When her umma makes kimchi, everything reeks. Soomi smells it when she pauses to catch her breath at the fifth floor of the stairwell.

“Umma, you’re making kimchi again?” Soomi calls out as she kicks off her shoes, setting down her bag in the hallway. “Didn’t you make it last week?”

“Kimchi fridge too full,” her umma says. “Wang family want some, too.”

“Just tell them to get it from HMart. It’s two blocks away.”

“Soomi-ah. You know HMart not same.”

Soomi glances over at the quarter pieces of thick, napa cabbage heads in the wide, plastic bowl, soaking in…

Grandfather sits, cross-legged
at the table, a Bible perched in front
of him, which he periodically smooths
with his wrinkled hands.

He’s speaking to us about one
of the many revelations he’s discovered,
a voice of gentle and unshakeable conviction, worn
in the deep creases of his forehead.
He binds it over our temples,
sealed with all those blessings that he has
witnessed as they bloomed
over the years.

In the kitchen, Grandma goes
to remove the soup from the stovetop
loudly, a non-verbal signal
that she’s getting hungry.
He ignores the message, instead

proceeding on as before, five, ten,

Moments in which we drink deeply from the source of meaning are moments of prayer, whether we call them so or not.

— Steindl-Rast

October, 2018: My grandmother’s first birthday without my grandfather.

I step out of our car and onto the grass field of the cemetery he lays buried in.

The sense of loss is strong. It doesn’t matter that he died in May and that it’s already October, and it doesn’t matter that life continues moving on without him. A familiar pang in my nasal cavity brings tears to my eyes.

My father suggests that my sister sings…

On the car ride to the hospital, I can’t help but think about how much Jude deserves it.

Dad doesn’t say much. He almost never does. Just grips the steering wheel like it’s a lifeline tugging him back to shore. “Jamie, can you turn down the radio? It’s really distracting.”

I turn down the radio. “Sorry.”

He isn’t frowning, but the creases between his eyebrows are half-frown and half-wrinkles that are caused by frowns. …

Ivey Choi

BC 2019. Korean American writer from the east coast. I like contemporary and literary fiction about character growth & development.

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