The Man with the Pink Cheeks

When I was a child, I had a best friend named Audrey. My mom would take Audrey, me, and my little sister, Janice, to Koreatown Plaza almost every day of the week after school to eat Pho in the food court.

Since we happened to eat there so often, the owner of the little shop was very fond of us. The owner was a short middle-aged man with pink cheeks and a smile that seemed to take up over half the space on his face. He would buy us hard candy with plastic sticks longer than our forearms, and his face would open up to the brightest smile whenever we would walk into his vision. Sometimes, he even brought balloons for us.

However, having been the immature kids we were, we would treat him as if he were diseased. We thought that it was funny to avoid him and laugh at him; treating him as if he were some kind of pedophile, for he would ooze affection whenever children would stop by his shop. Now that I look back on this, I don’t know why we did this, but at that time, I never stopped to question our actions. 

One day, I walked into the food court with Audrey and my sister as usual, but he was not there.

We made my mom ask the cashier lady where he went, and she said that he was taking a break. She said this with a very sad expression on her face. There were blue balloons floating inside the kitchen.

A few days later, he came back, but he was not nearly as happy as he once was. Wrinkles seemed to map his face, and his eyes were vacant. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I heard that something happened to his son, and that’s why he loved kids so much. Continue reading

The Haircut

Oh lord. She’s screwing up, I thought. I looked back and forth between the picture I found on Google and the stranger I saw in the mirror.

The moment I entered the salon, the overwhelming smell of chemicals struck me. The lights were dim and the seats dirty. I knew something bad was going to happen as soon as she whipped out a pair of huge kitchen scissors and began hastily hacking away my hair.

“Sorry, can I talk to my mom for a sec?” I squeezed out, nervously avoiding eye contact.

“Sure sweetie,” she slurred.

“MOM!” I hissed. Continue reading