Received the most wonderful letter this week about Dragon Chica. I’m so happy that the characters resonated this deeply with a reader. I know this is how *I* feel about them, as though they are real and still going about their lives even after the last page of the book…
I asked the letter writer, Lynne, if I could post her letter on my blog, and she said, “Yes,” so here it is:
Dear May-lee Chai,
I want to comment on your book, Dragon Chica.
I think about it everyday now, I want to know how Sourdi is doing with her new baby boy. I want to know
how Nea is doing in college.
I want to check on Ma, and see if the girls are helping her out enough at the Palace.
I am involved, and pulled right into their life, their stories.
I was crying as I copied and wrote out just some of your beautiful quotes filled with great poetry! I could hardly type them out, and had to keep drying my reading glasses.
I have been practically holding my breath, and feel like my body is in isometrics, because I can’t find the exact words to express how profound I find your book to be! I feel like Dragon Chica has changed me.
I feel like part of the family, like a youngster peeking and sneaking around to hear all that is going on!
. . .
Most Sincerely and with Love,
I believe you got the story out just perfectly in your book about a family, and families trying to start a life after such atrocities.
The asphalt was melting beneath our flip flops
Whipping loose plastic bags down the sidewalk, flinging them into the tree branches and on tops of fire hydrants,
first drops of rain hit the top of my head like pricks from an acupuncturist’s needle.
the clouds like a flock of angry hens dropped hail the size of eggs upon our heads.
Thunder growled in the distance,
Only Ma and I remained awake in the pale blue light in the hour before dawn.
She was bathed in the light from the police cars. The red light made her face look angry and the blue light sad.
a filmy sheet of spidery handwriting, hardly more than a memory or a dream.
The highway stretched before us like the long, narrow blade of a knife.
Heat waves shimmered above the highway, forming imaginary lakes,
The sea was like that, deceptive. It could hide its anger until it was too late.
Her hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, her knuckles glowing yellow through her skin.
She wiped the tears away quickly on the back of her hand, again and again, the gesture like a cat cleaning its whiskers.
A paper bag blew across the asphalt, then on a light pole, flapping furiously like a pinned butterfly.
just in time to see the cloud disintegrate into a hundred seagulls.
their feathers flying like snowflakes.
Another old man, skinny as a wishbone,
a long purple scar like a serpent running from her cheek to her throat.
when her head hurt, when she grew dizzy, when her heart stopped beating.
‘What a lucky woman!
like water, and he is running away from me, he is running towards the shiny metal thing.
inching across the parking lot, surrounding the Palace like an inky tide.
sitting with head in his hands, before a huge mound of napkin rolls, staring at them as though they were a pile of broken bones.
waded through the moonlight to the window.
I smiled, sleepy-like, just for her. But she was wrong. It was a memory.
dragging the mop with one hand, leaving a glistening trail behind on the floor like a snail.
The dishes in the cabinets chattered like teeth.
Auntie’s laugh. It sounded like a person choking.
He stood hunched over, bent like a comma,
I realized then what good liars adults were.
hovering in the sky like a giant silver dollar.
the orange flame of her lighter hissing as it touched the end of her cigarette.
I smelled the smoke before I saw it, twisting through the air, like milk through tea.
When she laughed, her eyes became perfect crescents, like the quarter moon.
My ears hurt listening to the silence.
whipping my hair about my face like a widow’s veil.
I thought of my sister’s voice in my ear, the tiny sound like something breaking.
She waved to us as the snow swirled around her like ashes.
The windshield wipers squawked and squeaked, the sound of something dying violently.
they didn’t writhe under the spray of bullets, they simply
fell in line, like marionettes whose strings had been cut.
she wiped her hands on her apron, then patted her hair down-
Mrs. Guterman, her eyes rimmed in red.
as she sailed like a great black kite through the sky.
The sound of her tears like glass breaking in their hearts.
his veins protruded like worms along his skull;
My heart beat against the confines of my ribcage, a hummingbird trapped.
his voice was the sound of bones if they could speak, bones that were left exposed in barren fields, bleached in the sun, dragged by feral dogs, gnawed by animals with sharp teeth, broken, abandoned, forgotten.
The stars like distant eyes, blinking…