Saehee Cho holds an MFA in Writing from Calarts, a BA in Literature/Writing from UCSD, and currently works as an assistant editor for Les Figues Press. Her work has been published in Shrapnel, Out of Nothing, and is forthcoming in Sidebrow’s Ghost Project.
I watched her grow up across the street. I was growing older, softly resisting but failing nevertheless. She was growing younger, more frail, even insect-like.
They said that her bones were soft, that was why she couldn’t go to school. If she were to be hit by a rogue plastic ball during gym or be clumsily jostled by her peers, her body would bend like a wet reed, still pliable but unsure of its own shape. A bamboo spine. I wondered if I might be able to bend her around my neck, wear her like a fur. I suckled on the idea, fell asleep to it like a lullaby. The meditation covered me in a layer of fat, kept me warm and I nestled in to it, tightly.
I only saw her from behind her mother’s red velvet curtains, hiding a good half of the window seat snuggled up against the outside. Most of the time I only saw her legs from the knees down, rubbing up against each other like a cricket. I knew what sound that rubbing made, I was sure of it. Papery, but softer, like tissues making love. The way her unpainted toes gathered up the frayed edges of the curtain. I’d look down at my pink painted toes, the type of shade named something like “bubblegum,” “cotton candy,” or the like.
Sometimes, I’d catch her on a day when she’d feel a need to switch things up, sit on her window seat in the opposite direction with her head pressed against the glass and leaving greasy smudges. Once, at night, I snuck over to her house and kissed the underside of one of the grease marks. It was fully formed and swirled like a gigantic fingerprint. And then I ran back, back through her lawn, wetting my bare feet and the hem of my nightgown, and back across my own lawn. Before I stepped back into the house, my feet sinking slightly into the damp, I turned around and looked back. The red curtain turned pearly with movement.
For days afterwards I stayed in bed, told my mother I was feeling ill and indeed I had some sort of fever. I wondered whether the greasy smudge had poisoned me. I hoped it had, what a beautiful way to die. I was given to dramatic fantasies of death at that age. My mother would bring me porridge. I’d thank her weakly and then suck on the empty spoon, rubbing the rounded side against the roof of my mouth.