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We Must Kill All Rats Before We Can Kill Your Rats

When I’m up late mixing concrete, the little children who live inside the walls scratch out phoenix designs. I talk to myself to drown out their chants of white devil,

and never once do I mention the Revolution—only how the leaders put an end to starvation.

I explained all my problems to the apartment manager, but he just said: We must kill all rats before we can kill your rats. It’s true because the police only wiped out the local cat population after they had reached a tipping point.

To talk of starvation—my mom stopped feeding me when I was five because she was too busy sleeping with men to get free rations of chocolates and cigarettes. No wonder I ask the gods for more and more offspring—

no one pays attention to just one emaciated child.

Soon I was allowed to plug up all the rat holes in my apartment if I paid for the cement myself. Word of my strong character spread to all the parents on the block with left-over women daughters. Every mother I meet bows and gives me soft chicken bones and eggs preserved in ash and salt. I only take them because it means less food for her.

The guards told me with pride that they help all the sick mothers on my block. Just in case it’s true, I place bananas at the feet of Shiva gutting a mermaid-whore so I can convince the gods to make more mothers suffer alone.

I spend my time renovating my apartment, teaching English, shooting roosters bound to blocks of ice, or volunteering to improve society. Just yesterday Onion’s parents gave her gold earrings and pushed her into the closet where I was waiting to finally give them a grandson. I paid for those earrings myself.

Her male ancestors stood on a cloud and cheered me on with their demands for a male heir. I told her what I tell all the girls: I want to investigate your faith.

Many of these so-called cherished mothers here sleep stacked in silos that once stored rice. I shook their hands while the director of the senior center snapped some photos. The newspaper article said I was a doctor from a local medical university doing routine check-ups.

Western man monitors health of Bao Ming…

Her kind won’t be safe anywhere in this world.

Annie Christain


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