Me and Myself

You meet yourself

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Two fountains of black hair spouted from just above my forehead. Despite this and my skirt, I looked embarrassingly boyish. My chubby little hands stubbornly attached themselves to grandma's dress.

"I want the red one! Not this one!" I spoke in fluent Chinese. People nearby paused to look over at us. I winced.

"Fine," grandma turned to my cousin, who was only six. "Keep our place in line, Zhen Li." She walked me over to the aisle, where I triumphantly grabbed a red lollipop. Grandma handed my forgotten green lollipop to Zhen Li. I grinned broadly, staring at my lollipop like it was the love of my life.

At the checkout, grandma had to let go of my hand to pay for everything. I took the opportunity to tear open the wrapper. The lollipop disappeared, as if by magic. The stick was now the only proof it had ever existed at all.

Then, suddenly, I started to breathe hard. I hunched over. It was almost comical. That is, until you saw my eyes - wide with panic. My hands clawed at my throat. I couldn't scream.

Looking around for help, I realized no one else was noticing. Grandma was counting bills at the checkout. Zhen Li was putting the groceries into the bag. The worst part was watching people pass by, some had even glanced over at me but none stopped to help.

I was dying. Unable to stand there any longer, I walked over to myself. I patted myself hard on the back and on the third time, I swallowed. Then, I left. Looking over my shoulder, I saw my younger self panting. She - I - had her eyes locked on me.

"Who are you?" She spoke fluent Chinese, more fluent than I can manage now. I felt a pang. This girl will begin to lose her grasp of Chinese when her grandma leaves for China. By the age of ten, even as she will struggle to grasp the written language, her speaking skills will be slowing slipping. Until, in the end, she cannot help but speak English. Until she will no longer consider herself Chinese. And never will she realize what she has lost.

"Nobody that you know." I replied. Though I had whispered, though there was much distance between us, I knew she had heard.

"Warp me back," I said to my inter-dimensional teleportation device, which happened to look very much like a watch. The girl's family had caught up with her. She waved her lollipop stick at them, smiling gleefully. Then, she grabbed young Zhen Li's lollipop before he had the chance to open it, ripped off the wrapping and stuck it into her mouth.

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