Sunday, March 3, 2013

Furniture on the ocean in an umbrella boat

My father needs to get the dollhouse figures from the antique shop he owns in China.  I am hoping that he will bring the dollhouse furniture as well.  And my baby elephant.

He says no.

He says there will be no room on the boat for the furniture.  The figures is all we can go back for.

He pulls two boats like kites out of the back of his car.  They are light weight fabric boats and remind me of umbrellas.  We are going to sail across the ocean in them, his boat pulling mine.  I am scared but I don't say so.

We glide on the ocean at nighttime.  The wind pushes us quickly across to China.  When we land, the woman who maintains my father's shop is waiting for us on the beach.  She is riding the elephant that lives in the shops courtyard.  Men who are hooded and as tall as the elephant flank her and escort us to the shop.  It is nighttime and we are quiet.

At the shop, my father places the figures in an envelope and tucks them into my coat.  He tells me to keep them safe.  It is then we realize that the boats have been folded like umbrellas and packed into the boxes.  My father begins to scream.  We are trapped.  The guard is coming.

Quickly my father begins grabbing things: his apple shaped chair, a box of political pamphlets, the tray of dollhouse furniture, a box of sake glasses, and my baby elephant.  He tells the tall hooded men to fix the boats.  He tells me to watch the stack of objects he has gathered and wait for him right here.  He then leaves.

I watch the tall hooded men reconstruct the boats into some new version that I hope will float.  Some of the bracers are missing and they look even flimsier than before.  But I ignore this worry that grows in my chest: I now have my dollhouse furniture and my baby elephant.

My father returns with my brother.  He runs us all down to the beach and he tells me that I will have to pull the boat caravan and keep my brother safe.

"But papa, I can't swim."

He tells me that I can indeed swim, but I have just forgotten how.  He places my dollhouse furniture, the baby elephant and my brother in my little boat in the front.  He ties his boat to mine and gets in with the boxes of pamphlets and sake glasses, the apple chair and himself.  Swim, he tells me.  Swim, the bad men are coming.

I get in the water and begin pulling the boats.  My brother is crying and my father's boat has sunk.  I cannot swim and the other shore is very far away.

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