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based on a scene

published: 2013-09-01

She sits across from her mother, making eye-contact sometimes, but not purposefully. When she does, it is by chance. She means nothing by it.
While in turn, her mother searches her eyes. Tries to hold them sometimes.
She knows this. She wonders why she won’t grant her mother the illusion of intimacy. She tries once, to look at her. To give her mother what she wants. Her glance is without accusation. And her words a simple question.
“Was this before or after you left us?”
Her mother reacts to this as if she kicked her in the face. Her mother folds herself over the table, pointing chopsticks at her. She wants to laugh. Somehow, she wants to laugh.
It wasn’t her mother’s fault, no of course it wasn’t her fault.
She knew this. All she wanted to know was when they had stopped. Stopped talking. Stopped trying.
“Was this before or after you left us?”
She watches her mother get all hot and bothered. Her mother keeps putting food in her mouth and all of that mashes up her words, turns them into a song. It is a song she has heard over and over again. About childhood and trauma.
What did she know of hardship?
But what did they know about being a mother?
The waitress brings them some Fong Jiauw. She studies the waitress for a moment. She is thin-hipped and small. She wears glasses that keep slipping down the bridge of her nose. The waitress looks young. Perhaps she has a child. Perhaps she doesn’t.
She takes some Fong Jiauw. She dips her chopsticks into it, absorbs the clarity of that moment. Food is to eat. Life is to die. She considers how it is reason that complicates things. Why did she cry when she was angry? Why did he laugh when he was sad? Why did they have to die?
“She’ll be fine,” said the sweaty doctor in the hospital. As if she wasn’t there.
“Best Fong Jiauw in town,” she says to her mother and tries once more, to look at her.

*based on a scene in a screenplay I’m writing.

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