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DEFINED SPACE/??a Chang In the distance, two young girls are speaking to you. They look identical but they are not the same. They are lean and wild with black hair and eyes, cylindrical patterns of Ught. They ask you to come with them. In this tiny town, you are to them, a pregnant aunt, someone who foUows and watches on. They hold Indonesian shadow puppets and say they have hiding places you cannot find. They disappear. You hear their laughter between tall blades of grass which is now bending west. "Dahlia, Dahlia . . ." and you walk faster to that beckoning. It is 1954 and you are lost. In a tunnel you are dressed as a queen. A servant has just told you that you wUl drown. You beUeve what he says. AU around you are puddles of water which you would Uke to touch because they remind you of someone you have now just forgotten. Puddles multiply into oceans until you find yourself running up a staircase to escape the water. Your dress flies behind you: a lemon-colored parachute as you whisper, "I cannot swim. I cannot swim." You feel the presence of a thousand onlookers as the day sinks starkly before you. You are a twelve-year-old boy in Switzerland who has found a smaU bruise on your leg. It hurts as though someone has hit you, but you do not remember how you could have hurt yourself. You examine it and admire its shine, it's indigo. Ten steps away, your teacher caUs your name. She Ukes you because you are good at mathematics and forgives that your attention falls away. You raise your hand in response to her caU. You are present for today's attendance. Outside, three boys press their faces to the window, tapping their fists against the fraü glass. They wUl wait for you in a field, laughing and boxing their monstrous shadows. The Missouri Review · 144 You are now an old woman and have just lost your keys. You search beneath a purple knitted scarf, beneath the armoire, behind a set of blue perfume bottles given to you for your seventieth birthday. You feel the urge to cry as the sun is about to set behind an army of buUdings. You have Uved in this city for 20 years and just now remember something you buried in the backyard of your chUdhood home in a city mUes away. You want to return to that city. You caU everyone to teU them you wiU die tomorrow. After dinner, you lie down in your bed, sheets adorned with pink and white bleeding hearts. You smell rain as you close your eyes and hold tightly to the keys which you have just found. It is snowing heavily and you watch the flakes melt into sou as you stare out the window. Just now, you realize someone is watching you from a window across the road. You step outside and feel the need to walk to buy ingredients which you are lacking for a very important recipe. Halfway to the store you realize you did not dress sufficiently for the weather. Everything is now covered in fresh powder and you are excited and afraid. You turn around to see the entire town drowning behind you. Your small house is buried beneath frost and you cover your mouth to prevent the snow from penetrating you which is now hovering around you like a swarm of bees. It is business as usual and you have just Ued to someone as he moves his pen to sign a contract. There is a thirst you have never felt before and you excuse yourself hastUy. You walk down the haUway in hopes of your throat opening to let in a generous amount of air. Outside, it is the hottest day in three years and you Ught a cigarette. You think of your brother who is in the hospital, whom you have not visited in two weeks. His ailing weakens you, his illness terminal. You find yourself alone, your cigarette spent. Your car is ten blocks away and as you walk toward it, you dream Tina Chang The Missouri Review · 145...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 144-153
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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