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Kim Ryu

Kim Ryu’s work has been published by the New York Times, the Atlantic, Zócalo Public Square, and NPR, among others. She has been recognized by American Illustration. Her work has been exhibited in various galleries, including Giant Robot and Flower Pepper.


Fluke [private]

Summer 2019 | Fiction

To say he wasn’t having fun would be imprecise. It was pleasant, what they were doing: drinking wine, making mean jokes about popular podcasts, listening to songs from artists that had once seemed essential but now seemed absurd. If he could spend a vacation doing anything, these are the activities he would choose. But tonight he was only pretending to be happy, and he feared the others could tell he wasn’t listening to the conversation, even when he himself was talking. There were other things on his mind. He didn’t need friends right now. He got up from the rocking chair and disappeared through the screen door that led to the beach. He could hear his wife asking why he was going out into the rain, but he didn’t look back and behaved as if he’d heard nothing at all.

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The Cold

Summer 2019 | Fiction

When it began, I do not know. If I kept a journal or a diary, as some of you do, perhaps then I would know. But I don’t, and so I don’t. When the cold began to pursue me.

Pursue, I think. Persecute.

First, should establish: The cold has nothing to do with weather.

In fact, it may have begun as early as last summer. Late summer.

Outside, on our redwood deck at the rear of the house, setting down plates of food, taking away dirtied plates, one of our family suppers that’s like a runaway vehicle—just keeps accelerating, hang on tight and get through it with my trademark gritted-teeth grin.

Enlightenment [private]

Summer 2019 | Fiction

Harvard, 1966. Abel Jones is in his third year. He is an exceptional student, head of the class. He is studying history. His area of focus, the eighteenth century. England and France. Still, there are days when he is lost. Days when he is perplexed. For one, he is excruciatingly shy, soft-spoken. A young man from the country. There are times when he even feels out of his depth. The university is distinctively male, overwhelmingly white—a kind of white. It is marked by class. Even one’s residence defines him. The best rooms are on the second floor, where the most well-to-do reside. A scholarship student, Abel lives on the top floor. Sex is possible. It is commonly available in the bathrooms. At times, he can’t help but think that he’s no better than a pervert.

It is recommended that the undergraduates take a term off in order to find their place in the world. His classmates spend time in Rome. In Athens. He visits a psychotherapist in Cambridge, one who he discovers later is quite distinguished. He’s told that he can’t possibly be a pervert. Or a homosexual, but that he is having what the experts refer to as “sexual panic.” As soon as he succeeds in dating a woman, he will come to his senses. Everything will align. 

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