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  • Samantha Der

Are You Me? The Noodles That Tie Us

I loved my shirt With three pockets of color Gym shoes Blue shorts And black hair That flopped over My gold-rimmed glasses I was ready for lessons Who wants to play tennis? I’ve got plenty of time to spare.

But imagine my surprise When I saw my reflection Already hitting some balls on the court That’s weird Is she me Who is she And why is she wearing My outfit? Why does she have the Same haircut? And the gold glasses What’s up? Is this a joke or I’m nuts?

I figured it must Be just a coincidence That the one Asian girl that shows up Basically looks like my twin It made me uneasy A little bit queasy So I stayed clear away Of the girl who seemed to be mocking me Cause I thought there was just one of me But maybe the universe made copies.

The following week I arrived for lessons Bracing myself Feeling leery Would ‘ya look at that I was horrified to see That girl again She was wearing an eerily similar red t-shirt And yellow shorts just like me! What’s going on? I say in my head Who told her what I was going to wear? This is so creepy Should I go back to bed Am I sleepy? I rub my eyes But she’s still there Practicing serving balls She hits so high in the air And listening to the teacher Just like me Who relishes being so good.

Photo: Todd Trapani

But there’s more I hear the teacher call her Wilomena Which is odd Because my name is Wendy How many names start like these two Both using the same letter double-u?

This girl reminds me of me She looks an awful lot like me too So I finally asked her Are you Chinese? And she says yes I was amused And got more curious.

But when I asked her Do you have a big family? Go to banquets in Chinatown Serving big, nine-course meals Eat loquats, char siu, and ginger steamed fish Sesame balls with sweet lotus paste Winter melon soup Or steamed, sticky rice, wrapped in leaves? She said No.

I asked Do you give gold peaches to your grandparents When they turn seventy or eighty Belong to a family association Or say gong hay fat choy for the new year? She also flatly said No.

She said no And I was disappointed Cause I thought we could relate Maybe be friends after all But how could it be That we were both Chinese? When nothing I said was familiar.

That girl invited me over to her house And when I entered She gave me new slippers to wear And slipped her blue velvet ones on So we wouldn’t scuff The intricate, handcrafted floors.

Her mother called on the phone through the speaker It didn’t sound like Chinese Even though she said it was too It sounded completely different.

This girl Wilomena Offered me something out of a plastic container Something dried, red, and spicy Her chopsticks poked pieces into her mouth She said it was her favorite And gave me the Chinese name for it Which I had never heard of in my whole life.

Wilomena told me that They didn’t have any extended family here Just her nuclear family Just Mom Dad and brother Her grandparents didn’t approve of the marriage So her parents ran away to America.

Sometimes it felt lonely Being different at school Coming home To the echoes in the house She explained.

Here With these drippy, cold trees Barren outside under overcast skies Sheltered we sat on a hard, slippery staircase Polished so clean Vented heat on our faces We talked about mean Mr. Smolten Classmates and math class Funny kids and the one with his seat by the window We looked at each other And let out a giggle So cute was this boy Liam So.

We nibbled on Sara Lee pound cake Which we found in the commercial-sized freezer Thawed fast in those new microwaves She showed me shelves of long, red, dried peppers And containers holding yellow and white, strings of dried noodles Lined up aplenty in the bright, walk-in pantry.

Noodles more noodles There sure were a lot of noodles So many kinds Long live the noodles! Noodles for long life!! We shouted at the same time And burst into laughter Our eyes shining smiles As we shared Our dreams of flying And magical powers Hushes of wishes And warm, misty visions Of what we wanted to be Hopes for a beautiful crystalline future A secret of immortality.

Photo: Henrique Macedo

Dancing on otherworld timelines Recollections of real-world lifelines Tied by halos of memories Me and my old-time, childhood friend Wilomena and me Reuniting to play some tennis.


Cover photo: Pexels


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