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REMEMBRANCE AND HAPPENSTANCE


--by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming and Reid Mitchell


HE: Behind my house, in a smaller shadowed house, lived a tiny woman who only owned one shoe. She sat in the abyss of her doorway. Her shoe was cordovan, her foot was coloured ivory-stained-by-tears, her hand a yellow cup, and her fingernails incardine. Because she had only one shoe, she begged for visitors to run her errands. She named me Happenstance.

SHE: I almost forgot how that happened. That evening when I woke up to pee, I discovered one shoe was missing. The remaining shoe was like a crying paper boat, leaking betrayed sorrow and burnt hope to have her companion back. In the dark I searched for a lost shoe. I thought I would stop searching for things, ever since that non-disposable sentence was snatched back by him. But still I was searching, until I found myself dreaming of sailing on a paper boat. Without mischeif the next day foregrounded itself. I sat on the doorway, humming a funeral blues to myself, mourning the shoe that I presumed dead. Then I spot this man. He has white beard and wore a three-piece suit.

HE: I named her Remembrance.

SHE: He named me Remembrance and I named him Happenstance. Suppose I could describe him realistically, authentically, I would say he seldom uttered merry-go-happy things. He was the moody and gloomy kind, or so I thought. Suppose I could describe him.

HE: The errands I ran: I brought her ricepaper, hot peppers, cups of green tea, cats' whiskers, and orbiutary clippings. I knocked on the doors of doctors and dogsitters. One night in Happy Valley I shadowed a woman with an eyepatch and a blue kimono. My wages were rainwater, teak ashes, and cucumber rind.

SHE: Sometimes I asked him to perform. He made me laugh, but more often he made me motionless, which was good for me, because whenever I smiled my face twisted and formed a question mark without the dot.

HE: She forgot she was the beggar.

SHE: How many days were gone before he showed me a burning tower I cannot recall. But one day, he was mad, and explosive.

HE: It was Happenstance. I took her other shoe and threw it like slops into the mud.

("Remembrance and Happenstance" was first published in Barrow Street, USA, Summer 2007, p. 38.)