on our way to Duluth we ate
mangoes and white rice stained by
soy sauce. Nearly there, I could
barely contain my excitement about
the seagulls. I had never been so
close to the water before. There was
something magical about that seaport city.
I could see the water from the car
window, and every pore in my body ached
for submersion. It was a pre-baptism.
in Duluth, we stopped at a restaurant
to eat “Chinese food.” My mouth
watered at the thought of broccoli and
white rice dipped in soy sauce. You told the
waitress to split one portion for us to share.
I smiled saying I didn’t eat much. It was
before illness raped my body. Health was
a petty thing then.
your husband had to move the car to
avoid a parking ticket, and he
cursed getting up from the table.
It was then you gave me the only
relationship advice you had:
Never marry a man like him. I said
nothing, kept my eyes lowered to
the paper Chinese zodiac placemats--
the years of the Rooster.
in Duluth you asked why all the
license plates said Minnesota when we
were in Duluth. I could not stop
laughing. But I would have never been able
to point out the Philippine province
Pangasinan on a map—the place where you
grew up; or said those clustered islands
held 81 provinces. My geography was
lacking. That is to say, American.
I was a lanky preteen then. 12 years old,
I started wearing obnoxious colored training
bras you bought for me. In the photos,
I was a frail thing that still let you put
an arm around me as we posed. It was
before I was a teenager, ashamed to be your
Now I think about the time I wandered off
to the water during another martial spat
the hotel room was too small to contain.
I think about our last day in Duluth, when
we went to the shoreline and let the tide curl
between our toes. You said it was just like
the Philippines, home. But this is America,
I said, and you fell silent. I think about one day
driving back to the water, crawling into its
depths—hoping that the current could somehow
wipe clean transgressions, and cure all the hurt
in the world.
Tonya Eberhard recently graduated from the University of Missouri. She currently lives in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in Fauna Quarterly, Algebra of Owls, The Commonline Journal, Dirty Chai, Yellow Chair Review, Open Minds Quarterly, and many others.