The dawn was coming, with its lively pinkness, its mild coldness, its soft moisture – the dawn of a tropical summer morning. Somewhere outside, the seemingly distant noise echoed. I thought of little boys and girls, on their bikes, cycling to schools, peacefully or boisterously, I’m not sure. The smell of wind, the caresses of sunlight, the smiles of youthfullness, I imagined in my mind, wholeheartedly appreciated them. And then came the rain in Taiwan, the whimsical love of teenage, the bittersweet kiss of the past, the acrimony of human nature.

I wanted to cry.

I would bend down, face my knees, and my tears would run down along my legs.

But it was far away, seemed like a century before.

Justin looked at me sympathetically. I didn’t like his eyes, I never like them – the strict hazel eyes. I always find some kind of arrogance there, some kind of miserable benevolence that I never wanted to receive, especially from him. But that day, I needed those eyes, I loved those eyes, I wanted to kiss them affectionately. I would like to pull him toward me, into my laps, and hug him, tightly, no matter how higher than me he was. But I knew, if I did so, he would throw me onto the ground and leave right away.

Alex sat down next to me. I wanted to cry on his shoulder, like in the lyrics of my favorite song. But it was not lyrical; it was real. And I didn’t know, if I did so, what would Ngoc Dinh’s reaction would be. So I continued lying there, on my bed, covered in blankets and cushions. My sweats were all over my body, but I didn’t mind. I could hear the steady, controlled breaths of my friends, but I didn’t dare to look at them.

I wished Mike were there. But what for? For a more severe pain, perhaps? And I didn’t want another pair of empathizing eyes stabbing at my heart.

Mike and I used to have many things in common. We skated, we climbed on the roof of the sports complex singing all night long, and we lay peacefully on the green grass watching fireflies and twinkling stars. Again, they were all far away, seemed like a century before.

And I was scared. Among these friends of mine, those I had known for half a decade, I wondered who I was. Unconsciously, I uttered the word “Mẹ”, in Vietnamese. I shuddered at the thought of which language I had just spoken.

And I cried, shivering in tears.

Justin hugged me, tightly. I didn’t expect this. I didn’t know whether he understood. I just enjoyed his arms, imagining they were Mike’s. I wished it were a century before, with Mike lying by my side, singing “Cry on my shoulder” softly to me.

Later that day, I cooked the dinner together with my mom. The traditional Vietnam food, the aroma of sticky rice, the scent of chicken, raised naturally, the fragrance of garlic and beef fried in oil with rau muống, and the sour smell of dưa muối. I was drown in these smells. I inhaled until my lungs were full of that dearly air. And I drank the orange juice that my mother made.

So who am I?

I am merely a 17-year-old girlschool. Someone may tend to impress others that s/he is a great personage, but I did oppositely.

I wanted to become someone weak, delicate and needing shelter.

Later that day in the evening, I went out with my old friends. And I was happy to be submerged in Vietnamese.

So, coming back from Taiwan, listening to the foreign silence, and smelling the Vietnamese aromas, I realize who I am and where I come from.


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