Years ago, his mother brought home a rabbit.
“Make it fat, will you?” she asked him.
The boy held the shivering rabbit in his arms, wrapped it in his coat, folded its body into his, feeling the weak tremble next to his heart. It was spotlessly white like fresh snow.
On his way back from school every day, he collected weeds from the side of the streets. It ate them quietly, with a quivering mouth. Sometimes the boy could catch a glimpse of those big front teeth chewing on the green.
It never made much sound, which the boy liked.
One day, when the boy came home, his mother had made soup.
“Eat up. It’s good for you.” She filled the boy’s bowl with meat and broth.
The meat was tender, falling off the bone.
“Fatty, isn’t it?”
The boy paused and looked at his mother, then stared at the soup. Chunks of pink meat floated in it. He thought of the warm, mute snowball against his chest.
“You already had two bowls. Wasn’t it good?”
Yes. It was good. The boy thought he’d be sick, but he only felt full.
His father’s new wife had a small daughter. She didn’t like it whenever the boy went to their home.
“My dad hates you,” she told him. “Both you and your mama.”
She loved wearing a puffy white dress, with a white hair thing on her head. She had a wide gap between her front teeth.
“Take your sister to play, will you?” his father asked while playing mahjong.
They played badminton at the empty lot next to the apartment. There was a bicycle shed by the lot, about two-story high. Every time the bird went on top of the shed, the boy climbed up to get it.
“I want to go up this time,” the daughter said after the bird went up again.
“I don’t care. I’m going.”
She climbed up.
He didn’t know she’d fall. It was her own fault, of course. He told her it was dangerous.
She hurt her head, the boy heard, never quite the same. His father didn’t let him see her again.
A matchmaker once introduced a vegetarian woman to him. She wore a string of sandalwood Buddha beads around her wrist. When she talked, she fiddled with them nonstop.
She asked him if he’d ever thought about giving up meat. He told her it was too hard.
Sometimes he feels guilty about the loosened step on top of the bicycle shed. But it never lasts long.
Yunya Yang was born and raised in Central China and moved to the US when she was eighteen. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Epiphany, Hobart, Gulf Coast, among others. She currently serves as an assistant editor for Barrelhouse. Find her on Twitter @YangYunya
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