The Wake by Vilaska Nguyen

Dat couldn’t stand the sight of his father speaking so intimately with another woman. It had been only eight days since they arrived on Wake Island, a small land mass that stretched just over two miles from every shore. Ten days since the fall of Saigon. Eleven days since the nine year-old boy felt the warm blood of his mother caress his face like the residual mist from a passing monsoon. He reacted by crouching down and cupping pieces of brain matter in his trembling hands. Without looking up, he saw the smirks, heard the laughter of the murderers who casually walked down the street. Dat didn’t have the courage to face them. He kept his head down and wondered where his father was.

Wake Island’s tropical breeze couldn’t fool Dat. His father said it was just like home. He made a lot of claims that Dat didn’t believe. The boy watched his father hook arms with the young woman. They met on the military cargo ship that left Manila and had been inseparable the last twenty-four hours.

Dat sat on the steps of the general store as his father and the stranger slowly walked along the path that followed the western beach. He heard their laughter trail off in the distance. Their smiles mocked him. His hands now trembled for a different reason. A trickle of blood escaped Dat’s nose, touched his upper lip. He remained motionless, closed his eyes and engaged in the futile practice of trying to remember his mother’s last words.

Vilaska Nguyen is a felony trial attorney at the San Francisco Public Defender's Office and loves to read, write and perform stand-up comedy. His work has appeared in NANO Fiction and is forthcoming in Blue Fifth Review.