The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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While my mom told me this memory, I decided to write in the point of view of my aunt. The departure from their home country, Vietnam, differs greatly in the memories of my mom Lisa and my aunt Quyen. Quyen was much older, about 15 while my mom was 10.

I'm the second oldest. I didn't know what was happening to our country, to our home, but I knew it was bad. My mom told Dong, Hung and I about the plan last week. We couldn't do anything but agree.

After sunset and a quiet dinner of Wanton soup, my youngest brother and sister arrived from my grandparents. They were about 3 and 2, and came up to my hip. We all shared the traditional sleek, black Asian hair. It was late so they were both sleepy, just being awoken from a nap. I said good-bye to my grandparents, with their grey balding hair. I stroked my ponytail, wondering when I would see them next, and if I would look like them. I knew it'd be years before I came back. I listened to their departing words.

"Keep them safe, listen to your mom. Don't wander away from your parents when you stop, not anywhere or you could be kidnapped."

I took Thuyen and Nguyet to my other sister Lisa. I held Nguyet with one hand and grabbed my sister's shoulder.

After we left the house, we waited in a village for our ship. I overheard my parents who said they paid the captain to take us away. The government couldn’t know. Only 300 of us would go. Mostly everyone wanted to leave, but not everyone could. The older people, like my grandparents, wouldn't abandon this place.

I remember seeing a family who slept in the dirt. We had a tent, something little but more than what most people had. For breakfast we had sweet buns we packed. My parents told us to eat them inside, so no one would steal from us.

But the other family had a little tired-eye girl. That night I snuck out, saving half my bun. I left it by the girl, careful to not get to close. They were sleeping, huddled in the cold. I left on the ship before the next morning.

Perspective

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Saigon

While my mom told me this memory, I decided to write in the point of view of my aunt. The departure from their home country, Vietnam, differs greatly in the memories of my mom Lisa and my aunt Quyen. Quyen was much older, about 15 while my mom was 10.

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Recorded by Jon Diep on December 2, 2014
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