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THE BRACELET
-YOSHIKO UCHIDA

Mama, is it time to go?” I hadn’t planned to cry, but the tears came suddenly, and I wiped them away with the back of my hand. I didn’t want my older sister to see me crying. “It’s almost time, Ruri,” my mother said gently. Her face was filled with a kind of sadness I had never seen before. I looked around at my empty room.   The clothes that Mama always told me to hang up in the closet, the junk piled on my dresser, the old rag doll I could never bear to part with—they were all gone. h ere was nothing let   in my room, and there was nothing let   in the rest of the house. The rugs and furniture were gone, the pictures and drapes were down, and the closets and cupboards were empty. The house was like a gift box after the nice thing inside was gone; just a lot of nothingness. It was almost time to leave our home, but we weren’t moving to a nicer house or to a new town. It was April 21, 1942. The United States and Japan were at war, and every Japanese person on the West Coast was being evacuated by the government to a concentration camp. Mama, my sister Keiko, and I were being sent from our home, and out of Berkeley, and eventually out of California. The doorbell rang, and I ran to answer it before my sister could. I thought maybe by some miracle a messenger from the government might be standing there, tall and proper and buttoned into a uniform, come to tell us it was all a terrible mistake, that we wouldn’t have to leave at after all. Or maybe the messenger would have a telegram from Papa, who was interned in a prisoner of-war camp in Montana because he had worked for a Japanese business i rm. The FBI had come to pick up Papa and hundreds of other Japanese community leaders on the very day that Japanese planes had bombed Pearl Harbor. The government thought they were dangerous enemy aliens. If it weren’t so sad, it would have been funny. Papa could no more be dangerous than the mayor of our city, and he was every bit as loyal to the...

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