christina yu




So they will not be able to hear our bodies against each other, we turn on the TV. Since we do not usually watch the TV, it occurs to us that the TV suggests we are making noise that requires a TV to cover up. We turn the TV off, and make sure to be very quiet. Then we think about the quiet and how it will sound downstairs, so we begin to talk. Our conversation sounds forced, so we try to make it seem more natural. By now, our clothes are back on. From downstairs, they repeat their questions for us, louder this time. We ask them to come upstairs, so we can answer the questions in greater depth and show them something in the room that is relevant to the conversation. But they will not come upstairs, though there is such a short distance to travel. This makes us angry and ashamed, although our clothes are on now and nothing strange has happened.





In the middle of the night on the 15th of December, a small Christmas tree farm was vandalized, and fifty-three Christmas trees had their tops cut off. The vandals left the trees decapitated by the side of the road. In the morning, the owners were approached by newspaper reporters, the local TV station, and a famous installation artist who wanted to purchase the trees for a temporary display. The artist told the reporters he wanted to help the farmers make the best out of a bad situation. It would be such a pity, he argued, to let the trees go to waste. After the farmers sold the destroyed trees to the artist, the farm was visited by curious onlookers and customers who wanted to buy the halved trees instead of full Christmas trees. One local prominent businessman told the reporters he would not allow vandals to terrorize local farmers and ruin the holiday spirit for everyone in town. In the afternoon, the representative of one school organization appeared and told reporters she wanted to help the farmers donate the halved trees to impoverished families downtown (later, another organization from the same high school deemed this insulting to poor families and wrote an article that appeared in the local newspaper about its efforts to donate full trees only). By the end of the week, the farmers secretly destroyed more trees in order to satisfy the demand for halved trees. By then, however, the town had lost interest in the vandalized trees, so the owners turned the cut- off tops into elaborate centerpieces that sold well—though not as well as the halved trees initially sold. By then, however, it was nearly Christmas day, and the remaining trees were 75% off anyway.





Visitors to the region are encouraged to view the great falls from a cable car—and to ride a ferry into the mist of the falls—and to stand on the cliffs from afar and squint at the falls through a telescope—and to bore a tunnel into the rock and peer through a hole into the falls from behind them—and to watch the falls glow at night under multi-colored lights. But if the visitors climb into barrels and allow themselves to drift down the river and fall into the falls, they will each be fined ten thousand dollars by the state park patrol. Nowhere, however, does it punish those daredevils across the canyon who climb into barrels and roll over the edge of the cliffs facing those falls. Nor does it punish those who accidentally drift down the river in canoes and happen to fall along with the falls—or those who are dropped from a helicopter just above the falls—and employ a parachute which happens to be faulty. Even stranger: the state park patrol does not fine those swimmers who rise out of the water and mist and fly upwards, holding tight to the legs of a helicopter—or those who are shot horizontally out of the side of a rocket into the falls. Of course, nobody fines the poor families of the ones who do not survive their trip over the falls in a barrel—and those who do survive become celebrities and profit from their situation, despite the fine.