Rumpus Original Fiction: Slime


Bora took an interest in making slime, and at first Sujin didn’t mind, until one day she came home from work to find Bora wide awake though it was far past her bedtime. Unfortunately, Sujin hadn’t brought home the pool of money. The restaurant staff contributed anywhere between two and four hundred dollars to the pool and drew names every month. As much as she needed it this time, Sujin was out of luck. Sujin was startled when she saw Bora on the couch, her face covered in purple. There were holes for Bora’s eyes and mouth, a small opening around her nostrils. Sujin asked her daughter if she’d lost her mind.

How could you do this? Sujin said. Take it off. Now.

Bora shrugged and changed the TV to a Korean channel. I can’t, she said.

What do you mean you can’t?

I need to leave it on longer, Bora said. Also, it’s kind of stuck.

Bora was working on her galaxy recipe, glitter to approximate the stars until she submerged into the mixing bowl, which beckoned her to come closer. Bora had been experimenting with this slime prototype for months. She needed to run more tests.

It was really cold, Bora said, but now it feels nice.

Sujin wanted to claw off the purple slime mask. As usual, she was worried about getting caught in her daughter’s mess.

Get in the shower, Sujin said. Now.

But I did already, Bora said, and my face will go to waste.

How will you go to sleep? You’ll get that stuff all over the bed.

Carefully, Bora said. I’ll sleep on my back.

It’s creepy, Sujin said. You look like a monster. What if your face gets stuck like that?

Sujin worried that one day she’d find Bora enrobed from head to toe, as she once saw Bora play with her slime by draping it across her forearm to let it dangle and swing. In place of the question about her absent father, all Sujin and Bora argued about were matters of slime and how they would manage its presence in their lives, these unsightly companions of Bora’s design. During their phone calls, Bora’s father assured Sujin it was harmless, but to Sujin it seemed more than a hobby. Sujin had caught her daughter whispering among her slime, as if it were temperamental, only responding to Bora’s touch and voice like plants. The slime bubbled and formed its own eyes. It groaned when they popped. It hissed, gasped, and sighed, breathing to expand and ask for more, to be fed. Bora complied and fulfilled her tasks in a trance. If only Bora’s father could see the mess Bora had made himself.

Bora’s slime could explode, like the time Sujin found the living room covered in fluffy pink, while Bora washed her hands at the sink. Sujin had kicked aside empty cans of shaving cream and yelled at the blob left on the floor, waiting for her daughter to emerge and explain herself. Sujin worried that one day her daughter would be consumed by her own creation.

Bora said, How’s this any different than your masks?

You know it’s not the same, Sujin said.

If I’m a monster, Bora said, then you’re a ghost. Boo!


The slime problem had hatched when her daughter’s first grade class learned how to make putty they took home in plastic eggs. Bora brought back four eggs after trading the gel pens her father had sent them from South Korea, along with the money Sujin needed for rent—another promise to move soon and buy them all a better place to live in together. She wasn’t aware how serious her husband had been on their honeymoon in Waikīkī, when he’d asked Sujin what if they stayed so their daughter could be born American?

Years had gone by and her husband still couldn’t leave his job, though he visited every summer and winter. Sujin couldn’t have raised Bora without her own mother’s help, and since her mother’s sudden passing, Sujin had started working part-time as a waitress at the Korean restaurant, located in the lobby of their apartment building, leaving Bora upstairs alone in the evening. Sujin felt guilty about this arrangement, but the job was closest to home, and there weren’t many options considering Sujin’s grasp of English. Bora took the elevator down, sat with the customers waiting for a table, and played with the putty she’d combine into a bigger piece she could stretch and roll into a long noodle, or poke to make fart sounds when she stuffed the puddy back into a film canister. Bora formed the shape of a person, stretching its arms and legs to their breaking point before flattening the whole body with her fist. She threw the putty against the sliding glass doors to make it stick. But it plopped on the floor. Bora’s father was getting busier, with less time to talk while Sujin was at work navigating tables roaring with fire and smoke. Bora played with the same clump of putty until it turned gray and hardened, much like Sujin’s heart when it was apparent that her husband would not leave his job anytime soon.

Manager Shin and Mrs. Shin didn’t mind seeing Bora at the restaurant, however Sujin repeated she was too busy to deal with Bora, who ran up to her mother as she made rounds, tugging at her apron with questions about Bora’s father. Sometimes Bora tugged on the wrong apron. In the same uniform, all the waitresses could be mistaken for her mother. Mrs. Shin handled the register up front and kept Bora entertained with books and crayons, slipping Bora some money to buy a snack at the convenience store next door. Sometimes Bora fell asleep, curled up on two chairs, while she waited for her mother to finish work. The other waitresses, Ji-won Eonni, Kyung-hee, and Yuna would express sympathy to Sujin about her poor child, who could no longer stay for the entirety of Sujin’s shift after Bora stumbled and hit her head on the hardwood floors, causing a scene during a crowded evening.

Bora had cried, suddenly aware of how she was outnumbered by red-faced strangers at each table looking her way, shaking their sweaty brows as they returned to the bloody meat hissing on grills, revealing their fangs as they opened their mouths wide. She had fallen into a smoky pit crawling with starving snakes. Bora was trying to show her mother a drawing, having taken to perfecting her palm trees and the three of them together, at last, her deceased Halmeoni waving from a cloud above next to a smiling sun.


Now Bora accompanied her mother downstairs to bow to the Shins and all her Emohs before heading back to the apartment. Kyung-hee Emoh lived in the same building and looked after Bora once in while on her few days off. They would walk to Ala Moana Shopping Center to window shop and visit the Disney store, but Bora looked forward to these excursions most when it meant she could acquire more supplies like glitter and glue. Most of the time, Sujin had no choice and left Bora in the apartment with clear instructions: eat the jjigae she’d left on the stove and finish her homework. Sujin reassured Bora that she wasn’t far, to come downstairs if Bora ever needed anything. But Sujin snapped at Bora the time she caught her daughter trying to coax more money from Mrs. Shin with the hopes of funding her messy home projects.

Sujin often returned to a dark apartment, dishes stacked in the sink, the only light coming from the laptop Bora used to watch craft tutorials on YouTube. She found Bora on the bed they shared, having fallen asleep during a video call with her father. The feed was still going, but Sujin didn’t check to see if her husband was still there, keeping company with his daughter the only way he could. At the sound of the laptop closing, Sujin felt a snap in her chest. Bora stirred and blinked.

Appa, Bora whispered. Are you still there?

Sujin stroked Bora’s hair and tucked her in the goose feather blanket, the same comforter the three of them had shared back in Korea, which Bora’s appa used as a cover to play peek-a-boo. Sujin pried the putty from Bora’s fingers and put it aside. Though she wanted to wail out of pity for her daughter and herself, Sujin kept quiet, her cries muffled as Bora reached for her. Sujin fell asleep curled next to her daughter with their hands stuck together.


It’s slime every day, Sujin told Yuna. From the morning to the afternoon to the evening. Thank goodness her face is okay. But the sound is getting stuck in my head, the squish, it’s so noisy, squish-squish all day, doesn’t she get tired? My head gets dizzy enough already, my body sore from work, and when I come home, if you looked inside my head, you’d see my brain is turning into slime too.

Sujin dipped rice wrappers into a bowl of water to make summer rolls for lunch. Rare as it was, both Yuna and Sujin having the day off, Yuna insisted she come over with the groceries as well as rum, mint, and limes for mojitos. Sujin didn’t explain how she had recurring nightmares, the more she argued with her husband over the phone, where she was being sucked into a bed of slime and suffocated in goo that swallowed them whole. In these dreams, the entire apartment was pink and bulbous, with slime furniture and slime walls twitching with life; Sujin couldn’t claw it away, and she could barely move with her feet suctioned in place. They were living in the belly of a great slime beast. When she woke up breathless, Sujin was relieved not to find Bora waving to her and hanging upside down from the ceiling.

Bora wanted to show Yuna Eonni her library: clear slime, rainbow slime, strawberry-scented slime, unicorn slime, chocolate, cotton candy. The foam slime made with beads Sujin detested the most, the sight of which made her skin crawl.

Get that stuff away from us, Sujin said. Can’t you see we’re busy?

Yuna reassured Bora, who was frowning, that she didn’t mind. Sujin told Yuna she didn’t know why her daughter was so preoccupied with something so filthy. She’d thought Bora’s obsession would dwindle after the initial putty her daughter brought home became of no use. But Bora kept returning from school with more concoctions. She played with glue and made slime during recess with other girls, who cobbled ingredients together and traded colors and textures to mix and mush into one mass they could all get their hands in. Bora had been scolded by her second-grade teacher multiple times for playing with slime in her desk. She made a promise to only play with slime at home, to Sujin’s dismay. Bora’s slime got stuck in the carpet, clumped her hair, and stained Bora’s skin. Sujin’s husband encouraged the hobby and insisted she purchase whatever Bora needed. Sujin blamed him for Bora’s fixation. Sujin winced whenever she recognized that Bora was humming the tune of “Gom Se Mari” when she worked, a Korean children’s song her husband and Sujin used to sing with Bora, about three bears under one roof together.

By third grade, the apartment had been transformed into Bora’s lab. Sujin wanted nothing to do with it. If Bora kept her slime projects out of Sujin’s sight and maintained a clean workstation, she would tolerate these activities. Sujin bought Bora a desk they set up in the corner of the living room so Bora wouldn’t have to work on the floor or the dinner table. Bora laid out newspaper under her designated glass mixing bowls and kept her supplies in a plastic storage bin large enough to fit her own body. Sujin had cut Bora’s hair into a bob, and they kept it short.

After the mask incident, it had taken Sujin a full day to convince Bora to take it off; her daughter even ate with it on. Bora became calmer while wearing it, until Sujin couldn’t stand the sight of her daughter, a haunted purple demon child. Frightened, Sujin was close to raising her hand to Bora and slapping the mask off herself.

She said Yuna wouldn’t believe what Sujin had encountered yet again after work, seeing Bora in the tub, purple slime up to her waist, and right then Sujin had enough and gathered all the slime into a garbage bag to Bora’s protests. It was the same shade of purple as the mask, and Bora pleaded for her Umma to stop, she had finally made enough: the master slime, the one above all, was her perfect creation. The slime was lighter than Sujin had expected, but it got heavier as it drooped and rejoined the mass. Sujin found it hard to break apart, let alone Bora with clawing at as much slime as she could get away from her umma.

In her desperation Bora had told Sujin, I wish Appa were here instead of you.

Sujin went slack, the slime dripping from her hands. Maybe her daughter was right, and she was the wrong parent fixed to Bora’s side.

They settled on Bora keeping a portion, at least, which Bora has kept close since, unlike the rest of her creations: kneading and tossing it between her hands, and under the right light, it could be mistaken for an amethyst.

I’m right here, you know, Bora said. I can understand everything you’re saying. I almost forgot, Yuna Eonni! If you come to the bathroom, I can show you the glow-in-the-dark one.

Okay, okay, later. After I’m done helping your umma make rolls, Yuna said. She was the only waitress around the same age as Sujin, and thus her main ally. Yuna had started working as a waitress a year before Sujin arrived, after she moved to Hawaiʻi to rejoin her son raised by his grandparents, having worked in Seoul with her husband until their business went bankrupt. It took them ten years to finally move, while Yuna confided in Sujin how much she regretted missing out on her son’s childhood.

Don’t worry, Yuna said to Sujin. I think she’s really creative! And that’s a good thing.

If her grandmother were still alive, she wouldn’t tolerate any of this, Sujin said.

Maybe that’s why, Yuna said. Such an adorable child. She has a good head on her.

I hope so, Sujin said.

Bora was in a better mood whenever Sujin let her be. How Bora had cried during their fight in the tub. Sujin wondered if Bora was too young to remember her grandmother until she heard who Bora called out for during her sleep. It broke Sujin’s heart to think about all the times she may have called out Umma, who failed to answer.

She has a great mother, Yuna said, raising her mojito for a cheers.

I might need to see Kyung-hee Eonni for a massage, Sujin said, rotating her head in circles. Next time, lunch is on me when my name is finally drawn. I don’t remember the last time I got it.

Don’t worry, Yuna said. It will be soon.

Although everyone eventually received the pool of money in any given year, the waitresses noticed how susceptible Ji-won was to winning. Ji-won had the most seniority, having worked the longest for Manager Shin. They speculated she had extra slips of paper with her name thrown into the bowl they took turns picking from, but there was no way for them to check when Manager Shin handled the process. Occasionally, the winner insisted on returning a portion of the share back to the other waitresses, who shook their heads and refused. Mostly, they could expect being treated to a meal and drinks. Ji-won hardly partook in this form of reciprocity.

He hasn’t been sending us anything lately, Sujin said, wondering if it would take her husband as long as Yuna to move for the sake of family. It’s hard enough to reach him.

Her husband hadn’t visited this past summer. Sujin speculated there was another woman. What slime did Bora have awaiting him? The kind that could keep her father here forever? Some cosmic slime? If only the universe kept him in one place. Likewise, Sujin couldn’t leave her job anytime soon. Like the time Bora had replaced her insoles with slime, insisting they would help, and Sujin was stuck in her black work shoes, in their small apartment, and the more she struggled the harder it became to get free.

Sujin called Bora to join them at the table to eat. Sujin picked at a piece of mint stuck in her teeth. Bora pinched the summer roll on her plate and tore it open, stretching out the rice paper and rolling it between her fingers.


Bora followed her Umma to Kyung-hee Emoh’s apartment, where her Umma undressed and laid face down on the massage table in the living room. Kyung-hee Emoh massaged everyone Bora knew, including Yuna Emoh’s husband, who once drove them all around the island in his brand-new Lincoln town car, the nicest vehicle Bora had ever been in. For a moment, Bora pretended that Yuna Emoh and Chanho Samchun were her parents, Sujin her older sister. Bora was still of the idea that family meant more than the two of them. Being with her mother and all her aunties at the restaurant felt close, until everyone started talking like she wasn’t even there. Bora kept preoccupied with her slime under the table, only stopping to erase the bruise on her knee.

Previously, a blemish. A scar.

Kyung-hee Emoh rubbed tea tree oil all over Umma’s back. Bora turned away from the smell burning her nose. The purple slime she made wasn’t scented like some of the others. Bora was always finding a way to intrigue Umma and make the right slime she would like. Bora kept slime ready like paint, to serve as the base color upon which Bora added texture, some of Umma’s lipstick, a little mascara, bits of foil shredded by a corkscrew Umma used to open wine bottles, anything Bora could find around the apartment. The bulk of what she needed Bora ordered online with a gift card her father had emailed. Bora enjoyed the process of putting the slime together more than she did playing with it. As a joke, Bora wrapped in clear slime some green for lettuce, orange for carrots, and slime shrimp to make summer roll slime, but Umma didn’t laugh. She told Bora she’d be late for work, which her Umma said all the time.

Work was always on Umma’s mind, and to Bora work was worse than slime by far. All she talked about was work. Bora could see what work did to her Umma as soon she came home. The way it made her slump and heavy and drag her feet. Umma was covered in it, and no matter what Bora couldn’t pull her away. Bora went to work whenever Umma did. These days, now that she was a little older and preoccupied, Bora insisted on staying home rather than going to Kyung-hee Emoh’s place. She brought samples of slime from her collection to school and served them to her friends like banchan. Bora sliced large portions of slime with a ruler like cuts of meat. She tested which slimes people liked best. Umma’s restaurant was known as a pork belly house, while at other specialty places nearby there was a rib house, fried chicken house, bingsu house, and a naengmyeon house. During many nights alone, Bora worked as hard as her Umma, mirrored her movements ten floors above the lobby, and placed her dolls from South Korea around the apartment that she pretended were returning customers who couldn’t get enough of her slime.

Bora, too, tired of her work, though she appreciated the trade value her slime possessed, acquiring a taste for dried lemon peel gummy bears, kakimochi, and anything else she could get her hands on. Bora opened the screen door to Kyung-hee Emoh’s balcony, which Umma didn’t allow at their own apartment. Bora went out there anyway in the evening for one of her many tests. She was the same height as the railing and stuck her arm through the gaps between the bars. She opened her hand palms facing down, her purple slime clinging on for life. But it didn’t budge any further, its face staring back at Bora and swinging like a pendulum.

I’m living in a slime house, her mother liked to repeat. With a slime daughter and her slime family.

But as much slime as Bora created, the bigger the wound she’d need to cover and fill, it was still just the two of them.

Bora walked back inside and sat on the blocky and uncomfortable couch, where Bora and Kyung-hee Emoh would watch K-dramas on KBFD. Bora couldn’t stand the massage process: the sound of Kyung-hee Emoh’s tool scraping against her Umma’s skin, the popping of knots and groans. Kyung-hee Emoh scraped for half an hour until Umma’s back was streaked and bruised.

Drink lots of water, Kyung-hee said. You need to take care and rest.

You too.

By the way, has Minho Oppa stopped by for a massage? Umma said. Or perhaps something else?

Kyung-hee used a hand towel to slap Umma. When they were done, Umma looked like she had been attacked by a beast, the giant boar from whom they stole pieces of its belly, as formidable a foe as the hunger that drove people to keep asking for more, from Umma, who never left work unscathed, without smelling like smoke.

Sujin put on her shirt and reached into her bag. She pulled out her purse and put folded money into Kyung-hee’s hands.

Don’t say anything and take it, Sujin said.

No, it’s okay, Kyung-hee said, pushing the money back into Sujin’s hands. It’s on me.

That’s not going to happen, Sujin said. I insist, just take it.

Kyung-hee put up her hands. Sujin put the money back in Kyung-hee’s pocket.

I’ll take it, Bora said.

Kyung-hee opened Sujin’s wallet and tossed the money back in. Sujin retrieved the money, ran around the apartment, and put it under a vase. Bora watched as the money stretched between them, how they tangled against one another in a bid to say you need it more, when they both did. She saw the way her Umma spent time counting her tips when she returned from work, and Bora knew how she could always use more, and more was better when it meant better moods. Soon enough they could dive into the pool of money, Bora wondering how many hands money passed through as she giggled about her Umma and Kyung-hee Eonni, how they could play with something so dirty.


Sujin lifted Bora off the ground and spun her around. Bora, laughing, told her to stop and put her down.

I won, Sujin told her daughter.

Finally? Bora said.

Finally, she said. Your Umma is number one.

Sujin paraded around the apartment and repeated she was number one. She held the envelope up. Bora marched behind her, listening to her Umma talk about what they should buy at Costco, treating Yuna, thanking Kyung-hee for the free massage with a gift, paying off a credit card and late rent.

But where are you going to take me? Bora said.

Sujin sat on the living room floor and emptied the envelope. Four stacks of money in blue rubber bands.

That’s it?

What do you mean, that’s it?

Bora had been expecting a pile.

The zoo, she said.

I thought you went there on a field trip already? Sujin said.

I want to go back, Bora said.

Okay, what else?

Bora grinned, peeling off the slime from her knee. It worked.

You know, she said.

Oh no, Sujin said. We already talked about you using up that gift card and how that was the last time.

Okay, just this one time, please, Bora said. It’s the last one I’ll make. You’ll like this one.

That’s what you say for each one, Sujin said. But okay, we’ll see about that after we get everything else we need.

Sujin bought bags of frozen seafood to make Bora her favorite cream pasta, the mention of which perked Bora up and surprised Sujin, who’d forgotten that her daughter could get excited about something other than slime; Sujin also bought steaks to make Japanese curry, frozen salmon, taro chips, a jar of honey citron & ginger tea, a rotisserie chicken they picked apart with their hands; Sujin remembered Bora being fed by her Halmeoni and had to wonder was it really that long ago, when their Costco runs were weekly rather than every few  months, has it been that long since they all ate together, her mother alive, who would have said something now about Bora being a poor child, so bright and yet so alone without a father, being fed kongnamul bap every day, while every customer who walked through the restaurant’s doors ate more and better than they did; Bora enjoyed her pasta, her Umma still surprised how much her daughter loved mussels and chewed and chewed on octopus too; and they walked around the mall, Bora sharing an acai bowl with her Umma at Island Vintage Coffee, following her to peek around designer stores, Bora having ample time to look around Morning Glory and make a case for one thing her Umma could buy after she was done napping in the massage chairs on display; and Sujin would be convinced to buy her daughter what she wanted, and while the money they had would disappear slowly, Bora understood that slime could last forever.

Ending their day at Ala Moana Beach, Sujin spent the rest of the afternoon sunbathing and falling asleep while Bora worked on digging a hole. Sujin woke up and called for Bora. She stood up and ran toward the water.

I’m down here, Bora said, sitting in the hole.

Why’d you make it so big?

Bora patted the sand, the space right next to her. She brushed sand off her knees, which looked polished.

This must have taken a lot of effort, Sujin said. Why go through all the trouble? Aren’t you tired?

Bora leaned on Sujin’s shoulder. She faked snoring, and Sujin laughed.

I saw lots of kids digging holes, Bora said. So I got started on my own. Some other kids stopped by to help me.

You’re strange, Sujin said. I don’t know where you get that from.

You, Bora said.

Are you sure?

Well, yeah, Bora said. We’re family. You’re my Umma. That’s all I need.

Sujin teared up. I’m sure you’ve heard the phone calls, she said.

Yeah, Bora said, having heard more while trying to sleep.

So you know, Sujin said.

It’s okay, Bora said, holding up a finger. She hugged Sujin. You’re number one. But not for long!

Bora tried to pick Umma’s nose. Sujin screamed and started tickling her daughter, and they both laughed and screamed until they cried, Bora first, Sujin much harder after hearing her daughter admit for the first time how much she missed her Halmeoni as the waves started pouring in.


Sujin wondered how her daughter carried these heavy tubs of glue and laundry detergent on her own as she helped Bora pour them into the large storage bin. To Sujin’s surprise, Bora emptied each container of slime from her collection, to be consumed by the greater whole that Bora promised was her final concoction—the ultimate slime. Bora measured and poured each vial from her bag full of liquids, assorted colors and glitter, gold dust and stickers of stars and animals, silver sparkles and powders of unicorn variety, but mostly crushed chalk, making the master slime hiss and sizzle when added. Sujin couldn’t guess what business her daughter had being so precise and to what ends. Bora got her hands in, and Sujin let her handle the rest. Sujin thought about it while she watched Bora go to work, called by the deep purple being churned by her daughter, a galaxy turning in her hands, and Sujin felt overwhelmed with the urge to push Bora in and take her own dive, until the sharp pain in her back snapped her out of it. Her favorite color.

If you’re finished over there, help me with my back, Sujin said. She had difficulty raising her arms because they were sunburnt. She could’ve sworn she was covered before falling asleep. Use some of the lotion Kyung-hee Eonni suggested, she said.

That stuff stinks, Bora said.

It stinks because its strong, Sujin said. Aloe is good for you.

If it’s strong then why do you have to put it on so many times?

Sujin guided Bora with directions on where to use her elbow.

It’s too difficult, Bora said. I’ll just use my hands.

She pressed against Sujin’s back, which was still bruised. She rolled her knuckles and kneaded and pressed.

Wow, Sujin said.

What? Bora said.

I didn’t realize you were so strong.

I’m so strong I could squeeze your head like a watermelon until it burst, Bora said. Then I’d eat chunks of your brain.

That’s enough, thank you. Sujin said. You can put the lotion on now.

She heard Bora lather her hand, the cream cold to the touch. Bora started rubbing more on Sujin’s back. The lotion felt thicker and heavier, and Sujin told her daughter she could stop; Bora didn’t have to cover her entire back. But she was already done, and Sujin noted the absence of the strong smell and something else instead, a scent she couldn’t place.


No, azaleas.

What did you just put on my back? Sujin said, though she already knew before turning around. Her daughter’s hands were covered in purple slime from the fresh batch.

Just let me explain, Bora said.

Explain what!

Don’t be mad, Bora said.

Was this all some big joke?

No! Just see for yourself and listen.

Help me get it off, Sujin said.

They walked to the bathroom sink. Sujin scooped a chunk of slime off her back and aimed for the trash bin.

Stop, that’s valuable, Bora said. It’s all we have.

Bora collected the slime in a plastic bag. When they got it off, Bora asked her umma if she noticed anything different. Sujin twisted, a double take to the mirror.

The bruises were all gone, her skin clear and smooth.

Let’s do your arms next, Bora said. So you can see.

Sujin was reluctant to let her daughter spread more slime on her body, although she promised it would work wonders. Sujin had to stay still, though she wanted to flick Bora’s head; her daughter had uncovered her arms to let them burn. Sujin forgot she was angry when they peeled the slime off.

The sunburn was entirely gone.


Slime full time is no joke, Sujin told Yuna over a videocall.

Yuna had moved back to South Korea but kept in touch with Sujin over the years to reminisce. Who knew the little containers next to the register would draw customers at their restaurant, both kids and parents, and lead to a kiosk at the mall, a storefront soon after—displaying all their products like the popular face masks and slime bath bombs, to the higher-tier products like a weighted slime blanket, a slime mattress topper, or an entire slime bed that included a build-your-own-slime station—and with the store expanding to more and more malls the entire enterprise would only get bigger.


And I was the one who hated it the most, Sujin said. Look at me now.

I know, Yuna said. You’re completely covered.

You’d love it, Sujin said, the dome of slime around her head jiggling. Say hi to Bora.

Our beautiful flower, Bora, Yuna said. I thought that blob in the back was you.

The Sujin blob pushed back into the frame.

Remember what I told you the first time? When the sales really started taking off?

What’s that? Yuna said, playing along.

Slime, Sujin said. It’s going to be everywhere!





Rumpus original art by Liam Golden.

Joseph Han is the author of Nuclear Family, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and named a best book of the year by NPR and Time Magazine. His book was longlisted for the 2023 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel and received the 2023 Asian/Pacific American Literature Award Adult Fiction Honor. He was selected as a 2022 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and received a Kundiman fellowship in fiction. More from this author →