Karin K. Jensen is a dance instructor, freelance writer, a professional member of the Author’s Guild, and a member of the Nonfiction Authors Association. She most frequently writes local news stories for News Break. Recently, she signed to have her debut manuscript, My Name Is King Ying: One Girl’s Transpacific Quest of Resilience, Survival, and New World Dreams, published by Bound to Brew. Although new to The Flash Lit Collective, Karin has been an active part of Write Alongs for the past year and is a strong part of our writing community, To Live & Write … Wherever You Are.
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #1:
She woke in a tent in Golden Gate Park and stretched luxuriantly. The weather was perfect, not too foggy, just cool enough to enliven. She pushed out of her sleeping bag, unzipped the tent, and stepped out, stretching again and twirling to make her skirt float. In her tank top, her arms were bare except for bangles. Her wavy hair cascaded loosely over her shoulders. She closed her eyes and smiled at the sun.
She was hungry. What of that? Hunger is the best spice. In the morning light, she foraged oxalis, cooking both roots and greens on her camp stove. It was not all she could have eaten, but it was enough.
As she chewed thoughtfully, her eyes lost focus. She had always had difficulty seeing what was in front of her. When she was little, she watched as her teacher drew numbers on a blackboard for a math lesson. The 6’s became pot-bellied men chasing after the 9’s who were big-busted women. “Come here, my beauties,” the 6’s chortled. The 9’s laughed and ran away, but not too fast.
“Alice!” Her teacher stood suddenly next to her, exasperated. “Hello? Wake up!” Ashamed, Alice tried to force her mind into the groove of the lesson. But her mind didn’t fit into grooves. Rather she saw the unseen in a world of elastic time.
When she lost her job in her 20s from showing up late one too many times, she cried into her pillow at night and beat her head with her fists. “Help me,” she whispered. She wasn’t sure to whom she was speaking.
But in the night, she heard, “Follow me.”
She woke in tears but felt calm. That day, she walked out the door and followed where her feet led. She wandered into the Haight, sat on the sidewalk with a cup before her, watching as people walked by. A woman with downcast eyes approached with a companion. As she came close, Alice looked into her heart and received what was needed.
“The mountain is sad.”
The woman startled and stopped. “What?”
“The mountain is sad, watching the birds fly around it, admiring their beauty, but knowing that it can’t join in their freedom and flight.”
The companion rolled his eyes, threw a coin into the cup, and tugged at the woman’s sleeve. But the woman asked breathlessly, “Is that all?”
Alice replied, “The mountain feels heavy, yet it dreams of wings.” And then, looking at the man, she said, “Beware. This mountain,” and she nodded at the woman, “can move – no, must move.”
The man scowled and pulled the woman’s arm forcefully. But the woman yanked her arm back as her eyes filled with tears. She opened her purse and gave Alice all the money she had, nearly one hundred dollars.
Alice knew then that she was a Seer, one who takes flights of fancy with unseen wings and speaks lies that tell the truth. It is a hard path, but this is her Way.
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #8:
Bittersweet School Year and Finding a Way to Dream Again
My eldest graduated high school in May. It was a touch bittersweet — the first time we had been back to campus in over a year except for two curbside pick-ups of textbooks. The year began frantically with virtual college tours, SAT preparation, and the crafting of essays for university applications.
At the same time, she floundered in online education. She has an inattention disorder that challenges her to focus. Watching lectures over Zoom or as a pre-recorded video where she followed along with a worksheet was that much harder. Her grades suffered. She began to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
She gradually drifted from feeling connected to the community of her charter school located in another city. Her closest friends were still those from childhood in our hometown and her online art community. Online school felt isolating.
At last one day, in a fit of tearful introspection, she asked, “Mommy, is it OK if I go to community college next year? I don’t feel ready to leave home, and I don’t know what I want to major in, and I want some time to figure out what I want to do with my life. Maybe it’ll save money if I can start university as a sophomore?” Suddenly, we could both see clearly. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes.”
What a relief. No more stressing about the SAT and no more endless college research, applications, and essays. Now we could focus on actual learning and rebuilding her confidence.
I hired an academic coach who didn’t teach specific subjects but instead focused on approaching work, breaking it into manageable pieces, keeping track of deadlines, and staying organized. These are keys to the kingdom of succeeding in any area of life, aren’t they? My daughter’s grades improved.
Also, she began to dream again. She talked of being entrepreneurial or finding a job, taking a light load of general education, and exploring niche interests ranging from webcomics to doll design. She graduated with 19 units of community college credit. Even with a light load, she can stay on track as a freshman.
I abashedly concede that there’s always that Tiger Mom part of me that wants to push her a little more. When your friends tell you that their children are off to Stanford or Berkeley or to design school in New York, it’s hard not to be a little wistful.https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQuWD2-ERAI?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparentHow Asian Parents Flex
But my daughter has always been an inward, dreamy child and can’t be rushed. I’ve learned that pushing her too hard hurts her. A friend advised me to proceed at the pace of love. That’s good advice.
So it was a challenging school year, but there were highlights. She did well in creative writing. When I read her final story, I cried. It was beautiful. It was one of those proud moments when you realize your offspring can exceed anything you will ever achieve. May the road rise up to meet you, Sweetheart.