Japan Station No.1: Her Backstory-Within Another Memory


Abigail wore a black embroidered dress, heels, and a black derby hat. It was windy that afternoon, and a swift gust blew through the outdoor funeral and swept Abigail’s hat off her head. As though the petals on a flower had bloomed, Abigail’s flowing brown hair flew up and splayed in the air. I watched from my brother’s open casket, as the wind pushed the black hat across the weathered cemetery grounds as Abigail chased after it, her heels picking up dirt clods along the way, and held on tightly to the hemline of her rising dress.


Although it happened to be my brother’s funeral, I started booming with laughter and my eyes welled up with tears, washing away my burning red cheeks, from an earlier sobbing and hysteria. When my other family members began to pick up their faces from their hands, and look into my direction, I immediately stopped laughing, faked a frown, and stuffing my hands in my jacket pockets, I hurried away from the open sapphire casket, leaving my brother Archie who had a tight-lip smile, hands folded over his chest, and eyes closed like blinds, his blue three-piece suit spotless like a good driving record.


The black hat tumbled in the middle of a winding, grassy pathway and bending down, I scooped it up just as Abigail ran straight into my face. The wind got knocked out of me as I vaulted backwards, staggering into a mausoleum and smacking into the floral clay pots lined up along the veranda. It seemed like hundreds of clay slivers spread up and down the beaten ground as I landed hard on my back.

When I looked up I saw Abigail laying on my chest, clutching onto her black hat, strands of fabric and feathers all strewn along her face.

“Thanks for the help,” Abigail said, rolling her eyes as she stood up from me. She smoothed out the crinkled edges of her hat and then placed it over her head, pulling her hair away from her eyes that were purple like the flowers growing near my brother’s grave.


“I’m Marisa Fowler, but my friends call me Abigail. It’s my middle name. My mom and I have the same first name and it’s just easier if you call me Abigail,” she said and put her hand out, as she smiled broadly.


I grabbed her hand, grunting as she pulled me up to my feet, and said, “Nice to meet you Abigail. I’m Bryan. How did you know my brother?”


“We used to date. I’m his girl-…well not really his girlfriend. More like his good friend. We hung out all the time,” Abigail said, looking over at the large crowd huddling over my brother’s casket. ”


“But he dated Morgan,” I said, feeling confused and a bit apprehensive.


“Yeah I know he dated her. Look I’m not saying we dated. But we were quite close to each other,” she said. “Morgan and I were quite close to.”



Far away in the deep forests of Tennessee, I used to go to this dive-bar on Main Street with my best friend Morgan, next to a parking lot filled to the brim with post-grad hipster kids who partied their asses off, taking shots of bourbon while their friends strummed a busted-up acoustic guitar and took drags from reds, their minds deep in a trance that most people felt living in the wasteland we called suburban malaise, a phrase dripping with pretension, chock full of deadpan and dry wit, like the words Morgan would scribble in her worn journal on the bar counter as John Coltrane crooned and pushed buttons and levers on his golden saxophone, smoke lingering on a cocktail napkin stained from the shaken martini. She knew how to talk to people, this much I knew for certain about her as people pulled up a seat next to her, all smiles, giving her drink after drink as though they were pouring water over flames. She never smoldered. In fact, Morgan drank like a tuna fish, bouncing fresh out the ocean and landing flat in the arms of greedy men who wore glasses and chewed on tobacco and grew mustaches that resembled an uncanny resemblance to Gandhi. She never got into trouble with any of these guys, so don’t worry about those trivial things. But the thing with Morgan was when she got to know a guy, she did anything for them. Anything from doing his laundry, or walking his dog. Simple things, really, but enough so that Morgan always came back, as though she took a small part of ownership in separating the whites from the darks, and picking up the smelly remains of a black Labrador named A Tribe Called Quest.


Tonight, at the dive-bar, Morgan and I were watching “Synecdoche, New York” with Spanish subtitles and mourning the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman, as we ate guacamole and queso with tortilla chips, every now and then, I glanced over at this stocky, Spanish-looking guy wearing a crimson hoodie and white vans who was looking over at us with glassy eyes. He took slow and calm steps over to the end of the granite bar and placed his IPA next to my jack-and-coke, smiled, and waved the bartender over, asked her if she could make three jack-and-cokes for the three of us. The bartender nodded and blushed as she made the drinks.


Morgan turned to face Jose and made a face, and then quickly smiled, looking embarrassed. She extended her hand out to him and thanked him for the drink, nudging me in the shoulder, as though I were in her territory. She glanced at me and motioned with her head, as if to say: backoff bitch. But, I knew she was joking, because she touched my hand and whispered: kidding. Still, she leaned in and moved closer to Jose and even put her hand around his shoulder. She said, “Gracias.”


Jose looked at her with disbelief, scoffed and said, “Yo, I’m from Hoboken.”


“Really? No you’re not,” I said, laughing.


He smiled and shrugged. “Okay that’s where I’m from. But where I’m really from is Peru. I was just messing with you. No hard feelings,” he said, letting out a grin.

Andy Tran is a young professional working and living in the Washington DC metro area. His work has been featured in The Virginia. Normal, Defenestration Magazine, and Calliope, and currently at Queens Mob Teahouse. He's a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, and he has a degree in English.

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