China

My father fell from the bed. With a loud, but cushioned thud against the carpet, that seemed to make all the walls of the room pulsate, he fell onto the floor, now hacking, and gasping.

My mother slid across and jumped off the bed, and with her feet on the floor now, too, grabbed and tried to lift my father’s arms up with her own, attempting to help bolster his entire body up.

‘Duo-duo, come help!’ she yelled.

I had propped myself up on the bed on my left elbow, staring at them. I froze for a second. Just then, my head seemed completely empty of all thought and emotion. I was certain, I am certain, that for a second, or even for just a split-second of a second, it was as if someone, outside the window of our hotel room, had pointed a remote control directly at our room, at my father, my mother, and me, at the beds, still quavering from our movements, at the sheets dangling off the corner of the beds, at the palpitating walls, at the dust whirling through the ray of light of the lamp, and hit pause . . .

 

by HC Hsu from Middle of the Night

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