Like the sun, Father disappears every day after work, after drinking too much awamori. He hurricanes other spirits with spirits. He once twisted the necks of two half-eyed kittens, so leafy their bones—but what do we know of love, of fish thrashing on shore? I, too, am afraid to wake up in foreign spaces.
To save our necks, Mother teaches us to walk with our whole face down. My sisters and I forget that we carry the same ears. We are waiting, like fishing poles, for something. Mother calls it saving face, but will it hurt, we ask, imagining our heads paraded for other families to approve, to wed. We are waiting to use our faces.
When Yuta comes over, she armors Father’s body with songs of victory. Warrior or demon, we are not sure which one is Father, so in our dreams we offer him our faces as shields, even though they are meaty, like the underside of peaches. Father dislikes peaches. In our dreams, Father loses our love; he loses his face. Every fall, we pool the fallen leaves, dried like kittens. We raise our heads and jump into battle.
When Father comes home through the sickness, Mother greets him with her whole face down.
Winner in the micro competition of A SmokeLong Summer