Summer/Fall 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 3/4 Fiction |

Crane’s Grace

Stifle your laughs, soften your smile by never showing your teeth. Breathe quietly, and keep your eyes turned toward your toes," Mrs. Chong advised her daughter, Soo-yang, or Weeping Willow, as she shampooed the girl's hair in reed-scented rainwater. It was a ritual to prepare for the next day, when Soo-yang would become a mistress to Yong, for whom she must bear a son. For the third generation, Yong's family had only one male offspring. Now, after seventeen years of marriage to an apparently barren wife and having resisted pressures, even harassment, from his mother, friends, and neighbors to take a mistress, Yong had recently sought a woman. He was an auto mechanic working for Soo-yang's father, the chief of the transportation section of the city government of Seoul. Mrs. Chong had washed Soo-yang's hair the same way three years earlier, the night before the girl's wedding. The memory of the dreadful nuptial night seized Soo-yang despite her clenched teeth. Bent over the basin

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Maija Rhee Devine, a Korean-born writer whose fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Boulevard, North American Review, and The Kenyon Review, and in various anthologies, holds a BA in English from Sogang University in Seoul and an MA in English from St. Louis University. Writing honors include an NEA grant, finalist in William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition, James Jones First Novel Fellowship, and Emily Dickinson Poetry Award, and nominations for Pushcart Prizes and O. Henry Awards.

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Stifle your laughs, soften your smile by never showing your teeth. Breathe quietly, and keep your eyes turned toward your toes," Mrs. Chong advised her daughter, Soo-yang, or Weeping Willow, […]

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