Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Sidewalk Chalk Alien Legend

The Sidewalk Chalk Alien Legend
By Emily Lawrence

The blue and pink powder from the sidewalk chalk Bik had given the kindergarten class was getting all over Chul’s hands so that they were painted just as heavily as the concrete in the school compound. He always rubbed the chalk too hard, hiding every gray spot of concrete, and through the day, the chalk was worn down to little stubs in his palms. Green and yellow stars, red and purple planets, big as Chin-Hwa’s bicycle wheels, and a kingly rocket ship, blue and red with a huge orange tail of fire. Literally a universe of chalk.
Mi-Ok sat on her pink strap-on shoes. She had a beautiful new four-leaf clover barrette in her coal black hair. The other girls, who couldn’t afford one of their own, had admired it all day and told her how pretty she looked and Mi-Ok blushed shyly. She watched Chul drawing his rocket, quietly, with her finger in her mouth. Jae Eun’s voice could be heard as she made up a story to go along with the illustrations of a picture book from the classroom. She was sitting by the cage where the class rabbits were stored.
“Chul,” Mi-Ok called, even though she was only inches from his ears.
“What?” His fat fingers scraped the chalk over the rough concrete, undistracted.
“What’s that black thing with the sharp teeth?”
“An alien.”
“I thought aliens were green?” She bit her thumb bashfully.
A group of running feet swept their backs. “Mi-Ok likes Chubby Chul! Mi-Ok likes Chubby Chul!”
Chul took a break long enough to shake his fist at them. “Don’t walk on my drawing!” He was met with laughter. “Shut up, baldy!”
Mi-Ok scooted closer to his side. “I don’t mind what they say.”
Chul bent back over his snarling black alien, letting her snuggle where she was.
“Be quiet, I’m trying to read!” Jae Eun shouted.
“You can’t read!” The school yard laughed.
Jae Eun ignored them and went back to “reading” to her little brother, Dak-Ho, who was more of a plush toy than a brother. She saw that he had slipped down, so she propped him back up.
“I wonder what Bik’s bringing for snack today.” Mi-Ok wondered out loud to Chul. He only continued yellowing the monster’s teeth, but she didn’t mind. “Chul, do you believe aliens exist?”
The wind picked up in a sudden gust that blew off Jae Eun’s glasses. Colorful dust flew into Chul and Mi-Ok’s face. The children chattered lowly for a moment. Then, a racing sound was heard and, as if she were blown in by the wind, an older girl sped into the school compound on shiny black rollerblades. Violently turning, she tore her blades against the concrete to a halt on top of Chul’s chalk universe.
She wore a high school Gyobok; the skirt brown plaid, deep brown tights and a burgundy jacket, but also she wore knee and elbow pads comically over her uniform and a sleek helmet with a sticker of a rose and blue guitar. Her raven hair streamed out in two long pigtails from inside her helmet. In her hand was a long street hockey stick.
Huffing and puffing a little, she addressed the two children at her feet: Chul and Mi-Ok. “Oi, you two, I’m looking for someone; you’re going to tell me where this person is, alright?”
“Nobody’s allowed in the school compound, eonni,” Jae Eun said. The other children came to see what the big girl could want at their little private school.
Seeing them crowd around her seemed to make the big girl happier. “I’m called ‘June Bug,’” she declared. The children marveled at the English words. June Bug. Bik hadn’t taught them those words yet in their English hour.
Mi-Ok whispered to Chul, “What’s ‘June Bug?’” But Chul didn’t answer; he couldn’t because he didn’t know either.
“I need you kids to help me. I’m hunting someone.” June Bug paused for effect and surveyed her audience’s faces.
“Who are you hunting, eonni?” Chin-Hwa ventured.
June Bug chuckled and smiled so widely, her mouth was lost in her cheeks. “An alien.”
Chul stared up at her with his mouth open. Mi-Ok clung to his arm, frightened a little, but still paying close attention. Jae Eun had picked up Dak-Ho and carried him over, his cheeks hanging over her arms. “Is the alien here in the school?”
June Bug smiled again and held up her cell phone. “That’s what my boss said when he called me.”
“Are you a space policeman?” Chul asked, letting out more enthusiasm than he wanted. “Just like Super Sentai?”
“Something like that – I’m an alien bounty hunter.” June Bug said. “This alien was kicked out of her home-world because of heresy.”
“Are you going to use that hockey stick to beat up the alien?” Chin-Hwa asked
She looked at her hockey as a weapon for the first time. “Maybe. My boss does that kind of stuff, though. I just tell him when I’ve found them.”
The questions started pouring out.
“Do you have a space ship?”
“How many aliens have you caught?”
“How do you become an alien hunter?”
The children were having a great time. June Bug got annoyed and tried to bring them back to focus. “Quiet, quiet! Look, I want to hurry and catch it, so –”
Jae Eun interrupted from her seat on the ground, “What does the alien look like?”
June Bug slumped down and looked her audience in the eyes. “Just like us.”
“Ahhahhh!” The kids squealed in interest.
“Like a human?”
“Yes. It looks like a high school girl. Like me. Only, she’s Chinese.” June Bug told them. “Have you seen a Chinese girl? Her name’s Chin-Lan, but she may be using another name.”
Mi-Ok murmured to Chul. “Bik’s Chinese.”
“Shhh.” Chul, who had become a little put off by June Bug’s rudeness and wanted to hunt the alien himself, told her to be quiet. Mi-Ok nodded and buried her head in her shoulders like she was attempting to become a human safe.
It was no good, though, because the other children thinking the same and revealed it to June Bug. “Bik is.”
“Who?” June Bug demanded, now with a darkening look.
“She’s a girl who helps out in our class.”
“What does she do?”
“Um… She teaches us English…”
“She bakes us sweets.”
“And teaches us songs.”
June Bug perked up. “Does she carry around a big book? Or tell you stories?”
Jae Eun suddenly stood, and, taking her brother, walked away from the group and into the school building. June Bug watched her go with hard eyes then turned back to the other children.
“Does she?”
The children looked at each other. They didn’t understand. Suddenly they lost interest and drifted away. June Bug got angry at this; with her hockey stick pointed at him, she pinpointed Chul, who had gotten up, followed by Mi-Ok. “Oi, you. Does that girl tell you stories about an ark or a man being thrown into a pit of lions?”
“You mean Bible stories?” Mi-Ok asked, momentarily forgetting herself.
“Bik’s not an alien” Chul said nonchalantly.
June Bug scowled at him, then shot a look at Mi-Ok, who hid behind Chul. “You kids are so stupid.”
“Excuse me!” From the school building, a kind voice trying to be authoritative caught June Bug’s attention. Chul and Mi-Ok looked back and then ran to Bik, a tall Chinese girl with very short hair and a bad patch on the lower side of her left cheek. Jae Eun was with her, but Dak-Ho had been left inside. Bik confronted June Bug. “Outsiders are not permitted into the school compound unless they are family to one of the students, please.” Bik suddenly recognized her. “Hong Hanuel? You’re a player on the high school street hockey team, right?”
“I didn’t realize it was you.” June Bug sighed. “What a surprise.”
“What are you talking about –”
“Liu Chin-Lan.”
Bik was silenced immediately. Chul and Mi-Ok looked up at her quizzically. Then, Bik met June Bug with an even gaze.
“God, why did it have to you?” June Bug, or, Hanuel flipped open her phone and began hitting keys.
Jae Eun tugged Bik’s skirt. “What’s going on, eonni?”
The children finally caught the urgent atmosphere. “Who is this person?” Chul asked.
Mi-Ok was tearing up, “Who is she, Bik?”
Bik bent down, “It’s okay, darlings. There are some people who want me not to be in Korea. But, I’m not going anywhere.”
“We’ll see about that.” June Bug said.
“Jae Eun, go get Mrs. Park.” Bik said and Jae Eun dashed away.
“Why do they want you?” Chul’s eyebrows trembled.
“Don’t go!” Mi-Ok was crying now and hugged her legs. “Don’t leave!”
Bik wobbled. “Don’t worry, kids. God’s protecting me.” She looked at June Bug. “My citizenship should be finalized now.”
June Bug had her phone to her ear; she stared back at Bik stiffly.
“So, I’m afraid you won’t be getting any money.”
Chul couldn’t stand it any longer. “You’re not an alien, are you?”
A startled look swept over Bik’s face then she laughed. “We all are in this world, Chul.”
“Did you do something wrong?” Mi-Ok asked.
“Some people think so.” Bik replied, putting a hand on Mi-Ok’s head. “But I don’t need them to think what I’ve done is right or wrong. And even if they somehow take me away, it’ll be okay. Because they didn’t like my Father, either, but He still beat them in the end.”
For writers: I wrote this story in response to a writing exercise. The instructions are to write a story in which one character is lying to or misleading other characters who believe what the liar is saying. Happy writing!

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