Short Story Entry for Project Write World Round 20
Prompt: Pictures attached to this item and the picture given during round 20
Lanlan has just graduated from college and she, like most young people wants to see the world. She wants to grab life by the horns and show the world that she is boss. But leaving home is not easy for her, though her desire is strong.
Growing up in China, culture and tradition have been constantly forced on her by her parents and grandparents. She wants them to understand that times are changing and though the world looks scary, it is not something to be feared. But at the same time, she wants to respect her family’s wishes. She wants to respect their concerns and honor them by doing what is expected of her.
Her expectations are currently to find a job and start earning a little money. But her main focus should be to find a husband. After all, if she isn’t married by the time she turns 30, she may never get married and this would bring shame to her family.
She watches movies and TV shows from around the world. Social media is swarming with the excitement of traveling and exploring the beauty that the world has to offer. And every time Lanlan looks at the pictures, articles, and even advertisements, she is overwhelmed with excitement that quickly fades to sadness when she hears her mother calling her downstairs to dinner.
During dinner, her mother chatters on about a man that she wants Lanlan to meet. But Lanlan just eats her meal as she tries to tune out the same old song her mother seems to always be singing.
After dinner, Lanlan returns to her room on the third floor of the apartment she grew up in. She looks around her room as the flower splashed walls, the faded curtains, and the pile of her childhood things in the corner of the room. Finally, she dims the lights and plops down on her bed. She stares at the ceiling for a short time, disappointed in the rut that is her life.
Then she grabs her phone and begins her escape. She scrolls through pictures and videos on QQ, Weibo, and Wechat and reads the stories that other people have shared of their adventures around the world. She lays there for what seems like hours until she is finally lulled to sleep by the passing cars on the street below her window.
As she slumbers, her once boring life is instantly transformed into the stories that she has only read about on the internet. Each night, she dreams of a different adventure, another country, a culture, and sometimes, even different languages.
One night, she was in Korea at her first K-pop concert. With crazy colorful clothes, loud music, and bright lights, she stood there silently, watching from the outside like an animal left out in the cold. She longed for nothing more than a person to bump into her while she was dancing so that she could know this experience was real.
The next night, she was dreaming of scaling Mt. Everest. Her travel companions were all dressed in their thick winter coats, boots, and goggles. They all pulled their packs on their backs and began to set up camp for the night. One man began to clear a patch of snow for the tent, as a woman began to unpack the supplies they would need for preparing a meal. As the cold wind blew threw the newly set campsite, Lanlan’s companions pulled their coats tightly around them before climbing in the tent to get some sleep. As they zipped the tent closed, Lanlan was left standing outside in the darkness. She looked around her, as it all faded away, the last thing she saw was the stars. Then she was home again, in her bedroom on the third floor of the house she grew up in.
These dreams of Lanlan haunted her every night, almost like ghosts of a previous life. She wanted nothing more than to kiss her life, her culture, and her country goodbye so that she could finally experience these great adventures first hand.
One day, she got brave and talked to her parents about traveling. But that bravery lasted for only a moment and was suddenly crushed by the expected reality. “It’s too far from here.” Her father would say. “You’ll never find a husband if you don’t start looking.” Her mother reminded.
She gives in an accepts her fate, for now. Secretly, Lanlan vows to herself that she will not leave this earth without being able to first see it, at least part of it. So her pattern continues, each night, she would scour the web before drifting off to her next adventure.
Lanlan expects that one day, when her duties are done. After he parents have died, her child is grown, and her husband is ready to retire, then she will finally be able to see the world and all its glory.
Will it happen? Will things play out as she hopes? Only time knows the answer to those questions. But Lanlan like many young people in China will not give up hope. She will continue to dream and wait patiently for her adventure to come.