thoughts of people and onions, and their layers
Kyrsten Su | Art by Sophia Wu
The other day I was peeling an onion.
I removed the rough shell from the outside. It broke up into brittle pieces.
I took a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut. Then I put on my most winning smile
just in case Mother was watching.
I looked at the glassy skin underneath. It was so shiny. So flawless.
Sweet, isn’t it? How I’m only eight years old and still I make meals for my mother twice a
I peeled that layer away, too. It was hard to get off, almost like it wanted to keep clinging
Well, it’s not all that impressive. Mother doesn’t cook much these days. If I didn’t either,
neither of us would eat.
I took my knife and positioned it to cut through to the center.
I heard Mother coughing from her bedroom.
And then I sliced through. Tears sprung to my eyes almost immediately.
I don’t see Mother much these days, no one does. She’s always in her room. She says
she’s just resting. I might be little, but I know it’s more than that. I heard her last night,
crying and telling Father that she’s protecting me. But I just want to see her.
I stared at the small, pale core. It had a different texture from the rest of the onion. It was
I’m scared for Mother. I’m scared for what will happen when she leaves us. I don’t know if
Father will remember to cook when she’s gone. I don’t want to keep peeling onions like
this. It hurts.
I threw the onion into a pot and let the sharp flavor cook down. And then I took another
It’ll be fine, I’m sure. I’ll think of something. It’ll be fine.