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  • Maga'leena
  • Yasmine Romero (bio)

Even though their nåna was nearly eight months pregnant, she insisted on preparing their food. Nåna rubbed her belly with one hand, while she upturned the dead, scalded chicken in the other. Her fingers were covered in dried blood and fluids, and she plucked, without hesitation, the bird's feathers. Leena watched her mother, closely, stepping back and forth. The ripping noise of feathers was in sync with her impatient steps.

Leeda, her twin, laughed at nåna's left side, and said, "just say it, che'lu." Leena squealed, bringing her hands together in front of her.

"I dreamt that we had a brother! There were bicycles, babies, and a cinema we could go to!" Leeda picked at the light hairs of an uncracked coconut, "And?"

"We had the whitest, cleanest uniforms to wear, and that Japanese woman who always chases us away wasn't there." Leena let out a longing sigh.

"We had long, black skirts with white long-sleeved tops that buttoned to our throats. The kind that the older girls wear at that school." Leeda glanced away from her sister.

"We'd just gotten off our bicycles when our baby brother asked if we should call him nii-chan, Thomas, or che'lu." Nåna leaned forward, pausing in her stripping of the mannok.

"What," she asked hoarsely, "did he look like?"

Leena stopped rocking back and forth. She closed her eyes. Leena remembered that she had thought her brother was chubbier in the dream than she had expected him to be. His brown face was round, which made him appear happy at first, but then she had fallen into his deep, dark almost-black eyes, which bore a strange notch in the left eye's pupil—the notch was the color of seaweed, the bright kind that they used to pull onto the shore before they were told to stay on their farmsteads by the Japanese. Leena opened one eye, "He had the mark."

"Nåna's mark?" Leeda dropped the young coconut in her hands. Their mother threw her head back, laughing, without warning. Leeda and Leena frowned at the same time. [End Page 7]

"Why couldn't we have been born with that mark?" The twins said in unison.

"Because," Nåna cooed, "you're already born with a mark."

Their mother pointed at Leeda. Leena followed the point to her sister's distinguishing features. She considered her twin (二秒で) more beautiful for Leeda's hair shone on the beach, and her shoulders were strong like their mother's. Leeda walked with this gait that shook the sand beneath her feet like the story of the woman who swam to Bird Island, and never came back.

"What mark, Nåna?" Leena whined.

"Just look," their mother slammed the naked bird onto the low wooden table in front of her.



"準備しろ," a small, wiry man in uniform said that morning to the twins' tata. They could hear the exchange clearly from the open window. There was a curfew. There were directions from the authorities. If they heard the sirens, then they must make for their foxholes or nearby caves.


The uniformed man sighed through his teeth, which indicated that the Japanese were expecting an assault that they could not win. But no matter the outcome, the Chamorros, Carolinians, Koreans, and Okinawans would need to follow suit, that is, the suit of Emperor Hirohito.

Leena dropped the cut of mango in her hand. Her palm was smeared in sticky sweet yellow. She rubbed it out onto the length of her skirt that had not fit since they stopped attending school. Leeda had been offered a chance to attend the Japanese preparatory school, on the wayside of Garapan, but she refused when she saw the distance in Leena's eyes.

Leeda noticed blood streaking the fabric of Leena's skirt, and hurriedly checked the palm of her sister's sticky hand. Nothing.

"They will take your farm and kill your wife and children," the Japanese official emphasized with violent hand gestures. It was the same kind of violence that Leena had been subject to by their Japanese teachers because...