Transmission·Short Story

Yasuko Thanh reflects on what happens when love is like a virus in this short story

It's the Little Things is a short story by Yasuko Thanh, part of CBC Books' Transmission series

It's the Little Things is a short story by Yasuko Thanh, part of CBC Books' Transmission series

It's the Little Things is a story by Yasuko Thanh, part of part of CBC Books' Transmission series about life during COVID-19. (Submitted by Yasuko Thanh, CBC)

It's the Little Things is a short story by Yasuko Thanh. It is part of Transmission, CBC Books' original writing series reflecting on life during COVID-19. Read more works from Transmission here.

You loved so much you tried to crawl inside someone. 
          Living with you would change his view on life, that much was clear.
          Have you ever wanted to be part of another person just to feel safe? 
          You had friends. Kierkegaard told you if you didn't take a chance, you'd lose yourself.
Nietzsche echoed, In going to him, you are really hunting for yourself, which made the work of battering his defences enough to allow you in more acceptable, somehow.
          But the problems started right away. 
          Charms and blood and prayers fenced you. 
          His mother said, "Keep away from her." Meaning you. 
          And he, under her influence, was like an armed man, shouting, "Stay back!" 

You didn't let that stop you. You didn't let that make you ease up or ease off.

You knew deep down they were only trying to keep you, a stranger, in check. Their turf, after all. Still, you felt like liquid poison: plant sap, tainted wine. You flowed and stank and flowed and melted away. Adam's Fall from grace. The old serpent's venom. 
          Still, you wanted to crawl inside him. Someone.

The magazines agreed that the eyes were the windows to his soul. Catch his eye, catch his heart. (A few mentioned stomach. You put that in your back pocket.) You behaved obsessively. During a pestilence, what counts as obsessive behaviour, anyway?
          That he should take you in with his gaze? That you should want this? Was your want obsessive? 
          What should you want? 
          Even in his heart, hanging on would take effort.
          Machinating in all sorts of unacceptable ways to get him to lower his guard. Throwing yourself at him. 
          You met resistance.
          You dove back in.
          Against his natural defences rose, you gathered your strength. 
          You raced against time. You played hide and seek. Whenever you set off alarm bells, you pretended to hear wedding bells. After days of battle you reached his heart. You discovered the door locked shut. 
          You tried different ploys. You changed your presentation. You disguised your appearance. But you found yourself just a set of mirrors, replicating yourself. A plague, a woe, an affliction around you. You were a Great Imitator. But you were also a sickness, untouchable.

On the outside, looking in.
          You hopped from man to man.
          Bum. Tramp. 
          That was you.

You've hopped from man to man. You've changed who you were to suit the person you were with. You've (ab)used this ability to join him, yoke with him, become a part of him. You call this act bonding. 

Loopholes, eyelets, and handles are "easy". Easing once meant to sexually satisfy a woman. Or, to lie next to someone. Disease took this ability away.

We stand, at this moment, in tomorrow's long shadow. As we, now, cast our own shadows backward. To what we were, are and always will be. 

Symptoms of disturbance shrink us to our core. Adam's sin and the poison of the old serpent. Death by natural causes. Have you ever tried getting inside another person?

About Yasuko Thanh

Yasuko Thanh is a writer and musician based in British Columbia. (Don Denton)

Yasuko Thanh is an award-winning novelist and short story writer from Vancouver Island. Her first novel, Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, a historical tale set in Vietnam, won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize in 2016.

Thanh's latest book is the best-selling memoir Mistakes to Run With.

Yasuko Thanh talks to Shelagh Rogers about her memoir, on Mistakes to Run With. 18:38

About Transmission

Transmission is a new series of original creative works, commissioned by CBC Books, that reflects on time, place, identity, community and purpose in an era of COVID-19. 

Transmission is part of the Art Uncontained initiative from CBC ArtsArt Uncontained offers inspiration for audiences and support to the Canadian artistic community in these unprecedented times.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?