Emily Su Bin Ko // TERMINAL

Let’s go explore, mommy used to say.

We hiked up mountains,

and munched on stale trail mix.

We read books in the sand,

until our skin started to burn.

We smelled the flowers,

and we sneezed.

But it was the most magical when we flew in the clouds.


We flew in large birds called airplanes,

and ran through things called terminals.

Terminal A… Terminal B… Terminal C… people endlessly murmured.

This mumbled word, “terminal”, was the marvelous indication of travel and exploration.

Or so I thought.


Not today, mommy started to say.

We never explored anymore.

I missed the green foliage,

crashing waves,

and the bees.


When I finally became a big girl,

mommy made a pink cake with the number 7.

But she didn’t smile.

She never smiled anymore.

Mommy sang to me,

but her voice shook,

so she stopped.


I miss you, mommy said.

She stayed at the gray building now,

where there are machines that track your heartbeat,

where the pungent smell of Purell makes your eyes water,

and where people struggle to hold on to hope.


I heard mommy and the others whispering.

The beeping of machines jumbled the words.

But then I heard a deep voice say, terminal.





Mommy and me can explore again!


The door opened,

but her face was pale and weak.

I ran to her,

but her lip quivered.


Mommy didn’t smile.

Mommy never smiled.


Bring me to the mountains! I demanded.

And the beach,

and the park!


She told me she will explore by herself this time.

7 wasn’t old enough yet.


I’m going to a place with bigger mountains,

warmer waters,

and prettier flowers, she spoke softly,

silently imagining this wonderful location.


Where is that, mommy? I asked.


Heaven, she said.