LEVEL 2.8 ANGEL CHILD, DRAGON CHILD BY: MICHELLE MARIA SURAT
My sisters skipped through the stone gate two by two. Mother was not there to skip with me. Mother was far away in Vietnam she could not say. 20“Ut, my little one, be an Angel Child. Be happy in you new American School.” I hugged the wall and peeked around the corner. A boy with fire-colored hair pointed his finger. “Pajamas!” he shouted. “They wore white pajamas to school!” The American children tilted back their long nose, laughing. I turned away. “I want to go home to Father and Little Quang,” I said. Chi Hai’s hands curved over my shoulders.
“Children stay where parents place them, Ut. We stay.” Somewhere, a loud bell jangled. I lost my sisters in a swirl of rushing children. “Pa-jaa-mas!” they teased. Inside, the children did not sit together and chant as I was taught. Instead , they waved their hands and said their lessons one by one. I hid my hands , but the teacher called my name, “Nguyen Hoa.” Hoa is my true name, but I am Ut. Ut is my athome name---a tender name for smallest daughter. “Hoa,” the teacher said slowly. “Write your name, please.” She pressed a chalk-piece to my hand and wrote in the air.
“I not understand,” I whispered. The round-eyed children twittered. The red-haired boy poled my back. “Stand up, Pajamas!” I stood and bowed. “Chao buoi sang,” I said like an Angel Child. The children screeched like bluejays. I sat down and flipped up my desk top, hiding my angry Dragon face. Deep in my pocket, I felt
Mother’s gif—a small wooden matchbox with silvery edges. I took it out and traced the hao-
phuong on the lid. When I tapped the tiny
drawer, Mother’s eyes peeked over the edge. “I will keep you safe in here, Mother,” I told her. “See? You will just fit beside the crayons” Her listening face smiled. In my heart, I heard the music of her voice. “Do not be angry, my
smallest daughter,” she said. “Be my brave little Dragon.” So all day I was brave, even when...