Lisha’s Outburst (Flash Fiction)

Image by Prettysleepy Art from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #134

Lisha has reached the awkward middle age when she still has the desire to meet new people and to socialize, but she no longer has the youthful good nature to just enjoy a gathering without telling herself how hopelessly boring it is. However her daughter always has a good time running with other kids in the backyard. So she has to come, just for her daughter’s sake. Now she sees her daughter running around an empty swimming pool that the host has kept covered with some hideous plastic or tarp material. “It’s too expensive to maintain a swimming pool.” The hostess says.

It’s a potluck party and Lisha brought pan fried rice noodles, chips, and soda. She looked around to see which group she can mingle with. The most popular one is with Tim Wong, who’s a researcher in Rutgers University, but for years he has talked of giving up science to become a full time minister at the local Asian Community Church. However Lisha doubts that he will ever do that–he just says that to attract attention and it certainly works. Tim is so popular that he’s forever surrounded by admirers, most of them women. If Lisha wants to talk with Tim, she has to fight against a small army to get his attention. Then there was Arlong, who likes to tell unclean jokes and who congratulates himself that women likes to hear what he has to say. Lisha wants to avoid Arlong at all cost. There was Mei standing not far away from the imitation fireplace who can never stop talking about the most trivial things happening in her life. The strange thing is that despite Mei’s endless verbal expression and tireless sharing of her life’s details, nobody really knows what her real characteristics are, what temperaments she has, what kind of relationship she has with her husband etc. Mei is the master of sharing without really sharing.

What really attracts Lisha is the group that is sitting in the bay window area, away from everybody else. That’s the unofficial book club and unofficially led by Mali. However, Lisha has been considered too uncultured to join the group. She doesn’t have a degree; she speaks with unpolished accents; she never goes to a spa or does a facial; she doesn’t own even one LV bag, not even a fake one; she dresses in the most unsophisticated way possible. When the club went for a microbrew trip in Pennsylvania, a weekend in a ski resort, or a night at the Lincoln Center, Lisha has always found excuses not to join. How can she do otherwise? She has heavy mortgage to pay each month and not a penny to spare.

Lisha knows that the club doesn’t like her, but she loves books and reads voraciously. She can’t help sidle towards them and sits down at the vacated spot on the sofa when somebody gets up to go to the bathroom or to fetch something. It is on the far edge of the group, the ideal spot for her, since it won’t attract too much attention. In her hand, she holds a bubbly fruit beverage which tastes a little funny.

The group is actually discussing a South Korean TV series, not a book. It seems everybody is engrossed in it, but Lisha has never watched it.

“I’m a little tired of TV series about kings, queens, and ministers. I mean they are nice to watch, but a little bit unreal, don’t you think?” Mali says, trying to start a discussion. Mali, the leader of the group, is very polite, but Lisha knows that underneath the courteous exterior, Mali doesn’t want Lisha to be here.

“So true. I can see many of the scenes that are not quite… I can never imagine it happening in real life.” One of Mali’s faithful followers picked up the conversation thread.

“I mean even scenes, backdrops, and the sky is unreal, don’t you think? I mean the Milky Way is so conspicuous, like a shining ribbon on the sky. That got to be fake.” Another one says.

Everybody agrees that they have never seen the Milky Way at all in real life and probably it doesn’t even exist.

“If you ever go camping, you probably can see it.” Lisha says. “I guess nobody here goes camping. Anyway, when I was a little girl going back to visit my grandpa in the village, I saw the Milky Way every cloudless night. It’s exactly like a shining ribbon on the sky.”

“Well, thank you for the clarification.” Mali says politely.

“Oh, come on, Mali. Say what you really want to say. You think only a country lout like me can see the Milky Way, don’t you?”

(To Be Continued)

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