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“Get out, and never return to this family.” Again, Dad caught Mom with her secret lover. It is even more unacceptable in China, a rather conservative country, to have extra-marital affairs. Mom said nothing. An hour later, she walked out with four big bags.It was her birthday.My parents were not a harmonious couple, but I never thought they would separate so suddenly. After Mom’s moving out, every afternoon, when I got home, the empty room chilled me. But I could not tell Dad how shocked I was, and burden him; nor could I share this family tragedy with anyone else. I threw myself into scary movies, and looked for stronger feelings to cover my sorrow, and through which to escape. Yet Dad unintentionally wrote all his pain on his face. Every glimpse of that face dragged me back to the truth. It was a little stray smile that changed all this.One day after school, a supermarket’s on-sale bread attracted me. I bought a lot. When I told my father, “Dad, tomorrow’s breakfast is ready”, I saw a tiny sigh of delight on his wrinkled face. That was the smile long lost.I realized then that something so small could make my dad happy, and could lighten the atmosphere. I started to fetch vegetables and fruits more often. Squeezing into a group of housewives, picking and comparing vegetables in a pile of choices, and liquidating all the items in my shopping car—when I put down all the packages in my home, I was filling the emptiness of my family. I also learned to cook. From boiling corn, steaming fish, to frying chicken, my cooking skills bettered with each foray. It always amazed me that, when mixing dumpling sauce, the flavor shifted dramatically just because of a few more teaspoons of salt or several more drops of vinegar. Mom’s moving out took away much of my free time for entertainment. But I found joy in sharing my family’s responsibility, and in taking more control of my own life.Now, as white steam hovers over my soup and fills the dining room, I know that no matter how hard life is, I don’t need to escape—-I can change it!