Warnings: sex mention, death mention, family abuse mention.)
This is the second chapter. Copy rights go to Hu Jiiajia
My mom is visiting and currently cleaning our townhouse. She does this because my father asks her to. Even though his requests are from the other side of the world. As of the people in my townhouse, there are currently four people living here and I’m related to all of them by blood. They’re my cousins and we are around the same age. Zhuangwei is a year older than me. He has a younger brother named Ah-Jin who is only five months younger than me. And then, Xiao-ming, about two months younger than I. We chose Oakdale State University because it was far away from home, yet a little close in case any of us want to see our family. Well, more like my cousins could if they wanted to. I haven’t spent more than a weekend with my mother in about seven months since my sophomore year started.
However, I don’t want to see my mom, yet alone my father. But, here is my mother, cleaning the upstairs bathroom that Zhuangwei and I share. Ah-Jin and he cannot share a bathroom or anything at all, or it is war. Zhuangwei thinks he’s tough, hiding tattoos underneath his shirt and large upper torso. Ah-Jin is just your typical shy guy who wears a hoodie all the time in any type of weather. Xiao-ming, he’s the smart one of our little group as he always calculates the bad and the good things.
My cousins and I just got back from the local mall. It was Zhuangwei’s idea to go since we barely have been doing anything productive all week for spring break. I was surprised to see my mom here since she was supposed to come next weekend.
“Hey ma,” I said to her in Chongqinghua as I passed the bathroom.
She came out of the bathroom and looks kind of pissed off.
“What are these?” she holds up the trash to me. Inside are about five or six used latex condoms. Those aren’t mine. Okay, maybe two are mine. The rest are Zhuangwei’s.
“Those are not mine, they’re Zhuangwei’s.” I say quite deadpan.
“What’s mine?” he pops his head out of his room.
“These.” She pushes the trashcan towards him and shakes her head.
“Oh…haha. Yeah…those are mine. Sorry Bó Mŭ, I like to have fun sometimes. At least I’m safe about it.” He flashes my mom a smile. She still shakes her head disapprovingly. My mom can’t keep her mouth shut regardless and I know Zhuangwei and Ah-Jin’s mom will know about Zhuangwei sleeping around. Word can spread fast in my family and I won’t be surprised if he gets a phone call from his mom soon. Like, within less than an hour.
“I’m going to cook now. You better behave Dawei. And especially you.” She points specifically to Zhuangwei before heading downstairs.
“Cou zei, you’re so lucky I saved your ass.” Zhuangwei whispers.
“Whose ass needs saving?” Xiao-ming came out of his room. Then Ah-Jin joined in and he didn’t say a thing.
“This dude doesn’t know how lucky he is for me saving his reputation. After all, you brought home the same girl twice this week.”
“I’m not talking to her anymore.” He’s talking about Annie, this Chinese-American girl I met on campus. We hit it off really quickly and then I lost interest. This is my problem lately because I don’t want anything serious right now. Annie Wang was just a short rift in my life. She’s upset though because she knows I have money. This is what most of the girls see in me: money. It’s all about the money. Doesn’t matter whether or not they’re Asian, white, black, Latina, all they see is money. I paid for some food twice and that’s when she realized I was probably loaded. Or it had to be my car or my Yuxi cigarettes that I don’t hide really well.
I get a text message and quickly look at it and beam.
It is Irma. She’s asking to hang out at the hookah lounge tonight.
“Is it who I think it is?” Zhuangwei grinned.
“Shut up, my mom is downstairs. And yes, it is her.”
“What did the message say?” Xiao-ming asked quietly.
“She’s wondering if we all wanted to go hookah with her friends and her tonight.”
“You gonna do it man?”
Irma and I are…study buddies. Yes, we are study buddies We hang out every other week sometimes. She explains to me in Mandarin when I don’t understand something. You see, I’ve been studying English since elementary, but sometimes I can’t get a grasp of complicated conversations. So it’s nice to have a friend try to explain.
“You guys wanna go?” I ask them.
Zhuangwei smirks, “Yeah, maybe I’ll be able to pick up a lady tonight.”
“Can you once not bring home a girl? I can’t sleep thinking about my brother disrespecting a lady the way you do.” Ah-Jin snaps. Zhuangwei reacts quickly by pushing his younger brother in the chest.
“At least I know how to treat a girl right.”
Uh-oh, now I gotta get involved. When Ah-Jin and Zhuangwei fight, it’s not a pretty sight. They can go out all and destroy everything in their path.
I step between them, “Guys, stop before we get fined for any damages in this place. And my mom is downstairs, you don’t want her to tell your parents. So shut up.” They both look at me and back off. Someone has to be the leader and tell people what to do…so it pretty much is me. I don’t understand how they’re brothers because they practically hate each other.
My family situation is currently complicated. First off, my dad is currently living in Chongqing, China, which is one of the four municipals. Even though he is living in China, he still has almost complete authoritative power in my life. I can’t describe the anger I felt when he told my mom that she has to bring us to America because of my sister. My sister was only nine years old and the one-child policy was still in place. However, since we were living in the United States, my mom was lonely even though she was surrounded by in-laws. But there still was isolation with my family as my ma was considered “head-lady” of the family.
This made her want to have another child and around one of my parent’s anniversary, she got pregnant, again. Thus, my little brother who is now four years old, Dawen, was born. He was and is considered now for ruling our clan if I don’t meet the standards for rule. Oldest son of the head of the household has been the ruler of our family for generations. But, those rules will change based on whether or not I’m fit to rule…or if my prophecy comes true.
My grandparents on my dad’s side have foreseen my future and they speak of death before the age of twenty-three. The prophecy they speak of is that I will die in battle with an unknown person, fighting for the love of my life. But I don’t believe it because the details are even foggy to my grandparents. But, time nears closer to the day as they claim my life will be done.
I text Irma back and tell her that we will meet her after my mom leaves. It could take hours, so I just tell her that we will meet her in the evening. After my mom finishes cleaning and packs lunches, I convince her to leave. She looks at me funny.
“Why are you wanting me to leave in such a hurry? So that you can mess up your place again?” she crosses her arms.
“No ma, we have some more studying and homework to do. We just wanted to do that without distractions. I appreciate you coming up. Please drive safe.” I walk her to her car. Most Americans or foreigners hug their mom before they depart, but for us, we don’t. I was taught to love my parents and appreciate them, but old-fashioned way. No hugs goodbye, no kisses on the cheeks. Love is only expressed through actions like cooking and cleaning, not embracing and kissing.
 Chongqing dialect
 伯母 (wife of father’s elder brother, aunt).
 Bro, dude, in Chongqing dialect