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“Your mother died. Please come home,” a soft voice murmurs in Korean.

She cannot speak, so she hangs up the phone. She cannot hear until she turns on the dull hum of the open sign in the window of her shop.

She only half-listens to her receptionist’s bold lies about why he is late, as she slowly irons the newspaper for the special him. She subscribes to the Wall Street Journal, because it brings him pleasure to read the editorials while she gives him his manicure. She savors the domesticity of the warm iron and the anticipation of seeing him.

Finally, he arrives.

She lightly massages his hands.

“You have large hands. My mother had small hands with her right pinky tip missing. A snake bit it when she was young. The snake was known to kill children. My mother would never have been a mother. I have so many things to tell you,” she thinks without speaking.

He looks up from the Journal and smiles at her.

She begins to weep and goes outside to the shop’s porch.

He follows her and gives her a large, red handkerchief.

He says nothing but smiles down at her again.

He leaves.

She cannot.

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