All the Above


Please fill out the following multiple-choice questions as truthfully and as responsibly as you can – there is only one right answer. This is a timed test.

1. When you’re at school walking around the lake with your friend, do you ______________

A. Squeeze her hand and her shoulders when she talks to you because you know that it would be comforting to her.

B. Drift off and stare at the algae-infested lake.

C. Pay close attention to her lips, watch them move in slow motion as you eat up every single one of her words and turn them on top of their heads in your mind; you want to tell her how you regard every syllable she uttered with a reverence that you can’t fully understand, that you lived in her world, even though you were from completely different parts of the world, that all you wanted to do at that moment is squeeze her hands and shoulders and stomach until she’s on the ground wheezing with laughter.

D. All the Above.

2. The last time when you were on an airplane, did you ______________  

A. Feel a sense of excitement rushing through your body, sending tingles through your every finger.

B. Wonder how in the world a gigantic piece of metal carrying hundreds of people can lift off from the ground and remain aloft for almost twenty hours.

C. Stare outside the window and see your family’s smiling faces swimming in the vastness of the blue. Hear your mother’s voice call you by your nickname that you hated so much but crave to hear it once again so your mind can grab onto it forever. Wonder why in the world would you ever chose to leave home.

D. All the above.

3. On the last day of school, the last night in fact, do you ______________  

A. Scramble to pack your luggage; you’ve left it all for now.

B. Squeal in excitement because you’ll be seeing your family in twenty hours.

C. Look down at your phone to see that she had called you so many times and a text saying “I’m leaving now, where are you???”; press the call button so fast and hope against hope that she hasn’t left yet because there were so many things you haven’t told her like the first time you saw her cry all you wanted to do was to squeeze her until you get her to laugh and tell her that you understood what it was like to leave your family behind and hope against hope that nothing horrible happens to them like what had happened to hers.

D. All the Above.

4. Before you abandoned your family, when you wake up in the morning to the violent whispers of mom and dad, you would  ______________

A. Go back to sleep— it’s only six after all.

B. Cough loudly so that your parents would be aware that they in fact woke you up and would lower their voices and feel bad inside.

C. Straighten yourself up from your bed— all the while trying to minimize the squeaks – and nudge the door ajar with you trying to hear exactly what mom’s slightly raised voice was talking about – it was always about money.

D. All the above.

5. Remember when you were on the airplane? Now you’ve been in your seat for a couple of hours, and the next meal won’t be here in another couple of hours, do you  ______________

A. Edge away carefully from the person next to you who has his head on your shoulder.

B. Watch The Theory of Everything, your favorite movie that you’ve already watched a hundred times but still latch your gaze on the bright screen even if it’s burning your eyes.

C. Feel disconnected from everything around you so that the seats melt away and you seem to be lying on a raft in the ocean, drifting aimlessly through the muddy pool of your memories: two years in America and fourteen years in your home country.

D. All the above.

—– Mid-Test Checkpoint —–

You’re half-way done with the test, remember that this is a timed test and the answer you choose will be stamped in the back of your mind for the rest of your life!

6. What do you do when your mother and your grandmother and every relative you have is against the idea of you going to study abroad for high school?

A. Pretend like you don’t care about anything they say, even when they tell you that your stubbornness reminds them of your dad.

B. Try to counter all their arguments; after all, you’re stubborn and you’ve got more than a year to convince them.

C. Laugh at all their reasons and point out how ridiculous they are: Nainai, I’m not going to disappear like that other Chinese girl did, I’m going to Alabama. Mama, Baba said he’s seeing a slide in the exchange rates, he said that maybe soon it’ll be below seven, maybe even six point eight. Of course, I’ll get things for you, xiaoyi.

D. All the above.

7. Whenever there’s air turbulence, you would   ______________

A. Enjoy it because it’s just like a rollercoaster.

B. Cling to one of your armrests because the other is taken up by the guy who’s still sleeping and doesn’t seem to be able to wake up.

C. Lean as far back into your seat as you can and squeeze your eyes and try to imagine the faces of your mom and dad when you’re tugging your luggage towards the exit door and you see their anxious faces looking around for you and it takes a moment for them to see you but when they do your knees don’t seem to be able to support your body anymore and your face feels numb and you run towards them with all your might.

D. None the above.

8. Why in your opinion doesn’t your mother want you to study in America?

A. That you were in fact in her words, far too young to go halfway across the world.

B. That the exchange rate between RMB and US dollars is increasing faster than whatever your father— the economics professor—says, and your tuition will soon outgrow your family’s income because both your parents work at universities.

C. That your mother, like you, when confronted with leaving would only talk about the small things; like how it’s finally raining after a couple of months of drought or how her favorite scent— the fresh smell of grass after rain— is the same as mine and we end up talking with averted eyes about what dinner’s going to be or conspiracy theories of our favorite TV shows.

D. All the above.

9. Who’s is the fifth president of the United States?

A. James Madison.

B. John Adams.

C. George Washington.

D. None of the Above.

10. It’s been more than two years; do you ever regret leaving home?

A. All the time.

B. Some of the time.

C. Sometimes when you’re video chatting with your entire family on Chinese New Year and you see them all together and you see grandpa being grumpy in the background and you hear the chatter of chopsticks and you can almost remember the smell of your grandma’s cooking and the taste of your favorite soup that you haven’t had in two years; but then other times while you’re with your friend and you’re both in running shorts in mid-January taking a morning run around the lake and you’re both panting and wheezing in the cold morning air and you would look at her and she would look at you and you seem to become one.

D. All the Above.

Bonus Question: Please only answer this if you have enough time.

Why do you think you hate airplanes so much?

A. The inevitable turbulences that make your stomach churn in discomfort.

B. It’s the waiting – sitting for seventeen hours straight can mess with you.

C. That on a plane you almost always think about the Atlantic Ocean and how you are thousands of kilometers above it and how your stomach tingle and a sense of disconnection with your home country and the country you’ve been living in for the past two years swallow you whole and but spit you out like a nasty tasting piece of candy.

D. All the above.


Congratulations! You have finished the test. Now take a moment to relax, stretch your arms back until you can feel the muscles in your stomach starting to hurt. Clear your mind of all the test questions and answers and remember not to tell anyone else what’s on the test if they ask!

Emma Wang is a 17-year-old writer born in Xi’an, China but currently attends Indian Springs School in Alabama. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Arts and Writing awards, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue, The Harpoon Review, Blue Marble Review, K’in Literary Journal, and more. She founded and co-runs the Goya Writer’s Workshop, an international online workshop for young writers. She is usually tired.

Art by Sabra Rogers.