Prose by Katrina Nguyen

spiderman, pee wee, fellini

My mom wants to take me grocery shopping. There is no Walmart in downtown Denver, mom. We go to Lakewood. Lakewood is hell. I tell her that. Lakewood is hell, mom. I need shampoo and conditioner. My mom watches me pick shampoo and conditioner. There are too many. My mom is still watching. I don’t like having this much of a selection, mom. I’m having a panic attack, mom. I like to shop at Whole Foods and Asian markets, mom. There isn’t this much of a selection at those places, mom.

I settle for Pantene Pro-V for frizzy hair. We are in the produce section. I run back and get Herbal Essences for coloured hair. We are in the toilet paper aisle. I run back and get Dove for dull hair. We are in the canned foods section. I run back and then decide to stick with Dove for dull hair. My mom yells at me because I still hardly have hair from when I buzzed it all off.

My mom wants to hurry up and finish. My mom is running through Walmart. I am having another panic attack. My pants are always too loose so I always walk too slow. I am walking fast to keep up with my mom. My pants are falling off to keep up with my mom. You’re going too fast, mom. You’re giving me a panic attack, mom. She asks me if I want cheddar cheese. She asks me if I want pancake mix. She asks me if I want other things, too. Yeah, sure, mom. I don’t eat much besides seaweed and crunchy peanut butter, mom.

We are driving back to my apartment. I am exhausted. My mom asks me if I’m doing better.I don’t answer her. I’m glad to be out of Lakewood. I hate where I live, but I’d rather live downtown than in a suburb like Lakewood, mom. My mom asks me if I mean the yuppy ones. I don’t know what you mean, mom. My mom says the yuppy ones with stickers of families on their cars. You are confusing me, mom. Her Asian accent is thick today. I know what she means. My mom says she is a loner. I see my favorite Colfax hobo and think of Spiderman for some reason. My mom act-quotes a line from ‘Pee Wee’s Big Adventure’ in her Asian accent and she laughs. All of the women in our family are loners, mom.

We get out of the car. I feel a little embarrassed for having so many Walmart bags. I feel dumb for feeling embarrassed. I just got free food. I let my mom into my apartment. She scolds my cat for scratching my chair. My cat wants my mom to pick him up. My mom gets mad because she thinks he is mad. She puts her fists on her waist. Thank you for the groceries, mom. Do you need to use the bathroom, an hour and a half is a long time, mom. Drive home safe, mom. Love you, mom.

I put away my groceries and listen to Billie Holiday. I pour myself a glass of water and forget it on the counter. I stare out my window for ten minutes. I start compiling a list of my favorite directors on a sticky note, for no reason at all,



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