A Day of Meak's Blue
Hui-yu Hsu

M eak brushed his eyes open as morning sun compelled him to another day. He dragged himself into the kitchen, prepared the breakfast, and brought in the day's newspaper. At noon, he woke his wife Shreu for school.
"Have you decided to go?" asked Shreu, putting her chopsticks down.
"I'll come back right after the funeral."
"Drug me for the days you're gone then. I want to see you when I regain my consciousness."
"Come finish breakfast or you'll be hungry in class."
After driving Shreu to school, Meak waited for her in his weathered wagon. The sun scorched above. He got out to light a cigarette, cautiously, not to leave any puff of smoke in the car.
"Sorry I'm late, Darling. I had to ask my professor a couple of questions."
"Oh." Meak remained silent throughout the ride home.
As they stepped into their one-bedroom apartment, Shreu said, "Darling, fix me a sandwich." She took a text book out from her bag. "And don't make any noise while I'm studying." After handing Shreu a ham sandwich, Meak resumed reading the paper. Then he turned on the TV and pressed the "mute" button, switching from channel to channel and mindlessly staring at the screen.
"Meak! Meak!" screamed Shreu from the bedroom.
Meak rushed to her, "What happened?"
"I feel so thirsty."
"Can I bring you something?"
"Yes, that's why I called for you. Orange juice."
Meak did accordingly.
Taking a sip, Shreu smiled, "By the way, have dinner ready by seven."
Meak retreated quietly.
The phone rang while they were having dinner.
"Hello," Meak answered the phone.
It was a call from Meak's sister in China. "You must come home for grandmother's funeral, Meak," she said. "It will be the last chance to bid her farewell before the family cremates the body."
"Ah...I don't know," Meak said hesitantly, looking away from Shreu. "The air fare in summer is incredible."
Meak hung up and turned to Shreu.
Before Meak had a chance to talk, Shreu cried, "Don't go, darling. Don't go. I don't know what to do without you. Don't leave me at this time of school!"
"I didn't say I would go."
"Unless you promise to stay, I won't have an appetite."
"You must eat. You won't have enough energy to study otherwise," urged Meak.
Soon darkness consumed the day. Shreu slept in the single bed they bought at a garage sale. Meak tossed and turned on the mat he placed on the floor and stared into the starless night.

First published: March 1994
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