12 Years After You Left

First day after you left, I was 48 inches tall. I crawled out of my mom’s bed at 6 am in the morning, trembled into my own room which you occupied for 7 years, and covered myself with those blankets that smelled a lot like you. Only you weren’t there. That was the day when I stopped my sweetest morning routine, and the day I started to grow attachments to smells.

Two weeks after you left, I found out that mom cannot really cook.

Three months after you left, I surrounded myself with a tremendous amount of soft toys at night. I found difficulties talking to kids at school. I noticed that most of the time no one is really home.

Four months after you left, I found our house smelling like old people. I found out that I liked the smell.

Five months after you left, I changed the phrase “our house” to “my house”.

Sixth months after you left, I started to lie to my friends that you were a very important person who was always on business trips.

A year after you left, mom had a tumor in her breasts that later developed into cancer. She had all her hair fall out. Thought it’d be good for you to know. Cuz when you came to pick me up, she was wearing a wig.

Two years after you left, I went to the place you lived for the first and only time. It was a very small single studio with a concrete floor. We had breakfast at the cheap dim sum place downstairs. We sat on the floor all afternoon and assembled an aircraft carrier battleship model. At that time China didn’t even have one. We had one. I wanted lots and lots of times like those.

Three years after you left, I went to saw Grandma with you. That family which I still and will forever carry the last name of, didn’t feel so right. I cried all night out loud on New Year’s Eve. Don’t take me wrong, they were kind. I was simply overwhelmed by how much details I had to make up on the spot to maintain the illusions to those people that you and mom were still together.

That was the last time I ever saw them.

Four years after you left, you started to see me less and less. I was also getting busy. I refused all girl’s clothing. I maintained the short hair which you choose for me since I was born. People in school found my unisex appeal humorous and laughable at the same time. I was made fun of on a weekly basis. Countless people told me to act like a girl.

Five years after you left, I found out in a very bad argument between mom and grandma that you use to beat my mom, and when my mom was impregnated with me you wanted an abortion. I found out that you never wanted me, or this family.

The same year I found a childhood picture of mine. You was holding me on a bed, lifting one of my feet. I was three years old, such a fat and ugly baby. I was looking at the camera while you were looking at me. You looked happy.

Six years after you left, I became smart. Nobody from my childhood would believe me. Except for you. You said you always knew, and you said the my smart gene came from my mom. But I remember we talked about “Race to the Sea” in WWI. You knew about how the Germans and the Allies build trenches all the way to Belgium. It was one of the most meaningful conversation we’ve ever had. Mom would never talk about things like that with me.

Eight years after you left, a girl sent me a love letter. However I found out all my special personal belongings have boy’s names. I like boys, more than normal females should. But I spoke of love to none of them.

Nine years after you left, I turned into an extrovert. I loved public speaking and people liked me. Only I knew there were some part of me that would always be crying.

Ten years after you left, without seeing you for months, I still talked a lot like you, subconsciously. I realized I know practically nothing about you. I realized I am about to leave the country and live on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. I realized if we weren’t lucky, the times we can see each other in this life time probably only have one digit number left.

I called you three days before the plane took off. You took me downtown and bought me a pair of shoes and some socks. Those socks are really damaged nowadays. I still have them. You gave me some money. I didn’t even have time to change them into dollars. I still have them.

I forgot how we said goodbye.

Eleven years after you left, you were no longer the most important boy in my life anymore. I had my own boy. He smelled just like you.

Same year he left me just like you. Never in my life had I wish I could have called you that much ever before. If only you could have told me everything would be fine.

Twelves years after you left. We haven’t talked. I still talk a lot like you. I still have my short hair.

What’s worst is I still love you. I hope you loved me too.

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