Writers (in order): Chania RC, Emily Zhou, Eileen Hung*, Irene Tsen*, Fiona Li, Belina J, Helena Surwillo, Amann S. Mahajan, Ciara Chakraborty, Jessica Zang, Arlette Albert, Heeseo Jeong, and Sophie Hahn. Editor: Ms. Ja.

*Wrote more than once.


Jack looked at himself in the mirror. That shirt was okay. Right? Probably not, but Lisa would just have to suck it up and deal with it. It wasn’t like he’d asked to meet her parents. He would much rather stay at home and play Final Fantasy VII like his life depended on it, but Lisa had made those really cute puppy dog eyes and… how could he resist?

So, there he was, trying on a hundred different shirts, hoping that his girlfriend’s parents wouldn’t hate him too much. Or rather, hoping that they wouldn’t hate the person Lisa wanted him to be. A nice, educated churchgoing man who would do anything for the girl of his dreams.

To be fair, that’s always better than being a failing art student (who doesn’t even go to church for that matter) but c’mon. Her family couldn’t be that perfect either.

On the way to her parents’ house, Lisa drilled Jack about everything from his work to his favorite color. He was supposed to be a family-oriented man who had aspirations of a large family. Worked a regular 8–5 job on the weekdays and volunteered at their local church on the weekends. As Jack struggled to commit all the details of his fake persona to memory, they pulled up to Lisa’s parents’ suburban house. The neighborhood consisted of nine three-story houses that were identical replicas of each other. From the cleanly mowed lawns to the billowing American flag hung proudly on every house, this neighborhood was spotless.

"Well, here we are," Lisa said, lips pursed, "What do you think?"

"It looks like something out of a Homeowner's Association pamphlet," Jack replied before he could stop himself. Lisa's mouth twitched.

"Cute. If you tell my parents that, they may even think it's a compliment." She then got out of the car, and Jack soon followed suit.

"You remember everything you ought to say?" Lisa asked, giving him a side eye.

Absolutely not. "Of course, but, ah, remind me why we're doing this again?"

Lisa huffed. "We're doing this because my dad and I made an agreement that if I found a  'good' guy, he'd keep paying tuition. Remember?"

Jack did not remember. "So. We're doing all… this... just to trick your dad?"

"Basically," Lisa agreed, smirking. "I mean, you look like a cardboard cutout right now. My parents will love it."

"...Thanks. I think."

Lisa fished out a key from under a potted bush and unlocked the front door. “Mom, Dad!” she called. “Jack and I are here!”

A matronly sort of woman bustled into the hallway, all smiles and warmth. Jack started. This was not what he’d expected.

Lisa and her mother exchanged hugs, and she ushered them into the living room. “Hello, come in, come in! We’ve both heard so much about you, Jack.”

Jack felt a sort of cold steal over him. He was sure the Jack Lisa’s mother was referring to was not Failing Art Student Jack. It’s only dinner, he consoled himself, hoping his memory and acting skills wouldn’t fail him this time.

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