When Kyu woke, he was supine and still gripping the dog leash. He tried to sit up, but he could not. Everything hurt, and he was unsure where he was. A canopy of trees engulfed his vision, and beyond that, it was a clear sky.
He heard some kind of commotion, doors opening, shutting. Then voices. Suddenly, he saw a face he did not recognize. “You’re lucky to be alive,” the face said, then called out to another person. “Over here,” it said. Lucky to be alive, he thought, wondering about the face.
When Kyu revealed his tiny face at birth, it was another moment of impact, one where his father had already closed the door one day and disappeared. His moment of impact was when, at a red light, late at night on New Year’s Day, not eve, when Kyu was just about to turn ten, a drunk driver plowed into his car, creating additional moments of impact. Cause and effect. Kyu understood that now as he was moved to the ambulance and the face said, “Man, you’re really lucky someone called us.”
His grandmother could not have predicted the moment of impact, only that there would be moments of impact. “Life,” she’d said, before reaching her arms out to comfort him, when he was too young to understand how cause and effect worked, “is full of moments of impact.”
In Kyu’s grandmother’s moment of impact, the bombs had caused her to lose not only her family but also her hearing on her left side before she was five. Operation Insomnia: 90 days and 90 nights of bombs. Continual moments of impact. The city was leveled, families lost. Cause and effect. She understood that when she somehow arrived on the west coast of a mythologized land, adopted for the sake of her healthy growth. It hit her as she looked at all the other people’s expectant eyes and how those eyes would, over the decades, shift in communicating love and hate and apathy. The American Dream was just that: a dream.
Somewhere, anywhere, everywhere, a tree creaks. And a butterfly flutters its wings. People drop glasses and mugs and cups on the floor; they curse aloud, get a broom, then get down on two knees, and somehow cut themselves. Always, a door opens and another closes. Windows, too. Someone kisses someone for the first time and another hugs a long lost relative. Someone gets hired, another one fired; candles are lit and blown out, and fireworks go off. An acceptance letter is opened, and a rejection letter is torn in half; a marriage proposal is rejected and another one accepted. The tree creaks again, and the butterfly flutters its wings. Still, somewhere the wind blows just right and, after hundreds and hundreds of years, thousands perhaps, a tree—its many rings evidence of its history—finally and beautifully falls and hits the forest floor just so.