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Lao-lao! Lao-Lao! This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Whereis she? Where did she go?

I called her over and over, but there was noresponse. I looked outside, but the yard was empty, and the trees echoed hername. The house was empty. There was a stillness, as if someone were watching me,but I knew there was no one. Nothing was left except her sandals by the door andher knitting on the chair.

My grandmother was gone. She could not speakEnglish, and she probably had no money. Questions raced through my mind: Did shewant to leave us? Had her visit from China been too long? Where would she go?Maybe she was in the house hiding, playing a joke to scare me when I came home. Ilooked in the basement, garage, attic, in the closets and under the beds, butLao-lao was nowhere to be found.

Desperation set in. I was swallowing backtears. Her compass and the English address cards we had made for her were stillon the table.

Maybe she was just taking her daily walk and would returnany minute. She usually called Mom at work to let her know when she was leaving,so I called Mom, too. She would be able to confirm that Lao-lao had just left thehouse.

"What do you mean she left two hours ago?" I asked.Panic.

I did not know what to do. My mother called the police. I looked atmy books, The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, The Uffizi - Florence and ThePrado - Madrid, Short Story Anthology by John Updike. If Lao-lao were here, shewould put down her knitting and ask, "Nifin tianfie de shenme shu (Whatbooks did you borrow today)?" And then I would tell her.

Butsuddenly, I was the responsible one, searching for my grandmother as if she werea child who had wandered off in a mall. My parents were unable to get home fromwork, so it was all up to me. I had to find her. Why did I go to the library? Whydid she do this to me? In the three months she had been with us, this had neverhappened

Officer Reary, when he arrived, did not believe me when I saidthat Lao-lao was missing. He searched the house. I showed him every corner toprove that she was not, in fact, hiding under the bed. I did not like this manwho would not believe me. I got in his cruiser and buckled up to findher.

Officer Reary turned on the ignition, but went nowhere. He waslooking in the rearview mirror. I heard crunching gravel and turned around. Amaroon Mercury Sable had pulled into the driveway.

Lao-lao burst intotears of relief, joy, and fear that she had upset the family. She ran to me. Shesaid she was taking her usual walk, but it was so beautiful she had not paidattention and taken a wrong turn. Poor Lao-lao did not realize she had walked sofar. She could not read the street signs, nor retrace hersteps.

"Lao-lao, it's alright, you're home now ..." I reassuredher. Everyone was talking. Peter, the driver, was introducing himself. He haddriven Lao-lao home after Father Murphy found her on the church steps and figuredshe was related to my family. Officer Reary wanted to verify that this was, infact, my grandmother.

Later that night, Lao-lao recounted her saga forthe family. We laughed, picturing Lao-lao's small frame proudly strolling downthe street, getting totally lost in the beauty of our small village, and windingup at our church. She had knocked on the door, and when the old priest opened it,in tears, she made the sign of the cross out of confusion. She said Father Murphyprobably thought he had one very exotic convert on his hands! I laughed, too,because nothing short of a miracle had brought Lao-lao back.

I experienceda complete role reversal that day being responsible for a much older person.Lao-lao had raised me in China. She had fed me porridge, taken me to the market,and brought me around town on her bicycle. In America, she was in a world so farfrom all of that. I was no longer dependent on her. I was no longer thechild.

Lao-lao flew home a few weeks later. I think she liked America. Thehouse was empty again; there was less joy, and a void. The family was smaller,but her sandals stayed by the door. And there were two finished sweaters on mybed..




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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