Mi usually got off the bus in front of the dirty seafood restaurant. If it was late enough drunk men smelling of burnt clam shells winked and stared at Mi. She would never admit to herself that these overweight middle-aged men scared her, but they did. They reminded her of the ugly ogres in The Hobbit. But today, she got off the bus at noon and it was Sunday. The restaurant didn’t open on Sundays, and there were many cars on the street.
She hated the walk back home. The walk she called the “in-between times” walk. The in-between times when the world is allowed to stop spinning in full-speed. Mi liked it when her world spun at full speed because it made her feel busy––like she has a purpose––and that as long as she keeps running, she’ll be okay. When you run, they can’t getcha.
A ladybug flew into the balcony, landing on June’s resting hand. The sky was a Californian orange; the red ladybug looked like a golden ring. Mi tried not to move, but the ladybug left after fifteen seconds.
Mi and Cherry used to catch ladybugs in the pathetic tree in front of their condo. If they could even call it a tree. It stood barely four feet tall and smelled like piss. She remembered that these ladybugs would fly straight into the girls’ open hands like they knew the girls couldn’t hurt them. Mi also remembered Cherry, the pretty girl whose family lived below Mi’s family, as she watched June’s well-shaped breasts rise and fall in time with her sleeping breaths. The sun reached June in floating particles, diffused by the summer heat and the sooty mosquito net. She looked so beautiful.
Beside them, a hummingbird bobbed up and down like a buoy in the ocean, only the air was its ocean. “Hummingbirds, with their iridescent colors and fairly short wings, beat their wings as fast as 80 times per second! They do NOT flap their wings—they rotate them in a figure 8, which makes it even more remarkable! In fact, their name comes from the fact that they flap their wings so fast that they make a humming noise.” Mi remembered that word for word from her brother’s Nat Geo Kids magazine. “They almost never stop moving, and they spend nearly all of their time in the air. Their legs are so small and weak, they typically can't walk at all.”
The air around the bird looked solid. Mi ran her right hand through the summer air to try to feel its solidity, staring at the bird while doing so. But air was just air. She was somewhat disappointed.
Cherry lived in unit 102 and Mi in unit 202, but Cherry moved when both girls were 9 years old. That was already over ten years ago. How fast time goes. Mi had forgotten about her until now. How was Cherry? Maybe she was a school teacher. She’d always had something gentle about her. A waitress at some chain restaurant? No she was too pretty. Maybe she jumped off the Empire State Building, and
became just another frog in the pond of all flattened frogs.
She hoped Cherry thought of her too. If she was still alive that is. When Mi looked out again, the hummingbird was gone.
Mi woke up with the summer sun in her face. Her eyes felt hot enough to explode, and her lips felt like warm putty. She guessed that she was asleep in the sun for two hours. Mi put on a white cotton tank top and some shorts and looked out the window. There was summer rain.
There’s flowery rain that seems to take the edge off all noise, and there’s smashing rain that amplifies. This was the flowery type. She didn’t want to go out to the living room because she knew her dad would be there. She felt that she spent more energy running from things than she did living.