In response to your suicide letter, I write that I now order a bowl of vegetable ramen from the local Izakaya whose waitlist fills up twenty minutes before its five pm opening; I slurp the green noodles made of a blend of regular flour and spinach in a soy milk-based broth and dunk the two pieces of nori seaweed into the soup so they can soak and soften, and then I balance the egg in my spoon and take a bite, savoring the mirin and soy sauce marinated yolk–only one yolk – I no longer get a free second ramen egg without you, who despised the runniness of the boiled egg: I got your egg, you got my chashu – but I don’t order the tonkotsu ramen this time around – the pork belly would just go to waste.
In response to your suicide letter, I write that affording rent is a bit more difficult and I can’t save as much of my paycheck as I’d like, so I start watching my spending: I know when the cashier, whose wrinkled hands handle the red delicious apples too roughly and there will certainly be bruises when I unload my groceries, mistakenly overcharges me when I clearly read that the tofu–just the few that expire in a month – is on sale for ten cents less; I know how to keep the floor clean with an old t-shirt whose seams come apart a bit more every time I wash it in the shower; I know how to walk everywhere – to the library for free wifi, free heat, free stories in which, from first page to last page, over and over again, I inhale a new scent of paper – of rain and cellulose and lignin.
In response to your suicide letter, I write about a memory I had never told you before: when I was twelve and discovered a dead bunny on the sidewalk, blood splattered between the detached head and the body, and I thought a mad artist had flung a paintbrush dipped in red to create a singular streak, but I had been digging a hole for earthworms and used the shovel to nudge the body into my convenient grave reuniting head and body, and, as a sentimental child, I hoped soul.
In response to your suicide letter, I write about the time we took a short cruise to see a glacier in Alaska, and when we reached the glacier, close enough to touch the ice, you thought it’d be a good idea to mimic the classic Titanic pose: where Rose stood with her arms splayed and Jack held her waist, so I stood on the ledge and you stabilized me, and the adults around us kept their eyes trained on us kids–like they thought I’d fall, but even if I fell, what would they be able to do?
In response to your suicide letter, I write that I want to see the Milky Way from the edge of New Zealand–how the light fluctuates from black to cool indigo to an orange perhaps reflected from remnants of the sun, how the band darkens at edges like it wants to disguise interstellar dust as an abyss that consumes the curiosity in your eyes when they narrow in not on the light, but the lack of it.
Lucy Zhang is a writer masquerading around as a software engineer. She watches anime and sleeps in on weekends like a normal human being. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including MoonPark Review, Elephants Never, and Bending Genres. She can be found at https://kowaretasekai.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter (@Dango_Ramen).