As I mentioned in the previous post, in my English class last night I began teaching a unit entitled “Do you believe in miracles?” As part of the class, I asked the students if they had ever heard any miracle stories. Most people mentioned Bible stories or Chinese myths. One told a story about the “Little Girl in Red” (紅衣小女孩), a malevolent spirit in local folklore who leads hikers astray. A few had family stories about “miraculous” medical recoveries.
But then one of the students, a respectable, conservative teacher of Chinese literature who goes by “Jason” in English, came out with this: “One of my friends says he was sitting in the living room with his family one day, and his mother suddenly flew up into the sky.”
“Wait,” I said. “Say that again.”
“Do you mean she flew around the living room? We wouldn’t really say ‘into the sky’ if it’s inside a room.”
“No, he said she flew up out of the living room and into the sky. And she never came back.”
“So she just flew right through the ceiling and the roof?”
“I guess so.”
“I mean, his mom was alive at the time, right? He didn’t mean that his mother’s ghost appeared in the living room and then flew away?”
“No, she was alive, and she just flew away. The police looked for her, but they never found her.”
“And that’s what the family told the police? That she just flew up into the sky for no reason?”
“Yes. Of course the police didn’t believe him. No one believes him. But he swears it really happened.”
“Okay, Jason, you win. That is definitely the most miraculous miracle story we’ve heard today.”
I tend to make a note of inexplicable stories like that (my own contribution to the discussion was a story about an otherwise normal, intelligent guy I met in Moab who swore he could make light bulbs get brighter and brighter and explode just by concentrating on them), so I scribbled something quick in my notebook, a reminder to write it all down later. I wrote: “Jason’s friend’s mom flew from keting [Chinese for ‘living room’] into sky, never returned.”
The next day — today, that is, Wednesday the 7th — I tutored a young boy called Ryan. Every week I give him some simple writing assignments to practice the grammar and vocabulary he’s learned, and he’s always quite creative about doing them. Last time we’d read a short article about a Polish-American couple who always speak Polish at home, read Polish newspapers, eat Polish food, etc. — but their son prefers to speak English, read English newspapers, eat American food, etc. They feel a little sad about their son’s losing his heritage. I asked him to write his own article modeled on that one, which he did. He showed it to me today. It was about Poseidon, who likes to carry a trident, eat seafood, and listen to the sound of the sea waves — but his son Jack prefers to carry a sword, eat steak, and listen to pop music. Finally, they quarrel, and Poseidon banishes Jack from the Pacific Ocean, telling him to go live in the Atlantic Ocean instead.
So, anyway, that’s the kind of stuff he writes. After I’d checked it and corrected a few grammatical and spelling mistakes, I told him to put it in his folder with his other writing.
He got the folder out and said, “Wow, I’ve really written a lot of crazy things, haven’t I?” As an example of this, he took out an old assignment from months ago and said, “See, look at this one.” The paper had a drawing of a stick figure up in the sky among the clouds, under which was written, “Today is a strange day. Suddenly Mark is flying into the sky. No one knows the reason.”
He’d written that months ago, but it’s quite a coincidence that he chose to show me that old assignment — and only that one — just the day after I’d heard another story about someone flying into the sky for no reason.