from the world. Eve could do nothing but stare. The rest of them? This girl had seen others jump off this same building? Her own thoughts came back to haunt her. The suicidal are impossible to save. Crouching down, she slowly moved the girl’s wings aside “How many?” The girl looked up, her brown eyes wide. Then, without warning, she threw herself on Eve, hugging her tightly and sobbing. “You’re not going to go?” she warily asked, gripping Eve even tighter. Eve sighed softly and hugged the girl back, petting her hair. Whatever reasons she had to take her life earlier disappeared from her mind like snow melting in the spring. Eve couldn’t allow herself do something as awful as putting the girl through the torture of watching another die before her eyes. “No, I won’t go. Not anymore.” As they hugged each other on the cold hospital rooftop, Eve realised a few things. Firstly, angels did exist. And they felt joy and sorrow and pain, just like their human cousins. Second, she realised that people do care for each other, and that there were people in the city, people who looked like ants from so high up, who truly cared about her. And finally, she realized that the suicidal can be saved. All you need is something to live for.
The Carpal Tunnel | 17
by Somi Jun: (an excerpt) South Pasadena High School South Pasadena, California
Illustration: Minu Jun
The Carpal Tunnel | 18
ife began with pig feces. The farmer boy, wrapped in sun-protectant sackcloth, came out onto the freshly fertilized fields before sunrise, an iron hoe too large for his body resting on his shoulder. He squinted; the sky was too dark to see by. The boy leaned his hoe against the little barn door and returned to the house for breakfast. He came back and sat down, an envelope of rice and soybean in hand. Satisfied with the movement of the sun, he peeled the grape leaves off of his package of rice, dug a hole with his fingers into the field, and buried the leaves. He ate. Manure stuck to his fingers and onto his food, but the boy paid it no mind. What shameful farmer feared a little dirt? On his seventh bite, thousands of tapeworm eggs laid within the manure entered his mouth, slipped down his throat, sank to his stomach, and settled in his intestinal track. After eating, his stomach halfway full, he picked up his hoe and went to work, weeding his parents’ fields. At noon, the boy stretched for the first time since sunrise. His back bent with a satisfying crack. His mother prepared a simple lunch for him, and it stuck wonderfully to his stomach. He felt almost full. He went out to the fields again after an hour’s rest, this time whispering a prayer over every row of yam. “Bless these sproutlings, bless mother and father, bless the blood of our posterity, bless you, thank you,” he chanted under his breath as he passed each row. The tapeworm eggs sank a few inches further into his intestine, then stopped moving. This was the place. This was New Home. It was sunset by this time, and the boy was allowed to come home and talk to his parents. After dinner, he and his family cleaned all the tools for the next day’s sowing, and the boy collapsed into bed, exhausted. Now, the eggs began the intermediate stage of their life cycle: diverging. They were absorbed as nutrition through the intestine, and redistributed to different parts of the boy’s body: his upper arm muscles, his calf muscles,
his neck, his brain. They nestled into his flesh and into his muscle and settled down to grow. The eggs spread all over the boy’s body, taking everything he had to offer. It was a marriage of bodies, and resources. The boy shifted in his sleep and pushed a hand to his back to scratch himself. Over the next few years, the boy’s family became very prosperous. Rain pounded the surrounding farms mercilessly, but the boy’s family’s fields were always just barely spared. The past summer, for example, the rain from one storm had hit the family’s house and barns, but stopped just short of the actual planting fields. Every time they avoided ruin in the form of rainstorms, the boy’s mother took the long trip into town to buy one glass bottle of expensive rice wine. She poured the wine onto the thick wooden altar for her family’s ancestors. The wood dripped and the wine just ended up on the floor beneath the altar, but his mother trusted that her ancestors could taste the alcohol through the singularity of her gratitude. “Thank you,” his mother said, the wine soaking into the knees of her cotton pants. “Bless you, thank you, we are your humble children, so thankful for your eternal provision.” The images of her ancestors looked upon her with stoicism, as if to be polite about her effusiveness. In these few years, the tapeworms had begun to form cysts in the boy’s muscle and flesh and brain. Every now and then, the boy would reach up and around, and swat at a mosquito that was not there. On these occasions, he would swear that he heard a voice: a female voice, not his mother’s. But he stopped speaking of it, because his father boxed his ears when he did. “Don’t speak nonsense!” he said on the most recent occasion. “The village people will think that we’ve raised a loon for a son. Do you want to break shame upon this household?” The boy sullenly shook his head no. His neck itched. “Then stop with this nonsense about hearing a girl. The only female voices you
Friends | 19 should be hearing are your mother’s, and your future wife’s. Do you understand?” The boy sullenly nodded his head yes. His neck and arms and calves and back itched. “Son, I say this for your good and happiness. Now get off of your lazy ass and get out to work.” Kill him. The boy shook his head at the sound of that voice. I can’t- His father hit him around his ears. “Get out!” The boy scuttered out the door, head bowed. He wanted to say something more, but the tapeworm coughed, and he was left without words. Out on the field, the tapeworm spoke again. Kill him. “Kill who?” said the boy out loud, and he knew exactly who. Kill Father. “I can’t. He is my father.” I killed my father. “Who are you?” The tapeworm wriggled. Your friend. “You killed your father? How? Why?” It is a part of my life. To live, he died. Sacrifice. All requires sacrifice. “What are you talking about?” Kill him, the tapeworm repeated now. “Tell me how you killed your--” The tapeworm wrapped itself tightly around the boy’s spine. Kill him. He heard those two words over and over again, bouncing around his little skull. At first, he thought it was the tapeworm speaking. Slowly, however, he realized that the tapeworm had been silent for a long while... Kill him. It was the echo of the tapeworm’s words, reflecting across the boy’s flesh and bone and disguising itself as a thought. The boy gripped his hoe tight to his body and walked off, heading towards the house. The sun was soft on his skin. It lit up the dark space between the boy’s eyes and his eyelids. He reveled in the peace and warmth of the moment. A gentle wind gusted through the riverbank
in which he was laying. Far off, a woodpecker hammered away to build a home for its family. The warmth softened the blood on his bare skin, which had crusted into a hard brown over the past few hours. His clothes, dirt-stained but free from any bodily fluid, were safely laid out in the grass next to him. Slowly, tenderly, careful not to disturb his idyllic surroundings, the boy lowered himself into the river. The water was cool. The boy sighed in pleasure. He submerged himself completely and began to gently scrub his father’s blood off of his naked body. The tapeworm coughed. This time, the boy spoke first. “Hello, friend,” he whispered, and the tapeworm wriggled in approval.
Thank you for reading. (This issue was a bit bloody).