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    Casey Kait

    14. Year of the Dog

    By Casey Kait

    Meili met us at the door of the restaurant. She kissed my head as my father and I entered, and when he wasn’t looking, she slipped me a thin, red envelope. It had a bright purple ship and two fat goldfish dancing on a turquoise sea. There was a raised gold border like a Greek key and gold characters that I couldn’t read. I knew what was inside—a crisp twenty-dollar bill—same as every New Year.

    My father had been Meili’s ESL teacher in Paterson, and each year it seemed there was a new wave of students from another part of the world. Julya, a Russian student, gave me a plump nesting doll. Phuong made me special tiny Vietnamese spring rolls wound tight as cigarillos. The students fawned over me, sent little gifts home with my father, tokens of their appreciation. But it was Meili who really spoiled me. She had two sons and told me I was her adopted daughter.

    I slipped the envelope into my coat pocket and ran my thumb over its bumpy surface. I loved Meili’s presents. They were grown-up and seemed expensive. She had given me two necklaces—a gold chain with three small, gold balls strung on it, and a silver one with a jade pendant in the shape of a heart. . . . Read More.


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