Author Archives: Minna Hong

Dogged Ma; chapter seven, part two

“Is this Margaret?”  It was definitely Alan.  “It’s Alan.  Look, love, I just got out of the meeting, and I’m on the way to the hotel to change.  My driver tells me I should be there by six, six-fifteen at the latest.  I’m looking forward to seeing you.”

“Me, too,” I echoed, clutching the phone to my ear.  I held it there long after he hung up.  Alan Rickman.  Dinner.  My landline rang again, but I ignored it.  I was not going to let my mother ruin my mood, which she would do in a heartbeat.  I went into the living room and flipped on the television to take my mind off my nerves.  It seemed like forever until my buzzer rang.  I glanced at my watch and saw it was six-fifteen on the dot.  I turned off the television, jumped to my feet and raced to answer it.

“Hello?”

“It’s Alan.  I just made it.”

“I’ll be right down.”  I was touched he actually got out of his car to buzz me when he could have just called me on his cell from the car.  I grabbed my purse and a wrap and flew out the door.  I almost dropped both wrap and purse when I saw Alan looking natty in a black sports coat and slacks with a brilliant blue shirt.

“You look lovely,” Alan said, offering me his arm.

“You look very handsome as well,” I replied sedately.  What I wanted to do was drag him upstairs and have my way with him.  I didn’t, however, and contented myself with stealing sideline glances at Alan who looked so damn hot.  The car, which was a black Cadillac, looked great, too.  I was glad it wasn’t a limo; I found them to be too pretentious.  Alan ignored the driver who was standing by the back door and ushered me into the car.  He went around to the other side and settled in besides me.  A feeling of unreality crept over me as I sat next to my favorite actor.  I gathered my thoughts so I could add something to the conversation.

“So, what play would you be doing for the Guthrie next season, or shouldn’t I ask?  Wait, don’t tell me, all I really want to know is if you get the girl in the end.”  I cringed at my flippant tone, but it was how I dealt with uncomfortable situations.

“Yes, I would get the girl in the end,” Alan said, a slight smile on his face.  “Why is that so important to you?”

Thus emboldened, I plunged into a narrative of how I felt it a shame that British actors were used primarily as villains unless they were stereotypically hot such as Jude Law or Kate Winslet.  I went on to say how much I preferred foreign films because the actors were usually people who looked like normal people, albeit good-looking normal people.  They were people I could meet at a pub, perhaps taking home for the night.  When I watched American actors, I could only see them for who they really were.  Actors.  Grossly overpaid actors.  Some who couldn’t even act and were liked more for their looks than their abilities.  In addition, American actors were so overexposed, it was difficult to get past their images.

“But I ramble,” I said, screeching to a halt.  Alan had been scrutinizing me as I talked, making me feel as if what I had to say was of the utmost importance.  “I tend to do that when I get heated.”  I wished I could take back that last word as it gave the sentence a double meaning, but Alan chose to respond to my surface statement.

“It’s a good thing, I think, the ability to care deeply.  It’s also rather refreshing to talk to someone who cares more about substance than the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.”

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Dogged Ma; chapter seven, part one

Dogged Ma: Chapter Seven, Part One

“Mom, I’m telling you the truth.  I was never engaged to Ned.”  It was Wednesday afternoon, and I had just arrived home from work.  My mother must have a sixth sense about these sort of things because she always managed to call me the minute I walked in the door.  Of course, she refused to call me on my cell phone because she didn’t want to distract me from driving.  Besides, she didn’t trust that my cell wouldn’t give me brain cancer.  As a result, I had to rush to get the phone the minute I entered my place.  As usual, I ended up wishing I had let the machine get it as my mother was venting her spleen about my supposed broken engagement.

“Mom, would I lie to you?  I mean, out and out lie?”  I infused my voice with as much indignation as I could muster, but it didn’t slow down that train.  She berated me at the top of her lungs for making her the shame of the entire Taiwanese community.  She told me she couldn’t even go to church on Sunday without everybody talking about her.  She knew they were talking about her because they would suddenly hush up whenever she was around.  And poor Pastor Wu!  Did I even think about what I’d put him through?  I had no idea what my supposed engagement had to do with her pastor, but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  It turned out that the ‘close friends’ of Mr. and Mrs. Chang couldn’t wait to spread the word about how abominably I’d acted Saturday night.  When they found out I broke off the engagement, well, they had a field day with that bit of information.

“Mom, I never was engaged to Ned,” I interrupted, feeling more frustrated by the minute.  If I told her the truth, I’d have to suffer through a diatribe about ‘homosexuals’, but I didn’t know if it’d be any worse than the tongue-lashing which I was currently receiving.  “It was a misunderstanding from the very start.  Believe you me, you’d be the very first person I’d tell if I ever did something as stupid as get engaged again.”  That made her switch tracks to how I would never keep myself a man with my negative attitude.  I was tempted to tell her about Ted, but I knew that’d be the kiss of death as far as any hopes of having a normal relationship with Ted was concerned.  Maybe I could mention that plenty of otherworldly beings seemed to want me.  No, that might give her a heart attack.  Just as I was about to make another snarky comment, my buzzer rang.

“Mom, someone’s at the door.  I have to buzz them up.”  It didn’t matter that I had no idea who was downstairs; I would rather face a burglar than my mother when she went into full wrath mode.  God could take a few lessons from her.  More squawking from the phone, and my buzzer rang again.  “I gotta go.  I’ll call you back.”  I hung up the phone and pressed my intercom lever.  “Hello?”  I wasn’t totally stupid.  I’d ascertain who it was before doing anything as rash as letting him/her up.  Now that I was off the phone, it didn’t really matter who was on the other side.

“Hello?  Sorry to bother, but I’m afraid I’ve been given a wrong address.”  The voice was definitely masculine, but it was diffident in tone.  British in pronunciation, and there was something very familiar about the voice.  Something about the way he pronounced ‘address’.  Suddenly, it hit me.

“You’re Alan Rickman.”  Instantly, my stomach went aflutter.  Alan Rickman was downstairs, talking to me.  I was glad I hadn’t changed out of my black skirt and blouse.  I scolded myself for thinking of such trivial thoughts when I had Alan Rickman on the other end of the intercom.

“Yes, I am.  If you could just give me directions to the Guthrie, I’d be ever so grateful.”

“Hold on.  I’ll be right down.”  I let go of the lever and grabbed my purse before flying out the door.  I could hear the phone ringing as I locked my door, but I ignored it.  I knew it would be my mother, and I had much more important things with which to deal.  When I reached the ground floor of my apartment, I saw Alan Rickman waiting patiently outside the door.  He was wearing black slacks and a white button-down, looking damn good.

“Hi, I’m Margaret Wang.”  I stuck out my hand, and he shook it with alacrity.  “You’re Alan Rickman.”  I was aware that I sounded like an idiot, but it wasn’t every day that I got to meet Alan Rickman in the flesh.  Speaking of the flesh, he looked much better in person than on camera, if that were even possible.

“Yes, I am,” Alan said, smiling affably.  “Look, I hate to be a bother, but I’ve got an appointment with the director of the Guthrie in—”  He checked his watch.  “Twenty minutes.  I would hate to be late.  The worst thing is that my driver took off before I could figure out where I was.  It must be a conspiracy to make me late for my meeting.”

“I can take you there if you’d like,” I said, holding my breath.  “It’s not very far.”

“That would be fantastic,” Alan said, looking relieved.  “I can’t figure out for the life of me how my agent screwed things up so badly.  Wait until I get a hold of her.”  He was smiling as he spoke, his demeanor belying his words.

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Dogged Ma; chapter six, part two

Chapter Six, Part Two

“You know, that stuff is bad for you,” God said, leaning against my refrigerator.  I sighed as I turned to face Him.  He was in chartreuse this time, which was hard on the eyes.  Immediately, He muted it to a dusty rose.  I surmised He had chosen the chartreuse simply for effect.  How like Him.

“I hope You’re not planning on doing this after Gwen is born,” I said sharply, realizing the stupidity of my statement as soon as it escaped my mouth.  Of course, He wouldn’t stop visiting once His child was born.  If anything, He’d probably increase the frequency of His unplanned visits in order to meddle in Gwen’s affairs.  It pissed me off to no end that I no longer had a modicum of control over my life, and I voiced my displeasure to God.  “You know, You’re working my last nerve.  Couldn’t You at least have the decency to stick to a schedule so I don’t have to worry about You showing up unannounced?”  God didn’t answer, which ratcheted my irritation tenfold.

“This shit has got to stop,” I shouted, my hands on my hips.  I didn’t know if it was my hormones going in overdrive, but I’d had enough of the Almighty and His highhanded ways.  “Get the fuck out of my kitchen.  Now!”  God still didn’t speak, nor did He move.  Without thinking, I picked up a pan and hurled it at Him.  It hit Him in the pecs and bounced off harmlessly.  It fell to the floor with a loud thud, causing me to jump.  God slowly turned translucent as I hauled another pot His way.  This time, the pot went through Him, hit the fridge and slid to the floor.  Past caring, I hurled pot after pan after plate at Him, some smashing in bits when they hit the floor.  Some minutes later, I finally ran out of gas and sagged against the counter.  Eyeing the carnage with distaste, I grabbed the broom and the dustpan from the closet.

“You done with your little snit?”  God asked, having the audacity to sound amused.  He remained transparent, which greatly bothered me.  I didn’t like being able to see through God, but He didn’t give a damn about my feelings, or so it seemed.  “Or is there more you’d like to get off your chest?”

“I’m through,” I sulked, tossing the debris into the garbage can.  “What the fuck do You want?”  I knew my mouth was going to get me into trouble with God one of these days, but I couldn’t help myself.  Something about Him brought out the worst in me.

“I just wanted to tell you that you’ll be receiving a visit from My son shortly.  Ignore everything he says.”  God smiled suddenly, nearly knocking me over with the dazzle.  It was spooky looking at a pair of gleaming teeth set in—nothingness.  Just like that, He was gone.

“Shit,” I muttered, cradling my head in my hands.  When I had recovered from His visit, I picked up my cell phone to speed-dial Pie-A-Plenty, the nearest pizza shop.  As I was about to punch the button, a portal appeared in my kitchen.  Great.  It was Lucifer.  At least I was still in my work clothes, which meant a slim red skirt and a black blouse.  I chided myself for giving a damn and punched the button on the dial.  Lucifer was going to have to wait until I ordered my pizza before telling me whatever it was he wanted to say.  I was too damn disgruntled to deal with him on a partially-empty stomach.

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Dogged Ma; chapter six, part one

   Chapter Six, Part One

“Margaret, may I talk to you?”  Susanne Timmons, my supervisor at work, poked her head into my office during my prep hour Monday morning.  Fortunately, I was prepared for the day so I didn’t have to panic about chatting with Susanne.  I nodded and motioned her in.  Susanne was a middle-aged woman with salt-n-pepper hair who didn’t wear any makeup.  She had a homey look to her which the kids loved.  She was like the grandmother many of them never had, but she was much stricter than your average grandma.  She cared about them, but held them accountable; it’s what made her so good with our population.  I was learning by emulating her, but empathy was something that didn’t come naturally to me.

“What’s up, Susanne?”  I asked, setting some papers aside.  I had asked my kids to write an essay on what they would tell President Bush if they ever met him, and as usual, they’d surprised me with their insight and passion.

“Margaret,” Susanne hesitated, fiddling with her pen.  “I’ve noticed that you’ve seemed preoccupied the last couple of weeks.  The other teachers have commented on it as well.  You’re more forgetful, and you’ve been late to two meetings.  That’s not like you.  Is there something you want to tell me?”

Caught, I didn’t know what to say.  I still hadn’t figured out a cover story for my impending pregnancy as I didn’t want to use the ‘one-night stand’ tale with my coworkers.  However, I couldn’t say that I had a partner, either, because they knew better than that.  I supposed I could say it was Gary’s, but even pretending that lech was the father upset my stomach.  Come to think of it, I couldn’t even say I was pregnant because I wouldn’t know yet if it were a normal pregnancy.  Damn.  Could I get away with family issues?  Maybe.  Or generic dating issues?  I hated lying, mostly because I wasn’t very good at it.

“Susanne, it’s not something I feel comfortable discussing at work,” I said carefully, not wanting to offend my boss.  “However, I sincerely apologize that my personal problems have spilled over into my work performance.  I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“It’s your fault for being so superlative the rest of the time,” Susanne smiled, standing up.  “If it were anybody else, I wouldn’t even have noticed.  I’m here if you need to talk to me.”  I nodded as she left, dropping my smile the minute she was out the door.  I knew I’d have to be more careful, and I knew I’d have to come up with something soon.

My college friends couldn’t understand how I could be a teacher, for at-risk youth, no less, when I didn’t want children.  It’s a common misconception that all women who didn’t want kids didn’t like them or weren’t good with them.  Not true.  I liked kids a great deal, and they liked me in return because I treated them like adults—no matter the age.  I didn’t pat little kids on the head or talk down to them, nor did I lord my authority over my students.  That didn’t mean I didn’t set boundaries because I did.  I just didn’t automatically assume I was better because I was older as so many adults did.  So why didn’t I want to have children?  There were many reasons, but the number one reason was because I didn’t want them.  Period.  I didn’t see why that wasn’t enough of an answer, but most people needed something more.

While I was in my first serious relationship at age eighteen, I came upon the realization that I didn’t want children.  Not only that, I realized that I didn’t have to have them.  There was no law saying to a woman, ‘Thou shalt bear children’ except for the social stricture, but I was adept at ignoring those.  People had varying reactions to my statement of not wanting children ranging from condescension—‘oh, you’ll change your mind later’—to anger—‘you must think I’m an idiot for wanting them’.  Most of all, however, people just didn’t understand how a woman could be so sure she didn’t want children.  I’d been ask time and time again how did I know I didn’t want children.  I was always tempted to ask how they knew they wanted them, but I never stooped to their level.

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Dogged Ma; chapter five

 

Chapter Five

First thing I did when I got home was take a bubble bath.  Well, second thing after tucking my Hermes scarf safely in my dresser drawer.  I deserved the bubbles after such a harrowing experience, and I could soak as long as I liked since I didn’t have to get up at any certain time tomorrow.  I was luxuriating in a milk bubble bath with candles flickering, the late, great Barry White on the CD player.  I had a glass of red wine from which I periodically sipped.  I closed my eyes as the tension ebbed from my body.  I didn’t want to think about anything, and a bubble bath was the only thing that allowed me not to think.  Well, that and cleaning, but I was in no mood to clean.  A slob by nature, I turned into Donna Reed on crack when I cleaned.  If I had been a fifties’ housewife, I would have had to be sedated 24/7 because somebody would always be tracking dirt on MY CLEAN FLOOR.

“We have to stop meeting like this.”  I sighed at the sound of God’s voice.  He seemed to take a perverse delight visiting me while I was laving.  I wondered if there was something salacious in this occurrence.  “It’s the only time you’re not occupied with anything else,” God said, sounding amused.  “Besides which, it’s the only time you really relax.  A relaxed you bodes better for our conversations.”

“Dual monologues,” I interposed, still not opening my eyes.  “You say Your thing and I say my thing, but they don’t often intersect.”  I paused as I loofahed my elbow.  “To what do I owe this pleasure?”  I wasn’t the most gracious of hosts, granted, but He wasn’t the most gracious of guests, either, so that made us even.

“Just wanted to see how the evening went,” God said, His voice casual.  I finally looked at Him and saw that He had chosen purple this time.  It was a good color on Him, but I loath to tell Him so.  He seemed to have more good colors than bad, which made sense, I supposed.

“What was so urgent You had to leave?”  I countered, closing my eyes again.  I didn’t want to become accustomed to the sight of God in all His glory; I just wanted Him to go away.

“Can’t tell you,” God said tersely.  “I had to leave Zeke in charge.”

“What exactly does Zeke do?”  I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.  Of course, I’d read about the Angel of Death and all his duties, but Zeke didn’t seem to fit the stereotype.  He certainly wasn’t as good-looking or compassionate as the Angel of Death on that angel show some time ago—the one with the Irish angel and the African-American angel.

“Trade secret,” God said briskly.  I peeked at Him, only to find Him staring at me in return.  I closed my eyes again.  “I told you to tell Ned’s parents before the shindig, not after.”

“What difference would it have made?”  I exclaimed, sitting straight up in the tub and opening my eyes at the same time.  When I realized I was flashing my breasts at God, well, I sunk back down in a hurry.  This was getting old.  There had to be some way to keep the Almighty out of my bathroom.

“Not a chance,” God said cheerfully, humming a tune under his breath.  It took me a minute to recognize it as ‘I Like the Way You Move’ by Big Boi of Outkast.  Great.  God’s a rap fan.  Who would have figured?  “The difference is that the Changs would have went through with the party and would have time to simmer down.”

“You really are an optimist, aren’t You?”  I asked, my tone incredulous.  “Telling them before would have been worse because their indignation would have had time to grow.  Mr. Chang carries a grudge like nobody I’ve seen before.  One time, an acquaintance of his didn’t say hi to him as they crossed paths downtown, and Mr. Chang didn’t speak to him for a year.  There is no way in hell that he would have calmed down about Ned being gay, especially if we’d told him with his friends there.”

“At least you got a date out of it,” God said, sounding impossibly smug.

“Did you send Ted to dinner tonight?”  I asked suspiciously.  I wouldn’t put it past Him to pull a stunt like that.

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Dogged Ma: Chapter four, part three

Chapter Four, Part Three

“How dare you,” Mr. Chang boomed, the minute everybody was gone.  He turned his wrath upon me, and it was pretty awesome to behold.  Unfortunately for him, I didn’t scare easily.  Besides, I’d done battle with the Angel of Death and came out of it no worse for the wear, so really, what could Mr. Chang do to me?  On top of that, I couldn’t die, so I figured I could handle anything else.  “You embarrassed Mrs. Chang and me in front of our dearest friends.  Edward, I’m not sure you should be marrying this girl.  She’s no good for you.”

“Dear, I agree with your father,” Mrs. Chang said, nodding her head several times.  “While I’m sure Margaret is a lovely girl,” she sent an insincere smile my way; “she just doesn’t fit in with the family, you understand?”

“I understand,” I broke in.  Might as well go for broke.  “I have too many of my own opinions to be a satisfactory Chang wife.  I don’t know how to keep my mouth shut and my legs spread.”

“That’s exactly what I’m talking about,” Mr. Chang shouted, his fact turning red.  I wanted to tell him to sit down so he wouldn’t have a heart attack, but I figured it was Ned’s turn to speak.  Which he did after an eon.

“Mom, Dad, I need you to sit down and listen,” Ned said, struggling to keep his voice steady.  He stood ramrod straight, clutching my hand as if it were a lifesaver.  His grasp was clammy, which meant he was experiencing abject fear.  Mr. and Mrs. Chang looked at each other before simultaneously lowering themselves on the divan.  Mrs. Chang peered expectantly at Ned whereas Mr. Chang looked as if he was waiting for a bomb to drop.  I squeezed Ned’s hand to give him strength, which spurred him to continue.  “I have something to tell you.  There’s no easy way to say it, so I’m just going to blurt it out.”  He took a deep breath, looking from his mother to his father.  “I’m gay.”  He tensed his body as if awaiting a blow.  Knowing what I knew of Mr. Chang, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.  He believed in ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’.

“What did you just say?”  Mr. Chang asked, starting to rise.  I tensed my body as well, prepared to get Ned the fuck out of there if things got too dicey.

“I said—”

“I heard what you said,” Mr. Chang interrupted, on his feet by now.  Mrs. Chang, looking shell-shocked, stayed frozen in place.  “You come into my house and start talking that kind of filth?  Your mother and I didn’t raise you like that.”  He was advancing towards Ned who watched his father approaching as if his father were a snake.  “It’s this girl, isn’t it?  She’s been a bad influence on you—got you thinking things that aren’t true.”  I almost laughed at that one.  Who got me drunk the first time?  Why, Ned, of course.  Who took me to get my first tattoo?  Ned again.  Who scoped out the boys to make sure I didn’t fall for a gay boy?  Ding, ding, ding!  It wasn’t I who corrupted Ned but the other way around.  Besides, why the hell would I want Ned to be gay?  That didn’t benefit me in any way.

“Dad, please,” Ned said, holding up a hand.  I was glad to see him not backing down, but I thought it might be prudent to leave so his parents had time to digest Ned’s proclamation.

“Ned, maybe—”  That was as far as I got before Mr. Chang reached me and pushed me to the ground.

“Shut up!”  He screamed, totally out of control.  “It’s all your fault, you stupid cunt, for making him this way.”  I sat on the floor in shock, stunned that he’d actually pushed me over, not to mention him calling me a cunt.  I paid no attention to what else he was saying as it didn’t make any sense, but I could feel my tailbone bruising.

“Dad, no!”  Ned shouted, his eyes flashing.

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Dogged Ma: Chapter four, part two

Chapter Four, Part Two

“Girl, you are so working that dress,” Ned said, snapping his fingers as he looked me up and down.  “I swear I must be gay because even the sight of you looking so luscious isn’t enough to get me hard.”

“Thanks, I think,” I said as I locked the door behind me.  “You look pretty hot yourself.”  He was wearing a custom-made tux which fit him perfectly.  His tie and cummerbund were silver, which I liked better than black.  “So, what have you decided?”

It turned out that he hadn’t, so we had to hash out the pros and cons the whole way to his parents’ house.  I suggested that we say he jumped the gun a little bit because he’d been thinking of proposing, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  Then I could say that I was the one who’d turned him down, therefore saving face for his parents in front of their guests.  Ned didn’t want to make me the bad guy, however, as it was his fault we were in this mess.  I didn’t mind taking the rap if it would make things easier for him.  He was determined to tell his parents the truth, but couldn’t decide if it was better before or after the get-together.  It was hard to say because either way, he was fucked.  Either way, his parents lost face.  We reluctantly agreed that the best thing to do was to go through with the party and tell his parents after.  Then they could tell their friends I’d dumped him or some such nonsense.

“You’re the best,” Ned said, squeezing my hand.  “That’s for you.”  He waved vaguely in the direction of the backseat, and I carefully undid my seatbelt so I could grab the package.  I turned back around and buckled up for safety—not that I really needed to—before opening the nicely-wrapped gift.  Inside was a Hermes scarf that was a luscious blend of silver and plum.

“Oh, Ned, it’s beautiful,” I sighed, holding it up to my neck and admiring myself in the mirror in my visor.  It didn’t match my dress so I didn’t put it on, but I mentally planned my outfit for Monday to include some purple so I could wear the scarf.  On second thought, scratch that.  It was too high-toned for where I worked.  “Why can’t straight men have your sense of fashion?”  I mourned, carefully packing the scarf away and stowing it under my seat.  “It’s just not fair.”

“We’re here,” Ned said tersely, both hands gripping the wheel.  I patted him on the knee to calm him down, but I didn’t think it helped.  He parked the car and rooted through his pocket, bringing out a small box.  “Put this on.”  He opened it, and a diamond ring sparkled within the box.  I gasped because I’d never seen a rock that big—except for on his mother’s hand, of course.

“Ned, you didn’t buy that, did you?”  I couldn’t even touch it for fear I’d break it or something.

“No, it’s my grandmother’s.  My mother gave it to me to give to you.”  Ned slipped the ring onto my third finger, and it fit me perfectly.  I couldn’t take my eyes off it; it was so shiny.  “I guess we have to go in.”  He walked around to my side of the car where I was ready and waiting.

“You’ll be fine,” I said softly as Ned helped me out of the car.  I normally didn’t go in for that girly shit, but something about wearing a formal dress brought out the genteel in me.  Not to mention a rock the size of Gibraltar. “You have God on your side, remember?”  Ned smiled wanly as he offered me his arm.  The ring on my finger felt heavy, though I knew it was just my imagination.  I wouldn’t breathe easily until I gave the ring back to Ned, which would be at the end of the evening, hopefully.

“Darling!  You look beautiful!”  Mrs. Chang air-kissed me, critically checking out my outfit.  She was a tall, languid woman with jet-black hair that came from a bottle these days.  It was pulled up in a severe chignon, and she was wearing a black dress that looked like a Vera Wang.  Knowing her, it was.  Big diamonds glittered from her neck and ears, as well as her wrists and fingers.  She was attractive only because she had the money to achieve a certain style.  “Edward, you look so handsome as well.”  Mrs. Chang fussed with Ned’s bow tie, though he had tied it perfectly.

“Margaret, so good to see you,” Mr. Chang boomed, engulfing me in a warm hug.  He was a good-looking man, also over six-feet tall.  It was easy to see where Ned had gotten his looks from.  Mr. Chang’s hand strayed south of the border for a nanosecond.  I still couldn’t get over this highly-religious man copping a feel every time he saw me, but I wasn’t going to make a fuss this time around.  There were more important things to think about, namely how to break it to Ned’s parents that he was gay.

“The ring looks perfect on your finger,” Mrs. Chang cooed, holding my hand up to the light.  “My mother would have been so happy.”  A tear showed up in the corner of her surgically-enhanced eye, but it didn’t dare fall.  “You two make such a striking couple.”

“It’s about time you two got married.  You’re getting on in years, Margaret.  You and Edward will want to start having children right away.  You’ll have them baptized at the Taiwanese church, of course.”  Mr. Chang still had his hand on my back as he guided me towards the living room.  I pressed my lips together so I wouldn’t say something inflammatory, such as that I was already pregnant with a child who needed no blessing.  Mr. Chang brought out the worst in me, and we’d had quite the rows in the past.  However, I kept repeating my mantra that nothing mattered except getting Ned through the night, and I was able to ignore Mr. Chang’s blathering.

“I was thinking of rose and ivory for your colors,” Mrs. Chang said to me, swooping on me from the other side.  Mr. Chang dropped back, presumably to exhort Ned to do his manly duty and procreate.  “I think you would look lovely in ivory.  We Asians have the perfect skin tone for it.  I know Vera Wang personally, and I think I could get her to whip up an original for you.  Wouldn’t that be grand?  What color do you think your mother will be wearing so I don’t clash with her?  She would look stunning in a dark blue whereas I look my best in black.  Oh, I know it’s considered taboo in some circles to wear black to a wedding, but it’s so slimming.”  She was skeletal, but that wasn’t the point, I guess.  I didn’t contribute to the conversation because I was having a difficult time not gagging.

“Tell them now,” a voice boomed in my head.  “Don’t let this farce go on any longer.”

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Dogged Ma: Chapter four, part one

Chapter Four, Part One

“Margaret—earth to Margaret!  Where did you go?”  I snapped back to earth to find my friend, Jenna, staring expectantly at me.  My two other friends, Belinda and Caryn, were staring as well.  I had lunch with them one Saturday a month, and this was it.  I hadn’t wanted to go, but I knew I’d catch serious hell from them if I didn’t.  We’d been friends since college, but maybe it was time to loosen the apron strings.  I didn’t find them nearly as entertaining as I had when we were in school.  It had been two weeks since I found out I was pregnant, and I hadn’t heard from the Father in nearly a week.

“Honestly, Mags, you were a million light-years away.”  Belinda looked at me from under her lashes, fluffing her blond curls with her other hand.  She was the stunner of the group with her Barbie-doll figure and plump, full lips, and she knew it.  So even though she was ostensibly talking to me, she was playing to the table of appreciative yuppies who were ogling her quite openly.  Ah, the refined crowd of TGIF—what could possibly be better?  It hadn’t been my choice to come here, but I had been outvoted three to one.

“Girl, you’ve been out of it all day.  Spill.”  Jenna snapped her fingers at me.  She was the ‘hip’ one with her mod cut and Macy clothes.  Too bad her features were equine-like, similar to those of Princess Anne.  Or was it Margaret?  Whichever was the horsey-one.  Still, it didn’t stop her from getting laid which went to show that if you had a great bod and money, you only needed a passable face.

“There must be a new man in your life,” Caryn said, nodding her head knowingly.  She was Asian like me, but Japanese rather than Taiwanese.  I didn’t hold her tiny figure against her as she didn’t act like your typical Japanese American Princess.  She was tough as nails, and she had a black belt in taekwondo.  Any guy who thought he could mess with her usually ended up with a black eye or crushed testicles.

“No,” I said, sipping at my margarita.  Damned if I was going to give up alcohol before it was strictly necessary.  “I just, uh, it’s a work thing.  One of my kids is in trouble.  You know, the usual.”  I sent a silent apology to my students who’d been unusually good this past week.  My slander meant that one of them would be out of control this week; I was resigned to it.

“Uh, huh.”  Belinda nodded her head, cutting her eyes to the yuppies who were still eyeing her.  “I’m with Caryn.  There’s a boy involved.  Who is he?”  The three of them turned their attention to me, which was a bit disconcerting.

I hadn’t told them about being pregnant yet because what the fuck could I say?  The Lord, our Father, decided that I should be the next Mother of God?  Oh, and it’s a girl, but He promised not to kill her this time around?  It sounded crazy to my ears, and I’d met Him, so I knew they wouldn’t believe me.  I half-expected God to come down out of the sky as was His wont, but He didn’t.  Briefly, I wondered what’d happened to Him, but I had more important things to consider.  Like what to tell the three stooges looking at me so avidly.  I knew that nothing less than an epic romance would satisfy this trio, but I didn’t want to lie.  I felt as if I had no choice, however, so I gave it the old college try.

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Dogged Ma: Chapter three, part two

Chapter Three, Part Two

“What are you going to tell people?”  Ned asked, wisely dropping the argument.  He knew that I was stubborn and contrary.  The more he argued, the more I would dig in my heels and hiss at him.  “I mean, you can’t tell people that you’re carrying the next savior, can you?”

“I don’t know,” I said, suddenly struck by the enormity of the situation.  What was I going to tell people?  Obviously, I’d have to tell them I was pregnant, but I’d have to come up with a cover story, wouldn’t I?  No way in hell was I going to tell anybody that I was the Mother of God before it was necessary.  I liked my freedom, thank you very much, and I didn’t relish the thought of giving it up voluntarily.  More to the point, what was I going to tell my mother?  Oh, God.  She wanted me to have kids, but not out of wedlock.  Shit.  God wasn’t planning on making me marry someone, was He?

“No, I’m not,” God thundered in my brain.  I winced at the volume and silently asked Him to turn it down.  “Sorry.  Zeke is yakking my ear off so I can’t tell how loudly I’m talking.”  Zeke?  Talking up a storm.  This I had to see.  No, I didn’t.  I shuddered at the thought of a garrulous Zeke.  “I want you to be a single mother.  It’s part of the plan.”

“You’ve gone nuts, Lord,” I said silently.  Ned and Wind were talking a mile a minute and had no idea that I was having my own private conversation.  “What else are You going to burden this child with?  You are trying to kill her, aren’t You?”

“No, I’m not.  I just need the world to stand up and take notice.  You people need to see reason—only something drastic will do.  Oops.  I must go.  Zeke and I need to talk over a few details about the Ukraine.  For the record, I was never on Bush’s side, and he was an idiot for trusting Putin.  You tell him that if you ever meet him.  Oh, and tell him he’s a horrible painter, too.”

“Yeah, right.”  I felt God leave me, which still jolted me.  I tuned back into the conversation going on between Ned and Wind.  Predictably, they were arguing about God.  As I had had just about enough of God, I tuned them out and ate my eggs which were getting cold.  I gulped down my milk, then refilled my glass.  Suddenly, I had a craving for chocolate so I took two truffles out of the fridge and brought them into the living room.  Ned and Wind broke off their conversation to turn and stare at me.

“What?  I’m craving chocolate.  I am eating for two now, you know.”  That was going to be one of the only perks about this whole mess—I got to eat as much as I wanted.

“It’s not good for the baby,” Wind said, voicing her disapproval.  “Too much caffeine.”

“I hate to break it to you, Wind, but it doesn’t matter with this child.”  I patted my stomach as if there was something really there.  “God said I could smoke and drink as much as I wanted, so I presume that means I can eat as much chocolate as I want as well.  I better, or I’m going to be one big, bad bitch from now until this baby is born.”

“Did She really say that?”  Wind asked dubiously.

“Yes, I did,” God boomed down, this time audible to all of us.

“Will You quit that?”  I shrieked, my nerves on edge.  “I can’t take You dropping in like that!  Please!”

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Dogged Ma: Chapter three, part one

Chapter Three, Part One

“Girl, you better open up this door.”  Ned was pounding on my door, and he sounded upset.  How the hell did he get in my apartment building?  Some yahoo must have let him in.  All he’d have to do was smile and bat his eyelashes, and there wasn’t a single person—male or female—who could resist him.  It was the Saturday after God had made His little visit—if it was, indeed, Him—and I was in a funk.  I hadn’t answered any calls from my friends for the past three days, which was unlike me.

“Margaret!  We need to see if you’re still breathing.”  It was Wind, which meant she and Ned had talked about me.  Wind’s real name was Wendy Greenwood, but she preferred Wind in accordance with her favorite element of nature.  Well, she had a key.  She could use it if she really wanted.  Come to think of it, Ned had one as well, but it probably wasn’t on his key chain.  Wind had about a zillion keys on her key ring, so I bet mine was there, too.  I shook my head impatiently.  What the fuck was I doing ruminating about keys?  Even though it was one in the afternoon, I was still in bed.  I had managed to make it through the week at work, but I fell into bed the minute I came home last night and only got up to go to the bathroom and eat a bit.  Otherwise, I’d spent the last eighteen hours or so in bed.  I couldn’t stand what God had done to me, and I wasn’t handling it well at all.

“Girl, use your key.  I left my copy at home.  I didn’t think she wouldn’t let us in.”  That was my boy, using his head, damn him.  Sooner than I’d like, they were bursting into my bedroom.

“Margaret, what are you still doing in bed?  You’re ruining your biorhythms.”  That was Wind, coming out with something New-Agey.  She was six-feet tall in her stocking feet with a slimness stemming from being vegan.  Her flaming red hair and luminous green eyes were nicely set off by her delicate white skin.  She dressed in typical hippie fashion with tons of scarves and long, flowing skirts.  Despite her loopy appearance and somewhat eccentric beliefs, she was a dear friend.

“Girl, you need to get out of this apartment.”  Ned snapped his fingers, his dark eyes intense.  “You look as if you’ve been brooding, and you know how that goes to your head.”  Not for the first time, I wondered why Ned couldn’t be at least bi.  He was even taller than Wind, and I liked my men tall.  And buff.  And good enough to eat.  And Asian.

“What’s wrong, Margaret?”  Wind asked, her brow furrowed.  “Your aura is very dark right now.  But…I sense vigorous life inside of you.”  Her eyes widened.  “Are you pregnant?”  Did I mention she was a touch psychic?  “Oh, you are!  Who’s the father?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said, turning away from them and burrowing under my blankets.  How could I tell them the truth without sounding like I was headed for the loony bin?  Granted, Wind was into all things Wiccan, and Ned was a devout Christian, but this was something out of the ordinary, even for them.  I still couldn’t believe it, so how could they?  Ned was Christian, but how would he react to me as the next Mother of God?  Wind didn’t even believe in God, so there’s no way she would understand.

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