A Growing Up Interlude

By Midori Chen

Her first relationship is a Boy-Girl statistic — so much so that neither of them deserves a name, just Subject A and B, completely equal in anonymity. Subject A has black hair, wavy from frequent braids, Subject B has brown hair, soft and short like a stuffed animal’s. Subject A doesn’t have a birthmark, Subject B has scars with stories of dubious origin. None of that matters. They do not escape the carefully documented, empirically proven theorems.


It’s been three months, the Inertia’s frictioned down to a stop. The ocean is at rest beneath them, the boat is at rest beneath them; objects at rest will stay at rest. There are no chirping dolphins to give them a push, no pleasant, Romantic breeze — they’re at a complete standstill. He’s got his talons dug in, stubborn about not losing this blinking contest, and she’s turned her back on him, tail angrily puffed and teeth bared to hiss. They’re at complete rest, however, and with no force, they will stay at rest — this purgatorial rest on stagnant seas.


Time-skip — post-Industrial Revolution — and they’re on a speedboat, engine and motor mouths running to send them off into oblivion. They’re a solid mass, he and she, the kind of mass that can stand off-center on a stage and still get noticed, the kind of mass like lighthouses. This is their acceleration — F=ma — when they hit, they’re going to hit capital-F hard. One of them had to go running his or her mouth off, and off they go — searching, perhaps. They’re frantically illuminating everything, jerking the searchlights back and forth, maybe in terror, and finding only seaweed and saltwater everywhere they look; maybe someone will make a metaphor out of it.


This is it, the Nuclear Age. The capital-F hard. Here, F is for fusion, mass into mass so fast it’s abbr. Their second Big Bang (their first one wasn’t anywhere as spectacular as the universe’s). There’s just so much, Force squared, because there’s always an equal and opposite reaction. His constant pecking and nitpicking, her penchant to turn her nose up in superiority — it all comes to a head, here, at the end. Capital-F is the red and yellow of plasma, and they both succumb. So easy.


Three stages later, three regulated relationship-reaction-redundancies later, there is a stage four. Here, no rules govern; cockroaches have as good a chance as phoenixes of rising from the ash. We have no use for principles here; this part of history has yet to be spoken for, to be colonized and revised. After the ugly proof, we are of no use anymore, the unpublished science experiment — this is the hour where lab coats go home and become human. Subject A becomes Delilah, who doesn’t want to remember Subject B’s name — out of embarrassment, not scorn. Delilah still has black hair, though not usually wavy anymore; she grew out of braids. Subject B still has scars, and here, it matters whether or not he ends up with someone who will listen to his stories without pity. Here, there are no relationships in a bottle, stories in a syringe — just homes with windows that glow, or don’t.)

Midori Chen is a senior at San Francisco Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. She is a fiction writer and a poet, and has been published in online and print magazines such as Weirdyear, Off the Coast, and Umläut.