October 6, 2017
I’m seven years-old and sitting with Mom and RJ, my little brother, at our dinner table. We’re not talking, just eating quietly. Well, they’re eating. I’m picking at the rice in my bowl with chopsticks. The Chinese calendar on the wall behind Mom says 2004. Her eyes droop a little. She toggles between full-time receptionist and full-time mom, barely sleeping, barely keeping up. I’m the smuggest, moodiest kid in the second grade. RJ’s a two year-old who won’t stop kicking the leg of the dinner table.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Mom fussed with him to stop a while ago, but she’s since given up. We eat to the rhythm of RJ’s kicking. Thud. Well, they’re eating. I’m picking at my rice. Thud. I’m seven, an odd age and at odds with the world. Thud. I stare at one lone grain of rice on the side of my bowl. It looks just like all the other ones in my bowl—none of which I want. Thud. I’m not hungry. Thud.
Then Mom asks me a question.