I don’t remember my home country; the land of emerald islands and pink dragon fruit is foreign to me. I don’t remember my adoption; I was fourteen months old. I don’t remember my “real” mother, my sister, or my aunt; they are strangers in photographs. But, I’ll never forget Linda; Linda who gave me life against all odds.
Linda knows everything. She knows how much I weighed when she first got me. She knows my favorite food as an infant. She knows how hard I cried the first she held me. She just knows.
I like when she tells me stories that I can’t remember. When she first received me, back in Vietnam, I was a malnourished baby who couldn’t walk or talk or do anything really. All I did was stare at her from the hotel bed. I didn’t sit up; I just looked around with wide and curious eyes. She tells me how she called her husband back home: she cried and thought there was something wrong with me. Not that I was wrong, Linda explains, no, she felt bad for me. Soon though, I would suck out the insides of tomatoes and give her the skins to eat. I’d rip out the inside of French bread and leave the crust just for her.
She loves these memories and tells me all the time.
Linda is good and kind. Sometimes she is harsh, and her words sting like a wooden spoon. Sometimes I am mean to her, too. I say words that I regret when I’m angry. My tone deserves a sharp slap to get rid of the disrespect.
Teenage-me is especially hard to deal with. I’m moody and full of angst. She takes her time through my rebellion, and puts me in my place when necessary.
The argument is bad, and my door, which is chipped from all the slamming, can attest to its severity. I don’t mean to hurt her, but I’m tired and annoyed. So, I pack my large green suitcase, and sneak out through the back door.
Clever-me decides to walk down the street and hide at my friend’s house. I sit on her front porch; three hours go by, and I’m hungry. I guess I’ll go home.
A police car passes me as I walk down the narrow street. It reverses and stops next to me. The officer demands my name and what I’m doing. He tells me to wait in his car while he talks to my family at home. When he returns, he tells me not to go down this path and to stay home.
I go inside and see Linda crying. She was worried about me. I feel like shit.
Linda deserves the universe. Necklaces, ornaments, decorations: I try to shower her in trinkets, but I can barely afford a decent scarf.
I buy a necklace from Amazon. Its silver, round and inscribed with “Love you to the moon and back.” It’s beautiful, and a perfect birthday gift. The trinket is mailed to my house while I’m away at college. I won’t be home in time for her birthday this year, but she says she doesn’t mind.
Eventually, I get a Facebook message from Linda. She says that a small package has arrived, and she doesn’t know what it is. She asks me about its contents package and she should do with it.
I tell her to open the box; she loves it.
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Bethany Eckert is a senior French major at Saint John Fisher College. For the love of language, she studied abroad in Rennes, France from which she (seemingly) grew wise beyond her years. Bethany is currently working on her first review for The Review Review, and was an editor during the relaunch of SJFC’s literary magazine, ANGLES.