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“You know Mencken once described an average person’s life in New York as a sardine in a can while the grass and the so called parks look like embalmed sauerkraut.” Lulu says.
Pammy says, “what is a sour craft? I don’t know any sour craft, but I do know that you are a sour grape. You didn’t want to come with me and you missed all the fun. Now you just can’t help but badmouth about the City.”
Pammy has to go at least once a month to the City to visit her favorite hair salon, arguably the best in the country for Asian women fancying the newest hair style of a South Korean actress. For the last two years, Pammy has been a real estate agent and has sold two big houses to a rich client of a dubious and corrupt background. Now she thinks she’s entitled to beautify herself, which she didn’t allow herself to indulge before.
“Lulu is right. It is a sardine can.” Teena says. “I’ve never invited any of you to come to where I live. That’s because my parents and I live in a 300 square feet room (about 28 square meter), and we share a small kitchen and bathroom with two other families–altogether 10 people.”
Teena’s parents came to the U.S. right after WWII and settled into a cramped lower Manhattan apartment, where they lived for the rest of their life. Teena could have moved out of the sardine can after she grew up, but her parents refused to budge and didn’t want her to leave either. So as a good daughter, Teena gave in and stayed. She has worked as a secretary for the financial company, where Pammy’s husband Pan also works. Pammy and Teena met at a company Christmas party and became friends. Pammy would often invite Teena to come to New Jersey to stay with her for a weekend to escape the City.
“I know it. That’s why I never asked you about it.” Lulu says.
“Goodness. I didn’t know. How come? That’s rather crowded. I mean the morning must be awful. How could ten people all get shower in the morning?” Pammy asks.
“I don’t. I get up early in the morning and take the subway straight to the midtown office. I do my morning washing in the women’s restroom there.” Teena says. “I know I am not the only one. You have to be a little creative in the restroom though.”
“Teena? How much you sacrifice for your parents? You could have moved to New Jersey or Queens.” Pammy says.
“Now I am quitting my job and the City. I’ve always dreamed of living in a house with wide open space. So I am moving to Pennsylvania.” Teena says.
“You’ve been saying that for years…” Pammy says.
“Now that my parents passed away, I have no desire to stay. I am chasing my dream.” Teena says.
“Don’t you think it happens too fast? I mean you only know this guy for two months.” Pammy says.
Teena brushes Pammy’s words aside and says,
“I’ve been to his home, which is located close to Harrisburg. You know he works for the Pennsylvania state government. And he lives in the rural area. I heard wolf or coyote, one or the other, howling at night. How cool is that?”
“Is that really what you want?” Lulu asks.
“Lulu? What’s wrong with you today? You are so negative. Of course that’s what she wants.” Pammy says.
So Teena moved away. Her friends wish her the best.
However six months later, Teena comes back. “I guess I am a city girl at heart. A poor city girl, but still a city girl.” She moves to a lower Manhattan apartment as cramped as before and finds a new secretarial job.
6 thoughts on “Is That What You Want (Flash Fiction #55)”
Does her life come full circle in the wrong way?
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can never shed our worries and burdens. And depending on someone else for security is the worst decision.
Often we have such limited choices. Very sad.
Well written. 🙂
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What a predicament for Teena and such a tough challenge the cramped space..
I think sometimes it’s about wanting what we don’t have and feeling like the grass is greener on the other side even when that isn’t necessarily true.
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I can understand Teena’s attitude. The city is crowded, cramped, and noisy but it is home after all. Hopefully she can live someplace a little closer like Brewster or Stamford.
That’s really sad n such stories are countless in every society of the world. Good story with meaningful message, loved it ❤
Poor girl. It sounds sad.
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