Vic acts like the world is ending when he discovers my computer has been infected by malware that has deployed a Bitcoin miner to consume over 50% of my CPU and a size-able chunk of my electricity bill, but I shrug because I hardly notice my computer grinding to a halt, and even though I believe cryptocurrency and blockchain will only ever amount to vehicles of Ponzi profits and social harm, I’m more worried about my mother-in-law who thinks I’m stealing her son away, trapping him in a country with “lawlessness and guns,” and thinks he can do much better with a paler, thinner, younger, more gentle woman—one who inhales burning coal and exhales wafts of baked egg custards and sweet, black sesame paste. It’s not a new concern. It’s just my computer’s fans are spinning like they’re trying to topple a skyscraper and my mother-in-law expects us to video call tonight so she can confirm her son exists beyond a figment of her imagination. Vic and I think she’ll act more sane once we have kids—it’s something for her to work towards since she’s retired, spending her time learning guzheng and baking osmanthus cakes, but she can only pluck so many strings and bake so many cakes until her mind starts wandering towards her sole son, who should’ve never gone abroad for college, should’ve obediently taken the gaokao and gone to Peking University, but they all thought American educations were superior and that he’d return after graduation. We figure once there’s a baby in question, she’ll be able to summon her parenting skills 2.0 and I’ll be allowed a break to finally fix my computer, lest I get too close to the child too.
Lucy Zhang writes, codes and watches anime. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, EcoTheo Review, Minola Review, and elsewhere and was selected for Best Microfictions 2021 and Best Small Fictions 2021. Her chapbook HOLLOWED is forthcoming in 2022 from Thirty West Publishing. Find her at https://kowaretasekai.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter @Dango_Ramen.