By Patti Kim
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Extra info for A Cab Called Reliable: A Novel
She looked as if I were the last thing on her mind. I had seen that expression before. She wore that scary you-mean-nothing-to-me look on her face whenever she and my father fought. I was alone in the apartment, but there, right there, I could see my mother sitting in front of the television. I could have sworn she was there. She was ironing my father's dress shirt. It was a Sunday morning, and she was getting us ready for church—the New Covenant Korean Church. An hour and a half away, but my mother woke us up and made us go every Sunday.
I have to go immediately. " Outside, I said to myself that I had to think of an answer. Got to think of an answer when Father asks, Where are you coming from? Where have you been? Why are you late? Got to tell him about volcanoes, long division, and Christopher Columbus discovering America while sailing on the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Got to tell him the principal needed help making posters for the class for the entire school and she picked me because I had the best handwriting. Posters of class rules like "don't run," "don't talk back," important rules.
Then I walked into our building, sat down on the first step, and waited for my father to come out and call my name the way Boris's mother did. Two moths were drawn to the hall's light. One landed on the glass case and the other fluttered in circles. The sound of television music and children came from apartment A. There was also the smell of Salisbury steaks with gravy, carrots and peas, a glass of cold soda, and for dessert a slice of chocolate cake. I imagined there would be a baby behind the door being gently bounced to sleep on a mother's hip, a rocking chair, opened coloring books scattered on the rug with uncapped Magic Markers and broken crayons.