Amelia followed Baba down the aisles of the grocery store. She helped grab items her grandmother couldn’t reach. Amelia was too small herself, but she was light enough to climb the shelves without breaking them. Sometimes she wondered if that was the only reason why Baba took her grocery shopping. Her older brother, Ken, never went grocery shopping with her grandmother and he could reach the shelves just as easily.
Amelia didn’t mind it though; it was their special time together.
The only thing that bothered her most while they were out grocery shopping was the looks that other people gave them as they meandered through the aisles.
Baba was a 4 foot 11 inches tall, sixty-five-year-old Japanese woman, who’s no nonsense mentality showed through her face in a permanent scowl. Her dark hair bounced above her shoulders as she walked a slow gait.
Amelia looked like a younger and sunnier version of Baba especially with her short hair. Her brown almond shaped eyes lit up whenever she smiled, which was all the time. She was only six years old, but her mind was like one twice her age.
Amelia often noticed the daggers coming out of the people’s eyes whenever Baba walked by. She wondered why they were so angry. Amelia never asked her grandmother about it, she was too afraid.
At the register, Baba had Amelia help put all the groceries on the belt while she told the cashier what carton of cigarettes to grab for her husband. The red and white box was swiped across the scanner and thrown into the bag.
“Your total comes to $89.32.”
“Okay, one second.” Baba said as she opened her checkbook to write out the check.
Amelia could hear the annoyed sighs behind them. She looked back and saw the people in line looking at Baba frustrated and angry.
“How much?” Baba asked.
“Eight. Nine. Three. Two.” The cashier responded slowly to Baba. The cashier rolled their eyes and tapped their fingers on the belt, waiting.
Amelia watched as Baba shook her head while she wrote out the check. She couldn’t understand why everyone seemed so impatient with Baba.
Baba wasn’t stupid. She was the smartest woman Amelia knew – aside from her mom of course. Baba was short with her words, but she always spoke with wisdom that was sometimes beyond Amelia’s understanding.
Baba took the receipt from the cashier who didn’t say anything to her.
“Thank you. Bye-bye.” Baba said as she shoved the receipt into her purse and gestured for Amelia to help push the cart. Amelia instantly obeyed and began following behind Baba to the parking lot.
Back at her grandparent’s house, Amelia sat on her grandpa’s chair watching some cartoons that Baba put on while she started to make an afternoon snack.
Her grandpa came home from picking up Ken from school.
“Grandpa!” Amelia shouted as she ran up to give him a hug. Compared to Baba, Grandpa was a 6 foot 2 inches giant. Amelia felt like an ant standing next to him. She always liked the way Grandpa’s blue eyes lit up whenever he smiled. They were the same color as the sky when the sun was up high.
“Hey there, ladybug. Did you do anything fun today?” Grandpa picked Amelia up and carried her in his arms.
“Went grocery shopping.”
“Did you get to climb any shelves?”
“Yeah!” Amelia smiled, then it falters. “Grandpa… why are the people at the store so mean to Baba?”
“Oh, they’re just grumpy people. Never you mind. Now go and finish the show. I’ll be back.” Grandpa put Amelia back down and Ken joined Amelia in the living room to watch the show.
Ken was in the fourth grade and their parents were constantly talking about how proud they were that he skipped a grade. They always told people that he was too smart for his age and he’ll probably be a doctor.
Amelia couldn’t wait until next year when she could start first grade. She was tired of watching Ken get all the praises. Amelia knew she could be just as smart as Ken and hoped that she would skip a grade, too… as soon as she found out what that meant.
“This show is stupid.” Ken remarked as he went to change the channel from the fairy princess show.
“No! I was watching it!” Amelia shrieked. Ken gave her the same look the people at the grocery store gave Baba. Amelia shrunk. “Fine.”
Ken smiled and he changed the channel to another cartoon. It was an old cartoon and to Ken, it was more funny.
Amelia pouted and left the room. She entered the kitchen where Grandpa and Baba were talking in hushed tones. Amelia stood back and watched.
“It’s nothing, just the usual racism. I’m used to this by now.” Baba said as she was finishing cutting the carrots.
“Amelia saw it. You have to speak up for yourself.” Grandpa placed a hand on Baba’s arm.
“And say what? Just because I am Japanese don’t mean I am stupid? I have an accent, but I speak English? Stop looking at me? You know that won’t change.” Baba looked down at the carrots, not moving.
Amelia continued into the room, pretending like she didn’t hear anything, “Baba, Ken changed the channel.”
“Oh, let him get to watch what he wants. You had your time today.” Baba shooed Amelia back into the living room. Grandpa followed her out.
Amelia felt safe with Grandpa. She felt like she could ask him anything and he’d always know the answer.
With Baba, she always said, “Ask your mother.”
Grandpa sat in his chair and Amelia immediately climbed on top of his lap. She curled up against his warm body.
“It’s when people don’t like other people because of the who they are.”
“Why don’t people like Baba?”
“Oh Amelia, some people are just too grumpy.” Grandpa tried to change the subject. “Don’t go worrying over something like that, it makes your smile goes away.”
“They don’t like Baba because she looks different. ” Ken said from where he was sitting.
“But mama says I look like Baba… so does that mean people don’t like me?” Amelia’s eyes started to water.
Grandpa shot a look at Ken, who instantly cowered.
“Bug, don’t worry about that, everyone loves you.”
Ken snorted and continued to watch the television.
Amelia couldn’t help but let a few tears fall onto her cheeks. She didn’t understand why people would hate Baba and hate her, too.
Grandpa hugged Amelia extra tight. She felt safe, again.
No short is too short! So, I’m sorry this was a really short excerpt but this is a really short, short story. So, that’s how it’s going to be!
Side note: The grocery store scene really did happen when I was shopping with my grandmother. I don’t think people were necessarily angry at my grandmother for being Asian, but they were frustrated with her need to write out a check!
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*I’ve officially opened the comments sections to everyone… not just people who have accounts with WordPress. I didn’t realize that it was like that, so I apologize to people who were trying to comment, but couldn’t.