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Chinese Babies

by Kathleen Brewin Lewis

“Meriwether, I’m worried about you.”

“What is it this time, Mama?”

chinesesymbol“Well, I’m an old widow lady, but I have you. Who will you have when you’re an old widow lady?”

“Maybe I won’t be an old widow lady. Maybe I’ll go before Carson does.”

“Well, what if you don’t?  Who will look after you? Who will worry about what happens to you?”

“Damn, Mama – you’re depressing me.”

“Don’t say damn, sweetheart. But maybe you ought to think about adopting one of those Chinese babies.”

“A Chinese baby.”

“Yes. You know they are just throwing little girls away over there in China. Just throwing them away. You’re only allowed to have one child in China, and most of ‘em want a boy. To work the fields and stuff.”

“Mama, when have you ever worried about the Chinese babies?”

“I’m not worried about the Chinese babies, I’m worried about you. You got married too late to have babies of your own, but I was just happy you finally got married. I have pretty much gotten used to the idea of no grandchildren. Although your father never did, bless his heart.”

“Oh, Mama.”

“And now you’re 51 and Carson’s 49. I don’t think you’d be able to get an American baby, except maybe a handicapped one. The younger couples sort of get first dibs on the healthy babies. But I bet you could get a Chinese one. Roberta’s grandson and his wife adopted one, and that child is so smart! Looks like she might turn out to be an Olympic gymnast one day, too.”

“Mama, do you just sit around all day thinking and worrying about other people’s  business?”

“Not other people’s business, just yours.”

“Well, maybe you need another hobby.”

“As a matter of fact, I have a new hobby. I’m taking up Mah Jong, with Roberta and Peggy and some of the other girls from the club.  We play on Mondays and Thursdays.


“Yes, I decided that this old dog ought to try to learn a new trick. It’s a Chinese board game.”

“I know it’s a Chinese board game, Mama. Is that what’s put all this in your head?”

“No!  Well, I don’t think so. I’m not sure what put it in my head. Well, yes I am – it was the worrying about your future!”

“Mama, I appreciate your worrying about me and my future, I really do. But things are as they are. What’s done is done. What isn’t done, just isn’t done.”

“Well, my word, Meriwether! Who in the world ever taught you a thing like that?! It certainly wasn’t me. I can assure you, you didn’t inherit the passive acceptance gene from your mother.”

Kathleen Brewin Lewis is an Atlanta writer (born and raised in Savannah) whose work has appeared in Weave magazine, The Red Clay Review, The Prose-Poem Project, Loose Change Literary Magazine, Cerise Press Journal, Like the Dew: A Journal of Southern Culture and Politics, a handful of stones, and Georgia Backroads magazine. She received her Master of Arts in Professional Writing with a concentration in Creative Writing from Kennesaw State University and is the senior editor for Flycatcher: A Journal of Native Imagination. Read her previous flash fiction in Deep South here.

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  • Mary Lynn / September 6, 2013

    I love this, Kathleen. Love your Mother/Daughter essays and can hear your voice when I read them.