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We soared over the city. Kyle whooped and cheered as the wind rushed past us. I scanned the buildings below to track our position. We flew over the neighbourhood houses and approached the downtown office buildings. The storm clouds seemed to lighten up, but they still hung over us, threatening to rain at any minute.
“You still haven’t told me where you want me to go,” Zhu said.
I had no answer. I chewed on my lower lip, trying to think of a safe place. If Grandpa were here, he would have known what to do. I wish he were here now. Then the truth slapped my face as hard as the wind.
“Zhu. Fly back to where we found you. The China Gate!”
“Why do you want to bring her there?” Kyle shouted.
“Do you remember the lion statues? I think I wished Zhu here.”
Kyle straightened up. “You can’t be serious. What did you wish for?”
“I wanted to save her, and the next thing I knew she was alive.”
Zhu’s eyes widened. “Do you think you can send me back?”
I nodded. “I can’t be sure, but we have to try.”
“Then I’d better hurry.”
She turned straight ahead and sped up. I had to cling to her back to keep from sliding off.
Kyle grinned at me. “Man, if I knew the wishes actually came true, I’d wish for more than chewy worms.”
“No, you wouldn’t.”
He laughed. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
I spotted the dim sum restaurant Grandpa and I used to visit. I wondered what he would have made of the dragon. I imagined he would have said to enjoy the new adventure. I missed him. The restaurant sign grew larger as we neared it. I could read the neon Chinese symbols running up and down the sign: “Pearl River Restaurant.”
“We’re here!” I cried. “The China Gate should be around the next corner.”
Zhu dipped low. I clutched her body to keep from falling off.
Kyle whooped like a cowboy riding a horse. “Yahooooooooooo!”
Zhu landed in a parking lot across the street from the dim sum restaurant. Kyle hopped off and I followed him. I retrieved the water bottle from my pants pocket and cracked the lid open.
“Quick, Zhu. Jump in before anyone sees you. We don’t want to attract any attention.”
She transformed into water and streamed into the see-through bottle. I screwed the cap tight.
“You okay in there?”
“Yes! Just find the way home,” she burbled.
“Almost there,” I said as I headed toward the corner.
The sound of construction filled the air as we drew closer. Orange barricades blocked off the street. Kyle and I jogged to the other side to find a better view of the China Gate. The red pillars that held up the golden archway were now bare. The pagoda roof rested on a flatbed trailer. Workers gathered around the base of each pillar. They cleared away and my body went numb.
The stone lions were gone.