China Has No Cousins
by Patricia Turner
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It was two years since I'd last seen Katie, and she was coming home. I couldn't contain my excitement, and went on and on about it to my best friend, Mike.
Katie was born just a week before I was and we were more like twins than cousins. From sleeping in the same crib, to Brownies, to softball, and double dating together our freshman year in high school, we were like the ocean and the beach, always together.
Then Katie's mom and dad, my Aunt Jo and Uncle Mack, divorced, and Jo took Katie and her little brother John and moved to Tulsa. We kept up with each other through instant messenger, but missed little things like whispering together under our sheet tents at night after we were supposed to be asleep. Church camp, sunbathing on the beach, rollerblading, shopping; so many things we used to do together like a pair of well worn sneakers, you just can't do online. I missed her terribly.
Mike had heard my stories ever since we met a few months before. He seemed to like hearing about all of our escapades. He laughed at the seemingly ordinary pranks we pulled, like toilet papering friends houses and sneaking into pro baseball games at the 5th inning when no one really cared. "Sounds like lot of fun, Susie" he'd say.
Realizing I'd been going on and on about myself and Katie, I felt guilty one day and asked Mike about his cousins. A strangely sad look crossed his face and his inscrutable brown eyes looked off into the distance for a moment. "I have no cousins," he finally replied. He seemed so sad, I didn't know what to say, and so let it pass.
I picked up Katie at the airport. I was waiting at the baggage carousel when she came through the one-way security doors. Even though she seemed taller and slimmer now that she was a college sophomore, like me, she was the same old Katie. As soon as we saw each other we raced across the packed baggage pick up area and hugged each other, whirling around in a happy dance.
"Is Mike here?" she asked, as soon as we'd spent a few minutes catching up. Of course, I'd told her as much about Mike as I'd told Mike about her.
"Mike had a paper to write. He said he'll try to meet us for dinner," I told her, dialing his cell phone.
“No, Susie. It…it not going well. I catch you tomorrow. Ok?” Mike hung up.
I was puzzled. It was the first time Mike had been too busy to get together, and tonight of all times! I felt an unjust annoyance toward my friend, but Katie was here and I let go of it quickly, deciding to enjoy our time together. Katie would only be in town for a few days before she had to return for a summer job.
The next day, Mike didn’t answer the phone when I called. Katie and I went to the mall and met some of our other friends who wanted to see her. Katie and I spent every minute of those precious days together, seeing friends, talking incessantly, reminiscing about all the stuff we used to do, and just for fun, talking under our sheet tents after bedtime, even though we didn’t have to be sneaky any more about it. I tried to put Mike out of my mind, but just didn’t get his strange behavior. When I did get him on the phone, he was busy and couldn’t get together. I was going to have some things to say to him when I did see him.
On the last night that Katie was in town, we went to dinner.
“I’m sorry about Mike,” I said. “I don’t know what’s up with him.”
“Susie, where’s Mike from?” Katie asked.
“Um, I think he was born in California.”
“What about his brothers or sisters? Does he say anything about them?” she asked.
“It’s just him. Come to think of it, his parents came here from China. That might have been where he was born.” I got a chill then, as the same thought came to my mind that had already occurred to Katie.
“Oh, no,” I put my head in my hands, and tears stung my eyes.
Katie put her hand on my arm.
“I have a friend at home who came from China about a year ago. She has no brothers, no sisters, no aunts, no uncles. It's a national policy. Only one child per family. She's lucky they kept her, a daughter.”
“And, of course, no cousins,” I added, whispering it.
“No cousins,” she echoed sadly.
That night, Katie and I made a plan. I got Mike on the phone and told him about it. He was excited, and came down to meet us at the restaurant, finally meeting Katie. Of course, he liked her right away, and we decided that they could be cousins too. We laughed about that a couple of years later at their wedding.
But, I digress. For ten years, our mission work in China has brought unbelievable sorrow, and incredible joy. Katie and I both got our nursing degrees and Mike teaches English. As we’ve been given the opportunity, we’ve brought Christ’s love to Mike’s people.
That night, before Katie returned to Tulsa, Mike told us that even though he’s sad for his tiny earthly family, he knows he has a great big family, because Jesus Christ has made it so.
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I just finished reading three novels. I wanted to let you know that the style you write with is more suited for the long story - like a novel. You have this ability to take the reader in for the long haul instead of the short jolt. I don't mean that in a negative way at all. I would suggest that you pursue a career as a novelist as it seems natural to the way you write. May God bless you and keep you writing no matter what path you embrace. Sincerely, Dan Blankenship