By Alice Kresberg
Every day at school, I get lunch from the same place, just to see the grandma who works there. It’s the highlight of my day.
Smells of many different cuisines hit my nose all at once,
dumplings that gave me food poisoning,
rice bowls that made my stomach churn,
chicken noodle soup that has an artificially yellow broth.
Every school day I come here for lunch.
Despite the poor food selection, there’s one thing that’s good about this place.
“Next. Oh, hi!” The Korean grandma calls out to me with a wave, ushering me over.
We greet each other with cheerful eyes, smiles hidden behind our masks.
She types the price of the items into the register, and I pay.
I wait for a second before I leave—usually she asks me one question per day:
How long is winter break?
Where’s your friend today?
What color do you like?
Do you like BTS?
She quickly reaches for something next to her.
“What’s your name?” she asks as she sets down a receipt, back side up, and a pen.
I write both my English and my Korean name.
She sounds them out, and I’m curious to see which one she’ll use.
“이름이 뭐예요?” I ask her the same question, but in Korean.
“Call me Mom.”
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
Last year, I wrote a poem about where I’m from. I found that I had more to say about my Korean American identity. I wrote down a list and wanted to expand on this particular moment since it’s so special to me. After writing the first draft, my mentor and I spent the next couple of sessions editing it. Once I was satisfied with how it sounded, I called it done.
Alice Kresberg is a senior at a high school in Manhattan, NY. She transferred in her sophomore year from a high school in Brooklyn, NY. She enjoys writing, crocheting, sewing, listening to music, baking and sleeping and she loves collecting miniature things. She has two cats, Charlie and Lola, who she enjoys spending time with.