Filtered Morning Sunshine This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

June 7, 2013
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The sun flashed its warm beams into my eyes as I pushed past a lady in a sequined shirt. The iridescent sparkles threw dots of light dancing across the dirty, squashed candy wrappers on the pavement. A man in a crinkled business shirt strode past me purposefully, swinging his leather, tanned briefcase. I ducked past him and ran over to the spot where I had last seen my mother. Quite suddenly, a hand snaked around my arm, jerking me back. I gasped and quickly spun around, almost knocking down a rack full of neon bright t-shirts.

“There you are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere! Don’t leave my side again, I don’t want you accidentally wandering off and getting mixed up with the crowds,” my mother hurriedly said, out of breath, “You know Hong Kong, it’s always so busy and crowded here!” Over the hum of the bright red taxi cabs, my mom led me through the fast-paced horde of people. My head kept swiveling back and forth- there was just so much to see and hear! On the right, tightly packed food vendors selling grilled sausages and little frosted cakes, lowering their prices every ten minutes. These were crowded on the street, little chunky booths overflowing with food. To the left, there was a jungle of stuffed animals, a giant assortment of plastic toys, and cheap clunky souvenirs, all trapped in the small shops surrounding the street.

I was nine years old, surrounded by the many shops, buildings, and people of Hong Kong. It was an outdoor street, filled with tiny markets and shops. The buttery, smoky smell of barbequed beef flooded my senses, and as I whipped around, I saw a chubby, greasy man at an oily grill flip over a variety of chicken, beef, lamb, and pork. Glancing around, I watched, transfixed, as a skinny, wrinkly woman ran out of a tiny side shop with a tray of pink and white cakes, shouting the prices. A few people swept up the cakes immediately, throwing the cash hastily down onto the counter. They gnawed on the cakes and devoured them so fast, it seemed like they were starving!

Meanwhile, a group of tourists from China gabbled in Mandarin, some bargaining over the prices of items, others munching happily on sweet baked cookies. A flock of Americans admired and modeled silver charm bracelets, bought cheesy souvenirs, and wondered whether to buy the grilled beef on a stick. And, of course, there was always the sound of tomato red taxicabs rushing by, punctuated by the flowing sounds of Cantonese.

Meandering over to the food vendors, I watched with mild excitement as my mom bargained over the price of grilled beef and chicken pieces. When she handed the warm meat to me, I nibbled on a few pieces of barbequed meat. The smoky flavor filled my mouth, but with all the excitement around me, I couldn’t eat! People kept bumping into me, and I felt like I was on a rollercoaster, hanging on tightly to a bar, but still being jostled around.

However, I was perfectly at peace with all the crowded streets and no personal space. My mom hurriedly waved down a taxi and opened the door. I slid in quickly, the backs of my legs sticking to the hot black leather seats. As my mother slammed the door behind us, I reached around and felt for the ragged, dusty seat belt. The taxi jumped forward with a groan, its tires spitting out gravel. Wow, just look at all the people running back and forth, I noted. “The streets are so crowded,” I whispered absentmindedly.

I looked out the window. There were tall, shiny modern skyscrapers that seemed to touch the sky; dusty, old, crumpled apartments painted a faded cream color; a handful of dried up trees and scraggly shrubs loitering on yellowing lawns; a strange sulfur smell snaking under the chipped taxicab door; yet above all, I only saw the herculean and ancient buildings, heard the birds chirping in the skinny trees, smelled grilled meat, and felt the smooth leather sticking to my back. And as the gold morning sunshine slowly filtered through the canopy of bushes and trees, we drove away in that tomato red taxicab, full and content.

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