A/N- I got bored so I wrote this. This is my first autobiographic piece so do go easy on me. Besides, it's not exactly my best work since I'm not used to writing in first person just yet.
By: Tsuki no Reikou
"Take this to Simon, okay?" He hands me a box with a cable car design on it and I accept it, preparing to run back to the tourist shop that my uncle works at in Fisherman's Wharf.
San Francisco, California. The weather changes constantly and the fog rolls in without warning. Famous for Castro, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard street, and many other landmarks that's been used in the media. A city where most of its economy is depended on tourism, Fisherman's Wharf was one of those famous sites, home to Pier 39, the Ferry Building, Ghirardelli Square, and the infamous Bushman who scares the hell out of the tourists and locals alike. The outsiders enjoy the seafood while the residents say it's a tourist trap. Not that we're all complaining about it.
When I was younger, around 7 or 8, I had nowhere to go during the weekends. I could not stay at home because Mom had to work along with Uncle (his name was Simon). So Mom devised a plan.
I was to go with Uncle to his work in Fisherman's Wharf.
I always enjoyed those days since I got to eat things Mom would probably not have let me eat. He works at a tourist booth in a sort of alleyway between a restaurant and a jewelry store that sold pearls. The things he sold were mainly trinkets and toys like a miniature cable car that makes music if you turn a key. People come and go, occasionally buying the things we sold. I often helped out, especially when he was busy or something. Of course, it was sort of uncomfortable and awkward to buy stuff from a little kid but it worked out when they realized that I knew what I was doing and whatnot.
Hell, it was the first time I ever had experience in the business world.
I ran errands for Uncle as well, running down the block to other tourist stores where his friends work (they sell outfits and perfume and jewelry instead). It's usually to ask them for more supplies or some information about one thing or another. I never really remembered what I was doing.
I enjoyed running around the place because it can get boring just sitting in the same spot and making sure the people won't steal anything when my uncle wasn't looking. I watched the Bushman scare the locals and tourists while laughing occasionally. I dodged the people that were walking whenever I run down the sidewalk and I waited till my uncle's friends were free to talk to me.
I was obedient and everyone told me so. I even got free food if it was during lunchtime.
However, there had always been something that knawed at my mind the entire time.
They had always referred to Uncle as my dad.
"Is your dad here?"
"Take this to your dad, 'kay?"
"Your dad's doing something for me, Nancy, so look after the store."
When they first referred to Uncle as my father, I wanted to say something, tell them that I had no idea who they had been talking about. After all, my dad was still in China, looking after my younger brother Danny while Mom worked to earn the money to get them here as I studied hard in elementary school. It wasn't until I noticed the subtle hints after the fifth time that I realized that they had been talking about my uncle everytime. Despite this discovering, I still didn't bring it up, knowing that they think Uncle was my father and that I knew as well, even if they were wrong. I didn't want any complications.
However, there was this one time that I never forgot. It had been the first time I had to refer to him as my dad.
It had been a regular day and I was standing guard as my uncle was off getting lunch for us. A friend of his (I couldn't remember any of their names now) came and, after noticing only I was there, said, "Where's your dad?"
"He's getting lunch." I replied, stacking the empty boxes as a game I had made up. I knew who she had been referring to after hearing it so many times.
"When is he coming back?" she asked.
"Sorry, I don't know."
"Oh. Well, tell him I'm looking for him, okay?"
I nodded. "I'll tell him."
After that conversation, she left. However, it wasn't long before another of his friends walked up. My uncle still wasn't back yet and I had moved on to playing with the metal balls that you roll in your hand. "Hey, Nancy."
I looked up from the balls and gave a small smile. "Hi. If you're looking for him, he's not back yet."
He had blinked before saying, "Huh? What's he doing?"
I had realized I couldn't back out of it when I had already started saying, "My... dad's getting lunch."
"Ah. You know, I believe that's the first time I've heard you call him dad." he noted with a smile.
Panicking, I forced a smile and said, "Yeah."
"Well, I just wanted to talk to him since I'm on my break." He then waved good-bye and walked off, leaving me to panic internally.
I had called Uncle 'dad'. That's bad, very bad. I had been worried about what would happen if Uncle or Mom heard about this. 'Would I get in trouble?' I wondered briefly as I helped a customer find the cable car he wanted. Luckily, nothing happened to me but I was too relieved to ponder if they had heard but just didn't bring it up.
As I grew older, Mom moved out of the apartment we shared with Uncle since it had gotten too small, what with my grandmother, older cousin, Dad, and Danny having managed to come here. Uncle changed jobs and my Saturdays were busy with Chinese school. We didn't see each other as much anymore.
It wasn't the last time someone referred to Uncle Simon as my dad, however.
When I was only 12, I was in the room I shared with my cousin Sophia, surfing the 'net when my grandma came in. I looked up and she held out 40-dollars. Looking at it curiously, I glanced at her and said, in Cantonese, "What is that?" It's only now I realized how stupid it sounded; it was money after all.
"Take it." she urged, putting it in my hand. "Your uncle gave it to me to give to you."
"Oh." I quickly put it in my desk drawer before returning to my seat near the computer. I had known that only Grandma had contact with Uncle but it was a secret kept between her, me, and Danny. "Why?"
"Your dad wanted you to have it." she then said. I froze, remembering the times back at Fisherman's Wharf. I turned to her in surprise.
"I thought you said Uncle gave it to you." I pointed out, keeping my shock from showing in my accusation.
Grandma sighed before saying, "Uncle is really your father." With that vague statement, she left, leaving me behind with my thoughts.
'Uncle's... my dad?' I thought. 'But... but...'
I had thought up of several reasons to try to convince myself that there was no way he was my dad. After all, wouldn't Mom have told me of such a thing? It was rather important after all. There had been many wedding photos of Mom and my dad in their room; I had seen them everytime I went in there.
"There was just no way Uncle was my father," I said to the empty room. "No way."
However, the seed of doubt had been planted and I began subconsciously staring at my younger brother, wondering if he was really my brother or if he was a half-brother or if he was even a step-brother. I was worried and I told some of my friends about it. They listened to my troubles but they didn't have a solution that I could do. The only thing I could do was to confront my mother about it but I couldn't risk it. There could be a chance what Grandma told me was not true.
But the signs were there, just hidden.
During the spring of seventh grade, Mom began forbidding me from meeting with Uncle and never told me the reason why. However, I went behind her back and met him in secret, with only Grandma, Danny, and my friends knowing of the meetings. Mom never knew until I was stupid enough to forget about the money I had gotten from Uncle that was in my jeans' pocket.
It was laundry day and Mom had gone through my stuff without my permission. She found the money and, waving the money at me, shouted angrily in Cantonese, "How did you get so much money!?"
"From Grandma." Which was true since some of them were from Grandma and she was the one who had said to say it was from her.
"I doubt she would give you so much." Mom accused, looking at me with dark eyes.
"I saved up." I said coolly. However, I was furious that she had gone through my stuff. She had no right!
"You got them from Uncle, didn't you." It wasn't a question but an accusation. My silence was enough of an answer for her, though. "Damn it, Nancy, I told you not to meet him!"
'Then why won't you tell me why!?' I screamed in my head. Instead, I lied. "I'm not."
"Don't lie to me." she hissed, glaring at me. "This," she waved the money at me, "is proof enough you're getting money from him."
"I got them from Grandma." I repeated, suppressing the urge to show any type of weakness in front of her. She would have taken it as even more proof.
With one last glare, Mom walked out of the room, still holding the money. With a deep breath, I closed the door and laid on the bed that was underneath mine (I slept on a bunk bed). It wasn't long before I heard yelling outside. The door to the room opened and Danny walked in.
"Shut the door." I told him in English. It was like an unspoken rule between us: English between us and Cantonese with the rest of the family.
Danny obeyed and sat on the carpeted floor, turning on his blue Gameboy Advance SP. "That sound like Mom and Grandma."
"It is." I felt instantly guilty, knowing that Mom was yelling at Grandma for the misdeeds I myself had done. Trying to get my mind off of it because I hated it whenever they yelled at each other, I turned on the computer and tried to ignore the muffled yells and shouts that were between Mom and Grandma.
I never forgot that confrontation but I still met with Uncle, although I learned to be more discreet. I knew that phone calls would not work if the phone bill showed the caller ID so I told him to block his number. It worked... until I lost my cell phone and therefore, lost his number.
However, that didn't stop my plans. I knew Uncle's e-mail address so I began communicating with him the only way Mom could not monitor via the internet. Even to this day, I'm e-mailing him of my day and when I could meet him. I could not just go out and meet him; I had to have a good excuse or Mom would be suspicious. Since my friends knew that I could not see him because of my mom, Destiny - my best friend - organized outings among us and I would e-mail him to meet me there at a specific time.
However, the main proof that caused me to really wonder was this year in 2007, during the end of my freshman year. I was with Mom on the bus when she asked me when Danny's graduation from fifth grade would be.
"June 11, Mom." I replied promptly in Cantonese - as I usually do. "The same as your anniversary."
Mom's face brightened as she recalled. "Oh yes. That was it. So what do you think your dad has for me?"
I shrugged. "What anniversary is this?" I remembered reading somewhere that there were specific gifts you give on certain milestones of anniversaries, like the fifth, the tenth, the twenty-fifth, and etcetera.
"The tenth." she replied.
I froze and turned to her. "The tenth?"
"Yes, the tenth." she repeated.
"Are you sure it's the tenth anniversary?" I pressed. She nodded, confused on why I was asking the same question again. I had wanted to be sure I had heard correctly.
'The tenth anniversary. That means they've been married for ten years. But... I'm fourteen! Fifteen this year!' My eyes mentally widened. 'Then... is Uncle really my dad after all?'
I had been scared. It was as if my entire life had been a lie. After thinking back, I realized that Mom has never once tried to talk to me about any of this. I knew that Grandma had often refer to Uncle as my dad in their arguments so Mom had to have known that I was confused since surely she knew that Grandma told me that Uncle was my dad.
She never once tried to clear up any misunderstandings or loose ends.
As it sank in my mind, I became bitter with my mom and began wondering if she was hiding anything else from that I was unaware of. I lost most of my trust in my mother and told of this fact to my friends Morgan, Yvette, Denisha, and Jordan.
"So wait, why doesn't your mom tell you?" Yvette asked.
I shrugged, not knowing the answer. "She hates him. That's all I know."
I knew nothing else of this problem. Am I the result of an affair? Perhaps that's why Mom doesn't want me to know. Does that mean Danny is my half-brother? Or was what Mom have been joking about true all these times? That I was found on the streets of China and picked up by my mom.
I no longer knew of my true identity. Lost among the web of lies and distrust.