Haoyan Do Cell Phone Picture
Flash Fiction #122
Mu and his wife Nia have been practicing extreme economy recently due to rising inflation, to the point that their relationship is somehow strained. They used to go out for dinner once a week in a local restaurant, but that is considered too costly. Mu claims that having steaks at Longhorn Steakhouse is part of his American dream, and Nia has to cave in, agreeing that they are going to visit a steakhouse once a month.
“How about dim sum? I can’t live a life without eating dim sum in a restaurant? That’s our birthright.” Mu says.
“Once a month, steak or dim sum.” Nia says.
“You used to be a very nice gal, but you’ve become so mean lately.” Mu says.
“Well, blame inflation.” Nia says.
Their summer vacation is cut. They planned to go to Niagara Fall, and then to Toronto to visit a friend, but now the trip is cut short into a trip to Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, which is less than an hour away.
Their gym memberships are cancelled. Jogging in the neighborhood is their only option.
“I don’t like jogging. How about we buy an exercise machine at home?” Mu protests.
“No, a good machine is expensive and the machine is easy to break down.” Nia refuses.
The worst comes to his driving. Mu enjoys the detour in Roosevelt Park near their home, and sometimes he would drive to Watchung, a township about 12 miles from Edison, to look at houses he can’t afford but dream of having.
“You are driving too much. The gas price is very high.” His wife says to him. She dictates that they should only do one trip during the weekend, both of them together, with an pre-optimized itinerary. To this, Mu adamantly refuses to do. He enjoys his solitary drive. Also whenever he and Nia drive together, Nia just can’t shut up.
“Mu, you didn’t stop at the ‘stop’ sign. If a cop sees you, you will get a ticket.” “Mu, you are way over the speed limit.” “Mu, you didn’t turn your head to check the blind spot when changing lanes.”
For this reason, Mu has tried to minimize their “together” time as much as possible in a car. And Nia has to give up when Mu completely refuses to cooperate.
This weekend, as soon as Nia comes back from the grocery shopping, Mu starts to complain. He wants the durian ice cream, but Nia didn’t buy it because it is too expensive; he wants three roasted sweet potato, but Nia only bought one; he wants a dozen “Nongshim” brand noodle soup packages, but Nia only got two for him.
“What’s going on? You only bought one mochi donut?” He is surprised to find that. A mochi donut is a donut made of sticky rice flour. It is a little smaller than the regular donuts made of wheat flour. “We need two. One each. It’s our dessert.”
Nia suddenly realizes her mistake. In her enthusiasm to save money, she automatically cut the mochi donut, without even thinking that it is so small that the two of them cannot share one. Eating half of it is just not satisfying. She doesn’t say a word. What’s the point of acknowledging her mistake? What’s done is done. However she really wants the mochi all for herself.
They eat their dinner as usual, but each thinks of a way to possess the mochi donut, which is strategically located in the middle of the dining table. They have a little table in the kitchen and they eat their meal there whenever there are no guests coming. Nia thinks if Mu will ever leave the table for just several seconds, she will pounce on the donut and swallow it. And Mu is thinking about the same thing that whenever Nia leaves the table, the donut will be his.
However, neither of them leaves the table. Both sit there after dinner, each playing with his or her cell phone.
At length, Nia says, “Mu, it is your turn to take out the garbage today.”
Mu replies innocently, “yes, I will do that.” He gets up and turns to the garbage bin. Just as Nia is trying to grab the mochi donut, Mu turns back and says,
“Where did you put the big garbage bags? I need to throw away some stuff. Remember those junks you talked about the other day? I think I would do it today.” Mu says.
“Oh, Mu, you are so sweet. Let me tell you where I put those big bags.” She stands up and goes to the cabinet, which is right next to their little table. As she reaches to the top of the cabinet to grab the bags, she suddenly thinks of something and says, “Mu, please help me. It is at the top here.”
However Mu is not listening to her. As Nia turns to the cabinet, Mu quickly grabs the mochi donut and stuffs it into his mouth. When Nia turns around, it is all over.
3 thoughts on “The Inflation (Flash Fiction)”
Inflation is tough on marriages. I hope the economy improves for their sake and ours.
Poor Nia, she was just trying to save some money. I love mochi and Nongshim noodles so I understand his frustration lol. Actually, the other day my sister only got me one packet of Nongshim noodles instead of the four I asked for and I was so mad lol.