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Cracks in the Wall
By Colleen Messina

1     Jasmine looked at her pink bathroom wall and studied the cracks. The cracks had recently appeared, and today they looked like a hippie with frizzy hair! She had just had a big fight with her mom, and somehow the cracks also reminded Jasmine of their jagged lines of communication. They had had many fights lately about everything from Jasmine's changing taste in clothes to her choice of music. Jasmine knew her mother loved her, but Jasmine needed more independence!
2     Jasmine studied her reflection. The room was muggy from her shower, so she wiped steam off the mirror. She had the smooth features of her ancient heritage, including high cheekbones and ivory skin. Her almond-shaped eyes had unusually long lashes so she never needed to use mascara. Her sleek hair cascaded to her waist like an ebony waterfall. Jasmine grew frustrated when her mother made a big deal over their family lineage. She seemed to forget that Jasmine just wanted to be an all-American girl-a girl who wanted to go to the high school pep rally! Today!
3     The problem was that Aunt Chi was coming to visit. Jasmine's mother, Grace, felt it would be disrespectful if Jasmine left. Grace was not interested in any negotiation about the pep rally. Chinese people respected their relatives!
4     Aunt Chi was a disciple of a Feng Shui teacher in China, and she sometimes made suggestions about their household decor. Feng Shui was the three-thousand-year-old art of using objects and colors to create harmony and prosperity. Jasmine thought it was a bit kooky, but Aunt Chi swore by its truthfulness and seemed to think it was therapy for life's problems. Jasmine wondered how objects in her house could create good vibes!
5     "Aunt Chi will be here any minute," called her mother. "Have you cleaned up your room? You know that dust bunnies are bad Feng Shui!"
6     "I'm doing it now," Jasmine answered, trying to keep a negative tone out of her voice as she threw piles of dirty clothes into the closet, right over the dust bunnies and other creatures lurking there. Jasmine would have welcomed the entire cast of Monsters, Inc. to live in her closet! She just wanted to go to the pep rally instead of visiting with her aunt.
7     Jasmine had had many chances to ruminate about Feng Shui over the years, but she never told any of her friends about it. Jasmine knew many Feng Shui concepts by heart, like how clutter could create chaos in other areas of her life. She knew that crimson was supposed to be lucky, which is why they had painted their front door a luscious, berry red! Her aunt brought them a jolly, round-bellied Buddha to place next to their front door for prosperity. Even Jasmine felt no antipathy towards the happy statue, and when no one was looking, she gave his tummy a friendly pat for good luck. Jasmine's parents never said anything to malign Aunt Chi and had implemented all of her suggestions. Jasmine, however, remained an intransigent skeptic.
8     When Jasmine was little, her aunt would tell her little secrets. She would say, "if you want to change your life, move 27 things in your room!" Jasmine, then four and full of wonder, spent the entire afternoon moving stuffed animals around. Her aunt gave her a lovely bamboo plant as a reward. Jasmine felt that the bamboo brought her good luck and watered it every day. However, as she entered her teenage years, her attention to the plant waned, and it died from neglect.

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