Lottery by Kimberly Shursen

Book: Lottery by Kimberly Shursen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kimberly Shursen
knitting together in concern, “but I want my mother and father to be at our wedding.”
    “I don’t think that would be a problem,” Caleb said.”
    “So you’d bring my parents here?” she asked eagerly. “For our wedding?”
    “I think it’s time your mother see her home country again, don’t you?”
    She quickly cupped Caleb’s face in her hands and gave him quick kisses all over his face. “What did I do to deserve you?”
    Deserve him
? If Ling only knew what Weber had made him do, but … that would never happen.
    Early the next morning, they stepped into the car Caleb had requested. As they crossed the upper level of the double-deckedMinpu Bridge, the limo merged into the eight lanes of traffic. The lower deck hosted six lanes of traffic, the driver told them, as well as a walkway for pedestrians.
    Ling pointed out a long barge that was carrying tree trunks down the river. The smog was so thick that the tops of skyscrapers weren’t visible. Caleb had read that smoke from steel mills and the burning of coal the city depended on for fuel was becoming a health hazard for Shanghai.
    The driver turned into a circular drive when he saw the sign for the Children’s Welfare Institute.
    “This is huge,” Caleb said, looking out over the acres and acres of manicured grounds that surrounded the stately sprawling u-shaped building.
    “Six-hundred children live here,” Ling said, as the driver opened her door.
    Ling had told Caleb that many of the children were physically or mentally handicapped. He’d never had the stomach for being around sick people and hoped he would be able to make it through the tour.
    “Mr. and Mrs. O’Toole,” a young Asian woman dressed in black slacks and a crisp white cotton blouse greeted as she approached them.
    “Yes,” Ling said. “Please, just call us Ling and Caleb.”
    “My name is Chun,” the woman said when she shook their hands. “I’ll be your tour guide today.”
    After a brief introduction on how the institute was established, Chun started down a long hallway. “The institute cares for daily needs, healthcare, rehab, education, and recreation. Ninety-five percent of our children have physical or mental challenges.” Chun stopped at a doorway and looked in. “This is our nursery.”
    Employees and volunteers wearing yellow smocks held babies, or sat on the floor playing with toddlers. The walls werecovered in artwork the children had made and toys and books were arranged on built-in shelving. A myriad of rocking chairs lined the walls, and staff members hurriedly filled baby bottles.
    Caleb’s eyes clouded over when he watched small children maneuver their way around the room in make-shift walkers. As he scanned the nursery, he noticed toddlers with thick red openings above their upper lip from cleft palates, while others had flat facial features, and the prominent upward slant of their eyes that were symptoms of Down syndrome. He started to feel light-headed.
    “Are many of these children adopted?” Caleb asked, tasting the bile rush into his throat.
    Chun shook her head, her expression sad. “No, not many. A family has to qualify financially so we know they can to care for any health or mental challenges.”
    A miniscule child using a walker worked her way to Ling. The toddler held up her arms, her innocent eyes begging for attention. Ling knelt down next to her and laid a hand against the child’s cheek. “She’s so beautiful.”
    Chun put her hand on top of the little girl’s head. “This is Min. She needs an operation for her heart very soon.”
    Ling stood. “Who will pay for it?”
    Chun turned and started down the hallway. “The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Public Health have jointly launched health projects. Hospitals give free hospitalization to orphans, and many only charge half of the normal fees for an operation.” Chun stopped in front of another doorway. “However, we rely heavily on donations.” She opened a door.

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