They Burned Everything

By E.C., Lawrence

She was never one to complain. She was never one to go out of her way to make friends. Quy carried her baggage everywhere and it was always getting in the way. Ms. Pham lived alone renting a small room above the green neon light of Starkey’s Pawn Shop off 3rd Avenue in Seattle. Quy worked ten-hour shifts at Seattle’s Kress Supermarket Fridays through Mondays.

Every Tuesday, she’d take the mid-morning bus for Kent’s Hillcrest Burial Park to pay respects to her father. She visited his site for 22 years. Quy always bowed in front of the simple headstone, but she never brought roses or bouquets. Her dad never showed any interest in flowers. Afterwards she would walk to Kent’s downtown and stop by Spring Kitchen always ordering a bowl of Pho Tom – noodles with prawns, her dad’s favorite. Quy would say a quiet prayer before eating.  She would end her Tuesday with a bus ride to Auburn where she lit incense in memory of her dad at the Buddhist temple then return to her room above Starkey’s Pawn Shop.

On Wednesdays, Ms. Pham would visit her younger sister Duyen often staying late taking the last bus back to downtown Seattle. She never visited Vinh, her elder brother, who was serving a life sentence at Monroe Correctional due to gang-related murder. She’d visit her younger brother Linh only on special occasions when he was stationed at the naval base across Puget Sound in Bremerton.

Quy had nothing to do with her mother after she tried to stab Linh and Quy with a kitchen boning knife. Quy’s father died from his wounds protecting them.

Thursdays were spent drinking plum wine and, on occasion, making small cuts with a razor on the inside of her thighs.

After 22 years, Ms. Pham decided to leave her baggage on the Aurora Bridge.


E.C., Lawrence lives in Central Oregon.  He has had short stories and poetry published in Arcturus, Frontier Tales, Edify Fiction, Blink Ink, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Itty Bitty Writing Space and others.  His book “It’s Nobody’s Fault?” is an anthology of short stories and is available on Amazon.

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