"One bath a day is enough !" screamed Jenny.
"I'm already clean ! Stop ! I don't like sop ! I
don't like washing my hair. Don't you do that to
me again, Sue, or I'll tell Momma !"
"Hah !" I
said. "Who do you think sent me here to clean up
a filthy little monster ? Good golly, how can
you get dirty so quickly ?"
As soon as Jenny
hit the warm water, and the little yellow rubber
duck and rubber boat began to float, and she
could splash all over me, she was content to be
bathed, shampooed, and dressed in her very best
clothes. After all, she was going to a special
Five o'clock came and went,
and though we waited and waited, we didn't see
our father's big green car turn into our
driveway. The invited guests sat around and
tried to keep up a cheerful conversation. Momma
got up and began to pace around nervously.
Usually Dally flung open the door at four, and
sometimes even sooner.
Seven o'clock, and
still we were waiting. Dad's favorite meal which
Momma had spent so much time preparing had long
turned cold. Jenny was growing hungry, sleepy
and cross, demanding every second, "When is
Daddy coming ?" Her white dress didn't look so
clean now. Her smoothly waved hair began to curl
up and look wind blown.
My stomach was
growling and I was beginning to feel as worried
as Momma looked. She kept pacing back and forth,
going to the window and staring out.
"Oh !" I
cried, having caught sight of a car turning into
our tree-lined driveway. "Maybe that's Dad
coming now ! But the car that drew to a stop
before our front door was white, not green. On
the top was one of those huge red and blue
flashing lights. An emblem on the side of that
white car read "POLICE'.
Momma smothered a cry
when two policemen dressed in blue uniforms
approached our front door and rang our doorbell.
Momma seemed frozen. Her hands hovered near her
throat; her heart came up and darkened her eyes.
Something wild and frightening burgeoned in my
heart just from watching her reactions.
Zhu answered the door and allowed the two
policemen to enter. They glanced about uneasily,
seeing, I'm sure that this was an assembly
gathered together for a birthday party. All they
had to do was glance into the dining room and
see the festive table, the balloons suspended
from the chandelier and the gifts at the corner.
"Mr Chen ?" inquired the older of the two
officers as he looked at my mother. She nodded
slightly, stiffly. I drew nearer, Jenny was on
the floor, playing with her doll and showing
little interest in the unexpected arrival of the
The kindly-looking uniformed
man stepped closer to Momma. "Mrs Chen," he
began in a flat voice that sent immediate panic
into my heart, "we're terribly sorry, but
there's been an accident on the Pan Island
Expressway." A long sigh escaped from Momma's
choked throat. she reached out and drew me
against her side. I could feel her quivering all
over, just as I was.
"Ma'am," the officer
continued very solemnly, "it pains me dreadfully
to bring you bad news on what seems a special
occasion." He faltered and glanced around with
embarrassment. "I'm terribly sorry, ma'am ..
everybody did what they could to get Mr Chen
out..., well, ma'am ... he was, well, killed
instantly from what the doctor says."