George has insisted on escorting my parents and me to 1509 and a ½ Knockturn Way, the home of Quan Do, one of my father’s oldest friends. I am not entirely certain, but I think Quan Do had something to do with our escape from China all those years ago. When I was younger I used to wonder if Mr. Do had legs, because he always wears floor-length traditional Chinese robes. When he walks it looks as if he is floating and hovering from one place to the next.
The airy chime rings as we open the door and step inside the small space. There is a low wooden bench to one side with jars and pots lining the shelves behind it. A counter is on the opposite side of the shop and behind it are more shelves filled with herbals, trinkets, and bottles. The smell of burning joss sticks draws my attention to a small shrine next to the entrance. The Buddha sits happily behind a shot glass of whiskey and a plate of small cakes. A tiny Chinese Fireball dragon statue made of jade is next to the Jolly Hotei. I bow to the happy Buddha and Mami and Baba follow suit. George looks around nervously before doing the same.
“Welcome, welcome to my humble dwelling,” Mr. Do gestures widely with his arms. “Are you ready Mei, Han?”
I squeeze George’s hand and he returns my grip. My stomach feels as if it is about to drop from my body. Up until now I could pretend that the past few months had not been real, that Mami’s illness and my parents leaving was a bad dream. But not anymore. In a few short moments Mami and Baba may be gone from my life forever. This could be the very last time I see them. The thought hits me like a Bludger to the face.
My mother and father turn to me and I refuse to cry. Every time something bad has ever happened to me I cried. Not this time. This time I will be strong.
“We will meet again soon, my daughter, in this life or the next,” Mami whispers to me when we embrace. “Learn from the lessons your soul has chosen to study in this life and do not be sad, beloved daughter. We will be together once more.” I nod at her words and look at her wizened face as I try to preserve this image, this moment.
“Thank you for all you have taught me and given to me, Mami,” I say as she releases me.
“Stay well and be happy, Cho,” Baba hugs me to him, “Promise us that you will not forget to live your life.”
“Yes, Baba,” I tell him as I feel George’s arms move to hold me. My parents look at him and nod and he returns their gesture. Soon they are lead by Mr. Do to a back room. Mr. Do turns and draws the curtain that serves as the room’s doorway, shutting my parents from my sight. I know without being told that I should show myself to the door.
Out in the dark street George huddles protectively over me as we quickly make our way to the light of Diagon alley.
“You didn’t cry, Cho,” he observes.
“Because I felt like if I started I would never be able to stop,” I whisper as we turn and walk toward George’s shop.