|As a lover of poetry, and short stories and not a professional reviewer, I hope you take my personal opinions in the manner that they are given, my goal is to be encouraging and give you something that will help you grow as a writer.
Is the title suitable to the poem/story? Yes, it is.
Does the story have an introduction, a middle and a conclusion with a suitable climax. Yes, but there is a lot that doesn't add anything to the story. It dragged it down for this reader.
How did your piece make me feel? I felt a connection to the princess because marriage does evolve over time with many disappointments.
What was my favorite part? The ending when she decided to appreciate her life as it was.
What would I change? The pearl wedding for Princess Wencheng and her husband will be held this Saturday.
"Everything has been well done, and the 30th anniversary'll be perfect," Princess Wencheng said to herself. She decorates the sofa, the pillows and the dinner table with the new red cloth covers she bought several days ago. It's a little weird to decorate with so much red color inner house, for it's so strong that a bull might be mad. But Princess Wencheng loves to use red in her important days because it means fortune, joy and happiness in Chinese culture.
The sunlight crosses through the windows, shining on the newly changed red sofa, pillows, and the tablecloth, Princess Wencheng sips her tea and smiles, apparently satisfied with her masterpiece, which means happiness in China, even if the happy color has been used by her, for the previous 29 wedding anniversaries, she never feels bored.
Clapping the pillows again and again to make them look more fluffy, Princess Wencheng frowns, for she thinks of the receipt for the anniversary gift she found in the pocket of her husband's suits. It's the tradition her husband buys her a gift for their wedding anniversary every year, and the gift must be a surprise to her, the climax of the wedding anniversary. But this year, she has known what her husband has bought for her.
A pearl necklace. A pearl necklace for their pearl wedding anniversary. The perfect anniversary gift! She frowns again, lying on the sofa, then closes her eyes.
At this moment, the phone rings, and Princess Wencheng stood up. She pats the pillow under her into a good shape before putting it back on the sofa, then she grabs the phone to her ears.
"Excuse me, is that Mrs. Lin? The cake of your wedding anniversary is in production, but we wanna check the writing decoration on the cake."
"Yes," Princess Wencheng answers. It's the bakery shop. She booked the wedding anniversary cake a week ago, and it's the expensive style in the bakery, with three tiers, decorated with pearls all made of candy, by skilled cake-maker, though everyone knows the cake is too large for the anniversary, for it's just a small family gathering party. Except for her and her husband, Mr. Lin, only the family of their only daughter will fly back from Chicago. But at the moment Princess Wencheng feels happy when she imagines all her family and her lovely grandchildren yelling when they see the giant cake decorated with pearls, and the luxury thing matches their family, the founder of a family-owned real estate company, famous around Chinese neighborhood.
"The cake is for the 30th anniversary of ...ur..." asked the bakery, "Princess Wencheng and King Songtsen Gampo, right? Mrs. Lin? "
"Correct, I have left the details when I booked it."
"Yeah, but Mrs. Lin, your name on your credit card is Feng Li," replies bakery. "Thanks for your time, and your anniversary cake'll arrive at your home at the noon of tomorrow . Happy anniversary and hope you enjoy it."
Princess Wencheng thinks for a while, and she murmurs, "Yes. Thanks." Then she hanged up the phone. At this moment, Princess Wencheng remembers, before her marriage to her husband, Mr. Lin, and her immigration to America, her actual name is Feng Li, which is a common Chinese name for a common woman at her age. And Everyone knowns her for Mrs. Lin after marriage. But her husband and friends gave her Princess Wencheng, a lovely name, as her nickname, for she is so proud of her stories about her royal blood and marriage.
"I would be the real princess if I lived in Tang dynasty, for I'm the descendants of Yuan Li, the founder and king of Tang dynasty." She always started her story like that, to her husband first, then her workmates in her family-owned real estate company, then her daughter, now herself.
"Mom, your surname of Li couldn't prove your royal blood. You just have the same surname of Li, with the Princesses in Tang dynasty." Her only daughter questioned about her Mom, Princess Wencheng's story when she studied Chinese history in school .
"You're a USA girl and you don't know the Chinese history." Princess Wencheng said, "My grandfather kept our family tree book hanging on the wall of his living room. It said our blood originated from the third wife of Yuan Li, the king of Tang dynasty."
And she might continue, "My marriage is like the story of Princess Wencheng and her husband, Songtsen Gampo, in the dynasty Tang, far, far ago, a happy and impressing story in the ancient history of China. Princess Wencheng, surnamed Li, was a princess of a minor branch of the royal clan of the Tang Dynasty. Tubo King Songtsen Gampo fell in love at first sight..."
At this moment, her husband, Mr. Lin, laughed, and said, "yes, Mrs. Lin, you're the Princess Wencheng in the United States, for your surname is also Li, so I'm your Songtsen Gampo, the king, for I fell in love at first sight of you, in Beijing."
Almost everybody knows the marriage of Mrs. Lin, "Princess Wencheng", and Mr. Lin, "king Songtsen Gampo" was full of difficulties, after Mrs. Lin told them their love story. Thirty years ago, she lived in a narrow alley, called Hutong in Chinese, in Beijing, and in a party she met Mr. Lin, a Taiwanese, immigrated with his family and lived in America. Mr. Lin fell in love with her at her first sight, for she was so young and beautiful, like a shining pearl newborn in the shell. He proposed to her after several weeks with her in Beijing. But Mrs. Lin's family disagreed with their marriage, for Mr. Lai was ten years older than her, and also he was a Taiwanese, and lived in the United States, far away from Beijing.
"King Songtsen Gampo's proposal was refused by the king of Tang, for Tubo was far away from Tang," Princess Wencheng's eyes filled with tears when she spoke of her happy marriage, "but King Songtsen never gave up and sent the envoy to propose to the princess for three times."
Regardless of her family's opposition, Princess Wencheng, before she became Mrs. Lin, agreed after Mr. Lin's first proposal and married him soon, and she knew Mr. Lin was so popular among the unmarried women, for the marriage to an American citizen was the best way of immigrating to America, a fancy heaven to every young woman. But she never referred to this truth behind her love story, and she didn't know whether she loved Mr. Lin at her marriage because she was so young, just an undergraduate.
But Princess Wencheng waited for the reviews of the immigration office for almost two years before she could immigrate to America, even after she became Mrs. Lin. She always continued her story, while sharing it to others, "King Songtsen Gampo's proposal was refused by Tang dynasty. But he didn't give up and at last he married Princess Wencheng, but Wencheng Li spent almost 1 year on the dangerous and hard journey to Tubo."
Actually, Mrs. Lin's hard journey doesn't end even after she immigrated to America and reunited with her husband, for Mr. Lin, her Songtsen Gampo, was not the rich king but a poor young man, working in a restaurant of China town after their marriage. But Princess Wencheng didn't feel disappointed or frustrated, even though they lived in an old, dirty apartment, surrounded with the drunk and junkie every night, after she gave the birth to her daughter. Together with her husband, she worked hard in a laundry of China town for nearly 14 hours per day, meanwhile studied English in the night school. They worked day and night for several years, and then they saved an enormous amount of money. During the financial crisis, they bought a giant building in China town at a very good price, sold by a bankrupt owner, with their hard-earned money. They founded their family-owned real estate company, and the value of the buildings they invested rose like crazy when her daughter went to primary school.
They now are rich people in China town, even in their city they live. They are the real princess and king.
Princess Wencheng always ended her story with, "Songtsen Gampo's and Princess Wencheng's have a happy ending for 40-year-marriage, and their union brought hopes of promoting a harmonious, matrimonial relationship between the peoples of Tubo and China." Princess feels also proud of herself when she shares her story, both a magic Chinese ancient story and a real American dream, and she proves she becomes a winner of both family and career, other than a hillbilly from the country, marring with someone for green card.
But Princess Wencheng and King Songtsen in the United States, never ends.
Staring at the enormous green lawn and flower nursery in the backyard, through the giant French windows, Princess Wencheng considers whether to call the gardener to come and prune it before Saturday. Then she decided to do it by herself, for she doesn't want others to disturb their family gathering party, and she has enough time to finish all the stuff because the flight of her daughter's family will arrive tonight.
Wearing the shield glasses and earmuffs, like a young girl, she jumps into the lawn-mover and turns on the engine. The mover shakes like a small boat, floating in the roaring waves, and she held the steering wheel tight, like a skilled captain. It's easy to her, for she is experienced in gardening and pruning by herself, after she retired from their family-owned real estate company and returned to her family, to take care of her daughter and husband.
The lawn-mover runs steadily, and she holds and turns steering wheel carefully, to prevent its detailing. Princess Wencheng feels satisfied that the green lawns are cut neatly and smells like the fresh melon in the summer. While driving, she enjoys her masterpiece, line by line, like a colorful rainbow after the rain, behind the wheels of the mover. At this moment, she recalls the scene every time she drives by the giant building of their family-owned company, through the giant glass windows of which, her empty office has been kept beside the windows by her like before, even though after she turned back home from her career of real estate. And the windows look colorful with sunlight, shined like a mirror covered with soap bubbles. But she trusts everything is under her control and never derails.
After she cleans all the grass from the lawn, she feels exhausted, but she must prepare for the dinner to welcome the family of her daughter, arriving tonight. She has bought all her daughter likes, for she knows her daughter's favorite food since she was a child. However, she feels confused because she doesn't know what her grandchildren and son-in-law like, for she only meets them twice a year, one for the wedding anniversary, and the other for the Christmas party, after her daughter accepted the proposal of the son of her best friend in China town, then left them for Chicago. Looking through the luxury marble-made island, and glancing at her daughter's bedroom since she was a kid, kept like before and cleaned by her every week, she sighs and said to herself,
"Everything tough is the test to Princess Wencheng, for she must overcome all difficulties for her happy marriage, her husband and kids. It's destiny." She adds, "At least they will come back tonight, and everything seems not to derail."
At this moment, the phone rings and she answers. It's her husband, Mr. Lin, and simply he says on the other end, "My princess, sorry to call. I'll work late and could you please say sorry to the family of our daughter for my absence of the dinner tonight. I promise, I'll prepare the gift for our important anniversary tomorrow, a big surprise, my princess."
Work late! Again! She feels a bit disappointed but says nothing to her husband, for she endured then accustomed to his working late, since she returned family. And apparently it hasn't been a secret to her the gift for their 30th anniversary is an expensive pearl necklace. But it's a big surprise to her, for she found her husband bought two same pearl necklaces and paid twice the price, from the receipt, twisted as a paper ball, inside the pocket of his suits when she washed it. Her heart twists again, like the wrinkled receipt, but soon she escapes from the anxious thoughts. Her beloved husband, the king Songtsen, won't betray their marriage because they have overcome so much that their 30th pearl wedding anniversary will come tomorrow.
"Maybe the other necklace is for our beloved daughter. He always buys the same gifts for both us." She says to herself. "My love story never has a sad ending."
Their daughter, son-in-law and the grandchildren arrive after dawn, before the dinner time. Princess Wencheng stood by the windows, looking at their cab stopping before her big house, she taps the pillows on the sofa again. Satisfied by all the decorated sofa, dinner table and other furnitures, she walked toward the front gate and stood before the giant gold-painted mirror, and reorganizes her hairstyle and dress again, awaiting the bell ringing.
Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling. The bell rings, followed by the yelling of kids. Princess Wencheng smiles and opens the door. "Welcome home, my dear," she exclaims.
"Mom, happy pearl wedding anniversary, and I miss you," tired of dragging a big travel suitcase with one arm, her daughter hugs Princess Wencheng with the other, and then kisses with her stiff lips. Then the lovely grandchildren, a five-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl rushes into her, "Granny," they yell and hugs Princess Wencheng's legs. At this moment, tears upwelling from her eyes, Princess Wencheng feels everything coming back to the rail again.
"I miss you, my darling," Princess Wencheng says, directing them to their bedroom. After putting down all their package, the kids rushes into her giant backyard with their dad, jumps on the new-cut grass lawn and flower bed, and they yell, for they have never seen a beautiful garden like their grandma's, since they life in an apartment without backyard in Chicago.
Looking through the windows besides the kitchen island, princess Wencheng frowns at her grandchildren in her tidy backyard for a while, then she squeezes a smile on her face soon. She hands the dinner sets made of china used only in their important family parties to her daughter, and says,
"You should move back with your kids and husband," she adds, "the kids enjoy the playground, and our house has enough space for you."
"Don't judge my life, Mom." Setting the dinner table, her daughter cuts in suddenly, ignorant of what she said. "Have the dinner sets been placed in their right rails?" Princess Wencheng stares at the enormous shiny dinner table beside the windows. "Your papa might come back late for dinner tonight," she removes the dinner set for her husband, and mutters, "but he has prepared all for our pearl wedding anniversary."
After hearing Mr. Lin might work late tonight, her daughter frowns and asks, "Mom, how about you these days? I mean, you and Papa?"
"Good, why do you ask like so?" Princess Wencheng glanced at her daughter.
Her daughter pauses after a while, then she walks toward her Mom and whispers into her ears, "Mom, I have some bad news about Papa to tell, but I'm not sure whether it's the proper time."
"You live so far away from us, and what do you know about your Papa?"
"It's from Mom of my husband," her daughter lowers her voice, "your best friend, and she said Papa brought a pretty young woman to their business party. I believe they might not tell a rumor, for your friend circle of Chinese real estate business is small."
Princess Wencheng's heart sinks, and what her daughter said reminds her of the receipt of their anniversary gifts--two same pearl necklaces, the secrets might bomb at any time and smash her happiness into pieces. Princess Wencheng's heart twists again and burns because the news of her husband's affairs with other woman, prettier and younger than her, flies fast within her daughter, her son-in-law and all her friends, except for her. But she soon calms down, even relaxes after the secret bombed in her heart. Nothing changes. Her daughter and husband come back in the end.
"Rumor! I know the woman, and she is the new workmate hired by our company," Princess lifts her head and speaks steadily.
"Mom, I've known the aunties and uncles in your company since I was a child, and the pretty young woman might not stay in our company in China town."
"Apparently they're jealous about our happy marriage and success. She might be the client of our business." Princess Wencheng adds, "Your Papa has bought the expensive pearl necklace for our pearl wedding tomorrow."
Helding shoulders of Princess tight, her daughter sighs. "Mom, don't cheat yourself, and you're only 55 and young. It's America here, and you shouldn't endure his cheating like the women of old times in China. I'm a lawyer, and the laws'll protect you even if you divorce Papa. We'll support you because we love you, Mom..."
"But you don't know what I need, what I expect most," Princess yells, with tears in her eyes. "As I told you, Princess Wencheng and King Songsten have a happy marriage for 40 years."
"Mom, that's not the truth. King Songsten died after 10 years of their marriage, and Princess Wencheng lived lonely in Tubo for almost 30 years." The young daughter yells back, "That's unfair to her, and you. And I'll divorce without hesitation if my husband cheats on me."
"Please don't judge me!" Princess Wencheng tries her best to low her voice and hide her tears. "Tomorrow'll be my big day and everything is in rail. I have another 10 years, 20 years even 30 years with your Papa."
The young daughter sighs and pulls the door to backyard crack. "Come on, kids, dinner is ready." She yells at her husband and children.
Early Saturday, the sun lights come through the windows and flowers in the nursery blossomed as usual. Everything seems normal in this house, and the 30th anniversary begins.
Princess Wencheng wears the red silk-made traditional cheongsam, made for her marriage 30 years ago in Beijing, with all her hair combed up tight like a bun. She stood at the middle of their giant house, awaiting her husband, the king Songtsan Gampo, and their little princess and princes. The whole family people should dress up in traditional styles, for Princess Wencheng has hired the personal photographer here, after their party, to take a family photo for their family.
At last, Mr. Lin walks down the stairs, wearing a set of gray suits, with his shiny hair combed back on the head. Princess Wencheng frowns at him, for she has cleaned his traditional silk-made Tang costume he wore in their marriage party 30 years ago and put it on their bed this morning.
"Why don't you wear the Tang costume for our anniversary?" She asks.
"My princess, the costume is too small for me, for I put on weight these years." Mr. Lin says, pointing his new suits, "the new suits fit me."
Princess Wencheng stares at her husband and mutters, "the old clothes are better than the new ones."
At the moment, the family of her daughter walks outside her bedroom, wearing the traditional red costumes they wore every year for the anniversary, prepared by princess Wencheng. Princess nods at them and smiles.
"Mom, I swear, next year, we wouldn't wear these costumes, for they don't fit us now." her daughter scolds.
The doorbells ring. The luxury cake arrives on time, and it's placed on the middle of the table, covered with red tablecloth, and decorated with fresh flowers, in their beautiful backyard garden. The three- tire anniversary cake, covered with pearls made of sugar, shined under the sun lights, and on the top stood a big candy tag written with 'the 30th anniversary for Princess Wencheng and King Songsten'.
"What an awesome pearl wedding cake!" Surprised by the luxury and beautiful decorated cake, the young couple praise, and princess Wencheng feels happy inside her mind. The luxury ceremony pulls everything back to rail, though it costs a lot. But from the praise by others, she knows the money spent deserves it.
"Another surprise, my princess Wencheng," her king pulls a box from his pocket, and opens it before Princess Wencheng. It's the pearl necklace, the secret. But at this moment, everyone stares at the fantastic gift, and nobody remembers the rumor of the old man.
This impressive necklace is composed of round, white South Sea pearls with the sharpest luster. The rare, large pearls have a bright white body color with iridescent silver overtones. The cute necklace is knotted in white silk and finished with a 14-karat clasp. The strand attracts everyone's eyes and hearts, especially Princess Wencheng. She widens her eyes, and strokes it cautiously, for it is the most beautiful gift she has received for the 30 years. At this moment, she knows everything she sacrifices for their family deserves.
Feeling everything pulled back into the rail, some familiar light flashes through Mr. Lin's eyes, and he smiles like he always does. "Let me help you wear it, my princess," he wears it around her neck then whispers into her eyes, "happy pearl wedding, and you deserve it."
After the dinner, before taking the family photo, Princess Wencheng walks inside the house, and stands before the huge wall mirror in the hall, like a real young princess. Then she strokes the sea pearls with her fingers. Suddenly, she hears someone screaming, and soon she realizes her gift, the pearl necklace around her neck yells at her,
"It hurts," the pearls cry.
Unaware of what was taking place the little oyster cried, princess Wencheng reorganizes her dress and hair, but she smells some salty flavor of tears of pearls, and she feels every tear becomes a covering that changes the sand inside. Then the pain is so great that the sharpness of the grain of sand merges with the flesh of oyster.
At this moment, princess Wencheng tastes something bitter and salty. She realizes it's a tear, but she can't identify whether it's hers or the sea pearl's. She thinks it tastes like her pearl marriage, filled with hurt and injury, bitter and painful, but now as smooth as butter.
Staring at her family in the backyard, waiting for the photographer and tidying up the clothes for each other, her daughter's advice of divorce last night flashes through her mind and she murmurs to herself,
"She's too young to understand the truth of marriage. It's painful. Just like the oyster produces pearls from hurtful grains of sand. God produces things of beauty from hurts we can't understand."
At this moment, she relaxes herself and doesn't care about whether his husband will gift the other necklace to their daughter or another young pretty woman. Stroking her necklace, she knows her choice doesn't mean she is timid, or she is a traditional Chinese woman as her daughter said. She murmurs,
"Every marriage is like the pearls, the God's great love that makes them out of pain."
Phew. She stares at herself in the mirror without tidying up her hair and dress again. Then she feels happy,
while letting something out their rail. Apparently satisfied, she turns around and smiles as usual, ready for taking their family photo on their 30th pearl wedding anniversary.
"At least, a real princess never divorces," saying to herself, she smiles, lifts her head and pulls open the back door.
Was it well thought out and well written? Yes, it was.