A bird chirped in the distant background and I opened my eyes to Saturday morning. I checked my phone. 8:30. “Ughh, it’s so early,” I whispered, but I slammed my hand down on my blaring alarm as usual and dragged myself out of bed. I walked into the bathroom as usual and stared brushing my teeth. My eyes were puffy and the normal double eyelids, I had, disappeared into single eyelids. I sighed and looked into my reflection, wanting to cry all over again because of the monster standing in front of me
It didn’t matter anymore, I thought. I was going to make myself more American. If other people couldn’t see how I belonged, then, I have to make myself belong, I thought as I grabbed my stash of makeup and hurriedly packed them into my little, baby blue Adidas backpack. I opened my phone and quickly looked up a quick tutorial for mocha eyeshadow.
“Aubrey? Are you up? I need to take you to the mall a little bit early,” Ma Ma called from downstairs.
“Just a minute, Ma Ma,” I said and I ran to my closet and threw the door open. A yellow, tube top (Ma Ma would have never let me bought that, but it was a gift a Sydney) sat on the top shelf and I quickly grabbed it along with a pair of booty shorts. I quickly grabbed my bag and raced downstairs.
“I need to take Nai Nai to get groceries for tomorrow,” Ma Ma said as she tossed me a bag of breakfast. She stared at my outfit for a second and opened her mouth to say something. I looked at her.
“What,” I said, a little passive aggressively.
“Nothing,” Ma Ma replied, “What happened to your eyes.”
“Oh, I’m probably a bit tired,” I lied and waved hello to Nai Nai was opening the door into the garage.
“Did you stay up late,” Ma Ma interrogated, suspiciously.
“No, Ma Ma,” I said and headed out behind Nai Nai. Ma Ma followed me out the front door and into the car, “Alright then. Well, let me know when you girls are done.”
“Okay, Ma Ma,” I said as I climbed into the cold black seats of our car. The drive was as usual quiet, aside from Nai Nai, who was making small talk with Ma Ma, who was too tired to talk. She simply nodded and listened.
The streets were empty, bare from the weekday traffic. The birds who usually flew around in circles, simply stood still on the power lines. An old lady was walking on the sidewalk with a small puppy.
We pulled into the parking lot and I was immediately greet by huge flashy bulletin board.
“Sale, sale, sale,” the boards read. Today is going to be good haul day, I thought as Ma Ma pulled into the parking lot.
“You should buy some jackets. There seems to be a good sale,” Ma Ma said as I slipped off the cars. “Are your friends here?”
“Probably not, but you can go. My friends will be here in a moment,” I said as I tried to shoo Ma Ma off. Ma Ma looked at her watch and then at Nai Nai, who nodded at her.
“It’s okay. I can wait.”
I nodded and took out my phone to text my friends.
Me: I’m here yll. Lemme know when you guys arrive.
Amethyst: Give me 10!
Sydney: A little more than 10!
Me: Haha! Okie.
Amethyst: Wait! Where are we meeting?
Sydney: Benches in front of the south mall entrance?
Vivian: Yea sounds good. I’m heading there anyhow.
Me: Sure! I’m on the west, but I’ll walk over.
I slipped my phone back into my bag and ran toward where Ma Ma was parked.
“Ma Ma, my friends and I are going to meet at the south entrance. I’m going to head over there now.”
“Okay. Well, text me when you see them,” Ma Ma replied.
“Make sure you don’t go off with anyone you don’t know,” Nai Nai added.
“And make sure you don’t do anything, I don’t approve of,” Ma Ma added as she backed out of the parking space and sped off.
“Okay, I won’t,” I called out and I quickly entered the mall.
The mall, I noticed, was quieter than usual when I walked in. Most of the stores were just beginning to open. I looked behind me and I could see people beginning to trail into the parking lot. I guess it wasn’t as quiet I had expected. I walked through the mall, heading toward the south entrance. A sales associate rushed out of a makeup shop and quickly turned on an open sign. A tray filled with pretzels came out of the ovens, filling the mall with a salty, warm smell. Smells good, I thought as I made a mental note to come by later.
Slowly, I approached the south mall entrance. The benches lining the front were still empty and I checked my phone. I still had eight minutes.
I quickly rushed into the mall bathroom, grabbing my makeup from my bag. People are gonna see that I belong, I thought as I applied a tan foundation. I quickly tried to apply the makeup look that Claire always wore to school. I took out a brush and brushed a bit of dark mocha eyeshadow on my eyelids.
The bathroom door opened, startling me as I jerked my hand upwards accidentally. A middle age woman walked in and quickly disappeared into a stall. I sighed. The eyeshadow looked a bit weird, but it was still okay, I thought as I tried to bled it in the best I could. I checked my phone. I only had a few minutes left and I reached in my bag to grab a small tube of glue. I applied a thin layer of glue onto a fake eyelash and glued an eyelash to my face. I closed my eyes as I let it dry. When I opened my eyes again, I looked into the mirror. My eyes look so much bigger, I thought as I happily applied the finish touches of blush and lipstick. I looked at myself. This looks good, I thought as I quickly put my stuff away just as my phone dinged.
Amethyst: I’m hereeeee.
Vivian: Haha! Just pulled in.
Sydney: Amethyst, I see you!
Me: I’m coming from the bathroom.
Amethyst: Okay! I’m waiting by the entrance.
With that, I quickly shoved everything in my bag and rushed out to meet my friends. I no longer seemed to be the odd one out in my group, I thought as I raced to the entrance.
“AUBREY,” Amethyst squealed as she looked at me, “You look so GOOD!”
“Awww thanks,” I said, smiling as Vivian and Sydney joined us.
“Hey girly,” Vivian said as we exchanged hugs. I smiled happily as the four of us linked arms. Today, is going to be a good day, I thought as we headed inside the mall.
We walked for a few minutes, walking by different stores.
“Let’s stop here,” Vivian said, pointing at a cute shop with a pink and white pattern. We all entered the store. Immediately, the four of us started snatching clothes off the rack for ourselves and for each other.
“I think, this will look good on you,” I said as I passed a short pink, denim skirt to Sydney.
“Oh this is for you,” she replied, holding a black lace top.
“Guys, what do you think about this,” Amethyst said as she came out of the fitting room with a hot pink dress with shiny sparkles and a ridiculous amount of cuts.
“OMG,” Vivian laughed as she took out her photo and begun snapping photos. Amethyst began to strike different poses while Sydney and I could barely contain our laughter. The four of us laughed and soon picked out the outfits that we genuinely liked before heading out.
“Ready to go to the next store,” Amethyst asked as we all nodded and followed her. We repeated the same pattern there, snatching clothes for each other and ourselves. Soon, after multiple stores and different outfits, our hands became heavy, but our faces glowed with happiness. I had forgotten about everything that had happened the day before.
Lunch time arrived and the four of us all entered our go-to restaurant, BJs. I felt my stomach. I wasn’t feeling too hungry, but it was better to eat at least something now, I thought as I slid into the seat at the booth.
“I don’t want to eat too much,” Amethyst said as if she heard my thoughts and looked at the menu, trying to find something small.
“Me too. Can we share something,” Sydney asked as she looked at Vivian and I.
“Yes, definitely, there is no way I’m going to be eating that much food,” I said.
“Sure. How about two flatbreads, one order of egg rolls, and let’s share a pasta,” Vivian asked. We all agreed and twenty minutes later, the food arrived at our table.
“We ordered too much,” Amethyst said, “AGAIN.”
“Yea..we did. That was a lot bigger than I thought,” Vivian said as she pointed to the flatbread.
“VIVIAN,” I exclaimed and the rest of us laughed as we all began to take small portions of each food.
“If you eat one small portion, but a lot of portions, it makes you feel better,” Sydney said as she took a single strand of pasta.
“SYDNEY,” we all yelled, laughing, “JUST EAT THE FOOD.”
She laughed and took a much bigger serving of pasta instead. The food quickly disappeared from the table and leaned back.
“I definitely ate way more than expected,” Amethyst said rubbing her stomach.
“And, I am definitely bloated,” I added glancing down at stomach. We all laughed. This definitely wasn’t the first time this has all happened. We paid for the bill and the four of us, a few pounds heavier than before, marched merrily back into the mall to do a bit of more shopping.
Store after store, we traveled. We tried on sunglasses, tops, bottoms, and even, dresses that we had no time to wear. We went between different stores and tried to pick out outfits for each other. But, the outfits we picked for each other soon became more outrageous than the next. Amethyst picked out a clown like top with fringy red ruffles.
“Vivian, this definitely suits you, you clown,” she said as she handed Vivian the shirt.
“Well, here’s a tacky pair of jeans with sunflowers all over them,” Vivian replied handing her a definitely, five year old outfit. Sydney and I laughed and continued to browse through the skirts section.
“I kind of want a cute denim skirt,” Sydney said as we looked around.
“You mean, something like this,” I teased picking up a skirt which had so many rips in it, that I had no idea what it covered.
“Aubrey! My mom would kill me,” Sydney exclaimed, but she took the skirt anyways. I laughed.
As a few more hours dashed by, our hands begun to grow heavy with bags.
“Uhhh, I’m exhausted,” Vivian said as she collapsed on a bench outside.
“Sameee,” Amethyst said, “Can I text my mom to pick me up?”
“Yea, it’s getting dark anyways,” Sydney said looking out at the horizon.
A car honked.
“Oh! That’s my mom. See you guys,” Vivian cried as she dashed out into the parking lot and disappeared in a white car.
Another car honked.
“Sydney, I think your ride is here,” I said as I pointed to what looked like her mom’s car.
“Oh yea,” she said and she quickly disappeared.
“Oh! My mom wants me to meet her on the other side of the mall,” Amethyst said, looking at her phone, “Will you be okay?”
“Oh yea, I need to go to the bathroom anyhow,” I said remembering that I was still wearing makeup that I definitely did not leave the house with.
“See ya then,” Amethyst said as she left.
I quickly veered left and entered the bathroom. I walked to the sink and started washing my hands. A elderly woman was next to me, washing her hands as well.
“You look very lovely,” she said complimenting my makeup.
“Thank you,” I replied, smiling.
“You don’t look very Asian,” she said as she threw out her paper towel and opened the door. “As a compliment,” she added before disappearing.
An odd, hesitant feeling rose in me. Maybe at the beginning of the day, I would have felt happy to receive the compliment, I thought as I touched my cheek. I looked at the closed door badly. Was it really that bad to look Asian. What if this is how I look, I thought and looked up in the mirror, expecting to see my face. Instead, a foreign face stared back at me.
This doesn’t even look like me, I thought staring at the alien reflection. I reached out to touch the reflection. I knew that the person looking back at was me. Who else would it be?
I looked down. But at the same time, this wasn’t me. You can’t throw away your heritage. Brians’s words repeated in my head. I stared at myself, looking defeated at the unknown reflection staring back at me. I wiped off my makeup and threw the towels in the trash can. I stared at myself in the mirror. My normal face appeared, staring back at me through the reflection.
I thought that seeing my normal face would make me feel better, but now…now even the face that I had always known no longer seemed to be mine. Who am I, I thought as I walked out the bathroom door.