Haute Dish The Arts & Literature Magazine of Metropolitan State University Icicles
Spring 2005

 


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Becoming american
By Nancy Yang

Ding-dong! Ding-dong!

“Go open the door!” I said to my younger sister, Nalee, sitting next to me on the blue carpet floor. “Geez, don’t you have a brain?” I was busy playing Mario on the Super Nintendo. We were in the living room and the rest of our family was upstairs. My parents were preparing for sleep in their bedroom. My two older sisters were locked in their bedroom, reading Romance novels and wallowing in their teenage angst. There were sounds of splashes and giggles coming from the bathroom where my two little brothers were. It was seven p.m. at night and my mother forced us to go to bed at nine so I only had two hours to play. I didn’t want to waste my precious playing time to go open the door when Nalee was sitting there and doing nothing.

She crossed her arms and glared at me, her dark eyes bulging. “No! Not unless you let me play too.”

Ding-dong! Ding-dong!

“Fine, fine,” I said. “Hurry up, stupid!”

“No! I was going to go but since you said it so mean, you go!” My hand itched to slap her chubby cheek real hard. The person at the door was now banging on the door. Maybe that person thought we couldn’t hear the doorbell because Hmong music was playing really loudly in my parent’s bedroom, the singer’s sweet Soprano soaring on high volume. All the windows were open to let in the cool night breeze, giving relief from the sweltering summer.

I threw the Super Nintendo controller at Nalee’s feet before going over to open the door. My mouth gaped open. Two policemen stood there, tall and stern with their badges glinting silver in the porch light. “Are your parents home?” one of them asked. I was too surprised to answer. Leaving them to let themselves in, I turned around and ran up the stairs to my parent’s bedroom. Nalee came running up behind me when she saw them come in. Had one of my younger siblings dialed 9-1-1 again? Ever since they had discovered the telephone, they loved to dial numbers and then hang up.

“Mom, Dad, police!” They stared at me. My father was already dressed in his sleeping clothes: a white tee shirt and blue shorts on his skinny frame. My mother was wearing only a white bra and flower-print skirt, revealing her pillowy stomach. My father’s face was grim as he went down the stairs, ready to give some punishment after he dealt with the police, while my mother dressed before joining him. Nalee and I ran back downstairs in excitement.

“We got a call that you’ve been killing dogs and eating them,” an officer said, his face dead serious. They stood there, imposing figures of authority looking out-of-place among the clutter littering the living room that comes with a large family. My parents stared at them in confusion, then shame as they realized what they were hearing. The officer continued, “A neighbor believes that you’ve killed and eaten a dog of theirs. We just need to take a look around and see if the allegations are true or not.” My parents led them around the house so they could check the trash cans, both parties uneasy with each other and what they were doing. The police officers finally left and my parents went back to their bedrooms to seek solace in their music again. Nalee picked up the Super Nintendo controller to play, but I was not in the mood for playing anymore. I left her to go up to our bedroom.

The neighbors had welcomed us to this neighborhood, when we moved in about four months ago, by throwing rocks at our doors. Two months ago my father, about to go to work, had found his car with cracked shells and eggs sizzling on it in the glaring sun. My parents were decent folks who didn’t want problems:

Don’t play in the yard; you might bother the neighbors with your screaming. Just stay home.
Don’t ask too many questions, your teacher might get annoyed.
Don’t play at the playground; the other kids might hurt you.
Don’t bother anybody and they won’t bother you.

I was now old enough to know this last admonition wasn’t true. Next time anybody bothered me, they were going to meet my fists. I walked over to my closet where I had been hiding something. Two months ago I was fascinated when my teacher had gotten eggs from a farm and kept them in a tank with a heating lamp. After a month, little fluffy yellow chicks came out. I thought I could make my own, so I sneaked four eggs out of the fridge and kept them in a little box in my closet. I left the light in the closet on twenty-four hours a day but the little chicks hadn’t grown. More than a month had passed and I realized that there weren’t going to be any little chicks. But boy, the neighbors were going to be surprised tomorrow.

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