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May sweats and shivers on a November afternoon. The cool breeze blowing her dark hair doesn't seem to help. She draws a handkerchief from her pants pocket and wipes her face. The sun still burns down on the gray rice field.

She's counting down the minutes before the sunset. Not that she's fond of evenings and moonlight. Only tonight, she's escaping on a boat to America. Orange dust hangs heavy on the bamboo trees like the rock in her heart.

"A Wandering Soul"
by Igor Ulanovsky

How much longer does she have to wait? Sitting on a log watching noisy ships coming and going. Ships coming and going along the river doesn't help May's nerves. Which ship will be the one she will take tonight? Who is the captain? Who will her companions be? What is the use since she will be leaving anyway? She is unable to answer any of those questions. She looks back to the village where people are getting vegetables, fish, and shrimp ready for the next day's market. A boy and girl each carry baskets of eggs on their heads while crossing the monkey bridge trying to keep their balance.

She doesn't belong to this world today. She can't think or feel. Still, this routine is part of her small world. Will she be able to leave this behind for a mysterious country thousands of miles from Vietnam? The echoing voice hangs above her heart. She is fifteen today, and she just wants to cry and scream.

She fears being buried at sea, becoming a victim of pirates, or never reaching America. Horrid stories of people who left before her leave a lump in her throat. Leaving Vietnam is the only solution to help support her family. Who knows if she can make it to America? May understands that she cannot die. Her mother's and four younger siblings' lives depend on her. May cannot lose this game. This is her last card on destiny's table.

AnhLan H. Tran: My name is AnhLan H. Tran. I'm a recent graduate from a Liberal Arts college in Michigan. "The Waiting Game" was written during my Spring semester abroad in Ireland, before graduation. It came unexpected along with my poetry and prose poem assignment.

Also in Song and Story:
A Prelude to Seduction    She Picked a Dog    Golden Dreams   

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