Li Yuelai (李悦来)
  6. Novels and Stories
  7. What Happened?
  8. Staring at Stockings
  9. I'm Really His Pa
10. Black White Wings

   Penicillin (青霉素)
11. The 1968 Snowstorm
12. A Debt of the Heart
13. The Pond
14. A Bird in the Office
15. A Thoughtful Sheep

   Xiao Fuxiang (肖福祥)
1. Mama’s Phone Call
2. Computer 001
3. First Wife
4. Young Firm, the Warrior
5. Absolutely Confidential

An Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Flash Fiction Writers (In Process)
当代中国闪小说百家展(添加中)Page 5
Translated from
here, also available here.

​​         Chinese Stories in English   

Author 018 Xiao Fuxiang (肖福祥)
1) Mama’s Phone Call

      The Director has three cell phones, each with a different function. He keeps them in different places as well.
      One day his mother called him. "Son,” she said, “you haven’t come home for a visit in quite some time. Can you buy some rice and bring it to me?"
      Before he was finished with that call, one if his other phones rang. He didn’t dare offend his mother, so he ignored it.
      He picked up that phone when he finished talking to his mother. It was a call from his lover. "What were you doing,” she asked, “that took you so long to answer the phone?" He didn’t dare lie to her, so he said, "I was on the phone with my mother."
      “Who’s more important?" she asked.
      “From now on I won’t keep you waiting,” he promised.
      His third cell phone rang while they were still talking. The Director didn’t dare offend his lover, so he ignored it.
      He picked up that phone when he finished talking to his lover. It was a call from his wife. "What were you doing,” she asked, “that took you so long to answer the phone?" He didn’t dare tell her the truth, so he said, “I was giving my mother a call.”

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2. Computer 001

      The Department implemented a policy of paperless working. The unit issued a computer to the Department Director. Its serial number was 001.
      One morning the Director got to the office early. As was his usual habit, he first started his computer and then poured some tea. The system crashed, and the Director wasn’t able to get his computer started again. He called the administrator.
      The administrator worked at it busily for a long time. However, he wasn’t able to restart the computers, either.
      It was almost time to start work and the Director was getting anxious. He was a computer addict and was worried that the administrator wouldn’t be able to repair the computers that morning. “I’ll be back at noon and will need to use my computer then,” he told the administrator. "You have to get the system fixed for me this morning. If I get back at noon and you don’t have it fixed for me, you’ll have to answer for it!"
      When the Director got back at noon, he asked: "Are the computers repaired, or not?"
      The administrator answered, "They are."
      "What was the problem?"
       "A virus infected the computer room."
      "How’d that happen?"
      "Maybe someone got on an infected website."
      "Who?"
      "That’s not clear."
      "You must find out who it was for me this afternoon,” the Director ordered. “I want to give a report and criticize the guy at the organization’s General Cadres’ Meeting.”
      The director came back again that afternoon. “Did you find out who it was,” he asked.
      "I did."
      "Who was it?"
      Not daring to speak clearly, the administrator mumbled, "Computer 001."

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3. First Wife

      After the Deputy Director got promoted to Director, he started to like having heart-to-heart talks. He had a heart-to-heart with almost everyone on the office staff.
      One day the person he was talking with was a woman secretary, one of the flowers of the department. He’d chosen the time for this conversation carefully.
      "How’s it going?” he asked her. “Still OK?"
      "Fine," she replied.
      "And your family?"
      "They’re fine."
      “Are your parents still OK?”
      “Fine.”
      "And your husband?"
      “Fine.”
      "What do you think of the unit, now?” Then he continued, “… And what do you think of me?"
      A midsummer day, a day of stormy passion. At quitting time the rain started to pour.
      Bang, bang.
      Bang.
      "Who is it? How come you’re still at work this late?" the Director said impatiently as he walked to the door and opened it.
      "Here. Your umbrella." Standing outside the door was the Director’s wife, her feet soaked from the rain.

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4. Young Firm, the Warrior

      Vegetables were constantly being stolen from the company’s garden plot. The soldiers' hard work and sweat were being wasted, and Young Firm, the quartermaster, was mad as hell. He was determined to catch the thief and teach him a lesson.
      The thief had his peculiar habits. He didn’t steal in the mornings, or at midday, or in the evenings. He specifically chose those times when the company was in training to carry out his thievery. And he didn’t steal the company’s best vegetables, or seedlings or sprouts. But what he did steal, he stole in quantity.
      One morning while the company was training, Young Firm went to the vegetable patch and found the thief there stealing vegetables. He rushed at the thief and grabbed on. "OK, thief,” he said, “let’s see how you get out of this!..."
      When he saw who it was, Young Firm said, "Ma'am? You were the one picking our vegetables?”
      The thief was a widow from the neighboring village. Her husband had died a few years ago. Her children were still young and in school, and things were difficult for the family. The last time the company had been on
Learn from Lei Feng duty, Young Firm and his comrades had visited her home.
      When she saw she'd been caught by a soldier, the widow became flustered. She said: "I - picked - vegetables."
      Young Firm realized she wasn't coherent, so he asked, "Don't I know you, Ma'am?"
      People's Liberation Army soldiers were all the same to the widow. She didn't clearly remember that time when Young Firm had visited her for the Learn from Lei Feng thing. "I – don't recognize you," she said.
      The widow saw more people coming and wanted to leave. Young Firm picked a few a few more vegetables for her right away. He also gave her a basket to put them in.
      "Some vegetables, ma'am, for you," he said.
      Since then, no more vegetables have been stolen from the company's vegetable field.

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5. Absolutely Confidential Information

      The village was being torn down and the people moved. The announcement said: "People of this village: Each family of three people or less with a base residential area of seventy square meters or less will be allocated a two-bedroom, one living room condo."
     One of the villagers, Young Wu, full name Useful Wu, had three people in his family, including his wife and son. He had a lot of brothers and sisters, so when he'd moved out of his parents' home, they only gave him a tiny two-room adobe hut with a base living area of less than seventy square meters, so he could only be allocated a two bedroom, one living room condo. His neighbor Young Zhang, full name Winnow Zhang, had the same qualifications but was allocated a pair of two bedroom, one living room condos after the demolition.
      One day, Young Wu asked Young Zhang, "We were in the same boat, Brother, so how did you get allocated two condos?"
      "We got divorced," Young Zhang said.
      "Divorced?"
      "We got ourselves a phony certificate of divorce."
      "A phony divorce certificate got you two condos?"
      "We're a family of three, but after the divorce we were two families. I split the living area in two, so both families were less than three people with under seventy square meters base living area. That's how we got allocated two condos.
      "This is absolutely confidential. You can't tell anyone," Young Zhang added.
      Another day, Young Wu got home late and was worn out. "What happened?" his wife asked.
      "The boss took off," he answered,
      "He ran off with your wages?"
      "A whole year, all gone."
      Another day, Young Wu’s wife clung affectionately to him. “Dear,” she said, "In a few years our child will be grown up. He’ll want to go to college, and he’ll want to get married. One condo won’t be enough. Let’s get ourselves two residences, too.”
      “Will that be OK?” he asked.
      “What’s wrong with it? When opportunity knocks, it doesn’t wait around for you to answer.”
      On the day of the divorce, when the paperwork was done, Young Wu’s beautiful young wife picked up her luggage and headed out the door. “Where’re you going?" he asked.
      “To the village head’s house,” she replied.

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Author 020* Li Yuelai (李悦来)

*Stories by Author 019 (涯客) are translated elsewhere on this site. See here.

6. Novel or Story

      As soon as I heard the “bang”, I looked in the direction of the noise. Two bicycles were lying on the road. One fellow was standing and another couldn’t get up.
      "You can’t fucking look in front of you?"
      "Are were crossing the road! Why blame me?"
      The guy sitting on the road took out his cell phone and dialed 110, the emergency police line.
      Policeman: "Who hit who?"
      The guy sitting: "He hit me."
      The guy standing: "I did hit him, but he was crossing the street and came out all of a sudden.”
      Policeman: "Is that what happened?"
      The guy sitting: "Uh.... Some money fell out of my pants pocket and I just wanted to go back and pick it up when...."
      I was sitting on the curbside, snickering....
      Truth was, the one-hundred-yuan note on the ground had been put there by me.
      “Officer, don’t blame them for this, blame me. I had a bet with my student. I said when people these days find money, they don’t turn it in to the police like people used to do. My student didn’t believe me. He said it wasn’t necessarily true, that there were still good people.” I’d stood up and walked over to the policemen to explain this. I also pointed to my student, who was still standing by the side of the road and laughing.

      One of my students asked, “Teacher, how can you say such things as soon you walk into the classroom? It’s inexplicable!" The rest of the students looked at me in astonishment.
      "I intentionally came to class five minutes late and didn’t say anything. Then I started telling you those things,” I explained to them. “It’s the substance of my lecture for today – What is a novel? And what is a story?"
      The students had just recovered from their astonishment and were looking at me wide-eyed.
      I continued with the lecture. "From the time I entered the classroom until this student raised a question, everything I said was a novel. I thought it up just now in the office. So, what is the story? What I told the police officer, that was a story. The principal technique of a story is narration, while the principal technique of a novel should be description.
      I saw that some students were nodding their heads in understanding, while others were still shaking their heads in puzzlement. [You can count your translator among the puzzled.]

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7. What the Heck Happened?

      Surprisingly, blunt-snout breams and giant salamanders live in a large lake amidst the sand dunes north of the Great Wall, and they attract flocks of tourists. The especially large salamanders are cute; when they see guests admiring them, they’ll frequently bow their heads to welcome them and cry out like a lovable little child.
      But on some occasions the salamanders are rather disappointing. When they see that relevant leaders are honoring them with a visit, they neither bow their heads nor cry, and they might even take off for greener pastures. This is quite embarrassing, not only for the leaders, but also for those who arranged the visit!
      Once when this happened, the leader of the tourist district criticized the keeper: "The giant salamanders are ordinarily well-behaved, aren’t they? When tourists come from all over the country, or from around the whole world, even, they always bow their heads frequently. So why didn’t they do it when it was really important? What kind of game are you playing, young fellow? You don’t want your job, is that it?”
      The keeper felt he was being criticized unfairly. He said: "How could I be able to do such a thing? Do the salamanders listen to me? All I know is, they have a great sense of smell. They can smell people coming from a long ways away. The reason they bow and scrape is that they’re hoping the tourists will toss them some food, right? Maybe this bunch didn’t smell like people?”
      "You! You’re walking on thin ice!"
      "Just don’t blame me for what happened today!"
      When you’re afraid something will happen, of course it does! A bunch of even higher ranking leaders was coming to the Lake District for a visit.
      The District Leader couldn’t wait to kneel down before the keeper. "Please, I’m begging you! Don’t let it be like last time, when the salamanders ran away as soon as they saw people coming. From now until these leaders get here, don’t feed the salamanders anything. That way I don’t believe they’ll run away at the sight of people!"
      The higher ranking leaders arrived at the Lake District in all their glory a week later. The sun was hanging low in the west, and the surface of the lake sparkled in the sunset. A large group of giant salamanders had gathered by the lakeside. They nodded frequently to welcome the leaders, and their vocal cords produced sounds like the wail of starving babies urgently begging to suck their mother's milk.
      This time, they’d given face to the District Leader.
      "See, it was right to listen to me, wasn’t it? Let them miss a few meals and they don’t make any problems."
      "What’re you talking about? I didn’t short them a single meal!"
      The District Leader looked at the keeper in surprise. "So last time you really were trying to pull something!”
      The keeper said resolutely, "I swear to heaven! I’ll be fucking damned if I was playing any game last time.”
      "Then tell me clearly now, what the heck happened?”
      "It was easy, actually. Today I fed them some ecstasy."

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8. Staring at Long Black Stockings

      On a public bus, her long black stockings and denim miniskirt set off her youthful beauty. I don't know if it was a Parisian perfume or an effect of youth's natural scent, but the breath of youth filled the entire interior of the bus. She sat there playing around with her cell phone.
      I stood beside her after I got on the bus. It was well into autumn and I was still chilly even though I was wearing long underwear. I felt like I'd really aged a lot.
      A young kid got on at the next stop. He stood beside me, looking back and forth from me to her. Then his eyes moved to the sign above the girl's head – "Seat reserved for the handicapped, elderly, pregnant and women with small children".
      I'd been thinking of opening my mouth to say, "Miss, I can't feel my legs. Could you let me sit a while? But I hadn't said anything. She'd paid the fare to ride the bus, while I'd used the free pass that the city issues to seniors.
      The bus wound its way slowly through our beautiful city. The girl's face occasionally glowed with an enticing smile as she poked at her phone. Her smile was so sweet.
      The kid beside me kept staring at her thighs in their long black stockings. He exhaled sharply – "whew!" – and shook his head.
      The girl lifted her head and looked at him. She took her bag from her right shoulder and covered her thighs with it.
      The bus braked hard, and everyone stood up as one to look out the front window – a cute little doggie was casually crossing the road.
      The kid got off the bus when it stopped again. The girl looked at his hind end, then sat back murmuring "stinky hoodlum…."
      The girl finished playing on her phone and stuck it back in her bag. "Driver," she yelled, "I've lost my wallet!"
      Everyone on the bus focused on her.
      "Look," I said to her. "Is this it?"
      The girl took the wallet, opened it right away and found that no money was missing. But a piece of paper had been put in it. On it was written, "You're beautiful, and your clothes are pretty, very alluring! But you'll be old one day…."
      The girl looked at me with suspicion. I said, "The young fellow who just got off stuck it in my hand…."

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9. I'm Really His Pa

      Little Brocade was in elementary school, in the first grade. He was naughty thorough and thorough! Believe it or not, he even did things in front of a girl student that adults would only do behind closed doors.
      The girl went crying to her home room teacher. The teacher almost died from anger!
      Mad as hell, in the office the teacher told an older fellow, "His father never comes to any of the parent-teacher meetings. I've never seen the guy! This child, if his father ignores his responsibilities and doesn't set a good example for him, I think there's no way I can handle him. How could he treat a girl like that?"
      The older fellow said sweetly, "Aren't I his father?"
      "Don't lie to me. I know the child's parents are under a lot of pressure at work these days. They're busy working and the competition is fierce. They've handed the child over to his grandparents, all four of them. Four oldsters with just one precious child, they adore the child to the skies!"
      "Teacher, I really am his dad!"

      He really was his pa. It's absolutely and completely true. His natural father.
      Little Brocade was this old guy's child by his fourth wife. His current wife had been one of his graduate students.

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10. Black and White Wings

      Black and White Wings was a pigeon I was raising. His entire body was black, except that the long feathers on both wings were white. He was about to become a father. His wife was called Raindrops. Her whole body was gray except for some black spots on the wings, hence the name. She'd laid two eggs a few days previously. During the day, Black and White sat on the nest to incubate those two eggs. At night, it was Raindrops' responsibility. Except that at mealtimes during the day, the couple would take turns eating.
      Early one morning, Black and White beat his wings and flew off as usual, soaring through the azure sky.
      He didn't come back that day. His wife waited for him anxiously in the nest….
      At sunset there was still no trace of Black and White, and Raindrop hadn't had anything to eat or drink all day. She sat lightly on their two eggs, afraid that if she left them for too long, their temperature would drop and the two precious babies would come to a premature end. Her breast drummed with a low cooing that could be heard from a third of a mile away. She was calling, "Husband! Where have you gone? The children are about to come out and you're still off philandering?"
      My wife was complaining about me, too. "This pigeon you're raising takes after you. It meets someone of the opposite sex and forgets all about his duties at home!"
      Black and White did have that problem. I was always seeing him with someone else's hens, spinning around in front of them and coo-cooing for love.
      As for myself, I have to say something. When you're out with your wife and run into a beautiful woman, an acquaintance, you've got to talk to them, right? Every time this happens, my wife will furtively tug on my shirttail. And then when we get home she'll lecture me, "Oh! Out there how come you had such a big smile on that little face of yours? And when you come home you look like someone just shorted you eight hundred yuan!"
      When my son was in the first grade, the teacher had her students fill in a form asking about the students' and parents' interests and hobbies, so that the students could be assigned to groups based on extracurricular interests. When asked to write down his mother's hobbies, he filled in "writing and singing". But when asked to fill in mine, he had a really hard time and finally wrote two words, "loves sex". The teacher almost laughed herself to death. I know it was all his mother's influence.
      Just as my wife was trashing me, a heavy sound of beating wings drew closer from the distance. Black and White Wings was back! He staggered into the coop, took his wife's place on the nest and lay down on the two eggs. A bullet hole in his chest was still bleeding and the blood stained the eggs red. He never raised his head again....
      My wife looked at me with tears in her eyes, and his wife looked lost.

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Author 21 Penicillin (青霉素)
11. The 1968 Snowstorm

      “There was a huge snowstorm the day I gave birth to you, Snow!” Mom glanced at me, then turned her head again and looked off into the distance. That year's snowstorm fluttered in the depths of her eyes.
      “The ground was white, the stone seat by the doorway was buried, and snow blocked the door. It had been snowing a whole month!” Her eyes flickered as she spoke, like snowflakes floating in the air.
      She grasped my hand. “You didn’t cry when you were born,” she continued. “You only cried when your dad slapped your butt. But once you started you didn’t stop. Your dad said, ‘Let’s call this silly little girl Snow.’”
      Mom brought up her hand and touched my face. The snowflakes in her eyes danced agilely.
      “It’s not only your mom. You’ve talked about it lots of times, too.” My wife came over and gave mom her medicine. Mom didn’t talk any more after she’d taken it. Her eyes became dark and dull.
      I massaged Mom’s back for a moment. “Sleep for a while, Mom. Sitting too long makes you tired.”
      “I haven’t eaten yet! I'm hungry!” Mom barked. She looked very angry.
      My wife laughed. “Didn’t we just finish eating?”
      Mom didn’t say anything else. We helped her back to bed for a nap.
      She was snoring, and then suddenly sat up. I hurried over. “What is it, Mom?” She grabbed my hand and shouted, “Snow!” Panic flared in her eyes. They gradually went out and she stopped grasping my hand.
      “The snow blocked the door," Mom murmured. "Before long we ran out of firewood for cooking and heating. Your dad burned everything in the house that would catch fire, and then he took the wooden bed apart. We snuggled in a corner, your dad hugging me and me hugging you. You were so hungry you cried all night.”
      I couldn’t bear to interrupt her, just like the first time I’d heard the story, sitting quietly in front of her.
      Mom’s forgotten everyone and everything around her, but she remembers the heavy snow in 1968 clearly, and my older sister, who was born and quickly departed during the storm.

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12. A Debt of the Heart

      Mountain was seriously injured at work. A man who’d been in a perfect heath could now move only his mouth. The villagers were sympathetic and all came to visit with money and other things to give him as gifts. They’d stay for a while to console him, then leave the money and other things and go home.
      Wood Stick told his woman, “Let’s us go see him, too, and take him something. Even Deaf Grandpa, the old man who lives alone, has gone to see him with a chicken in his arms."
      Wooden Stick's woman looked around their empty house and said, "We got nothing to give. How can we go see him?" Wood Stick squatted in the doorway and smoked, and didn't say anything.
      Two days later, Wood Stick went to Mountain’s home leading a sheep. “Brother, I don’t have anything, either. I’m giving you this sheep so you can build up your strength.”
      Mountain was so moved that both his eyes and nose were watering. “Brother Wood Stick, you’re not well off, yourself!”
      Wood Sticks waved his hand like it was nothing. “Just the poor helping the poor, you know.”
      Stone came to Mountain’s home, too. He brought an envelope which he handed to Mountain’s woman. “Take this money, Sister. Use it to help cure Mountain.” She didn’t know what to say. Stone continued, “Don’t think it’s a big deal, Sister. Who hasn’t gone through tough times?”
      While he was speaking, he was surprised to see the sheep in the courtyard. He thought, “Isn’t that the sheep that was stolen from me?” But he only asked, "Are you raising a sheep, Sister?”
      Mountain’s woman said, “Brother Wood Stick brought it over yesterday to help Mountain build up his strength.” Stone left without saying anything.
      Mountain said to his woman, “Everyone’s come to see me and brought gifts. I feel like I owe them something. Let’s kill that sheep and invite everyone to have a bowl of mutton soup.” No one wanted to come, but after Mountain’s woman asked them several times, they figured they'd better.
      While they were drinking the soup, Wood Stick saw Stone and avoided him. Stone didn’t say anything.
      Wood Stick saw Stone again later and again avoided him. Stone still didn't say anything.
      Wood Stick avoided Stone every time he saw him. Stone never said anything.
      Until one time he ran into Stone and didn't hide. He thought Stone would swear at him and that would make him feel better. But Stone still didn't say anything.
      After that, whenever Wood Stick saw Stone, he always felt indignant. It was like Stone had stolen the sheep from him.

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13. The Pond

      Two Able squinted his eyes and looked all over the sky for the sun. He was building up a sneeze.
      Three Aunt headed out of the village carrying a small bag of fertilizer. "Silly boy, you're blocking the way. What are you looking at?" She stopped to look up at the sky.
      "I'm looking for the sun, ah-choo!" Two Able said. He wiped his nose and felt better.
      "It's a cloudy day. You can't see the sun. Say, you and my Little Girl are the same age. Little Girl's in the third grade. How come you haven't got out of the first grade, yet?
      "Um, this candy's really sweet!" Two Able flaunted a handful of candy while he spoke.
      "Will you give me a taste?"
      "My Mom doesn't let me give it away!"
      "Give me two pieces and I'll teach you how to get smart!"
      "Um!" Two Able gave the candy in his hand to Three Aunt.
      "Practice standing on your head. With your head down, all the good things in your body will flow to your brain and you'll become a smart fellow!" Aunt Three took the candy and left. She looked back when she got a ways down the road and saw that Two Able was leaning against a wall with his head down.
      Little Girl was by the cornfield at the head of the village waiting for her mother. They hadn't had enough fertilizer so her mother had gone home to get some more.
      Aunt Three saw that Little Girl was playing with a toad. "Don't go too far!" she said as she went into the cornfield.
      There was a string tied to one of the toad's legs. Little Girl patted the toad and it jumped. Two Able strolled up and the two kids took turns patting the toad. It jumped and jumped and came to the edge of the pond, then jumped again into the water. Little Girl was busy holding on to the string. She didn't watch where she was going and also slid into the pond.
      Little Girl's shout brought a terrified Three Aunt running. When she saw that Little Girl had slid some distance into the pond, she moved her legs and went in after her, but after choking on a few mouthfuls of water she clambered back onto the shore.
      "Two Able, help me pull Little Girl out and I'll give you some candy!" She took out the candy as she spoke.
      "Um." Two Able took the candy and jumped into the water. He half pushed and half pulled Little Girl back to the side of the pond. Three Aunt, still not recovered from her shock, reached out and pulled Little Girl out of the water, and hugged her tightly. As she calmed down she thought of Two Able. There were only circles of wavelets on the surface of the pond.
      Now, when children get close to the pond, the adults in their families will shout anxiously: "Stay further away! Two Able was playing by the pond when he accidentally slipped in and drowned. Watch out, he might come back out and grab you!"

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14. A Bird in the Office

      The leader was sunk in his leather chair. The warm air from the heater was making him sleepy.
      He felt a burning on his fingers and hurriedly threw away his cigarette butt.
      He adjusted his position and lit another cigarette. A beautiful smoke ring drifted in front of him.
      A bird flew in and circled around the office. It landed in a pile of papers on the desk and casually laid an egg there. That egg made the leader keep his eyes open.
      The bird preened its feathers in the warm air from the heater, looking pleased with itself, then took to the air again. The leader’s view was distracted by a small area on the window where the glass was broken. He couldn’t remember clearly when the glass had been broken. He only remembered that it was spring and some catkins had floated in.
      A shadowy figure knocked on the door and came in, respectfully requesting a consultation with the leader. “May we have your opinion of the application we submitted?”
      The leader’s eyes looked away for a moment, then focused on the piece of paper under the egg. “It’s being studied.” With these words he sent the shadowy figure away.
      The bird came back. It lay on the egg and reveled in the warm air from the heater. The leader’s emotions reveled in the process of the bird hatching its egg. The leader’s days drifted away like the smoke ring.
      The shadowy figure appeared before the leader, again respectfully requesting a consultation: “What is your opinion of the application we submitted?”
      The leader’s eyes fell on the piece of paper. The bird flew off, and the leader saw that there was a small crack in the egg.
      “It’s being studied.” The leader’s words sent the shadowy figure away.
      The leader’s days floated by in one smoke ring after another. The comings and goings of the bird enriched his vision.
      A little bird emerged from the shell! It rolled around in the pile of papers, started to walk slowly, then spread its wings. Finally one day the two birds flew away.
      That shadowy figure came before the leader again, respectfully requesting a consultation: “What is your opinion of the application we submitted?”
      The leader picked up the paper and shook off the bird droppings. He handed it to the shadowy figure and said, “Re-submit it.”

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15. A Thoughtful Sheep

      The springtime sun looked lazily over the hillside.
      A child shepherd was lying on the hillside, squinting to watch the sheep grazing. He stuck out his hand to pluck a blade of grass and put it into the side of his mouth.
      The sheep looked up and glanced at the child.
      It was a clever sheep, and it knew that the chittering of an insect or the chirping of a bird was produced by the blade of grass in the child's mouth. But it couldn't do that. It could only take the green that filled its eyes and hold it in its mouth, and slowly, slowly chew.
      The chittering of an insect or the chirping of a bird from the child's mouth became a smooth, even snore.
      With a few blades of grass in its mouth, the sheep raised his head and saw white clouds drifting across the sky.
      It was a sheep that could contemplate things. It knew there was a flock of sheep walking through the heavens. It stopped chewing and focused its eyes on that flock. It bleated twice, as though it were sighing.
      The sheep stopped grazing. It lay down on the hillside and watched the child snore. The child's dream was clearly reflected in sheep's pupils.
      In the spring, the child drove one sheep up the hill; in the summer, when the child had grown bigger, he drove a flock of sheep up the hill; in the fall the child, who had become an adult, turned the larger flock into a new house and a bride. When spring came again, a child drove a sheep the adults had given him up the hill.
      The child's snoring was blown away by the wind. The child looked around and saw the sheep standing by the cliff in the distance.
      The sheep saw another flock of sheep drifting in the sky. It bleated and the grassy breath from between its lips and teeth floated off in the wind.
      It was a thoughtful sheep. It felt that those sheep were both elegant and nimble. While it was thinking this, a gust of the mountain breeze blew by. The sheep felt like it was fluttering up in the wind.




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