knives chau walks away from omelas

by Christine H. Tran

Christine H. Tran (1994–TBD; they/she) thrashes. Their writing is terminally retrievable in publications such as untethered, Train, Half a Grapefruit, Release Any Words Stuck Inside of You II, and FEEL WAYS: A Scarborough Anthology. Christine is a PhD researcher & virtual performer of peer-reviewed beauty tutorials at the University of Toronto’s iSchool and a Junior Fellow at Massey College.

“IN THE MYSTERIOUS L@ND OF T*RONTO, C@NADA… ███ ████ is
DATING A HIGH SCHOOLER.”  By way of G(r)eek chorus, you are soft launched at the
denouement of an 8-bit Universal Studios medley. An SNL cast member narrates you
into passive subjectivity via BLOCKED BOTTOM TEXT against a frosted sky. Seconds
before your debut as a celluloid set of bright teeth & eyes conjoined to a chyron of stats
[“17 Years Old”], we squint to sketch you out from between the lewd nods of indie
musicians. As ███ reiterates w/ pride: ||||| “She’s Chinese.” ||||| (bars for jail)

~20 mins later, after Act 2 kicks off with a wristbanded
uppercut to a spurned brown kid’s jaw: you are on your knees.
Head under hot faucet, you bleach your scalp black
& blue to reorient his desires back to you. In ~20 years,
Medium essays will name this cerulean skidmark the “Cool Asian
Girl Hair Streak”: a divisive boundary object between you & the
less fashionable modulations of minority vibration. Hair, like gums
& blades, have teeth too.

When was the last time you unsheathed any of these for someone
your age? When did ~10 years & a smoking habit NOT stand between
you & your friends, who, BTW, were all ███’s first? Speedrunning
the rest of your late teens to Update Your Operating
System in a city interface of bitcoins, sharing apps,
& condos to become? I get it. Sans the existence of tutorials for this game,
it’s better to crane upwards at cloudy leaderboards above
than stare at the tangle of joysticks in front of you. As you pick up
the highlights of your hair from off the bar floor with one hand-and ice
your bruised cheek with the other-you wonder if it’s machined
learned, or epigenetic:

Your father was 9 years older than your mom.
To name their daughter after a universal utensil,
they must’ve been cool people! Are they
proud that you (1) left him and (2) got into McGill
If I count 17 years backwards from when ███████’s
Precious Little Life was published in 2004,
you’re old enough to have shared a seminar with Grimes in
Montreal. To you, then, she’d be “Claire.” Not yet ██’s, nor
a mother of dragons* (*children named after Vietnam War
planes. Was that your idea? Please say sike). Are you next
to her still? Riding a Huckleberry Finn houseboat to Mars?
Have you overwritten this Saved Game yet?
Or do you keep him/her/them/us archived in a
Wayback Machine of your own?

Degree in hand, you approach where Honest Edward’s used to be. A membranous note
squeaks from under your heel: it’s an “As Seen in ███████ Vs. The World!” sticker,
which has terraformed into the leathers of your sole. Scrape it off. Head east. Then
south. Don’t stop walking until you hit Queen’s Quay; from there, keep walking as
we burst into subway tokens behind you.

 


Christine H. Tran (1994–TBD; they/she) thrashes. Their writing is terminally retrievable in publications such as untethered, Train, Half a Grapefruit, Release Any Words Stuck Inside of You II, and FEEL WAYS: A Scarborough Anthology. Christine is a PhD researcher & virtual performer of peer-reviewed beauty tutorials at the University of Toronto’s iSchool and a Junior Fellow at Massey College.

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