In hindsight John probably had them sell the necklaces and bracelets because if they got caught there was not much the police could do to them. They were just kids. If John got caught he could be thrown in jail or forced to make a payment of some kind. He was always nearby watching them just to make sure they did not get themselves in trouble. When they ran out of stock they would go back to him for new supplies. In the four years she sold the necklaces and bracelets she did not get in trouble once.
Misty and Jason looked forward to those trips into the city. The big buildings, the hustling people, moving this way and that, the streets crowded with cars of all different shapes and sizes, the style and manner of dress was all so different, from commoner to aristocrat. Many a time she would sit to watch and wonder where all the people and cars were going. She would imagine herself in one of those cars traveling to an exotic place where everything would be bliss.
All the people and cars seemed to be in such a hurry going this way and that. Except the tourists, who always seemed lost, looking at their maps trying to find where they were and where they needed to be. They were easy to spot. If she helped them with directions they would be so grateful they were easy prey to buy a necklace. She learned a lot of strategies in her four years selling trinkets on the Square. She dare not put any of those skills on her resume.
After they sold enough handicrafts they would go to the market to load up on supplies such as bread, meats, fruits and cleaning supplies. Misty and Jason would spend all their time at the fish market where they would gaze at the different types of fish. She would wonder if they had personalities like people, or were they just animals without thought. There were a lot of dead fish perched upon tables, but there would be live ones too trying to swim inside tiny aquariums with no place for them to really swim, obstructed by one fish on top of it and more fish below it and to the left and right. All they could do was float. It was sad. She couldn’t imagine sharing a small box with other people and have to live her life like that, too paralyzed to move from the bodies surrounding her. As she thought about it more, life was not so bad living at the adoption center.
The other person she wanted to learn more about was Moogi, the cleaning lady at the adoption center. Two months after Jason was left at the facilities John hired her to be the cleaning lady. Before her hire they did not have one. Moogi was a shy woman who didn’t talk much, especially when Misty tried to get her to talk about her past. She was curious what her life was like before she became their cleaning woman. Try as she might she could never extract this information from her. As life would go on she would become her confidant. Her teacher. Moogi would always remain a mystery with secrets she yearned to unlock, but a wealth of information on other things in life she would be more than happy to share.
Moogi was much younger than the other women who worked at the facilities. The other women seemed ancient to her as she grew up. The older women had faces made of granite, always stern, never flashing a smile. They were responsible more for the administrative stuff and the two hour tutoring lessons her and Jason would be required to take each morning, afternoon and evening. One grandmotherly type would be responsible for history, another for math and another for English, etc. Only she and Jason got the tutoring lessons, since they were the oldest. Jason usually tagged along for the classes, rarely opening his mouth. He was there only because Misty was there and John wanted him to have some education.
Moogi was also older than the infant girls who were being adopted. It was rare for a girl to last past her first birthday, so there was really no one to grow up and play with. Moogi would always remain the only woman closest to her age, despite being twenty years older. John never registered her or Jason for formal school so there were no opportunities to meet other kids.
The best thing about Moogi was her smile. Her face was like a plain yogurt until she smiled. The smile would fill her face with chunks of fruit. Since Moogi rarely smiled and both Misty and Jason liked to see her smile they would do their mischievous best to make her smile. Jason seemed to be the best at accomplishing that task, even if it meant sitting in front of a loud vacuum cleaner, always making it more difficult for Moogi to finish her chores.
When they talked Moogi seemed to speak in riddles, especially when Misty tried to yank some information from her past. Moogi would say things like, “Try to walk along roads with many paths you can enter and exit from. Always leave yourself choices and choose your paths carefully. Just because a road is filled with flowers does not mean it is the best path for you. Know what road best fits your life. A road filled with thorns will make your trip more painful if it does not have exits for you to escape from.”
“Sometimes the roads are chosen for you. You have no choice what road you take.”
“As you get older your time will come when you will be given an opportunity to choose. Just choose a road that is wise for you once you reach that time.”
“Are you happy with the road you are on?”
“The road I am on now is the best path for me.”
She missed Moogi and their talks. She wondered if she was still the cleaning woman at the facilities. She had arrived when Misty was four and in the eight years she was there Misty watched her turn from a young girl to a mature girl one year shy of her teenage years, never once talking about a man in her life and never even bringing up marriage. Misty always wondered why.
“Don’t you want to get married?”
“That is not the best path for me. Men look for certain qualities in women. Most men would not be fond of the qualities forced upon me by the paths I’ve travelled across in my earlier life. Besides, I enjoy being with you and Jason. There is no reason for me to leave this new path I have chosen for my life.”
She seemed like a smart woman. She could find a better job that paid more money than a cleaning woman. Yet, she preferred to mop the floors and clean the toilets at the adoption facility to be with her and Jason. Misty thought that was strange.
She lost Jason when he turned eight after he became obsessed with a sport called baseball. In order to continue to play with him she had to help retrieve baseballs for him while he tried to throw balls as far as he could in the field. She couldn’t see the point in all that effort, but she liked being around him. So she shagged while he threw.
It was four months after his obsession with baseball that a family adopted Misty. They saw her retrieving balls for Jason in the fields. They thought she looked cute with her basket clutched firmly in her hands while she chased after his thrown baseballs. They wanted to adopt both of them. At eight years old Jason had grown taller than Misty so they initially thought he was the older of the two. John would only allow them to adopt Misty. Four months later she would not see Jason or Moogi again. She cried a lot after she left, but soon got over it. The road John allowed her to take was a good one. Now she was choosing her own paths.
At least her days of wondering what happened to Jason Woo had ended. Jason had been found. She still could not find a lot of personal information on him using the internet search engines. Just a lot of baseball stuff. She had no interest in reading about the baseball stuff. It was too difficult for her to comprehend. She wanted to know more about his personal life. At least she knew where he was. Moogi would have to wait until another day to find out about her personal life.
“Misty. Senator Helms would like to talk to you about the meeting notes you prepared for him yesterday. He needs them for his meeting with the China Ambassador.” The voice snapped her back into reality and away from her memories of the adoption center.
End of Chapter 9