2007 3rd-4th Grade Prose Winner
"Snap." Ling Chi snapped her two blue and pink fans shut and opened them and fluttered them in front of her face like a flower or a butterfly about to take flight. Ling Chi was practicing her fan dance in her room. She lived in a small apartment on Lafayette Street. She was about to start the dance when her red Samsung rang. Ling Chi wanted to let it ring but she recognized the caller. It was her grandmother.
Grandmother wants me to watch the shop. Great. Grandmother asked me…13 year old me…to watch the shop!
Ling Chi gestured with her fan and shut it dramatically. As Ling Chi ran for the door, she screamed, "Mom, I’m watching the shop for Grandmother."
Ling Chi rushed out into the street. A cab honked at her. She passed the grumpy vegetable man whose produce was organized in perfect rows. Seeing him reminded her that she hadn’t eaten lunch. She skipped into her favorite restaurant, The Bowl of Rice recognizing her friend Ling.
"Ling" called Ling Chi. "Hey, Ling-a-Ding" said Ling.
"Can I have a bowl of rice, two pork dumplings and broccoli?" asked Ling Chi. "Of course," smiled Ling. "Here you go," winked Ling. "Bye, bye," they whispered to each other.
Walking to Grandmother’s shop, Ling devoured her meal.
As Ling Chi arrived, Grandmother asked, "I have a new jade Buddha. Would you like to see it?" "Sure, Grandmother."
She and I walked to the back room where there was a giant glass case full of jade and precious stone necklaces, rings and engraved bangles. Behind the counter rested the Buddhas, old parasols, large fans and silk dresses embroidered in gold. Nearby the changing screens stood painted with glamorous miniature dragons and big ones too. Best of all were the jade Buddhas. She sold small ones as big as an inch and bigger ones about two feet tall and giant ones about six feet. The new Buddha was seven feet tall! Both Grandmother and I were amazed at its size.
"Ling Chi, the dance academy has picked you to lead the Chinese New Year parade with your friends, Ching Hi and Mei Lan. They will be doing ribbon swirls around you as you dance."
"That’s so great Grandmother! I really have to practice," said Ling Chi enthusiastically.
"Now watch the shop while I find your fans. You shall also have a new dress with sterling hairpins."
Grandmother returned, handing me two truly gorgeous fans embroidered in flowers and trimmed with pearls. They were the most beautiful ones I had ever seen. I lifted the fans. They felt light as feathers.
Ling Chi and Grandmother watched the shop until nine o’clock. Walking home they passed a little cart selling lucky bamboo and "green-green"- the liquid that gives the bamboo nutrients to make it grow. But, instead of going straight to Lafayette, they crossed to Grand to avoid the fish stalls. Grandmother hated the smell of raw fish. It made her sick. Grandmother pulled Ling Chi’s father and mother aside to talk to them about the parade. Ling Chi practiced her fan dance over the next five days, imagining herself dressed in silk. Finally the day came. Mother had cleaned the house to prepare for the New Year, letting the new in and the old out.
Ling Chi wore her special pink and red dress with the design of lotuses, a river with waterlillies and a temple in the background. As she adjusted her last ruby hairpin, she knew it was time to go by the crack of the first firecracker. "Pop!"
Her mother led her to Mott Street where she would perform. Lanterns lit the streets. Chinese banners hung in the windows wishing everyone Good Luck. Ling Chi waited nervously for the Dragon to appear, her cue to start the fan dance.
The Dragon was shiny. It’s huge mouth was grinning. It’s legs were dancing. The scales shimmered, illuminated by the lanterns. The wave of the Dragon slowed. Her music started. "Swish." Ling Chi snapped her fans in front of her face and reopened them. She raised her left arm towards the heavens and a silk ribbon flashed in front of her eyes. She twirled forward and fluttered her fans, repeating this motion twice. Then, the ribbons enveloped her in swirls of silk. She disappeared into the circle of red.
The music stopped. Ling Chi took her bow. "Crackle, crack, crack" sounded the fireworks at midnight. The New Year had begun.