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Jin Lee


Louisville, KY

My sister looked into my eyes. 'You have to take the first step,' she whispered.

Dressed up in our best outfits, my sister and I glanced at each other and then immediately stared back down the sleepy, misty street. A September wind swept through, awakening quiet houses and trees. Seated in between us, a woman in a bathrobe whom we once knew so well held our little arms closer to her body.

My sister and I exchanged a nod and drew ourselves and our empty Chinese backpacks closer to the woman for warmth. Her lifeless body felt like the icy rock underneath, and it made me shiver despite my sweaty hands. “Mom, I don’t want to go,” I finally murmured in my native language after what seemed like a lifetime of building up courage.

My sister looked into my eyes. “You have to take the first step,” she whispered. Gazing at the cement ground, my sister and I hung our heads low, indulging ourselves in pictures of yesterday.

Minutes passed that felt like years. Eventually we saw a yellow box that grew bigger, a monster bus approaching to hunt us down. We reluctantly straightened our legs and waited for the yellow creature to open its rectangular mouth. My sister and I took deep breaths, our sweaty hands grasped our backpacks as if they were lifesavers. Our foreign mother gave us a gentle push and with much effort, we stepped onto the monster’s black teeth.

Turning around one last time with a wish that the woman would save us, I looked deeply into her twinkling eyes, but only saw the reflection of her hand waving us off. My sister and I dragged our heavy legs up the dark steps and stood paralyzed next to the foreign bus driver. All the fair-skinned bodies flashed their blond heads to inspect us. My sister and I were fixed on the spot. Our wondering eyes met every blue eye until we spotted an empty seat. When we reached it, gripping each other’s wet hands, we sat and stared at the unfamiliar woman outside.

As the monster whisked us off to an unknown destination, our eyes remained on the fading woman until she vanished. My sister and I glanced at each other and then stared straight out the forever street ahead of us.