Two days after her seventh birthday Cordelia Magee sat all alone in the corner of her room. She was playing with all her brand-new toys. She had a new doll, fancy dress up clothes, sparkly jewelry and many more items that would make any other little girl incredibly happy. Delia, her parents called her for short, was unhappy though. She and her parents had just moved into an old house in the country. She was an only child and had to leave all her friends behind. There weren’t any other children in the neighborhood and Delia was lonely. She wished for a friend to play with more than anything else.
Her mother slowly opened the creaky door.
“Honey,” she said, “Daddy has to take a trip to China for work and we’re going with him.”
“When?” asked Delia.
“A week today,” her mother said.
“Okay” said Delia, sadly.
She really didn’t want to go to a far-off land she had never been to before. For a week straight Delia imagined what it would be like. She had so many questions. ‘What would the people be like? Would she be able to understand any of them? Would they be able to understand her? What would the food be like? I like egg rolls!’ she thought.
Finally, the day arrived. It was time to head to the airport. Delia was both nervous and excited now. The outside of the plane seemed so big. Bigger than she imagined it would be, but once Delia entered the cabin it seemed so small. She thought ‘I hope there won’t be people in all of these seats.’ The cabin had a faint musty smell to it. Delia thought ‘They need to open a window.’ Her mother had packed books, toys and downloaded several movies to keep Delia busy, but the flight was awfully long, and it was difficult for her to sit still for that much time.
They had flown for what seemed like forever and the sun had disappeared. “It's time to try to get some sleep,” her mother said softly.
Delia looked around.
“Where do you lie down?” she asked.
Her mother laughed gently.
“You can recline your seat,” she said sweetly.
“Or you can put your head on my lap, Honey.”
Delia made the second choice. As she laid her head down, her mother stroked her hair softly and sang her favorite lullaby. She could still smell her mother’s perfume lingering in the air as she drifted off to sleep.
Delia awoke just as the plane arrived in Beijing. It was warm and sunny. As she and her parents walked through the airport, everything looked so different. The writing was different. The people were different, and it was so crowded. There were people everywhere! Delia had never seen so many people before. Her mother held her close, while her father retrieved their luggage. An elderly woman bumped into her as they made their way through the airport. The woman turned and looked at Delia while she said something to her that Delia couldn’t understand. Once they got into the cab and started driving, it was more of the same. There was a sea of people; people walking, people riding their bikes and people driving. The people driving didn’t seem to get anywhere very quickly. Delia wondered ‘Why does anybody drive if it takes so long to get anywhere?’
Once they were settled in their hotel room Delia’s mother told her about all the things they were going to do while her father was working. Delia tried to make the best of everything. Even though her mother tried awfully hard to keep Delia entertained, she still felt lonely and in need of a friend. Delia couldn’t wait to go home.
To Delia’s delight, her father told her the day had finally arrived for them to return home. It didn’t take long for Delia to make sure she had everything packed. She was anxious to get to the airport.
Before boarding the plane, Delia’s father stopped in the gift shop to buy some treats for the flight.
“Did you want anything sweetie?” he asked her.
She really did not want to remember this trip, but something caught her eye. There was a tiny stuffed elephant in a small corner of the store. It was as if he called her name. Delia didn’t know why but she had to have him. She walked over and picked him up. She stroked his trunk. He was so soft. Delia looked over at her father. He and the store clerk were engaged in a conversation. She rushed over and put the elephant on the counter between them.
“This is a really special elephant. You are an incredibly lucky little girl,” said the clerk. The clerk was so nice to her and helped her think fondly of the whole trip. As her dad paid the clerk, Delia read the man’s name tag. It read ‘Mingli’. When she sat down on the plane, she looked at her little stuffed elephant, then she looked at her father.
He asked her, “Does this little guy have a name yet?”
Delia said with a smile “I think I’ll call him Mingli.”