Open Your Eyes bY mICHELLE cHEN


“啊呀!走吧, 走吧, 走吧! (Oh! Go, go, go!)”

With my ear pressed to the broken wooden door of my room, I felt betrayed… How could my mom laugh happily and leave me behind, supposedly unaware. How could my dad lie to me? Anger arose in me and I threw myself onto my bed, because there is nothing else in the world that could calm an angry ten year old, like myself. I peered at my sleeping little sister, my unaware sleeping little sister. I felt mad that my parents lied to me, they said they were visiting my uncle in Beijing. In reality they were boarding a plane to my homeland. I felt sad that the only thing I had now was my sister, but I felt happy. I don’t need someone who threw me into a foreign dungeon and left me. I would have to celebrate the upcoming new year, 2014, without them and they probably won’t miss me somewhere in America, while I’m in their hometown of Danyang, Fujian, China.


I snatched at the remote to the only source of viewing things from the outside world that I had,the television. I watched 我是歌手 (I Am A Singer), when suddenly, the ogre beside began to arise from her slumber.

“Hmm?” Megan started. “What time is it right now? I’m hungry.”

“The time is 7:45”

Then the unsatisfied 10 year old, Megan Lin, crawled out of our king bed and stepped into the realm of fresh food and sweet essence. “奶奶,我饿了。 我们吃什么早餐? (Grandma, I’m hungry. What’s for breakfast?),” Megan queried, with her Fuzhounese accent.

To be honest, I was hungry too. I turned off the television and entered the dining room and poured myself a glass of hot, steaming, clear water that tasted and had the smell of Sharpie. When I held the glass to my mouth and tried to sip the water, I screamed of agony and anger, like a lion losing an arm.

From a distance, my sister smirked, then asked where my parents were. Grandpa Lin easily got the news to my sister that my parents were on their way to America. My poor sister looked like someone just took a club and aggressed her viciously.

Clear Water

Even though my parents just disappeared, my sister and I were prepared to take care of ourselves. My parents had suddenly left, but my sister and I both knew it was coming. We knew they would leave us, we just didn't know when they would leave. They had told me they would go to my uncle’s house. But they never did.

Around the dawn of December, somebody visited us. Maybe I should say some folks, those folks were the same folks that my parents had claimed they visited. They were my uncle’s family, which included my aunt, SengSeng, my cousin, DanYang (She is named after the city my father is from and the one I am staying in.), and my uncle. When they first came, my aunt brought me to The Farm. The Farm was where my father flourished. When I reached the pond, I studied the team of beautiful dark angels dancing together and the melody that their charming black feathers produced.

“Wow, the ducks are so beautiful..,” my sister whispered.

“Yeah, what a site..,” I agreed.

“你必须用中文说话. (You have to use Chinese to speak.),” my aunt advised.

“哦,好的. 不好意思. ( Oh, okay. Sorry about that.),” my sister and I agreed.

I knew my father grew up in a farm, but I didn’t know it looked like this. I had always visualized a western type of farm, but this was different. There were neatly filed rows of where rice would later grow. I was amazed by fascinated by how fastidious the barn was.

Awhile later, my uncle brought all the kins in our household to a spa and hot springs in a land far away, called Fujian. We only had one car, thus my uncle had to make two trips around (I was on the alternative trip). When I was waiting for my ride to come back, I sat on top of my bed and thought about my life for a millennium.

When I arrived, my sister ran up to me in shock, the scared child had waited for me in the locker room for over an hour. When we got settled, I had the time of my life. I felt closer to everyone around me that day -my aunts, uncle, grandma, grandpa, and especially Danyang.

Years Ago…

Months after my parents left, my great grandma passed away. We went to Grandpa Chen's house, with Grandpa Lin taking care of us on our long journey of public buses to get to GuanTou.

When we arrived at my Grandpa Chen's apartment, I was surprised to find that MengDi (my mother’s cousin who is 5 years older than myself) was nowhere to be found in the house.

That night we visited Grandpa Chen’s family. I didn’t know that my great grandma had passed, but it was quickly noted. I felt a cyclone of emptiness in Guantou. We had assumed this visit would be short and normal. The cool spring breeze kissed my face, as we strolled along the smooth boardwalk. We grabbed sweet milk tea and pungent buttered corn, while we passed by the dancing crowd on the street.

I still found the plaza dancing a bit outlandish, even though I’ve seen it 100 times, but I felt ecstatic when I did it myself. Plaza dancing was my matter when I was just a small toddler in China. I was glad we visited Guantou often, it was clean, bright, and ideal for me. In Danyang, I would step outside and everyone knew that “The Americans” were out, but not in Guantou.

When we got to the dwelling, I flew the five sets of flights, setting the path behind me lit ablaze.

“欣雅,你肚子饿了吗?(Michelle, are you hungry?),” my loving grandma requested, opening the door.

While we were eating, my grandma explained to me the plan for the next few weeks, as I thought about the present, and nothing more.

Perhaps three days had passed and my aunt from the Netherlands flew in. The afternoon she came, we went to see my grandpa's family. Brutal, was the only word to describe that horrid afternoon.

I took a colossal bite out of a piece of peeled sugarcane. The sugarcane scratched my tongue, but the sweetness soothed me down. Normally, you would chew the sugarcane and then spit it out, for it is way too hard to swallow. Unfortunately, I didn’t really think before biting into the grass, resulting in my desperate search for some napkins or a trash can… but then my great-aunt took a generous bite out of her sliver of sugar cane and it went soaring below my throne.

My sister asked me the question I was just about to ask her, “Wait.. Do we just spit it… on the ground?”

“I don’t know… I think there is a trash can right there,” I said pointing near my cousin. I got up to check out if there really was a trash can there, with the same piece of sugar cane I had a few minutes earlier still in my mouth. Unfortunately, the peculiar shape was not a trash can.

“你不会把它吐掉吗?你不会是想把它吞进去吧?(Can’t you spit it out? You didn't want to swallow , did you?)” My cousin footled.

I decided to ignore them, but my cousin wasn’t done with mocking me. She started insulting my family and Americans directly. Then my aunts, great-aunts, uncles, great-uncles, and my other cousins all started agreeing with her and talked to me like I was senseless.

My sister then burst into tears and that started my family’s second episode of “My American Relatives are Really a Handful.”

I was surprised when my own relatives spoke like that, I didn’t understand why they had to be like all the kids at my school, thinking I didn’t understand chinese or simple concepts. I was once very much like them, I spoke mostly Chinese, I looked Chinese, and I knew and practiced Chinese culture, but why was it that when I returned from America did I become distinct. Years ago, I would have passed off as common.

Another One

Later on, in my time at Grandpa Chen's house, my aunt came with my five year cousin, who resided in New York. They were friendly and made staying worth it. I was glad my cousin was with me, someone who understood. With them under the roof, I felt more happy and I ventured all the streets of Guantou. Life here, in Guantou, now felt like home. I didn't want to leave anymore. I was no longer living in a dystopia.

Can I Come?

When I was back to Danyang, my classmates magically respected me more. They started calling me by my given name. This made me feel alot better. They wanted to assist me, they wanted to delight me, they wanted to interact with me, and that is what makes a lass sense acceptance.

On my last day, everyone was sad. They cried their farewells and I marched away. I glanced back once, with rain pouring all over me. The last time I saw that ginormous school, the last time I saw their friendly faces, the last time they called my name. When I wasn't far from home, I bolted with my sister by my side. With the words: “我能跟你一起去美国吗?(Can I come along with you to America)?” playing in my head.

Open Your Eyes

As I boarded the plane, I realized I was happy. I realised I was excited to see my family again. Even though they had abandoned my sister and I, I was glad they did. I had learned a lot about my family and our culture. Will I see my extended family again? Will they remember me? Will I remember them? How long will it be when I see them again? Questions raced in my head about the unexplained future, but I told myself to stop.

Be happy, be excited. Michelle, stop thinking about the completed and remote forthcoming. You are on this plane, you are seeing your family again. Be jubilant. Everything will pass and will end happily, I told myself.

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t assure myself that I would see my family again… and even more unlikely, my Chinese classmates and friends, because persuading yourself that you would see people of your past again is insane.

I fell asleep and dreamed about all the people I had left behind in my past for the very last time. Life is around you, life is moving on. This is how life is supposed to be, it might be difficult to see, but you just have to open your eyes.

Created By
Michelle Chen

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