The night before the greatest adventure everrr
In my bedroom
The greatest adventure everrr isn’t just not allowed. It’s FORBIDDEN. Like, Entry into this Radioactive Building is FORBIDDEN.
In my case, it’s: Twelve-year-old is FORBIDDEN from Flying Halfway Across the World on His Own.
It’s also: Twelve-year-old is FORBIDDEN from Doing Anything on His Own Because His Family Thinks He’s a WAH-WAH-WAH Baby.
Do not copy this plan, fellow kids!
I’ll be like the lone wanderer in my grandma’s martial arts TV dramas. Popo isn’t an actor; she just yells at the wuxia actors on the screen from her ancient, squishy armchair.
As the lone wanderer, I’ll traverse the lands and face dangerous trials and tribulations.
The lone wanderer usually travels on foot or horseback, because wuxia dramas always take place in the time before Toyotas and Jeeps. But I’ll be on an airplane.
I’ll meet a martial arts master.
I will star in a montage showing off all my hard work.
I’ll run into my nemesis during my journey, and we’ll face off in a final duel. At first, I’ll be losing. But just when you think I’m bye-bye, I’ll spring to my feet and …
But before THE END, I’ll do something kind.
That will prove I’ve gained wisdom that’s much, much deeper than
Of course, all good wuxia dramas have something else …
It’s an old book fought over by everyone in the wuxia world, where wanderers stride, nemeses hide, shifus guide, sworn brothers confide, kicks and fists slide, and evil and justice collide.
Within the pages of a secret manual is life-changing wisdom, such as the steps of an ancient technique to POW! your nemesis. Similarly, my notebook will contain all the knowledge Mom keeps promising I’ll have when I’m older, like the words to WOW! more friends.
I’ll reach my destination in victory. I’ll make an international call back to my family in Perth, Australia, and ask to be put on speakerphone.
If you’re a grown-up, why
are you still
Not that I have anything against grown-ups.
But you might think it’s not a big deal
to be treated like a baby.
That it’s not worth this much trouble.
That it’s not worth traveling halfway across the world for.
If you’re a kid,
There was once a boy
of medium height, medium weight, medium IQ,
medium handsomeness, medium everything.
So unremarkable is he
that his middle name is Meh.
The only remarkable thing about him is
He does it a bit more often than other kids do.
But that’s not a thing you want a trophy for, is it?
One fateful day last December,
his sister dragged and dumped him
at an after-school program,
Poetry for Kids.
He was a baby
who had to do as he was ordered.
The dictator-poet-teacher said, Create poems!
But all this kid’s poems
turned out to be meh,
just like this one.
If you ever knew a kid
who felt as meh
as this kid,
why he needs this
First day of school break, day of the greatest adventure everrr
Dining room, Henry Khoo’s home
Since the greatest adventure everrr is top secret, I cooked up an alibi and told my family I’m spending the day at my best friend forever Pheebs’s house. My BFF and I will supposedly be completing a school project with six other classmates.
Where I’m really going is two thousand five hundred miles away, across an ocean and a sea, to Dad’s apartment in Singapore.
Thanks to Popo, Mom, and Jie, Dad thinks I’m a baby. We stay with him every school break. Whenever the others are fussing over me, Dad glances up from his newspaper and says, “Henry, you can make your own toast, can’t you?” or “Henry, you don’t have to be reminded to take a shower, do you?” or “Henry, you can blow on your own soup, can’t you?”
But I still like Dad, because he’s quiet like me.
In Perth, whenever Popo, Mom, and Jie are yakking their heads off, I think of that test I used to do in second grade.
I’m the broccoli, the book, the mushroom. But Dad’s also the broccoli, the book, and the mushroom. And it’s much better to not be odd alone.
Singapore is the one place where my older sister is as friendless as I am. There, Jie has zero right to tell me, “Oh, Henry, you should listen to all the buts your teachers write on your report cards every year.” But Henry should learn to be more articulate, to speak up more. But Henry should participate more. But Henry needs to make more friends.
For the past few months, ants had been crawling in my pants as I waited for school to end. I could not wait to fly off to Singapore again. But one morning last month, I shuffled into the kitchen in my PJ’s and …
Turned out, I’d missed the meeting where my family decided that we wouldn’t be making the usual five-hour-and-fifteen-minute flight to Singapore. Turned out, this meeting had been conveniently held after the bedtime they set for me.
I interrupted their sharing of plans.
Everyone fell silent and stared at me. Even Maomi’s tail froze mid-wag. I knew my words could stop conversations, but I had no idea they could stop time.
Then Maomi huffed through his nose. He probably didn’t think my superpower was cool, since it had nothing to do with conjuring liver snaps out of thin air. His disappointed huff restarted time and dialed my family’s volume up to a hundred.
My family’s predictions of what would happen if I got a taste of freedom, a.k.a. Consequences of Henry Khoo’s Jailbreak, closed in on me. I felt something I’d never felt before, like …
Copyright © 2020 by Remy Lai