Read An-ya and her diary Online

Authors: Christian, Diane René

An-ya and her diary

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Copyright © 2012 Diane René Christian

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.

Cover Design by Streetlight Graphics

Shoofly Press

ISBN: 1484055179

ISBN 13: 9781484055175

eBook ISBN: 978-1-62110-188-8

An-Yaand Her Diary


Diane René Christian

For my daughters


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Chapter 77

Chapter 78

Chapter 79

Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Chapter 83

Chapter 84

Chapter 85

Chapter 86

Chapter 87

Chapter 88

Chapter 89

Chapter 90

Chapter 91

Chapter 92

Chapter 93

Chapter 94

Chapter 95

Chapter 96

Chapter 97

Chapter 98

Chapter 99

Chapter 100

Chapter 101

Chapter 102

Chapter 103

Chapter 104

Chapter 105

Chapter 106

Chapter 107

Chapter 108

Chapter 109

Chapter 110

Chapter 111

Chapter 112

Chapter 113

Chapter 114

Chapter 115

Chapter 116

Chapter 117

Chapter 118

Chapter 119

Chapter 120

Chapter 121

Chapter 122

Chapter 123

Chapter 124

Chapter 125

Chapter 126

Chapter 127

Chapter 128

Chapter 129

Chapter 130

Chapter 131

Chapter 132

Chapter 133

Chapter 134

Chapter 135

Chapter 136

Chapter 137

Chapter 138

Chapter 139

Chapter 140

Chapter 141

Chapter 142

Chapter 143

Chapter 144

Chapter 145

Chapter 146

Chapter 147

Chapter 148

Chapter 149

Chapter 150

Chapter 151

Chapter 152

Chapter 153

Chapter 154

Chapter 155

Chapter 156

Chapter 157

Chapter 158

Chapter 159

Chapter 160

Chapter 161

Chapter 162

Chapter 163

Chapter 164

Chapter 165

Chapter 166

Chapter 167

Chapter 168

Chapter 169

Chapter 170

Chapter 171

Chapter 172

Chapter 173

Chapter 174

Chapter 175

Chapter 176

Chapter 177

Chapter 178

Chapter 179

Chapter 180

Chapter 181

Chapter 182

Chapter 183

Chapter 184

Chapter 185

Chapter 186

Chapter 187

Chapter 188

Chapter 189

Chapter 190

Chapter 191

Chapter 192

Chapter 193

Chapter 194

Chapter 195

Chapter 196

Chapter 197

Chapter 198

Chapter 199

Chapter 200

Chapter 201

Chapter 202

Chapter 203

Chapter 204

Chapter 205

Chapter 206

Chapter 207

Chapter 208

Chapter 209

Chapter 210

Chapter 211

Chapter 212

Chapter 213

Chapter 214

Chapter 215

Chapter 216

Chapter 217

Chapter 218

Chapter 219

Chapter 220

Chapter 221

Chapter 222

Chapter 223

Chapter 224

Chapter 225

About the Author

My pen is finally touching your pages. It is time to tell our story. Our story began in China and now it continues in America. I want to write about our old life and I want to write about our life now. I will write it all down with hopes that somehow I can connect the two worlds that I have lived in. Right now those worlds seem so far apart. I don’t know if it is possible for my world to ever feel whole, without a crack down the middle…but it is time to try.


Dear Diary,

All that She left inside the box was a blank book and a name. You are the book, and I am the name…An-Ya. As you know, my name is printed on your first page. Did She write it? What did She look like as She stood over you with Her pen? Were there tears in Her eyes? Why were you left empty inside?

I wish you could speak to me. You have too many secrets. You remember Her putting us in the box. You remember how far She carried us. As we lay beneath the red gate, did we stare into the sun or stars? Did I cry? Did She cry?

Why can’t you answer me? I don’t like that about you. These are my secrets to share and not yours to keep inside these blank pages. It is not fair. It’s not fair at all.

You and She are a lot alike. All mysteries and no answers. She made a terrible decision leaving you empty, because it left me empty too.


Dear Diary,

You and I have been together all of my life. We waited together. In China I waited for Her to come back. If a stranger entered the orphanage, I was sure it was Her. Or maybe She was sick, or maybe She died, and He would come. I studied every person that came in. I knew They were coming back. I was so sure. But They didn’t come. We watched baby after baby find their home before us. Everyone wanted the babies. I kept growing and growing, and every day I was less special than the day before. People loved the babies. I never stopped hoping for Them to return for me. But nobody wanted me there, not even Them. I should have stopped hoping. It would have been easier that way.

Instead of Them, strangers, who look nothing like me, came from the other side of the world. They came to take me away from China forever. If She returned, then I would be gone. Maybe I was happy to know that someone wanted me. Maybe I was sad that I would be lost to Them forever. Maybe I was angry that it didn’t matter what I thought because other people decided for me. Maybe I felt all of these things and so much more.

We flew to the other side of the world, and I never stopped holding you close to my chest. You were empty and so was I. My only friend in the world. The only one who understood where I began and where I was going. We flew together and everything we knew before was gone.


Dear Diary,

I have a new mother and a father. I call my father Daddy. I call my mother Wanna. I call her that in secret because sheWannabe my mommy. She can’t. They mean nothing to me. I know their names, I know how many papers they signed to make me their daughter, but those papers mean nothing. I don’t have anything else to say about them right now.


Dear Diary,

I have a sister now. Her name is Ellie. She was adopted from China as a baby, and now she is 3 years old. She was one of the special babies that left the orphanage over and over. Actually, she is not that special. She doesn’t remember anything about China. She makes up fake stories and thinks that they are real. She forgot China. I didn’t forget. I remember my life in China. My new parents think that she is wonderful. I don’t care what they think, because they will never know how special I am. I will never share my life with them and I will only tell you. Only you will understand the whole story. I will fill your emptiness and that will be enough.


Dear Diary,

I gained a family and I lost a family. Forever. They never came and I was taken to America. I wanted to go back. I hated everything about my new life. Nobody looked like me, the food tasted awful, and worst of all was the night. I had never slept alone before, except maybe during my time in the box. I don’t know how long I was in the box before I was found. But after that, I never slept alone. I was always surrounded by rows of sleeping children waiting just like me. I was used to the sounds of crying, coughing, snoring, and sneezing. It was my night music in the orphanage. America was too quiet.

My new family put me in a room by myself. All alone. I couldn’t tell them that I was afraid. I couldn’t speak. I knew the English words. I learned them in China. The problem was that the English words wouldn’t come out. I only knew how to scream. I screamed outside my new parents’ bedroom door. I never screamed in China. I don’t know what happened to me. I screamed and cried, and they kept taking me back to my room. Over and over. Night after night. Finally one day, I gave up. My pillow was always wet. I hated the night and I still hate the night.


Dear Diary,

You are probably wondering why I waited so long to write in you. For eleven years I have held you and stared at your red cover and looked at your empty pages. You are covered in gold flowers. I have counted them many times. They are beautiful. You are beautiful.

I thought maybe She had a plan when she left you with me. I thought Her plan was for me to keep you empty until She came back for us. I know it doesn’t make sense. She didn’t leave me a plan, so now I need a plan of my own.

Sorry I waited so long.

By the way, I gave you a name. I named you Penny. I am filling your pages with Pen. Nobody can erase you. Nobody can make you empty again.


Dear Penny,

Do you remember the little girl in the orphanage with the white hair and grey eyes? I don’t know how you could forget her. She was with us all of the time. I remember everything about her, but for some reason I can’t remember her name. Her name sounded something like—Abby. It makes my head hurt to try and remember her name. Why can’t I remember her name?

I do remember that she was an annoying little girl. She followed me everywhere and held onto my shirt wherever we walked. Her eyes didn’t work well. Sometimes one eye would go the wrong direction.

When she came in to the orphanage, she would not let the nannies feed her a bottle. Only I could give her the bottle. She would not touch anybody but me. If I didn’t feed her with a bottle, then she wouldn’t eat.

Abby would grab my shirt and not let go all day. Do you know how annoying it is to have someone holding your shirt all day? Sometimes I pushed her to get her off me. Sometimes I pushed her down. But she always got back up and grabbed back on.

If I wanted to get rid of her, I would go outside to play. She wasn’t allowed outside in the sun. Sometimes I would get tired of her and go outside. Abby would sit inside the door and wait for me to come back in. She is probably still sitting there. Waiting. I didn’t say goodbye because I was happy to have her off of my shirt. I should have told her I wasn’t coming back. She is probably still sitting next to the orphanage door, waiting for me to come back and starving.


Dear Penny,

I found out I was going to America when a nanny came to get me and took me to meet an English teacher. I asked why I was meeting an English teacher, and she said it was because I would need to be able to talk to my American family. There wasn’t any time to think about it, or time to ask more questions, because she walked me down the hall and pushed me into a room. There was nothing in the room except for a desk, a chair, and a Chinese man. I walked into the room and put you under the chair and sat down. There were no windows to look out, just the man standing over me. He wasn’t nice to look at either.

The man, my teacher, told me to sit down and to listen closely. He was not a nice man, not at all. He told me that my American family was paying him to teach me English and he would be coming every day. He said I would have a lot of homework to do. The teacher said it was his job to show the American family that he was an excellent teacher. If I didn’t learn, then he would look like a bad teacher. So he said I better pay attention or he would smack me. I believed him and I always paid attention.

Many months went by, and over and over I repeated English words and wrote English words. I walked around the orphanage, Abby hanging on my shirt, and named every object I could find with the English word.Chair, light, wall, shoe, toilet, door. It wasn’t long before I knew more words than I could count. Sometimes Abby would try to speak in English too. It was like a game to her. It wasn’t a game to me. It was going to be my life.

One day the English teacher didn’t come. My American family came instead. I’m tired of writing. I am going to put the pen down now.


Dear Penny,

I was thinking about the day that I first saw my American family. The first time I saw them was in a photo that they sent to the orphanage. A nanny gave me the photo and a letter from them. I didn’t read the letter for a long time because I was too busy looking at the picture.

They looked different than I imagined they would look. The picture was taken next to a lake. It is the lake that we go to now almost every day. I was surprised to see a little Chinese girl in the picture. She was too small and happy, and I knew I wasn’t going to like her very much.

Wanna and Daddy looked happy too. Wanna’s hair was yellow like the sun and her face was round. She was much smaller than Daddy. His hair was black and he was much bigger than Wanna. He looked like he was the nicest. His smile wasn’t as big as Wanna and my new sister, but he didn’t look mean either. Plus, his hair was black. Maybe it wasn’t Chinese black, but it was dark. At least something about him was the same.


Dear Penny,

My house is light brown on the outside and old on the inside. The floors are wood and there is a fireplace in almost every room. When your feet hit the wood floor, it makes the floor talk. If you are going somewhere in secret, then you need to walk on your tiptoes.

Some fireplaces don’t work anymore. The one in my room doesn’t work, but the living room and kitchen fireplaces do. On cool nights Daddy will put wood in the fireplace. Sometimes, even on the hottest days, the night will be cold.

I like to sit next to the fireplaces and watch the wood burn. I am not allowed to sit too close, but I sit close enough that my whole body is warm and glows orange.

There are trees all around the house, and they are the brightest green that I ever saw. Beneath the trees is grass that is almost as green as the trees. From my window I can see the blue lake. It takes a long time to walk there, but from my window it doesn’t seem so far away.


Dear Penny,

When I was in the orphanage, I read the letter from my new family. I remember that I was scared to read it and I know that I waited. The photo was already too hard to look at. I was nervous about the letter.

I do remember being confused after I finally read the letter. It was filled with things that couldn’t be true. My American family said that they loved me, that they couldn’t wait to hold me, that they missed me, that they thought I was beautiful.

I knew that they couldn’t feel these things because they didn’t know me yet. I knew that they imagined a daughter that I was not going to be. I wanted to believe what they said, but I was too smart to believe it. I knew too much, and I knew the badness inside of me that they would hate.


Dear Penny,

Do you know why I carry you everywhere? It is to keep you safe. I do a good job keeping you safe. Do you remember the Nanny in the orphanage who told me she would throw you away if I didn’t behave? I hated her. I will always hold on to you so that nobody can throw you away. Ever. I carry you everywhere, and I don’t care if I look strange with a book under my arm or not.


Dear Penny,

Do you like going to the lake? I don’t know if I like it. I don’t like living in the middle of nowhere. There are trees and trees and trees on and on forever. And water. Wanna takes me and my sister, Ellie, to the lake to swim on hot days. There is sand on the lake shore, just like the ocean. Well, I guess it’s like the ocean because I have never been to a real beach. This is a lake beach and the water is still. I would like to swim in ocean waves someday.

In China I watched a movie that showed children playing in the ocean. They were on a vacation. The water was light blue. The children were happy. They jumped up and down in the ocean waves. I think that I would like to feel a big wave wash over me.

The lake here is like a gigantic bath tub. The water is too quiet. I don’t know what to do when it is so quiet. It makes me nervous. I think an ocean wave crashing over me would feel better. My sister Ellie likes the lake.


Dear Penny,

Ellie loves dresses. I don’t. She wears a different dress every day. She thinks that she is a princess. I know I am not a princess and I wear pants. Wanna does not know how to dress her children. In China I would never be able to go outside in just a dress. Well, I never had a dress, but if I did, then I would need to wear more things to keep me warm. Sometimes in the orphanage, I would wear two or three pairs of pants and two or three shirts. Plus a jacket and sometimes a hat.

Wanna is not keeping Ellie safe. My sister never says that she is cold, but I know that she needs to wear more clothes. I have a lot of clothes now. I also have dresses in my closet. Too many. Those dresses won’t keep me safe. Most of the time I wear the only clothes that the orphanage gave me. They feel the best against my skin. Not too soft and a little bit scratchy. In China I wore my clothes for many days before they were washed. Wanna wants to wash them every day.


Dear Penny,

The first place that I visited after we came home was the lake. The second was the market and ice cream parlor. If I walk one way from my house, I go to the lake. If I walk the other way, I end up at the market and parlor.

The market is small but has everything we need inside. It is where Wanna buys a lot of our food. A door inside the market opens into the ice cream parlor. There is a counter with red stools and three red benches on either side. I like to sit on the stools, and I place you on the counter next to my ice cream bowl. We get to choose the flavor and I always get vanilla. Ellie tries something different every time we go.

The girl who works in the ice cream parlor is really pretty. Her name is Jasmine, but her friends call her Jazz. She has a lot of girlfriends and even some boyfriends. Her hair is long and dark brown. Jazz never wears dresses. She has pants with little diamonds on the pockets.

I like to listen to Jazz and her friends talk. I spend the whole time in the parlor eating and listening. It is like they have a secret language, and they use words that Wanna and Daddy don’t use. Jazz and her friends talk in a special way.


Dear Penny,

Shhhhh. I woke up. It is very late. I had a bad dream. I heard the children calling for me. I heard the voices of the children in the orphanage. They were screaming for me. They were crying so hard. I couldn’t go back to them. I couldn’t find the door to get into the orphanage. There were no doors. They needed me. They needed to eat. They were hungry. They wanted me to sing to them. They wanted to play. I played with them, although sometimes I played in a mean way. They didn’t care. They wanted me back. I left them. How could I leave them? They needed me.

I can’t sleep anymore.


Dear Penny,

Don’t lose your Chinese. That is what the nannies told me. Why did they tell me that? Why did they care? They said don’t forget. I am forgetting.


Dear Penny,

Wanna asked me to draw a picture today. It was a picture of my head. She told me to put inside my head the colors and shapes that showed how my head was feeling right now. Ellie drew a picture of her head too. Inside my head drawing, I put black and red circles. I don’t know why. That is what I felt like doing. It didn’t mean anything. What I wanted to draw was a big fire inside my head because that is how it really feels. Ellie put pink and purple princess crowns inside her head. I should have told her that the crown goes on top of a head, not inside of it. I didn’t say anything.


Dear Penny,

American toilets are stupid. The first time I used one was in a hotel in China. Our adoption guide showed me how to use it. I told her—

Yes, yes, I got it, I got it.

But I didn’t really get it, and I was sure that I was going to fall in or fall off. I still don’t like American toilets. What is the point of a tall toilet anyway? Chinese toilets, with the hole in the ground, make much more sense.


Dear Penny,

Wanna is crazy and she is making me crazy too. She won’t stop asking me questions. She wants me to share how I am feeling.

I don’t want to talk to her about my feelings. I don’t even know how to talk about my feelings. How do I get her to stop? I stare at the wall and don’t answer, but she keeps talking. I don’t really hear what she says, but I know she keeps going on and on. Wanna’s voice is like a bee buzzing in my ear. I want to smack it away.


Dear Penny,

Ok. I will admit this to you and to nobody else…I was kind of excited when I found out that I was going to be adopted. I would have a family, and I wouldn’t be on my own anymore. Remember the TV in the orphanage? Well, I spent a lot of time watching it. I watched movies about Americans. They were always rich. They wore fancy clothes, swam in their house pools, and went to restaurants all the time. You know what? It is not like that here. I don’t have a pool and my parents don’t wear fancy clothes. Sometimes we do go to restaurants.

The thing is, I still feel like I don’t have a family.


Dear Penny,

Sometimes Wanna smells really good. She smells like sweet peaches and lemons. Don’t tell her I told you so.


Dear Penny,

I was just thinking about the food in the hotels in China. It was really good. When I was adopted, the first gigantic hotel we stayed in had the best food in the world. The hotel restaurant had table after table covered with food. There was so much food. I couldn’t believe it. I ate more than I ever ate in my whole life. I thought for sure that my new family was rich.