Girl Fight (Flash Non-Fiction #48)

"To fight, you have to get yourself dirty." George Orwell says that, but who wants to be dirty? We all want to be as clean, tidy, and pretty as we can, and often we worry that we are not clean, tidy and pretty enough. There are certain movies which can combine prettiness with a fighting … Continue reading Girl Fight (Flash Non-Fiction #48)

Sports, Grammar, And Love (Flash Non-Fiction #47)

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay Every four years when Olympic ads hit the TV screen, I would think of him. Not that he's an Olympic athlete or anything. He's not, but he's the only one among the people I'm familiar with who loves sports and is pretty good at it. It was 8th grade … Continue reading Sports, Grammar, And Love (Flash Non-Fiction #47)

Language And Custom (Flash Non-Fiction #46)

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash This morning, as I spent ten minutes to review some Thai phrases from a website, I suddenly remember several strange incidents happened in school when I was learning English as a second language. I can't remember exactly when this happened, but it could be when I was a forth … Continue reading Language And Custom (Flash Non-Fiction #46)

A Relationship Speculator (Flash Fiction #45)

Image by Jamie Nakamura from Pixabay Pammy: "I've never seen Armei and Arhu quarreling this much before. Almost everything Arhu said, his wife Armei objected. I wonder what has happened to the two. I observed them at the party. Glad the party is over and we are home now." Pammy's husband Pan: "Really? I hardly … Continue reading A Relationship Speculator (Flash Fiction #45)

The Presentation (Flash Fiction #44)

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash Pam is going to give a presentation in a conference and she comes to Ivy Training Center to seek help. Since everybody is occupied, Ivy ends up assisting Pam. The Ivy Training Center almost went out of business several months ago--business was slow to a crawl due to pandemic … Continue reading The Presentation (Flash Fiction #44)

The Superstition (Flash Fiction #43)

Photo by Jari Hytönen on Unsplash Pammy finally gets her real estate license after taking the real estate test several times. And she helps Mr. Goh Yee and his wife to purchase their house in Plainsboro Township, New Jersey. Goh is a businessman from Malaysia and the only reason he wants to buy a house … Continue reading The Superstition (Flash Fiction #43)

In Six Languages (Flash Fiction #42)

The Yang family has been running a takeout restaurant in this northeastern New Jersey town for 17 years. They have a daughter Lisa who's a 15-year-old and a son who's 10. When Lisa was born, the Yang family couldn't afford a babysitter. Lisa spent all day in the kitchen of the little takeout restaurant with … Continue reading In Six Languages (Flash Fiction #42)

The Herbal Medicine (Flash Fiction #41)

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay "I'm afraid I need to return this." Penni stands at counter of the vacant little grocery store. "My store has a no return policy for any package that's opened." Leong, the store owner says sternly. "It's opened, but I couldn't use it. I got cold feet and dropped the … Continue reading The Herbal Medicine (Flash Fiction #41)

Romance And Pandemic (Flash Fiction #40)

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash Here is another story of the family of Nita, her husband Lian, and her son Kevin. There's a previous story about the family here on the topic of superfluity--the two stories are not related and there's no need to read the previous story to understand the current story. Nita's … Continue reading Romance And Pandemic (Flash Fiction #40)

The Russian Friend (Flash Fiction #39)

Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash Lia is a new part time hire at Ivy Learning Center, which has many overqualified full time and part time teachers to tutor local kids--mainly from the surrounding middle schools and high schools. Summer is usually the busy time when anxious parents want to push their kids on SAT … Continue reading The Russian Friend (Flash Fiction #39)

The Italian Name (Flash Fiction #38)

Image by Pexels from Pixabay "Can I also have a can of orange soda?" Armei says to the kid behind the counter, who looks like he's hardly out of high school. Armei can't even remember the days when she's out of high school. That's so long ago and she's growing old. "You mean the 'San … Continue reading The Italian Name (Flash Fiction #38)

Pammy Wants Justice (Flash Fiction #37)

Image by Alexas from Pixabay This story is a sequel to the previous flash story "The Cynic", which talks about the lunch Pammy had with her husband Pan at a new Asian restaurant opened up in Edison, New Jersey. There they met Brother Tai, who came to their table to sit with them for a … Continue reading Pammy Wants Justice (Flash Fiction #37)

The Cynic (Flash Fiction #36)

Photo by Atul Vinayak on Unsplash A new Asian restaurant has opened up in Edison after New Jersey lifted most of the restrictions for dine-in places. However there's rumor that this is just an old restaurant, which shut down in the nearby township and moved to this new more popular location, to take advantage of … Continue reading The Cynic (Flash Fiction #36)

The Taste Of Chocolate (Flash Fiction #35)

Photo by Serghei Savchiuc on Unsplash When Apei was a little girl, her mother--for the sake of the family economy--would never buy chocolate for her. Thirty years ago in Penang--a tropical island off the coast of Malaysia-- chocolate was very expensive. Other candies made of coconut and durian are readily available. Apei had plenty of … Continue reading The Taste Of Chocolate (Flash Fiction #35)

Local Politics (Flash Fiction #34)

"Oh, you are so naive. You have no idea of the numerous little things. New Jersey has a unique party line politics." Dodo says. "What is party line?" Pammy asks. "It's too complicated to explain to you. If you participate in our meetings, gradually you will know. You've never come to a political meeting before? … Continue reading Local Politics (Flash Fiction #34)

A Happy Accident (Flash Fiction #33)

Arjian is a local hairdresser and a regular gambler at Atlantic City--a casino town at the southern end of New Jersey. There's a previous story about him here. On Saturday morning, when Arjian's wife Mei goes to the drive-by ATM machine, she finds that the balance is increased by about $10,000. She doesn't know where … Continue reading A Happy Accident (Flash Fiction #33)

The Controversy (Flash Fiction #32)

Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash "There's an ancient fable about a vendor selling spears and shields by the road. A bunch of spears are displayed tidily on his left with a sign that says,'the world's best spears that can puncture any shield.' On his right, there is a pile of shield on which there … Continue reading The Controversy (Flash Fiction #32)

How To Talk (Flash Fiction #31)

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay "I love this house when it's in my dream and it's being built. Once I live here, it’s a very different story." Armei says at the dinner table. Armei and Pammy and Lulu are good friends and also their husbands get along with each other. For this Saturday, the … Continue reading How To Talk (Flash Fiction #31)

The Neighbors (Flash Fiction #30)

KPhoto by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash Kyi-sook has this continuous feud with her neighbor Joe. Kyi-sook's husband Kai is a very laid-back guy and doesn't want to make a fuss at all. After prodding her husband numerous times without seeing any results, Kyi-sook realizes that she is the one who has to go out there … Continue reading The Neighbors (Flash Fiction #30)

A Book Of Ancient Tales (Flash Fiction #29)

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash "You know Armei tells me that her daughter Lily says she wants to be a YouTube star. Armei is furious. All those tuition fees Armei has to pay, only to see her wasting her time..." Pammy says as the whole family sits down to dinner. Armei's husband Pan just … Continue reading A Book Of Ancient Tales (Flash Fiction #29)

Energy (Flash Fiction #28)

Photo by Susanna Marsiglia on Unsplash "I am so bored." I hear myself saying. Nalan and I have evolved from talking on phone to talking on Zoom. "I am more bored than you are." Nalan says. That's just typical of Nalan. Whenever I say something, she will say she is more than me. If I … Continue reading Energy (Flash Fiction #28)

She Has News (Flash Fiction #26)

Image by jplenio from Pixabay "Yashin, you can't stop talking, can you? Every time we chat, you have such bad news about mass shootings, Asians being attacked on the streets of New York, or some other disasters. When you exhaust the U.S. news, you talk about Mongolians' invasion of Burma in the 13th century." Lalin … Continue reading She Has News (Flash Fiction #26)

Good Or Bad Suggestions (Flash Fiction #27)

Image by marcelkessler from Pixabay It's an weekend afternoon at Pammy's place. "What am I going to do?" Lil asks, staring at her friend Pammy and then Armei. "Just confront him. Just be straightforward and open about it. Of course you want to have solid evidence first." Pammy says. "OK, let's go then." Lil says. … Continue reading Good Or Bad Suggestions (Flash Fiction #27)

Summer Activities (Flash Fiction #25)

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash Father: Son, what are you doing? Are you writing poems again? You know I want you to get involved in some useful activities, like math camps, music, painting etc. Son: Dad, I don't like those things. Father: We are not talking about your preferences. We are talking about usefulness … Continue reading Summer Activities (Flash Fiction #25)

The Vegan (Flash Fiction #24)

Photo by Sascha Bosshard on Unsplash When Tony Tung suddenly announces at the dinner table that he is going to be a vegan starting the following week, his parents are totally confused what he's talking about. They've never heard the word before and have to consult the online dictionary. "It means a person who does … Continue reading The Vegan (Flash Fiction #24)

The New Chef (Flash Fiction #23)

Photo by Alexey Savchenko on Unsplash Ada and her husband Taich are the managers of an Asian restaurant in northwestern part of New Jersey. They are new in the business. When they need a chef, one is recommended to them. It is said the chef has great skills and has worked in the most prestigious … Continue reading The New Chef (Flash Fiction #23)

The Shocking Consequence (Flash Fiction #22)

This story is a sequel to "An Afternoon With Champ" and "The New Teacher". However there's no need to read the previous two stories. Here is a brief summary of the background. Jasmine met Champ at a mixed martial arts competition in Penang, Malaysia. Jasmine was a spectator while Champ was a contestant. The two … Continue reading The Shocking Consequence (Flash Fiction #22)

The New Teacher (Flash Fiction #21)

Tom Tsai, the owner of the Ivy Training Center, has just hired Cindy Wong, a high school senior, as a part time teacher for one of the weekend ESL classes in Edison, New Jersey. ESL stands for English As Second Language, and ESL students are children who can't catch up with the regular classes at … Continue reading The New Teacher (Flash Fiction #21)

The Ex-Boyfriend (Flash Fiction #20)

"Sulun, I heard that you were promoted to a position in Washington DC. Are you going to come back from time to time?" Pammy says. Sulun was Pammy's college friend and he's a dinner guest at Pammy's place with Pammy and her husband Pan. "Promotion? It's more like a demotion in the disguise of a … Continue reading The Ex-Boyfriend (Flash Fiction #20)

The Learning Environment (Flash Fiction #19)

"You have been watching soccer for two hours." Pammy says to her husband Pan, "and look even Armee is addicted to TV now." Armee is the couple's tabby cat, who's sitting on the sofa right next to Pan, assuming a similar posture as Pan, except that the little feline occasionally licks himself. "It's my favorite … Continue reading The Learning Environment (Flash Fiction #19)

Love’s Manifestation (Flash Fiction #18)

Pammy and her husband Pan, the forever arguing and loving couple, come home from a dinner party at the house of Pan's office manager of the financial company Pan works for. "How nice Mrs. Marino is. She gives me her recipe for her risotto." Pammy says. "You praised that rice dish too eagerly, almost like … Continue reading Love’s Manifestation (Flash Fiction #18)

At The Hair Salon (Flash Fiction #17)

Arlan, Maylin, Wani are doing their hair at the hair salon, although only Maylin has the money to do the flat ironing and highlighting. They always book the same time so that they can talk and catch up with each other. Sometimes if they don't think they have talked enough, they would go to the … Continue reading At The Hair Salon (Flash Fiction #17)

The Acupuncturist (Flash Fiction #16)

For some reason, New Jersey has a higher rate of spring allergy than other places, which is puzzling since there aren't more flowers or trees here than other states. People will tell you when you first come that you won't have allergy for several years, and then gradually you will develop itchy eyes and running … Continue reading The Acupuncturist (Flash Fiction #16)

A Mafia Romance (Flash Non-Fiction #15)

Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash Ever since I watched the video "Bullets Over Broadway", I've been interested in stories of mafia romance--maybe it is already a literary genre. In this early Woody Allen production mixing anxious witty remarks with some gangster flair, a cash starved Broadway play desperately seeks financial backing, and one of the … Continue reading A Mafia Romance (Flash Non-Fiction #15)

The Opportunist (Flash Fiction #14)

"Look, Yinla is declaring her intention to run for the board of county commissioners." Pammy says. "What is that? What does it do?" Pammy's perpetually gentle but disagreeing husband Pan says. "I don't know. A political position of certain kind. We should donate to her campaign, shouldn't we? We need to show our support." Pammy … Continue reading The Opportunist (Flash Fiction #14)

A Trip Like No Other (Flash Fiction #13)

Although Pammy and her husband Pan live thirty miles away from Manhattan, they rarely go there during the weekend. Traveling through the Holland Tunnel and the forever congested lower Manhattan will dampen the most vivacious spirit and exhaust the energy of the best athlete. However their friend Fei and her husband Fang almost go there … Continue reading A Trip Like No Other (Flash Fiction #13)

The Difficult Decision (Flash Fiction #12)

"You know Pammy. I think your Pan is such a good husband. He is straightforward. His likes and dislikes are clearly displayed. He won't pretend to agree with you on the surface and sulk silently afterwards. He is a little nerdy, interested in eating good food and watching soccer. He is happy when he's satisfied. … Continue reading The Difficult Decision (Flash Fiction #12)

The Manchu Prince (Flash Fiction #11)

Introduction: There's a little bit of history involved in this story. Currently there are about 10 million Manchu people and very rarely they speak the Manchurian language. Manchu are descendant of Jerchen people who in 1115 AD established Jin Dynasty, which was replaced over 100 years later by the Mongolians--my ancestors--who established Yuan Dynasty. Then … Continue reading The Manchu Prince (Flash Fiction #11)

The Gambler (Flash Fiction #10)

Arjian is a local hairdresser, but his true passion is poker. He's very skilled in women's hair and very good at following the latest trend of South Korean singers and actresses. Consequently he's always in high demand. There are women who would travel all the way from Eastern Pennsylvania to come to Edison, New Jersey--about … Continue reading The Gambler (Flash Fiction #10)

The Second Job (Flash Fiction #9)

"The reason our team's sales volume is low is because many people use our flexible hour to take care of their family or even take a second job. This is unacceptable. If you are not concentrating on your sale, how can you produce?" Hana can still remember her sales manager's words as she is changing … Continue reading The Second Job (Flash Fiction #9)

He Speaks, Finally (Flash Fiction #8)

Finally Yuet's little boy starts to speak. Yuet and her husband are so happy that they phone everyone. If you don't pick up their phone call, they will text you with their happy news and wait anxiously for your reply of congratulations. If you don't reply within a short span of time, Yuet will text … Continue reading He Speaks, Finally (Flash Fiction #8)

The Dilemma (Flash Fiction #6)

They've been engaged for a year and the wedding has been planned for a lucky day this summer--lucky in its number in both the regular calendar and the lunar calendar. However she has a little something, probably a little blue bird, in her heart that she can't hush up. She's tried to silence it, but … Continue reading The Dilemma (Flash Fiction #6)

The Rice Spaghetti (Flash Fiction #5)

"Look, rice spaghetti. I wonder if it tastes like rice noodle. Let's try it." Pammy says to her husband Pan at the ShopRite grocery store. "Well, do we have to have food experiment? I mean can't we stick with the food we are familiar with?" Pan grumbles. "We need to diversify our dinner menu. Learn … Continue reading The Rice Spaghetti (Flash Fiction #5)

Mount Everest (Flash Fiction #4)

Lil, a retiree and a widow, is talking with her daughter Dana. Lil: "I am going to Nepal with my friend Su next week." Dana:"Why, Mom? You are wasting your retirement savings. Why Nepal? You are not thinking of climbing Mount Everest, are you?" Lil: "Oh, Dana, just a tourist. It's said Nepal has the … Continue reading Mount Everest (Flash Fiction #4)

He Is Home (Flash Fiction #3)

I just know it. He said he's going to come back by this hour, but look, where is he? It's because of his friendship with Doo, who's a liar through and through, and who's going to influence my little honest gullible Dragon. What a nice little nickname--Dragon--I got for him? I love dragons. Men learn … Continue reading He Is Home (Flash Fiction #3)

Two Brothers (Flash Non-Fiction #2)

They are two brothers. Forty-three years ago, when they were five and six-years-old, their family became refugees after the Vietnam war, floating on a boat in Southeast Asia, not knowing where they would land and where their next meal was. They were lucky to land in the refugee camp in Hong Kong. Five years later … Continue reading Two Brothers (Flash Non-Fiction #2)

The Crazy School Lunch

Akito Nakamura is a typical Japanese boy with an atypical family history. His father is a Malaysian who went to Japan to attend a graduate program, during which he got to know Akito's mom Momoe Nakamura. When the program ended, the two decided to get married. However after Momoe traveled to Malaysia to meet the … Continue reading The Crazy School Lunch

The New Purchase (Flash Fiction #1)

"Where are you going?" Armei asks. "Relax. I'll be back in two hours." Armei's boyfriend Lee says. "No, you are not. Liar. I will shoot you if you leave me." Armei pulls out the new gun Lee just bought from a gun show in New York City. "Hi, be careful with that. That's not a … Continue reading The New Purchase (Flash Fiction #1)

It’s Your Mom I Love

Yola has always loved other people's mom, but she didn't realize that until college. It dawned on her during one of the classes for her elective course European Literature. "Balzac's parents belonged to the first generation of middle class in France, and Balzac's mom always wanted to go up. You know what I mean. She … Continue reading It’s Your Mom I Love

Lovers’ Chance Meeting

Armei and Lee were college sweethearts, but they separated after graduation. One day, Armei found that Lee had not been posting pictures with his girlfriend for a while. She decided to plan an accidental meeting with him at the popular dim sum restaurant, which he and his girlfriend used to frequent, and post their meal … Continue reading Lovers’ Chance Meeting

Superfluity

"I can't believe I'm laid off. I've been a chemist for twenty years and I don't know what to do next. 2020 is not only the pandemic year, but also the death to the chemists year. It's the fault of artificial intelligence. Let me tell you something about the pharmaceutical industry. In the past there's … Continue reading Superfluity

The Young Comedian

"Cindy, you are going to apply for college soon, right? What are you going to study?" People in the lab ask. Cindy doesn't come to visit her mom at her workplace often, but she does on this particular day. "Comedy," Cindy said. "Wow, that's interesting. Is that a drama major? In NYU?" The three people … Continue reading The Young Comedian

Sleepless Vs. Clueless

Sleepless: I just don't feel drowsy at all and lie awake all night for days. Clueless: Maybe it's the tea you drank, or you staring at the computer screen for too long, or your anxiety. Wait, just blame the pandemic. Sleepless: I stopped tea or coffee last month. Zero caffeine now. The worst thing is … Continue reading Sleepless Vs. Clueless

Leave The Lovers Alone

We all know those famous witch-hunts in Europe and North America, but there were witch-hunts in Asia too. As far as human absurdity is concerned, no continent is immune. And I am about to describe one of these concerning a pair of star crossed lovers. I promise there's no gory detail, no hopeless injustice, no … Continue reading Leave The Lovers Alone

The Reverse Psychology Expert

Lulu the customer: "Don't you think I need to change the rear view mirror? I somehow cracked it with the back of my snow brush." Maahi the auto mechanic:"No need to do that. It's cracked a little on the edge and it won't bother your vision." Lulu: "Don't you think I need to change the … Continue reading The Reverse Psychology Expert

Lunar New Year

https://twitter.com/Haoyando/status/1360348311052550151 First day of the ox year, or bull if you prefer to call it. I was hoping to add several photos of festivity to my upcoming "About" page, but alas, all the stores here are out of spirit, with absolutely no holiday decorations anywhere. Blame the pandemic, I guess. For the past ten years … Continue reading Lunar New Year

Knowing Yourself And Others

Lulu has finished a long day's work at the Ivy Training Center, which has established classes from 4PM to 9PM every weekday, and all day weekend to cater to students of all grades. She calls it Ivy, never using the full name, just like everybody else. Before 4PM, Ivy also helps translate, fill forms, make … Continue reading Knowing Yourself And Others

The Boy Who Cries “Fire”

Alia only wanted to make things a little bit fun and less didactic. However once she unplugged the fun bottle, things started to get weird. This morning, she found a little piece of paper on her desk, saying "I don't know how to spell because I am not a witch." Anybody could have entered her … Continue reading The Boy Who Cries “Fire”

An Improbable Debate

When Genghis Khan was getting old, people around him were bickering more than ever. Too much was at stake. The one who could influence him most won not only for the time being, but also for the time after his impending death. He was old, forgetful, often dozing off during meetings. He couldn't digest the … Continue reading An Improbable Debate

Clueless

There should be a complete idiot's guide to commonly used terms and slang. The book "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" by Thomas Sowell really makes this guide more necessary than ever, for me at least. What is a redneck, a liberal, a conservative, a Quaker, a Methodist, an abolitionist, a New Englander etc.? I vaguely … Continue reading Clueless

An Afternoon With Champ

Lulu: "He hasn't been moving for the last ten minutes, his eyes closed. I don't know what he is doing just sitting there. Meditating probably? Is he a Buddhist?" Ivy: "He does that before he starts anything serious. Don't worry. He will open his eyes and you can start the session. You have three hours, … Continue reading An Afternoon With Champ

The Unwilling Student

Lulu:"Aberration is not a difficult word to learn, Di. It's like the word abnormal, meaning something that is not normal. We just learned abnormal last week, didn't we?" Di:"So, why not just use the word abnormal?" Di is a 12-year-old boy, about to start middle school at Plainsboro, New Jersey. Lulu drives 25 miles once … Continue reading The Unwilling Student

Difference And Similarity (2)

Click Here For Difference And Similarity (1) Lulu doesn't know why Cindy wants to Iowa. Can't she just find a writer's workshop in New Jersey or somewhere close by? Lulu doesn't want to ask in case it is a common knowledge and the very inquiry reveals her ignorance. Lulu's proud that she's read a lot … Continue reading Difference And Similarity (2)

Difference And Similarity (1)

Lulu wants to scream, "How could you do that?" But she checks herself and produces a smile instead. Cindy, in the meantime, digs into her fried rice with a spoon. Cindy asked for a spoon when they ordered their entries, and Lulu, observing the raised eyebrows of the waiter above his face mask, felt faintly … Continue reading Difference And Similarity (1)

Battle For Gift

Armei: "Every long term customer can choose a free gift pack for 2021. Pammy, the biggest gift pack is for you." Armei is the shop assistant of a popular cosmetic store in Edison, New Jersey, which sells Asian cosmetic items. It used to specialize in Shiseido, the overpriced Japanese brand, but in recent years, due … Continue reading Battle For Gift

Compartmentalization

has been practiced by Pammy quite successfully for years until Lulu spoils it. Lulu, the unemployed anthropologist who can't land a job anywhere except in the local tutoring school, arguably the best after school program in Asian immigrant communities in New Jersey. It's a place where anxious parents send their unwilling offspring for extra lessons. … Continue reading Compartmentalization

The Beginning Of 2021

The scene opens to the interior of a restaurant, all tables and chairs piled up to one corner, except one table with a white table cloth and scattered mahjong tiles on top. Mr. Wei, the owner of the restaurant "Pacific Palace", is playing mahjong with Chef Li and two waiters. On one side of the … Continue reading The Beginning Of 2021