after Dean Rader
Katherine Du is the reincarnation of her great-grandmother who ascended within the hour of her birth, a stern believer in having faith, but not in faith itself. Given a silver spoon out of hope, not reality, Katherine was born part golden dragon, part lily flower two months after the turn of the millennium. She liked petting words (doily, clotted cream, ennui) and sticking them to the peaks of her teeth. She devoured not-so-nuggety nuggets on Tuesdays and sweaty bags of Smokey Joe’s the day after at 5:35 PM. At 6:00 PM, she shook in the presence of the stringy-haired woman who made music feel like a death sentence. When she was eight, she moved to a frowning third-floor flat in Belsize Park. A man who thought he was still in the war lived downstairs. Whenever her piano sang at night, he prodded the bottom of her living room floor with one of his walking sticks once if there was a ceasefire, twice if he was extra thirsty enough for someone’s blood. When she was ten and a half (being only ten wasn’t enough), a boy in her English History class said that slaves, not kings, are what build nations. She thought she loved him because pairing up to sit on the coach ride to the Swiss Cottage Leisure Center and playing guess-the-number was what love was. When she reached eleven, she thought she was already beyond eleven. She saw bullies giving plump girls belts to chain themselves with. She heard stories about going to the Philippines and seeing splayed corpses out on open streets. Eyes violet, or maybe even indigo-blue, she moved across town, then back across a big sea. She wanted people (specifically Bollinger, the one with the greasy green capital B on all the cardboard boxes) to pack her away too, but her mother said airfare cost less than sea-fare. She became broken when one day, her art teacher smiled and coughed, and the next day, she lay six feet under. She realized she spent time in, on, and around boxes she could never elucidate, so she stole glances at the friend who drew a picture of a box, then drew a stick figure a foot away and labeled it “Me, Myself, and Anything Else that Wants This.” Some nights, she dreamed of joyriding, drowning, believing. These nights, she dreams of what could lie beyond.
Katherine Du is a sophomore at Greenwich Academy. She writes a column for the Darien Times, edits for Polyphony H.S., and interns for the Greenwich Free Press and the Blueshift Journal. I have been recognized by Scholastic and published by Teen Ink and Eunoia Review.