October 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm 2 comments

Xia reached over and grabbed her daughter, frantic to quiet her cries. No one could know about this little one. No one.

A rushed and mumbled lullaby filled the room. The din of voices from the neighbors t.v. sifted through the wall and almost drowned out her words. Lei still cried, so Xia sang louder, afraid that someone might hear them.

Soft light shone through the thin curtain, and Lei calmed. Her dark eyes locked on her mother’s face. Xia knew her daughter was smiling, but it wouldn’t be obvious to others. Lei was missing most of her upper lip.

A freezing wind blew through the room as the door opened. Shen ran in with the cold and sat down in front of the wood stove, holding his hands out toward the warmth. Jin closed the door and sulked to the range, where he readied a teapot.

“I am sorry I did not get that for you. Lei was crying, I could not leave her.”

“I did not expect it.” Jin sat next to Xia on their bed and took Lei from her arms. He tucked her blanket around her and touched the dark, soft hairs on her head.

“She is lucky to have you. Others would have abandoned her, made their wives get rid of her.”

“She is ours, same as Shen.”

“They will fine us for keeping her.”

“We can’t pay.”

“They will take her then!” Shen turned from the warm stove.

Jin and Xia looked at Shen, pained that their young boy had to live with their same fears.

Shen continued, “I know what they do. I hear boys at school, they say horrible things.”

Xia went to her son, and placing a hand on his shoulder said, “Only listen to your father, he is the one with a good heart. You learn many things from him, all good.”

“I will work to pay the fines. I want Lei to stay.” Shen cried.

Jin’s voice rose from the bed. “No. You will go to school and get a good job. Do you want to walk miles every day in this freezing weather to find work? No. You will stay in school.”

“But Lei -”

“Lei will not be taken!”


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one man’s writing retreat

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Avily Jerome  |  October 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Beautifully written! Is this based on a true story (I know, it is probably one of many similar situations, I’m just wondering if it’s based on someone you know)?

    • 2. WordsfromTracy  |  October 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

      Thank you! It’s fiction, but I can imagine some families going through this in China, or even other countries.


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