Memoir

Author | Victoria Siu

I remember my index finger guiding crisp autumn leaves across clear puddles. If I wasn’t careful, rainwater would spill into the thin membranes and envelop my miniature boats.

I remember liking the sound of pencil scratching paper when I drew an orange cat.

I remember when I learned: Chinese people were supposed to have lines for eyes.

I remember the nauseating rawness of pumpkin while my grandfather carved a witch the night before Halloween.    

I remember the clink as I slid open Po Po’s porcelain candy box for a peppermint. Her room smelled of old-people and dusty knick-knacks.

I remember my fifth grade history teacher made a boy sing on the first day of class for being late.

I remember a horsy-faced girl who was my f(r)iend. The irony was on her— she liked horses.

I remember all the girls at recess who sat on the bleachers discussing {I had no interest} boys: who they liked, who they talked to… The boys were in the middle of a four-square contest.

I remember the day I came home from school to write a list in my diary: friends, enemies, and acquaintances.

I remember wishing my school uniform had pockets.


I remember the first paper doll I sketched on the corner of my math homework. 30 minutes later, I had a cut-out hole in my fraction worksheet.

I remember the aqua 1st place ribbon on my pastel tree the art teacher gave an 83. I smiled at her.

I remember not finding anyone to sit with during recess.

I remember how frustrated I grew as I counted the names on my diary list.

I remember yelling at my little sister (but have long forgotten the reason). Words, fists, and living room objects cross-fired. Hardcover corner of The Rainbow Fish impaled chest. Breath escaped. Sister was crying.  

I remember silence—that phone call.

I remember long withheld breaths when I heard the ba-dump ba-dump in my heart over the ba-dump ba-dump on my mother’s lips. When I knew the swirls of wood floor better than my father’s creased face. When closing bedroom doors and sliding feet became the loud noises in my world. Silent normality.

I remember studying the garage and front door, until I remembered stories about kidnapping and child prostitution.

I remember a boy asking if I ate dog.

I remember tracing dried-brush strokes on my bedroom ceiling with my vision and warm dampness of pillow covers.

I remember blinking before darkness sealed my swollen eyes.

I remember waking up to a bright Saturday morning and asking the sparrows to “please shut up.”

I remember laughing at my sister— smiles were a cue for forgetting.

I remember: car-rides to school, car-rides from school, car-rides to karate, car-rides to dentist appointments, car-rides to airports, car-rides to church. Sometimes my mother would listen to 101.1 FM the classical music radio station. Sometimes she would talk to me, sometimes I would do the talking, sometimes she would do the yelling, sometimes she was silent. And sometimes there would be awkward apologies.

I remember my mom drove my sister and me to church on Friday nights. I didn’t like memorizing verses, but I never complained.

I remember drums and voices overflowing the youth group room. Fireworks. Ears pounding. Lyrics exploding. 

I remember sitting crisscross-apple-sauce during the minister’s lecture on the Book of Romans, staring at a crude dry-erase triangle of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He draws another crude diagram of a cross bridging earth and heaven. Reconnect soul and shameless body. 

I remember wondering why God would choose to be human. 

I remember senses. My mouth couldn’t stop moving on the car-ride home. Stumbling into my bedroom, I let knees strike wood floor and I am crying. My chest: warm instead of the usual hollowed cold. My mind: blissfully blank. My eyes: closed.

I remember apologies came easier.

I remember when my mother told me to clean up my room.

I remember old and desperate diaries—I crumpled papers, laughed to no one and made my bed.

I remember packing three suitcases.

I remember my mother’s face from the other side of customs. 


About the Author | Victoria Siu is a current sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Biological Basis of Behavior and minoring in Creative Writing. As a former Lab Assistant in Abramson Research Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Siu hopes to interweave her passion in research with her passion for writing. She is currently the Design Editor for Penn’s research journal, Synapse. Previously she was the Editor in Chief of her high school Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown Award winning literary magazine, Itinerary. Siu has also organized and taught creative writing workshop at Nathan Adams Elementary in Dallas, TX. Her writing has also been recognized by Creative Communications as a semifinalist in their summer contest edition. Siu is an avid fan of Hayao Miyazaki and loves listening to Michael Jackson.