clover_elf_kin (clover_elf_kin) wrote in little_details,

Anybody good at sounding like crotchety old bats?

I have a story where the main character, Jia, is taking her biological seven-year-old daughter Jewel (the kid was adopted at birth, but it was basically an open adoption) to meet her grandparents for the first time. The family is Chinese-American, and so the disapproval when Jia finally admitted she was pregnant at 16 was a little extreme.

My problem is that I have no idea what the parents will have to say after Jia finally breaks and demands to know why they won't acknowledge Jewel as family, as their granddaughter.

What I have so far:

When they got to the house, Jewel was excited, but when she started to say something to Jia she clearly saw that she didn’t feel the same at all. “Mama?”

“I’m a little nervous. I’m okay.”

Jia let them in and helped Jewel take her shoes off before calling in Mandarin, “I’m home!” There was no answer; frowning, she led Jewel on a rather inadvertent tour of the house.

“It’s pretty.”

“Thanks. I’ll show you my room in a minute. Mama? Papa?”

This time a man’s voice answered, still in Mandarin. Jia took a deep breath and followed the sound into the backyard, where her parents were working in a garden that had a lot of little wooden structures and even a little bridge. As they entered, she said as cheerfully as she could, “Nihao!” Jewel echoed it, adding, “Hi.”

They stopped their work and looked at the two of them. Jia moved Jewel in front of her and stood with her hands on her shoulders. “Mama, Papa, this is Jewel. I wanted her to meet you.”

The only answer they gave was silence. Jewel added, “I was Ting when I was born. Chang Ting. I’m seven and in second grade.”

Finally, Jia’s mother looked at her and said, “Why did you bring her here?” At least she said it in Mandarin, although Jia doubted it was from a desire to spare Jewel’s feelings.

Her grip tightened slightly on Jewel’s shoulders as she said, in English, “Because I want her to meet you,” barely keeping her tone polite and respectful. She was not going to speak to them in Mandarin in front of Jewel; it was rude, and she refused to leave her out of this conversation.

There was another long silence before her father said (in Mandarin, of course) “You shouldn’t have brought her here.”

Jewel looked at them both, then up at Jia. She didn’t understand the words, but their expressions, their tones, and their body language told her a good amount. For now she looked simply puzzled, not upset, but even that made Jia furious. “Why?” she asked tightly. “She’s my daughter too, and that makes her your granddaughter.”

Jia’s mother replied flatly, “No child born out of wedlock is our grandchild.”

Anger so sudden and fierce it turned her stomach flared up inside her. Jewel’s presence was the only thing that kept her calm long enough to lean over and whisper, “Go to my room, okay? It’s down the hallway, just past the kitchen. My door has a little yellow wood and wire sign.”

“Okay, Mama,” she said softly, squeezing her hands before slipping away.

She managed to wait until Jewel was out of sight before saying, in a barely controlled voice, “Did you want me to just forget about her? After carrying her for nine months, never able to even consider abortion because I was too scared to tell you I was pregnant until it was too late? I did the responsible thing and gave her up — even if you did just about force me — but she’s still my daughter, too. I love her and I always want to be a part of her life. How can you just look at how and when she was conceived and reject her, your own flesh and blood, because I was young and unmarried when she was born?” Jia spoke in Mandarin now that Jewel wasn’t there, and so if she was still close she couldn’t eavesdrop.

Suggestions on how to handle the constant switching of languages are also welcome. ^^

ETA: Thanks, everybody! It's finally finished, and with a few minor changes. If anyone's interested, I posted it in my journal here.

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