Fiction / March 2012 (Issue 16)

Soft Coral, Sinking Pearl

by Matthew R. Loney

Myaing renamed herself Mali the moment the lights of the patrol boat extinguished behind the breakers. Hiding on the beach behind a fallen coconut trunk, she listened as the surf buried the throb of the engine like shovels of wet sand. As far as she could tell, she'd been the only one to make it to shore. The soldiers must have hauled the others back into the boat, the frantic spotlight illuminating the open-nosed machine guns spraying ammunition. She studied the water for any sign of her sister: Nu was the stronger swimmer and might already be waiting further up the beach. Mali's clothes and hair were drenched, her tiny chest heaving with exertion as she pressed herself down into the dark warmth of the foreign sand.

Thailand. Thailand.

She repeated the word over and over to herself, her hands gripping into the beach – a million tiny fragments of this new country.

The larger boat had approached in total darkness about five hundred metres from the shore. Suddenly, to their port side, there had been nearly a dozen soldiers shouting with weapons aimed. The Thai had been too quick and ferocious to understand, but everyone in her small wooden rowboat knew how to translate "gun"; Half of them had leapt over the side when the light from the patrol craft switched on. The older ones crouched to the bottom ribs of the boat, ducking their heads beneath the seat planks as if the beam itself could wound them. Then the soldiers began to fire.

Myaing dove as deep as she could. Thrashing sounds sank down from the surface as others jumped in after her. Bullets whizzed through the water and shattered the coral in sharp detonations. Reaching a depth where she had to depressurise her ears, she began swimming forward with the push of the waves. When her chest began to burn, she pulled herself up to the dark surface. From somewhere in the black, she heard Nu's voice scream out for her – Myaing! Myaing! – but she gulped another lungful of air and then plunged again. There was something about diving away from the sound of her sister's cries that made the nerves in her skin vibrate, as if the water had deliberately wanted to come between them, to drive them apart like the wedge of teak wood their father had used to split bamboo. Promise we won't wait for each other, Nu had whispered, her thin arms tight around her sister's waist. We'll meet up on shore. Just keep swimming. Promise me, Myaing. She had to command her body to continue towards land; it hurt like a cramp in her heart.

Eventually, her outstretched hands contacted sand. She crawled from the surf up the beach and ran into the darkened jungle, hoping the light from the full moon hadn't given her away. The sound of Nu's cries roared in her head against the insect noise: Myaing!

–Change your name immediately – her father had advised – And you must know, my precious goose, there will be no point mourning for us. The moment you feel Thailand beneath your feet, send us a prayer, change your name and forget Burma – Then he looked at Nu, furrowing his brow into creases that reminded her of freshly planted rows of rice. In the wet of his eyes, minnows reached their lips towards the surface, breaking it into ripples.

Past the breakers, the lights of the army boat crested with the waves and then vanished. She scanned the surf for any sign that Nu or anyone else from her boat had made it to shore. She waited motionless as the bark in the lanky shadows of the coconut trees that bisected the sand down to the water. When a distant succession of gunshots cracked in Mali's ears, their shaggy caps didn't flinch; the moon didn't bother to blink.


The wooden porch of the palm hut was littered with empty bottles and cigarette butts. Mali knocked on the door before entering. She set down her bucket of cleaning supplies in the corner of the room like a full vase of plastic flowers. She stripped the foam mattress of its sheets and pillowcases, tied the mosquito net in a knot and then set about tidying the hut. Except for gathering the garbage and sweeping the sand back out to the beach, the only job left was to empty the pail of used paper from beside the toilet. Farang, she had come to learn, were disgusting and they didn't know how to contain their own shit. All a human needs to use is water – Mali thought, emptying the putrid pail – What about the process could be simpler? Why leave so much paper behind like a prize to be found? Monkeys they were, at play with their own excrement.

The backpackers would sleep until the sun had already begun its downward curve, reflecting in the stale puddles of vomit pocking the sand outside their beach bars from the previous evening. Into the mornings, their music would thump through the woven siding of her hut and she'd lay awake under the blur of her mosquito net wondering how long it would take before she could begin to work in the kitchen with Luang and the rest of the Burmese women. She would listen to them chattering softly in her native language about the husbands and children they'd left behind in Yangon or Mandalay or the smaller villages along the coast that nobody besides them even knew existed.

Every few weeks, a new Burmese girl arrived on the beach looking for work. It was as though Phram could smell the reek of her algae, her foreign scent of desperation as she crawled from the sea. For now, it was Mali's turn to choose. If she did what he wanted, maybe then Phram would say – Mali, from today you work in the kitchen – as he led the newest sea-washed girl into his hut and latched the door.

What a price to pay – she thought – cancelling out the last hidden part of yourself. She wondered if it could possibly be worth it and what her sister and brother and father would say.

–Phram gets what he wants – Luang spat on the ground into the mango peels – He'll make you take it up your ass, that dirty pecker. I should poison his khao soi, but the trouble is he's too clever.

–He'll smell it.

–He has a nose like a tapir. Hand me that plate – Luang said – He's too ugly to get a girlfriend so he's bitter. But if you sleep with him, he'll move you in here. Think of that! You could cook with me in the kitchen.

–I don't mind cleaning.

–Phram says Burmese girls give the best head. Do you even know what that is?

–Yes – Mali lied – I know.

–Believe me, it isn't fair, but you make twice as much here in the kitchen. During high season, you won't even be thinking of Burma. And just think if you met a handsome foreigner. Would you fall in love with someone carrying a cleaning bucket?

Mali peered over the counter to where the farang were. Hammocks criss-crossed the wooden deck, coils of mosquito repellent lit beneath their sagging crescents. They ashed joints into large beer bottles and wore black-market t-shirts sewn in Bangkok. Phram was standing at one of the hammocks cooing in English with a red-haired farang girl. All Mali could see were the knots of the girl's dreadlocks tangled like a lump of brain coral.

–I think they're horrible, Luang. Where could they possibly come from that they're so happy to turn their skin brown, anyway?

Luang's knife slid through the yellow flesh of the mango, dissecting off cubes with the blade – Do you know Kulap from down the beach? Paradise Bungalows? She makes her own cream that whitens your skin in only one day. You'd need two days, Mali, because you're so black. But I'm sure she would give you a discount.

–I'm not so black.

–You're the darkest girl here. But don't worry. Farang like black skin – Luang's laugh looked like the chopped up mango. She hiked up her shorts made from pink cotton printed with penguins, groaned and then took the plate over to the counter.

–Phram! – she called – Take this to the boys at the pool table.

–Go fuck yourself – he said in Thai, not even looking over from the girl's hammock. His hands rested on the fabric sides like the gunwales of a boat – Can't you see I'm busy?

–Sure – she said down at Mali – As busy as the asshole of a pig.

Luang slid out from behind the bar, crossed the deck and set the plate beside the three boys playing pool. They stood like awkward roosters, their bellies out and shirtless, scratching at the sweaty nooks beneath their swim shorts. Mali's brother Than was what she considered a handsome man, not these sun-rashed farang patched together with tattoos.

'Dis is Mary Kissmas mango – Luang said giving a light bow, her English deeply accented.

–You order that, Miles? – one of them said.

–No – the one named Miles said.

–Hey, Cam. You order a fucking Merry Kiss-my-ass mango?

–Yeah, I did. Screw off why don't you.

–Think I can get her to feed it to me?

–Try it.

–Fuck off, Bosh. Leave her be.

–Yeah, well – he snapped a piece up with his fingers – you can take her. She's got a fat nose anyway.

–Hey. Can I get a beer? – the one named Miles said – A large one? Chang's alright.

One large Chang – Luang said.

–Yeah. Kap koon krup.

–Clap poon crap – the one named Bosh laughed – What the hell. You speaking Thai now?

–Fuck off – Miles said and then leaned over the pool table to take his shot – You're such a goddamned cunt sometimes.

Mali didn't want to deal with farang directly like Luang had to. She had never seen so much white skin before coming to Ko Yao. Their bodies were shaped like octagons that turned crimson in the sun. Between cleaning each hut, she'd watch them slam themselves against the towering waves, their arms and legs emerging from the froth as they frolicked like albino horses. There was something hypnotic about watching them scan the horizon for the largest crests then turn towards the shore, paddling furiously until their bodies lifted atop the curling swells and then rode like planks nearly to the shore. For hours, they played this game with the sea. To her envy, they had no fear of the water, no fear of the sun, of drugs. No fear of anything that might hurt them. Mali opened the door of the last empty hut, the geckos darting across the beams of the porch.

As she stepped inside, the smell hit her hard. She covered her nose with her arm, set the cleaning bucket down and moved cautiously around the room as though not to startle the culprit into releasing any more of its reek. At the far corner of the bed a crumpled up top sheet lay near the window. Something about its colour, its position was already strange – like it had been rolled and placed there deliberately, as far away from the doorway as possible.

Farang… – she said to herself – How can the universe work this way?

–Don't expect it to be fair – her brother Than had said, his chin freshly shaven and black hair still dripping from his bath in the stream – Life will be harder for you. Women mean different things here. It's not fair, Myaing, but it's your turn. Then maybe in the next life it will be mine.

Mali imagined herself in a previous life as an oyster slowly churning out pearls. And then a mother whale drifting over the coral with a calf at her belly.

The sheet unrolled like a giant ball of orange grease. On the mattress, the vomit stain bloomed outwards, an aureole of wetness surrounding a heavy nucleus of textured rust.

–Mali…there you are – a voice cooed at the doorway. It was Phram.

–I didn't know you were there. Look. What a mess those ones made in here.

–Show me. I don't see anything – Phram stepped inside and closed the door. She could see something dark and unfiltered in his eyes. Coffee grounds. Poison dirt. A raven's beak puncturing snake eggs.

–Look. Here – Mali said – What a mess.

–Where, Mali?

Then coming from behind, Phram's palms covered her boney shoulders, gripped and then pushed her forwards onto the bed. The wet of the mattress stain soaked through her hair against her ear. That gag of foreign excrement, utter acid, the way Phram pinned her down with all his weight and fumbled with her shorts like he didn't know if he should take them off completely. Then with his hand on the back of her skull pushing her face further into the mattress, the tip of his cock pressed up against her anus like Luang had warned.

Mali screamed into the sheets. She struggled a hand free, reached behind her and grabbed at the meat of his dick. She moved it down against her vagina and without pause he thrust its full length inside. If the body had a fault line, a place where it was prone to split in two, Phram had found it then set about cleaving it open.

–…but you Burmese girls are so good at taking it up the ass – his lips panted at the crest of her ear – What makes you so special?…You immigrant girls pretend that you don't know how business works…You want to work in the kitchen, huh?...How do you think the other bitches got to work in there?

Outside on the beach, some farang boys were singing about Christmas. Their voices were sharp and off-key, more like bellowing than song. She'd heard the holiday had something to do with trees in cold weather, coloured strings of lights and bells, an unwanted baby who claimed to be king. She remembered the missionaries in her small city of Myeik painting a cardboard baby and propping it in a plastic washtub outside the neighbourhood monastery. Saviour of the world – they'd called it triumphantly. Why the coming of this king was so exciting for these farang, she didn't know. Just a cardboard baby adrift in a bucket.

–…probably full of shit anyways – Phram shuddered as he withdrew – And you reek like a rotten durian. Clean up your pants then finish what you were doing. That was the worst fuck of my life.

Her breath had caught in her windpipe like a shell, a sob coated in coral. She waited until Phram had left before trying to dislodge it. She sat upright on the edge of the bed and bit into the flesh of her arm as the sound, minutes too late, forced its way up from her throat. The two halves of her body felt as though they would fly apart and open up a giant cavern filled with deadly gas. The hair on her vagina was slick with Phram's cum. Red; her fingertips touched the tack of her blood. She slowly peeled the hair from her cheek, pulled up her shorts and crossed the room, down the stairs to the shore then padded across the boiling sand into the turquoise sea fully clothed. When the warm wave came, she ducked beneath the surface, held her breath and listened to the clack of shells as the sea wore them down into grains of sand.

–I'll chop his dick off and feed it to his mother – Luang said, slamming her cleaver down, halving a papaya – That son of a bitch. What did I tell you?

–It was over soon enough – Mali said.

–That doesn't mean anything. What a monster. Did he even say he'd move you in here?


–You see? He wants to do you up the ass. That's what he likes but he's too embarrassed to put his hands on a boy. Come here. I'll make you mohinga like they sell at Sule Paya in Yangon.

Mali sat behind the counter watching the farang laze in their hammocks. Cigarette and ganja smoke spiralled upwards from their thick fingers, veiling the images on the gigantic screen that kept them comatose for months on end. During the day, they sprawled in the sun like wilted squid. At night, their skins turned dark as the peasants who worked the rice fields.

–Why do they come here? – Mali asked her – What do they do?

–For the parties. Didn't you know? Ko Yao is famous for them. Phram sells them cheap drugs, and they dance on the beach until the morning.

–Like a festival?

–Yes. Like that. That's what the army boat is for.

Why would a festival need soldiers, Mali thought. Her world felt too small for so many farang. Myeik had been a quiet city of pearl farmers and shrimp fishermen, cut off even from the rest of Burma except for the long, bandit-ridden highway that ran through the jungle up the Malay Peninsula. After her brother left to teach at the University of Yangon, her world had shrunk to the dimensions of her family's hut. Nu would sweep the dirt yard clean each morning while Mali tidied the space around the stove, her father cross-legged in the shade mending the nets the shrimp fishermen would use for harvesting. She thought of her sister. What had happened to her? Along with the hundreds of others who'd jumped over the sides of boats onto the beaches of Thailand, she feared she might never know.

Forget Burma. Her father's eyes were sacks of sadness buried in despondent sockets. He had paid for their passage to Thailand by selling three terraces of their family's rice field. He had stood at the door to their hut as she and her sister walked off to the dock to join the others at the boat. Something about leaving him in that yard with a half-bag of rice and a few sticks of noodles that would last him a week at most, about picturing him cooking at the fire alone, about the loneliness of his eating, about that one night in the future when he would go to sleep and not wake up, felt worse than torture. Nu's sobs had soaked warm onto Myaing's shoulder, her tiny ribcage heaving as they walked toward the boat.

Luang and Mali lay beneath the mosquito netting listening to the thump of the music echo over from the party on the next beach. Checkering the net with segments, the full moon shone through the woven palm siding.

–Tonight is Christmas – Luang said – They'll be dancing until lunchtime tomorrow at least.

–Such horrible noises to dance to.

–Here. Put your head on my chest. You can listen to the hole in my heart.

–Where? – Luang's breasts felt small as rambutans.

–Here – she said, taking Mali's fingers – If you press down, you can feel it.

Mali felt nothing but the small arches of bone beneath Luang's skin.

–Does it hurt?

–What kind of a question is that? No one can ever feel it as well as I can. They don't even believe me when I tell them.

The thump of the music carried down through the jungle as though the trees didn't exist. She didn't know what a party like that could possibly look like, but she imagined huge circles of farang stomping wildly beneath canopies of Christmas lights, celebrating the fact they'd received their cardboard baby saviour while the rest of the world wandered in suffering looking for theirs. Mali prayed that somehow Nu had made it to shore and was on that beach, listening to the same hypnotic rhythms, thinking of Burma while trying to sleep.

–Tell Phram you want to work in the kitchen – Luang said – He owes you that much at least. And don't worry, the pain goes away. Anyways, it's not like you have a hole in your heart to be worried about. At least your twat will heal.

Against the horizon, the army boat floated like its own island, a gigantic continent of moonlit soldiers brought in to patrol the crowd for drugs and weapons. Boats from the next beach throbbed around the small promontory all night and into the morning, ferrying the partiers back to collapse on their sandy mattresses.

Mali woke after Luang had already left for the kitchen. The hut felt unusually quiet, like a forest of pillows had been pressed against all windows and joints, insulating the small room from the outside. She had just thrown her legs over the side of the bed when she heard Phram's voice outside, the glass rattling in the panes as he pounded on the door. A spiral drilled into Mali's stomach and spat up panic. He was drunk.

–Mali, you ugly bitch, let me in! – and then – You know as well as anyone what it takes to work in the kitchen.

–I'm busy. I'm getting dressed and then I have to clean…

Phram's head was a swaying charcoal shadow on the window curtain. He pressed in closer.

–Cunt! You'll do what I say…Luang says you wanted to work in the kitchen. The ugly whores always have to stick together.

–I have to work, Phram. There is cleaning to do.

–Since when can Burmese even clean their own assholes – he banged harder – Open up!

–Phram! Phram! Move your frog-shaped ass away from there! – a voice shouted from farther away – Something's wrong with the ocean!

–…wrong with the ocean… – Phram slurred – I'll be back for you, foreigner…

Mali watched the shadow recede at the window then heard Phram turn his feet and move to the edge of the porch. She peeled back the curtain. Phram's bare back stumbled away from the hut across the sand, all that sick venom in him sloshing to either side as he went. Then she peered out at the sea.

Like a glimpse of a skull just been scalped of its hair, the beach lay bone-smooth and barren of its water except for shallow divots leaping with suffocating fish. Knots of coral that had hidden beneath the water now spotted the distance.

–The sky pulled the sea back! – a little Thai girl screamed, her arms and legs a starfish as she ran out onto the expanse. Long-tails wilted on their sides where their anchors had kept them and gatherings of foreigners stood with their cameras, laying down to pose or sprinting to nowhere, the way people do in freshly opened spaces. Mothers took the hands of their children and walked them out, babies in arms – a curiosity best experienced as a family.

Mali opened the door and caught the tang of mineral earth in the air. Luang was standing at the bottom of the stairs carrying two plastic buckets.

–Come on! – she shouted – We'll collect the shellfish! There's a million of them stuck to the rocks.

–Is Phram out there?

–Who even cares? He can suck my dick – she said – We won't share any of them with him anyway. Roasted with some papaya, they'll be delicious! Come on, Mali! He'll never try anything with so many people around. Bring your knife so you can pry the shells loose.

Mali tied her hair back behind her head and followed Luang down onto the beach. The boys from the pool table had thrown off their shirts and were racing towards the horizon. Like hooves, their feet sprayed clumps of sand up in the air behind them. The girl with the red dreadlocks had walked out as far as she could on the new sand.

–What do you think happened? – Mali asked.

–Who even knows? Let's go over to those rocks. Look at all the Thais with their buckets. How destitute we all look scrounging for our dinner. And the farang certainly laughing at us. I don't even care though.

It felt strange to be so far from the huts yet still on land. They seemed perched on the edge of a desert cliff, having leapt clear of some catastrophe. Even stranger was the quiet of the beach, the water having pulled out so far they could no longer hear the waves. The broken seashells were coarser out here before they would eventually grind their way into fine white powder towards the shore. The new surface was cold and almost slippery beneath her feet – a muck of algae like damp fur. She wondered if she would find old bullets lodged in the reef where soldiers had shot into the water at other Burmese girls or if the coral had lactated its bone around them until they disappeared entirely into distresses of scar. She wondered what it would feel like to be buried by something slow as pearl; the millennia of deposits it would take as the waves continued passing overhead. What she could protect herself from if only she had the ability to surround herself in bone.

Mali found a clump of mollusks a little ways from where Luang had crouched down and started picking. At the base of the rocks, tiny yellow and sapphire fish darted around in sparkling pools. A few already pulsed on the sand, exhausted.

–Are you getting many? – Luang shouted – They're coming off so easily!

–I'm getting some – Mali shouted back – Yes, I'm getting lots now.

Mali looked over in Luang's direction and then spotted Phram farther out throwing hunks of sand at the boys from the pool table and then lighting a cigarette. Her insides scalded as she watched him. The boys chased each other in circles like street dogs with no boundaries or curbs to contain them.

–It will never seem fair – her father had said, rubbing his thumb along the lacquer coating the silky inner curve of a clam shell – But life doesn't promise us fair. As soon as we realise that, the happier we will be with what's given to us. We Burmese have learned to be happy with things as they are.

She looked down at the sand and then like rain on a puddle, the minnows broke the surface of her eyes. Things as they are. Things as they are were painful and frantic as choking, it didn't matter how many clams she collected for dinner. She missed Nu. She missed Burma, her father, the smell of their fire in the hut, the way the brutality of the army pulled everyone closer together despite trying to pry it apart.

When she thought about Than, her tears tumbled over her cheeks and dropped into the pools of tiny blue fish. How proud she had been of her brother. No one else in her family had even been to school, let alone become a professor. She used to rub his feet while he read aloud from his textbooks, so many words she didn't know. Just the shape of them in Than's mouth was enough to make her proud.

–I'm going in – she shouted to Luang who had moved to a new rock – Maybe I ate something funny. I don't feel well anymore.

–Fine, I'll stay out here and collect them all. But leave me your pail. I'll fill it too.

Mali dropped her bucket and began back across the large stretch of sand toward the restaurant huts.

Once when walking home from the market, Mali had grabbed Than's arm and held him close.

–Don't do that – Than grinned – Everyone will think we're a couple.

–I don't mind – she said – It's to show how proud of you I am.

He nodded his smooth handsome face towards a soldier.

–Would you be proud of me if I joined the army?

–Don't be silly, brother. The army doesn't want soldiers who speak English.

–Who told you I speak English, anyway?

–Nu did. She heard you practising.

–That parrot! I'll teach her to squawk like one.

–I am proud. And besides, professors in Yangon speak a dozen languages, don't they?

–Yes. I suppose – Than said – Some of them. But you too, Myaing, will have to learn English when you leave for Thailand.

–Then we can speak together in secret and no one will understand what we are saying.

Mali's favourite part was that he didn't pull his arm away. They walked like a blissful couple until their father's hut.

Nearly to the shore, Mali saw groups of farang begin to stand and gaze out at the horizon behind her. Phram is probably harassing some little girl, she thought. Maybe even Luang. She didn't care. She wished the water hadn't gone so she could inhale full lungs of air and drop to the bottom where he could never find her.

When the farang began to yell, Mali finally turned. The horizon was a dark band of blue that lacerated the sky and ocean. It seemed perpetually stuck at a distance, yet something kinetic stirred inside it – incremental shifts so subtle her eye couldn't catch them directly, the way stars only sparkled when you looked between them at the black.

–What is that? – the farang were shouting – What's going on?

–Maybe an earthquake affected the water?

–Look, all the Thais are coming in.

–What is it?

–It's heading towards the beach!

–Jesus Christ. Maybe we should warn them?

The huge bow of the army boat suddenly leapt vertically. A cry of disbelief crescendoed from the shore as the whole enormous vessel was thrown backwards and then twisted sideways, completely capsizing under the giant roils of water. Phram and the boys stood making odd, frantic gestures at the wave, provoking it to come closer, their high-pitched laughter fully audible over the growing roar. But then they could see the speed of it – the details of the foam, the ribbon of blue that had turned into a thick band of grey that threw up flares of spray as it churned over itself into the shallower water, galloping towards the beach. Something tight rose inside Mali's chest, something in the shape of fear but felt more like a lung starved of its pull for oxygen. Against Phram's height, the wave rose five or six times higher, taller than the biggest buildings in Myeik, taller than even the palm trees, it seemed. She saw Luang turn and grab both buckets, running as fast as she could with their awkward weights. Mali! Mali! Her toes suddenly caught the rise of a divot and her face scrunched as it impacted the ground, the spilled clams an instant constellation on the sand.

–Don't worry, you goose. I'm just going to hold your head under – Nu said, standing up to her breasts in the crystal cold stream that ran through the teak forest behind their family's rice field – It doesn't hurt. You just inhale deeply, close your eyes, then go under.

–I'll need to breathe, sister. That's my biggest fear. I'll panic.

–That's why I'll hold you under. It's better if I do.

–It's only an excuse for you to kill me, I bet. Than will beat you if you hurt me.

–I taught Than to hold his breath the same way. Ask him if you like. Anyways, after a minute once you're used to it, I'll come down there and stay with you. We'll hold our heads under together.

The teak forest ruffled sprays of the dry season sun through its leaves and they landed like canaries on Nu's wet hair and shoulders. Mali felt the current shoving across her inner thighs, that perpetual force that held her skin like a fist and then furled backwards on itself in a chorus of ripples.

–Hold your breath, sister. Ready?

The water hit her face. Then she was under.

Like algae, the stream pulled her hair in its direction. Something clacked or ticked loudly in her ears and Mali realised it was the water lifting and dropping the pebbles against each other, tumbling them towards the ocean. For a moment, it sounded like music, like the hooves of water buffalo striking stone, her father splitting stalks of bamboo. But the sensation of not breathing – of not having the choice to breath – shot pellets of panic up her throat. The unfairness of it all, of being completely immersed in it, at its mercy, overwhelmed Myaing as Nu's palms covered her skull and kept her from being able to surface. I'll come down there and stay with you, sister. I'll hold you under and then come stay with you after. But when, Nu? When? That minute felt so impossibly long. Long and cruel and painful and solitary. Then Nu's grip suddenly loosened and she felt her sister's hands move down to her shoulders, the soft brush of her black hair flowing towards her, both of them like submerged adjacent pearls clutching each other, sinking to the bottom of the stream.

Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.