​​         Chinese Stories in English   

  6. Water Delivery
  7. The Moon is Round
  8. "Senior Citizen"
  9. Joke
10. Dueling Devils

11. Saving Wavie
12. The Highest Realm
13. Startled Awake
14. Can You Guess?
15. Spirit Hooker's Envoy

Stories by Xie Fengrong (谢丰荣)
1. Show Me Purity (你必须纯洁给我看)

      Girlie came home once every six months. Before her pure white, impeccable sedan had even entered the village, the phone was already scratching at Little Iron’s heart. "Are you home? Great! Let's breakfast this afternoon!" “Breakfast” meant “play cards”.
      Little Iron was dressed to the nines when he entered the most luxurious small building in the village – Girlie's home. The game started right away, as it always did when Girlie came home. Little Iron watched Girlie constantly, like he was infatuated with her, and she kept looking at him shyly. The other two players always acted like they were oblivious and concentrated on winning.
      The game broke up as it was getting dark. Girlie got ready to head back to the city without even eating dinner.
      Little Iron started to say something but stopped. He waited until the car started and then plopped his butt down on the seat. Girlie, startled, stared at him darkly, but drove on out of the village. Suddenly Little Iron put his arms around Girlie and she hurriedly stopped the car. Both of them were breathing heavily.
      "Don't! It’s over between us!" she said.
      "No way!" He kissed her wildly but she resisted.
      She’d sneaked off to the city when she graduated from junior high. She’d spent her time in a nightclub until last year, when a 50-year-old man installed her in a villa like a canary in a gilded cage. To his regret, Little Iron, who had always loved her, had never possessed her body.
      Now he was angry and upset. Girlie looked at him with tears in her eyes. "Dear Little Iron,” she said, “you can't be like me, and you really can’t be like those.... You’ve got to show me purity! You know? I have to wait half a year for an afternoon like this, when I can make eyes with you!"
      Little Iron stood by the side of the road, in the darkening night, as her headlights sped away.

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2. Father’s Glance, Mother’s Tears (爹的眼神娘的泪)

      When the daughter came home to the village, she saw her mother at her brother's house.
      Her mother was overjoyed. She only said a few words before pulling her daughter into the bedroom. They were the only two people in the house at the time.
      Mother: "Check out something for me, girl. What’s growing on my chest? What are these patches of rash that started up these last few days? And it swells up every day. I’m kind of scared!"
      Daughter: "Well, why don't you have Dad take a look?"
      Mother: "I’m so embarrassed!"
      The mother unbuttoned her blouse halfway and the daughter began to examine her chest. They both had lowered their heads. After a long a while the daughter felt relieved and said, “This isn’t anything. Rub some ointment on it and it’ll be OK.” She was a nurse and her mother was glad to hear that.
      When they looked up, they suddenly noticed that someone else was in the room. Her father had come in at some point. He was staring fixedly at her mother's breasts, and his eyes looked like a beggar’s. Her mother's face abruptly reddened.
      Her father's face had also turned red. He said he'd only hurried over when he heard their daughter was home.
      Their daughter suddenly had the urge to cry.
      The whole family was together for lunch, including the oldest brother with his wife, and the next oldest with his wife. One brother lived on the east side of the village east and the other on the west side.
      The daughter told everyone that she wanted to revise the support plan they’d formulated the previous year. The two brothers and their wives weren’t too happy about it, but seeing that the daughter was so determined, they had to agree. The new plan was: their mother and father would alternate living for one year in each brother’s house, instead of the father in one house and the mother in the other, like they were doing now.
      The mother and father listened in silence, as they had the previous year. They had to go with whatever their daughter arranged, no matter what it was.
      When the daughter was leaving for her own home, her mother suddenly started crying. The daughter knew that her mother was shedding tears of joy.

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3. Father and Son (父子)

      "You’re too stubborn, Dad! If you won't come to Venus, then go to Saturn and be done with it!"
      I only came up with this idea because I was so mad. I’m a really capable fellow and was living in the best site on Venus. My father lived on earth, and I was worried about him. I’d tried bringing him to Venus several times, but he just wouldn't do it.
      So I give him some line in order to reel him in later. I was determined to use some strategy.
      I allowed no excuses and sent him to slum-like Saturn. I smiled smugly as I watched him totter off into the spaceship at the interplanetary transit station. He turned and waived weakly, leaving a begrudging look for me.
      I watched him every day on the electronic display screen in my home. I saw him wearing tattered clothes, eating rotten vegetables and living in a broken-down hovel. I felt sad, but smug, too.
      "Why are you so hard-nosed, Dad?" I thought to myself.
      Then suddenly, one day, a street urchin a few years old appeared on the screen. My father had taken him in as a son. He marked off the warmest place in the hovel for the boy to live in, left the best of the rotten vegetables to him to eat, and gave him the clothes with the fewest patches to wear. They depended on each other and lived happily day after day.
      My plan had failed! I rushed to Saturn to see my father. The urchin looked at me with innocent and unaffected eyes as I started in again, urging my father to return to Venus to enjoy the good life with me. As soon as the boy heard what I was saying, he immediately hugged my father. Obviously he couldn’t bear to let go of this man who loved him. My father asked me, "What about this child?"
      I said I’d give him some clothes and food, and repair the hovel for him.
      My father’s eyes dimmed at once. He sighed and said, “Is this really the way it is? Have I really raised a bunch of ungrateful creatures?”
      I felt puzzled, and very wronged.
      He went on to say, "I’ve actually adopted four street children in my life. The first one lives on Mars, the second one lives on Uranus. You’re the third, and this is the fourth. You all have good prospects for the future. I look on every one of you as my natural born son. I didn’t tell any of you your life’s history, not until I adopted the next one. You’re all very filial, but very indifferent to other people. I hope you can learn to love others as much as you love me!"
      I stood woodenly where I was.
      The fourth street urchin said, "I’ll care about others, Dad!"

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4. The Beggars (乞丐)

      I was walking down the street when a pair of young lovers came toward me. We brushed shoulders as we passed, and I heard the woman whisper in a pleasant voice, "Sir, may we bother you for a second?"
      I looked back in surprise. Both of them were standing there looking at me. They were dressed fashionably, and the woman was a real fashionista.
      I asked what they wanted and the woman said in a low voice, "Sir, we've come from out of town to look for relatives, but they've moved. We're penniless and starving. Can you give us ten yuan to get something to eat?" The man also nodded to me. They appeared piteous but hadn't lost their dignity.
      I looked at the woman for a moment, then smiled and said, "I have a better idea. I'll take you to get a little something." They were very grateful. We went into an eatery and I ordered three dishes. I dug in like a wolf and cleaned my plate. I looked up as I wiped my mouth and there was a lot left in their bowls.
      I asked the boss for the check. It totaled fifteen yuan. The boss waited for me to fish the money out of my pocket.
      I smiled and said, "Ask them to pay. I don't have any money. I came to this city to find a relative, but my relative has moved and I've been left penniless. These two were nice enough to take me to dinner." I put on a "kill me or torture me, whatever pleases you" look and waited for him to resolve the matter.
      The man stood up quickly but the woman hurried to hold him back. She took out her handbag and paid the bill. There were a lot of hundred-yuan bills in her bag. The two of them glanced at me, snorted, and walked out with their heads held high.
      I'm walking along the street again. What should I do for my next meal? Will I luck into another good thing like that?

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5. Who Messed Up Who? (谁搅了谁的好事)

      I’m a rickshaw driver. I’m positively young and I love to go fast.
      I like to charge customers an extra yuan at the end of the ride. Some people don’t know any better and give it to me; some know it’s too much and give me a dirty look, but pay it anyway; some argue with me but end up paying. I haven’t had anyone in the last year who didn’t pay.
      An extra yuan every time has become the rule, so every day I make quite a bit more money than other rickshaw drivers.
      Today I charged an extra yuan to this guy at the end of his ride.
      "It’s always been four yuan,” the guy roared. “How come you’re charging six?"
      In fact a reasonable price would have been five yuan. I was flabbergasted for a moment, then understood. Today, me, the guy who likes to charge one yuan too much, had met a fellow who loves to pay one yuan too little.
      I looked back at him. He was a smart-alecky kid, too, with yellow hair, penetrating eyes and a crocked neck. I got my mojo working. I got down off my seat to talk some sense into him. You should know I’d never lost one of these arguments. We kept spouting nasty stuff at each other as the distance between us got closer and closer.
      Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my gut. I looked down and a dagger had been stuck in the top part of my abdomen. Blood was pouring out of me.
      I stopped in my tracks. The kid didn’t move either.
      I fell to the ground. The kid moved back, step by step.
      He swore at me. "What a screw-up! I came here today to meet my girlfriend and you messed it up for me!" Then he was gone, leaving nothing behind.
      Damn, you think I wasn’t messed up? Yesterday I made a date with my girlfriend, too. I said I’d take her shopping around the whole city. I was coming here to pick her up and only took that kid because it just happened to be on the way.
      Before I passed out, I heard my girlfriend screaming.

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6. Water Delivery (送水)

      The phone rang. I picked up. "Please deliver a jug of water to me," the voice in the phone said.
      "Can you wait twenty minutes?” I asked, after thinking about it. “None of our delivery workers are here, but I’ll notify them right away to make a delivery to you."
      A groan came over the line. It seemed the customer was a bit dissatisfied. Then he said, "You didn't even ask my address!"
      "Because you’re already a customer," I said.
      "Tell me my address," The man demanded.
      "It’s in our computer." I replied.
      "So look it up." This guy was obstinate.
      "Sorry, sir, our computer crashed. It’s restarting right now,” I said. “You see...."
      "Then don't look it up, just hurry and deliver the water!"
      "Please wait!"
      The call ended. My wife had been beside me along, and now she asked, “Aren’t you afraid he’ll call back and chew you out?"
      I said no. “He called the wrong number. How could he blame me?”
      Tears suddenly appeared in her eyes but she held them back. "You haven't laughed in a month,” she said, “and now you laugh! When I see that laugh on your face, I think you should get chewed out," she added.
      Twenty minutes later, the phone really did ring again. I got myself ready to be sworn at.
      "Who are you?” The guy asked angrily. How come you pretend to be a water company? You made a customer go without a drink of tea for a long time!"
      I laughed, and kept on laughing. I almost died laughing. But after I finally stopped, the man laughed out loud, too. He almost died laughing.
      "You’re not a water delivery service, and I don't want any water, either. I’ve been in a bad mood recently and wanted to hassle a stranger. Just playing around. I dialed a number at random," he said.
      I couldn’t think of anything to say.
      Before long, we two bored guys had become close friends.

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7. The Moon is Round Tonight (今宵月儿圆)

      "Fuck it, child, come on out and get a whiff of this. The citrus blossoms still smell as good as they did thirty years ago!" Uncle was shouting from the yard. The round moon over his head was as big as the navel oranges that come in in winter.
      Auntie didn't feel like moving but still did as he asked. The lights inside went dark.
      In the yard, two bamboo chairs stood side by side off by themselves. They squeaked from time to time.
      Just to have something to say, Uncle spoke up. "Let me give you a haircut."
      "The same way you did when you married me thirty years ago?" Auntie asked.
      "Just like that."
      "Go ahead, then."
      Uncle stretched out his hand and the bamboo chair squeaked. Something glistened in the corner of Auntie's eye and got Uncle's hand wet.
      Uncle pulled his hand back quickly. He lit a cigarette and gazed at the moon.
      "Can you see?" Auntie asked. "The moon's like a city. Aren't those shadows definitely streets?"
      Uncle nodded immediately. "The streets on the moon must have signs, too, showing which street or road, that kind of thing. Going to the moon's like going to the city."
      That made Auntie dizzy. The memory of those streets scared her the most. Every time, she couldn't tell which direction to go and someone had to come get her. “Is it so good in the city?” she asked.
      Uncle frowned. "No. it's not, it's not," he said over and over.
      "So why doesn't Little Kun get himself back here?" Auntie blurted. Uncle couldn't answer. Both of them had been in the dumps about that for a long time.
      The moon was like a big round orange, and their dilapidated little courtyard was like a tree after all the oranges had been picked. His words echoed in their ears. "Dad, Mom, don't come to the city…. The guests all have status. You wouldn't feel comfortable, and I'd be even less comfortable."
      At that moment, in a building in the city, the bridal chamber was being invaded by wedding guests playing pranks on the newlyweds. The bride was ugly but rich. The groom was handsome but covered with paint.

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8. "Senior Citizen", Her Last Occupation (“老人”是最后的职业)

      She had a tombstone. Her two sons had hired someone to engrave it for her. In rural areas these days, every oldster has a tombstone after they die, and she was no exception.
      She was buried in a plot carefully measured out by a Feng Shui master. The tombstone was filled with the names of children and grandchildren so that her spirit could receive blessings and protection in Heaven.
      It’s just that, one night, a piece of white paper was stuck to her tombstone. The following was written on it with a calligraphy brush: "In her life she was a farmer, a cook, a laundress and a nanny. She was worked like a cow or a horse. After she turned sixty she was sentenced to her younger son’s home to serve out her last occupation – senior citizen."
      The villagers felt that was uncommonly strange. They stood in a circle around her grave, recalling bits and pieces of the old woman’s life, and mourned. Before she'd died her daily chores never ended, and for her, "senior citizen" had indeed been an occupation. It's not an exaggeration to say she was "sentenced" to the younger son's family to “serve out” her years, because she wasn’t there to enjoy the good life but to “do hard time”. Other old people could go wherever they wanted, stroll around, chat and have fun, but not her, because her son and daughter-in-law would curse her in the vilest language.
      She and her husband lived in the same village, but it might as well have been over the horizon. In the evenings all either of them could do was return to their own “prison cell” to endure the loneliness, sickness, cold, oppressive heat….
      They'd been "divorced" when she turned sixty. The daughter they’d raised with their own hands had helped them with the divorce.
      The two sons rushed to the gravesite and tore the paper off the tombstone. They cursed at the top of their lungs because they felt that someone had cast aspersions on their good names by labeling them as unfilial. They vowed to find out who had written the note on the tombstone.
      Their father stood away from the crowd and watched them coldly.
      He died of a broken heart a few days later. The two sons put on a ceremonious funeral for him and buried him with her. The old couple’s wish to be together was finally fulfilled!
      No one imagined that he was the one who’d written the note on the tombstone. And now that he was dead, who would write an inscription for his tombstone?

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9. Jokes (笑话)

      An old fellow got liver cancer. The doctor told his family that he only had a few months. His two sons shed tears behind his back and quietly called a meeting of the entire extended family. They asked everyone to look in on him, and give him whatever he wanted, and fulfill his every wish.
      The old fellow got thinner day by day.
      All his life he'd loved to tell jokes, and he didn’t stop now. The jokes he told were all stale, but nevertheless, everyone laughed when he told one. Sometimes, if he was feeling down, everyone would nag him to tell a joke, and they’d all laugh merrily when he did, even if it was lame.
      The old fellow spent the entire Spring Festival in the hospital. He was able to get out of bed and move around during that time. He continuously told jokes to the nurses and the other patients, and made the hospital ward feel like the studio for the Spring Festival telecast. He told his sons, “Go on home and entertain your visitors! My friends and relatives have already been to see me, when I got sick. It’s proper etiquette!”
      The sons wanted to have someone stay to look after him, but he insisted there wouldn’t be a problem. All they could do was go home and entertain their guests.
      A lot of friends and relatives did come over. They all talked about the old fellow and lamented his plight.
      Suddenly the old fellow pushed open the door and came into the room. Everyone was afraid that he’d heard what they’d just been saying, but he only said hello to everyone and started to tell one joke after another. They weren’t really funny, but everyone laughed exaggeratedly. The old fellow walked through the crowd, laughing giddily and looking at everyone.
      The old fellow returned to the hospital and passed away that night.
      When he was about to die, the old fellow thanked his sons, his other loved ones and his friends! In fact he’d known the truth about his condition when everyone suddenly loved to listen to him tell jokes. He could never feel too down when everyone was so into his jokes! So he’d racked his brains to find a lot more jokes to tell people, except then he realized, the jokes he had in him weren’t all that funny.
      He said he had some regrets about that.

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10. Dueling Devils (鬼斗)

      On a dark, windy night in the wilderness, a man was tired from walking and lay down on a rock to sleep. Two hungry devils happened along just then. When they saw a living person and smelled his blood, they rushed forward in excitement, bearing their fangs and brandishing their claws.
      The man was awakened by the devils’ mournful screams. The devils grabbed one of his hands and were about to suck his blood when he yelled urgently, "Don’t be in such an all-fired hurry! I can tell, you two must have been the high ranking, corrupt officials who were sentenced to death not long ago. Right?"
      The two devils nodded and admitted they were. The man said, "I’m thinking, right from the start, you guys aren’t very impressive at all! It’s first come, first served, so whichever of you was first, this delicacy is yours to enjoy. You can be hard on anyone who doesn’t understand this. Now I’m dead anyway, so I might as well referee for you guys. Have a competition to see who’s most qualified to suck my blood first!"
      The man’s words provoked the devils and greed rose anew within them. They thought of how well-off they’d been when they were alive, and decided they’d have to have a fight to the finish.
      Devil A: "My official grade was one level higher than yours. I’ll take the first suck!"
      Devil B: "I had more authority than you. The first suck should be mine!"
      Devil A: "The investigation found that I had ten million more yuan than you, so the first suck is mine!"
      Devil B: "But I had fifty million that they never found. Of course I should be first!"
      Devil A: "I kept a platoon of mistresses. You can’t beat that, huh?"
      Devil B: "What do you know? I had at least a full company of lovers!"
      The two devils argued back and forth, and eventually started to beat on each other. They were vicious and merciless. Before long they were both lying on the ground, their spirits spent and their strength exhausted. The man stood up leisurely and reached out and grabbed them both. "Do you know who I am?” he asked with a smile. “I’m Devil Fighter, and I was waiting here especially for you!"

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Stories by Wu Hongpeng [Xie Qingfu] (吴宏鹏 [谢庆富])

11. Saving Wavie (拯救阿波)

      Wavie was carrying a dirty, tattered bag on his back. He had a stick in his hand that he used to turn the trash can over on the ground. He lowered his head and poked through the trash carefully. He picked out a fast food box and bent over in surprise. Suddenly, from behind his back, a large yellow dog rushed out, snatched the box in its teeth and ran off. The food spilled out on the ground. Wavie was irritated and yelled “wa, wa” at the dog to chase it away.
      So he’d turned bear-like! I was angry, and also quite worried.
      I didn't know, originally, but that stinky Buddhist monk was to blame for it all. Change fate if you will, but why the magic act. He insisted that I pick up a washbasin full of clear water and mumble the sutras under my breath. I saw this scene with Wavie when he pointed into the water.
      “Wrong! It not going to be like that! This is all a fantasy!” I snarled at the monk. The spray of spittle that shot out had him quivering to shake it off.
      Presently he adjusted his clothing calmly and presented me with a refined and cultivated, one-palm-up salutation, “Amitofo, repent and be saved!”
      And then he swaggered off without so much as a glance behind him.

***

      I was standing on the second floor watching Wavie bustle around the trash can. A little boy ran up to him from the building I was in and handed him a package. Wavie took it, surprise showing on his face.
      “A guy with no prospects for the future!” I bad-mouthed him under my breath. I was relieved to see it, though. There was ten million yuan in cash in that package. I’d given the boy a hundred yuan to deliver it.
      I went back to my room and stood steadily on the machine platform. I pressed the button, the machine rumbled and my body shook. I instantly returned to the present.
      I’d gone into the future through a time tunnel just now, and had successfully changed my destiny. Yes, the Wavie who collected rubbish was me, ten years on. That old monk can go to hell! Come on with that bag of tricks, any decade whatever!
      And now, right while I’m walking on air, the old monk suddenly appears in front of me. He really just refuses to see the error of his ways!
      “Ha, ha, ha! That machine of yours is useless! Amitofu! Take another look at who I am!”
      I look him up and down carefully, for a long time, and I can’t help but be shocked. The nose, the eyes, the lips, everything about his body, isn’t it exactly what Wavie, me, will look like when I get old?

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12. The Highest Realm (最高境界)

      This secret formula, he’d almost got it. He was just missing the final part.
      According to what was written in the formula book, the danger was very great when practicing the last feat. Only those at a high level of enlightenment should attempt it. But once successfully accomplished, one would ascend to the realm of the immortals.
      In fact, almost no one was his peer. With his headstrong personality, though, he would never be satisfied if he quit.
      So he choose a good day and went into seclusion to practice.
      Things went smoothly. Almost before he knew it, he’d come to the last juncture.
      On this day, he brought all his energy into play in accordance with the secret formula. Suddenly he felt a stream of energy burst through his soul straight outside of his body. He knew this was the last gateway and he hurriedly recited the spell from the formula book to make the energy outside his body gradually condense into a ball.
      It seemed that the ball of true energy was abruptly sucked away. It disappeared in an instant and he didn’t know what he’d done wrong. Suddenly he felt something menacing drawing near, tap, tap. He immediately opened his eyes wide.
      There, in front of him, a person stood quietly, not moving a muscle. Two luminous eyes burned into him. His psyche was swept away by the eyes, and for the moment he was unable to deal with the astonishment, but he hurried to focus his soul and stood up against those eyes.
      “Ooh”, he spit blood and passed out.
      When he woke up, there was no trace of the other person.
      He felt that person’s coming was quite mysterious. The door of his secret room hadn’t been opened. How did that person get in?
      He came to the realization suddenly. “That was it! No wonder he looked so familiar.”
      According to what was written in the formula book, the highest level of attainment in this art was "Soul Exits Orifice". And that person had arrived at the very instant when his true energy had been abruptly sucked away.
      There was no doubt. It was himself.
      He began to meditate.
      Two days later, having achieved success, he went through the gateway.

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13. Startled Awake by a Dream (惊梦)

      He’d been ill for half a year and was noticeably much thinner and paler than he had been. The doctor said his condition was brought on by melancholy.
      How could he not be depressed? He’d sat in the number one boss’s chair for several years, but right in the middle of his career, he’d pulled a
Cheng Yaojin and showed up where he wasn’t wanted. As sure as five minus two leaves three, he was sent home to the village to sell sweet potatoes.
      As it happened, one night he had a dream.
      His hands were tied behind his back with the rope looped around his neck. A sign was stuck on his back and he was kneeling on an execution ground. “Bang”, a gunshot rang out crisply behind him, followed immediately by the sharp whistle of a bullet.
      He was overcome by terror and cried out mournfully, “Oh, mother, I don't want to die!” Then he woke up, his body soaked in sweat. He wasn’t able to get back to sleep that night.
      The next day his illness was unexpectedly much better. He became quite cheerful.

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14. Can You Guess the Meaning? (你能猜明白吗)

      That day's class was rather special. Mr. Deng, our homeroom teacher, took us to the side of a pond off campus.
      An inverted reflection of the water plants on the opposite side was stretched out in the soft sunlight. Occasionally a fish would swim up quietly and show its green back. Then immediately it would turn around, serendipitously causing a bit of movement on the water’s surface.
      We thoroughly appreciated this moment of tranquility.
      Mr. Deng bent over to pick up a rock and pushed it out like he would a shot put. Plunk! Splash! The water whooshed up and fell back, and countless ripples boiled across the surface. Mr. Deng asked, “Students, is the current pond still the original pond?”
      “No,” we answered in unison.
      Then he asked, “Well, think about this. Can it return to its original state?”
      While I was thinking, one of us boys, a guy we called "Eight Precepts", shouted an answer, “Yes!”
      Two of the girl students yelled, “No!”
       Eight Precepts put his hands on his hips and glared at the girls. “I can dive right, right, right in the water any time and fish the rock out.”
      One of the girls immediately retorted, “So what if you get the rock out, what’ll that do?”
      Mr. Deng gestured for a time out. “Please, students, don’t make up your minds for now. Think hard about today’s lesson after you go home.”
      The road winding through the mountains intentionally went around the big banyan tree on the slope. Every time we were walking home after school, we always stopped under the banyan tree to give our feet a rest. Today the atmosphere was a bit awkward. We stood face to face, looking down and counting grains of sand with our toes.
      I finally managed to squeeze out a few words and ran headlong into her. Almost with one voice, we each said, “Can you take a guess at what the teacher....” Before we finished the thought, we smiled at each other and nodded vigorously. I noticed two very pink clouds forming on her white apple face. I knew my neck was turning the color of a pig’s liver, too, and I had nowhere to go to hide it.
      Later, we walked along together as we always had. As always, our happy words and laughter surprised the nameless birds by the roadside. However, right up to the day of the college entrance exam, we didn’t stop under the banyan tree again.

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15. The Spirit Hooker's Envoy (勾魂使者)

      Ancient trees towered into the sky. Their shadows and the sporadic sunshine formed grotesque patterns. Every bird calling in the deep valley startled and shook me to the core.
      I trembled every minute I spent there. Today at one o'clock in the afternoon, an envoy sent by the Spirit Hooker, the Grim Reaper, would come to take me away. I'm still so young, and I don't want to die, so I hid in the mountains in hopes of avoiding this calamity.
      Finally I'd dawdled there until one o'clock. Everything seemed fine.
      Suddenly, right before my eyes, a slit in the ground cracked open and a knife protruded from the seam, a blade curved like a crescent moon with some steel rings on its spine. I jumped back like I'd been struck by lightning, then shot forward like an arrow and stepped on the hand holding the knife. As I grabbed the knife, an ugly, deathly pale face roiled out of the seam. I slashed at it without hesitation.
      His body rose from the ground and, without fumbling, he caught the head that I'd just sent flying through the air. I didn't stop, and greeted him with an even more crazed scream as I slashed away at him. My tenacious fighting spirit had no equal and my physical fitness was at its peak, but his wounds healed with amazing speed.
      Finally I tired and the surrounding trees began to dance before my eyes. At this time, he spoke up and asked coldly, "You knew today would come, so why must you act like this was your first inkling?"
      I fell to my knees and pleaded with him. "I beg you to spare me," I said. "I know I was wrong. I shouldn't have lived too fast, shouldn't have raced against time to eat a few mouthfuls just to be done with it. I shouldn't have always drunk too much just for the sake of social niceties or to drown my sorrows. I shouldn't have worked night and day just to get more material. I shouldn’t have kept acting like I was made out of iron."
      At this point, his eyes showed a hint of gentleness. A touch of surprise flitted across my heart.
      However, he stretched out his right hand slowly. It looked like a dead branch.
      I fell into darkness, and kept falling. I was scared out of my wits.
      Suddenly my whole body felt a shock. It seemed like I was lying down somewhere.
      I opened my eyes and found that I didn't have a stitch of clothing on. My body had become extremely weak.
      I'd turned into a newborn baby!
      I breathed a sigh of relief and swore that, this time, I would definitely cherish my life!



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                                                    Xie Fengrong                                  Wu Hongpeng [Xie Qingfu]

1. Show Me Purity
2. Father's Glance
3. Father and Son
4. The Beggars
5. Who Messed Up Who?

Flash Fiction Monthly, Premier Issue, Distinguished Authors' Manuscripts, Page 6
《闪小说月刊》创刊名家专栏征稿

Translated from here, also available
here. (Page search for author's or story's name.)