In Which I am Willing Accessory to Marine Pollution | Flash Fiction | Chicago Reader

In Which I am Willing Accessory to Marine Pollution 

Flash Fiction 2018

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LYDIA FU
  • Lydia Fu

Danny's grandmother pulls off at another scenic viewpoint. The sky threatens snow. She gets out, shakes her head—an Antoinette­esque pink tower of hair, and jerks the pickup back into drive.

Buckled into the front seat is Danny's grandfather, cremated and in a milky-white urn.

We're taking him to this place he used to go cliff diving. How he and Annie met, apparently. I'm picturing a 20-something Annie—head a towering stack of pink braids, dressed in a frilly one-piece, toes pointed like a ballerina—winking at another 20-something with his hair greased back.

The plan is to scatter him over the edge. This is all probably illegal.

"Thanks for coming along," Danny says. "Pops would've been 89 next month, but everyone's gotta go sometime."

After too many speed bumps, Annie gets out and checks again.

She jumps back in, shaking her head.

"Next one."

"You know, they raised me, Nana and Pops. Never known anyone who worked so well together. I wanted someone like that for me, you know?"

I nod.

"You in a relationship?" he asks.

"Just out of one."

"Oh, that's rough. Had you guys been together long?"

"Five years."

"Wow." He looks out over the highway to the ocean. "Wow." As though five years is longer than the decades his grandparents had.

After several "next ones," Annie stops again. She stands outside for a few minutes, then shuffles back to the truck.

"This one."

We're right on the edge. I am very impressed with the young Miss Annie Lin. That is a drop.

She won't let Danny take the urn.

"You weren't married to him. You didn't wash his underwear."

I haven't unbuckled yet.

"I think I'll let you have your family moment."

"Nonsense, you get out right now." With one arm, Annie reaches in and pulls me out of the truck.

We're at the sill now. Wind's blowing back at us. When Annie lifts the lid, some of her husband flies into her face.

"Ope, hello again."

Danny's sputtering and laughing and crying a little.

"Nana, let me hold it. You can scatter."

The waves below crash against the bluff. She shakes her head.

"I need to do this," she says, then turns to me. "Would you hold my shoulder?"

I nod.

She lifts up on her tiptoes, reaches fragile arms out over the railing.

And drops the whole thing out and over.

"Nana—" Danny says, craning over the rail to see the urn disappear in the surf.

"Welp, that's done." Annie brushes her hands off on her pants and pulls Danny's arm over her shoulders.

Mist from the sea freezes on our faces and in Annie's tower of hair. After a moment, Danny pulls her in and rocks on the balls of his feet. Their eyes close.

I feel Annie squeeze my hand and think I see a gray mist spin itself into the waves below.   v

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Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
Camille Norment: Untitled (red flame) Logan Center for the Arts
November 15
Performing Arts
The Master Comic Greenhouse Theater Center
October 04

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