The Best Thing I Read This Week

The Leavers

Snow melted. Pink buds appeared on the trees. One night Leon and Vivian spoke in the kitchen but when Deming walked in, they stopped and looked at each other. That week, Deming and Michael packed away their winter coats and took out their T-shirts. Deming saw his mother’s spring jacket in the closet, the one she called her Christmas coat because the green was the color of pine needles, and turned away fast. He apologized to Travis Bhopa in hope that it would set thing right, that by sacrificing his pride it would guarantee her safety. “Are you crazy?” Hung said, and Michael looked like Deming had tripped him instead. Travis grunted, “Whatever.” She stayed gone. The worse he felt, the more it would make her return. He decided to not eat for a day, which wasn’t hard as Vivian and Leon were always out and dinner was a bag of potato chips, a cup of instant ramen. Bodega pizza four times a week. Now she would have to come home. He fell asleep in school, lightheaded from skipping breakfast. She would take him out for enchiladas but be glad he lost weight because she would n’t have to buy him new clothes. She stayed gone. If he cracked an A in Geometry, she would come back. He pulled a B-minus on a quiz and doubled down for the next one–B-plus. She stayed gone. Vivian was right. She’d left for Florida and left him, too.

— Lisa Ko, The Leavers