The Woman And The Girl – Chapter 1

By Kerry Xiong






“How was your day?” asked the girl.

“How was my day?” answered the woman with an elongated sigh. “My day was… good.” She tiptoed, lifted her hip, and planted her bottom firmly on the wheeled office chair, hands grasping at both armrests to maintain balance. The seat of the chair rested higher than her waist so if she wasn’t careful, it was likely that the force of her thick thighs and buttock would force the chair to rush behind her bottom and forced to impact the tiled office floor. “I am living a good life, but I’m not living my best, dear.” She sighed again this time in relaxation.

“Why?” asked the girl.

She puckered her lips, a crease formed in between her brows as if about to snap her fingers and say something snippy. “I am happy today, but I can be happier.”

The girl’s heart swelled. She didn’t know what to say. “Oh?”

The woman only nodded. She too didn’t know what to say. “Yeah girl.”

Silence thickened the air.

“So…” said the girl, “What would your ‘best’ life look like?”

The woman thought for a bit and sucked on the inside of her own cheeks while doing so that made dimples form at the corners of her mouth. One could have thought she’d been sucking on a sour gumdrop.

The girl’s saliva accumulated under her tongue.

“Well,” answered the woman, at last. “I will live my best life when my daughter comes off of drugs and becomes a good mother to her son, my grandson.”

That struck the girl deeply. A pang of defensiveness rushed through and out of her. She collected her composure. “Your daughter doesn’t watch your grandson?” asked the girl.

The woman shook her head. Her attention focused on a single dot on the cubicle desk, her jaw ever so slightly moving up and down, as if chewing with her front teeth, turkey from lunch which she’d just now found stuck in between her teeth and decided to make unstuck. The slight chewing persisted. There seemed quite much to contemplate, when it came to her daughter and her grandson.

“How old is your daughter?” asked the girl.


“And your grandson?”


Silence grew thick as fog. The woman continued, still mildly chewing. “And how old are you?”



“Does your grandson live with you?” asked the girl.



The woman shuffled her cosmetics, placing a red tube of lipstick, a ChapStick, and a squeeze tube of lip gloss before her desktop. She arranged them neatly in an orderly straight line. The cosmetics weren’t of any quality brand, probably stuff one could find at the Dollar Tree, but the women kept them in the best of care. Each of them stood before her desktop, the labels neatly facing her. She smacked her lips. Turned to the girl and asked, “What is your best life?”

“Everyone who I meet, I love them more than they love me. My best life would be to meet that person who loves me the same amount as I love them. Or more!”

The woman stared thoughtfully at the girl. “Why do you love others so much?”

“I don’t know.” The girl stared at the tiled floor now. Tears developed more heavily at the bottom of her eyelid. “People are just so lovable, memorable and easy to love.” A hard tear crawled from the inside of her eyeball and hovered on her bottom eyelid.

The woman nodded, her focus directed at her monitor screen now, her right hand resting on the wired black mouse, right index finger clicking endlessly.

“You crying?” asked the woman.

The girl shook her head. She cleaned her eyes and nose and gave a meager smile.

The woman considered the girl thoughtfully. She took her glitter lip-gloss from its stance and twisted off the cap. She squeezed it ever so gently, and a worm of clear glittered gel wiggled out. She took it generously with her right index finger and started applying it to her already glossy lips. The glitter shone and reflected under the fluorescent office lights like a bed of water under morning sunlight. The beauty brought more tears to the girl’s eyes. She decided to love the woman, too.

The woman smacked her lips together and pursed them assuredly as she stared in her small, circular compact mirror. She turned her chin left, then right, checking for uneven blending of her liquid matte foundation. Flawless. With a smile on her face, she brings the compact mirror before the girl’s face, shifting the girl’s focus from the floor. “There’s someone you should meet.”

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