Mar/Apr 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 2 March 1, 2021 |


2020 Kenyon Review Short Nonfiction Contest Runner-up I. August It has the texture of cum, she says, laughing slightly. Every now and then, when the conversation lulls to the point of breakage, she picks up her spoon and dips it into the bowl. The rice that clings to it is speckled with vanilla and aggressively sweet. When she slides the metal from her mouth, traces of her saliva form pale webs on its surface; she laughs again and shakes her head, fixing her eyes on the back of her utensil. As if the saliva is a tea reading, or a Rorschach inkblot splattered across her future, or anything other than the halfhearted joke that just slipped her mouth, a silver fish wriggling in the sand. The ambiguity hangs heavy and low. Sometimes I confuse it for the hum of the air-conditioning in this small, cramped apartment where the walls have been painted white and the floors refurbished to create the illusion of space. The first time I made the five-story pilgrimage to her doorstep, I began

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Stella Li is a student at West Windsor–Plainsboro High School North in New Jersey. An alumna of the 2019 Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop and an editor of Ephimiliar Journal, she has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the National Poetry Quarterly, and her mother, among others.

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