In third grade, I built and destroyed my first and only family tree. I never realized how little we passed down. My mother told me I have my father’s eyes—always
listening, always ready to flee like an animal spooked by thunderstorms. But she didn’t know who gave me a voice like a summer breeze
caught in the maw of a storm. I had a nightmare about it: the turbulence of a dark sea, a transparent giant koi crushing me mid-scream.
Always, I think of my ancestors, if they would love a child who insisted on memorizing another country's pledge like a crucifix.
My father taught me to make origami when I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t always like this: my mother used to put me to sleep with Tagalog lullabies. She stopped
because I couldn’t explain why the songs made me weep. In third grade, everyone in class showed off a family tree that dated
at least a hundred years back. I lied to the teacher that I’d forgotten to do it. That night, I made so much origami that only my history textbooks were left untouched. So by morning,
I made a neighborhood of origami out of the entire unit on World War II only to unfold them in repentance. I had a nightmare about it:
caught tearing through the textbooks, the teachers dragged me from the classroom even though I promised I’d drink my apple juice silently without the awful noise of sucking it dry, that I’d sing the anthem without faltering,
that I’d practice the pledge of allegiance ten hours a day at the speech therapist’s stifling room so I would no longer confuse indivisible with invisible. Still,
they threw me into the sea, summer breeze abandoned to a storm. Again, the transparent giant koi took pity and swallowed me mid-scream.
Yvanna Vien Tica is a Filipina writer who grew up in Manila and in a Chicagoland suburb. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Verse Daily, Strange Horizons, Poet Lore, Hobart, and Shenandoah, among others. She edits for Polyphony Lit, reads for Muzzle Magazine, and tweets @yvannavien. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying nature and thanking God for another day.