top of page

It's the Little Things

Updated: May 22

Dear Asian Youth,

“Hey, say something in Chinese,” my friend asks, an inquisitive expression on her face.

I open my mouth, Mandarin already dancing on the tip of my tongue, and I let it hang for a moment, uncertain and a little afraid, a little insecure. Flicking a glance at my friend again, I take in gold and dark blonde streaks and eyes the color of a summer sky and breathe in, my insecurity growing like weeds.

Snapping my mouth shut, I shake my head and cover up my pained grimace with a stiff smile, but it’s a futile effort. My friend dons a sad expression, disappointment lining her features and twisting her lips into a frown. “Come on, please,” she begs, a soft incessant whine fitting for the 12 years that we both are.

It’s always been difficult for me to resist her pleas, and within minutes, I give in, albeit reluctantly. “Okay. Okay fine,” I huff, quirking a lip as cerulean blue orbs grow bright with hope and anticipation. I take a moment to think of something to say, something nice and sweet and simple. Once I figure it out, I scoot closer to her, close enough that inky strands tangle themselves with dusty blonde. “你很可爱,” I murmur, whisper-soft and quiet as if I’m imparting some sort of secret. I’m 12 years old, at an age where I haven’t even hit my growth spurt, haven’t figured out my style, haven't figured out exactly who I am, (I’m caught between Asian and American and a mix of it both and that’s confusing). So maybe, maybe I am–

Imparting some sort of secret that is.

My friend looks at me, an unreadable expression on her face, still slightly supple with baby fat and skin a soft beige. (so different then mine, then my yellow undertones and light tawny skin) She furrows her brows. “Eww, it sounds so weird,” she says, nose scrunched and pink lips pursed in distaste.

Something in my gut drops at that.

“Ha ha, I know right? That’s why I said I didn’t want to,” I reply, tone light and silvery, a poor reflection of what I’m truly feeling. I clench my hands, nails digging into warm flesh, but the pain from my nails is nothing compared to the one growing in my chest and gathering in my throat.