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  • 1.

    My aunt tried to escape Vietnam. Three times.

    The first time. She was swindled. The captain of the fishing boat took her gold, but left her behind.

    The second time. She was almost arrested. The night before they were set to depart. The police raided their boat. She escaped. Swimming in the darkness.

    The third time. Success. Finally.


    The first week. Her dreams were fretful. The salted air. The sun. The churning sea. The tumult of the waves, heaving up and down, rolling side to side, the sweet potato that she had eaten was now lodged in her throat. She started to vomit.

    The second week. No sign of land. No seagulls to guide them towards shore.

    The third week. They began to ration their food. The water. Her skin was scorched by the sun. Blistered.

    After the third week. The days became unnumbered. Listless. Lassitude. She wanted to cry but her voice was parched like sandpaper.

    Everyone began to pray. Even atheists like herself. To the Buddha. Christ.


    One time. They saw a ship, in the distance, at first, they dared not believe, dared not hope, perhaps a mirage, but when the ship began to loom larger, coming closer and closer, when they could see its outline, its metallic sheen reflecting in the sun, their hearts began to tremble, and they stomped their feet, hollering, they burnt rags, the smoke curling up into the sky, but the ship, it did not stop, it continued to glide pass them, dwindling into a speck, vanishing into the horizon.

    Their voices hoarse, they stood mute and numb.

    The smoke had died. A woman sobbed without tears.


    At some point. A child died. They buried her at sea.


    At some point. She began to drink her own urine.

    She also started hallucinating. She heard voices of men and women, who beseeched her to tell their families that they had drowned, their boat. Sunken.

    Memories screened through her mind. The taste of coconut juice. Her mother's face. Her childhood. Regrets. Her selfishness. Her vanity.

    I must be dying. She thought.


    It was the dolphins that rescued them. Yes. Dolphins.

    One morning two dolphins leaped in front of their boat. They bumped their heads against the bow.

    Their first thoughts. As if god had not punished them enough. Now sea creatures were attacking their boat.

    Then they realized. The dolphins were leading them, guiding them. And so they followed, trailing the dolphins, until they reached an oil drilling platform, where their odyssey ended. Salvation. Finally.

    Sometimes life can be more incredible than fiction.
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