For a moment Mei-li felt comforted. Then voices began to grow loud in her head. Her own weak voice seemed smothered by Hong’s sharp words and the foolish words of her father. Mei-li covered her ears with the flat palms of her hands, and the voices dimmed but didn’t leave. She slowly walked down to the river’s edge, letting the cool water absorb her tiredness. The life inside of her was so quiet, wanting only to sleep, just as she wanted to sleep. Mei-li walked deeper into the water, feeling nothing, neither sorrow nor fear. The slight current rocked her back and forth, pulling her evenly forward. Very calmly at first, Mei-li began to laugh, her laughter echoing off the surface of the cool water. She suddenly felt free of all restraints. As the water filled her body and stifled her last breath, all the other voices died, and she was alone at last.
—Gail Tsukiyama, Women of the Silk