Wu Hongpeng (Xie Qingfu)
1. Grandpa's Knees
2. Uncle's Ears
3. O's Worries
4. The Coed

Jia Shuling
5. Revisiting
6. Robbery
7. I Am Your Lamp
8. Keeping Watch
9. Colorful Wings

​​         Chinese Stories in English   

                           Huang Zhihao
10. Father Wanted              14. Puzzled
11. Girl and Wildflowers     15. #51 Flower Shop
12. Who’s the Dummy        16. Water for Dad
13. Three Trees                    17. Payback

Flash Fiction Monthly, Premier Issue (Page 7)

Distinguished Authors' Manuscripts 《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.)

Stories by Wu Hongpeng (Xie Qingfu) [吴宏鹏 (谢庆富)]
1. Grandpa's Knees (爷爷的膝盖)

      That time I saw Grandpa’s knees, it was when we hooked the eel.
      Grandpa would go fishing in Crow Pond Reservoir every spring, but he never brought a fish home.
      But the year I was about to finish elementary school, he well and truly hooked me.
      We dropped our lines every day at dusk and pulled them in early in the morning. Early one day, when the surface could still be considered calm, with only a few occasional ripples moving across the water, we found that one of our floats had sunk.
      When grandpa pulled gently on the silk line, it trembled like crazy. I stared at the surface with my eyes wide open. Suddenly, the line wouldn’t move. Grandpa snorted and handed it to me. He rolled up his extra wide pantlegs and waded into the water. That’s when I saw that pair of knees.
      He loosened the line from where it had gotten tangled up in some reeds and walked ashore. When he pulled hard on the line a long, thick squirming eel came up. I cheered and held on to the fish’s body. In those days it was worth enough to cover my tuition for ten years.
      Carefully, he removed the hook, grabbed the eel with both hands and got up. With one swoop he threw the fish back, plunk!, splashing water on me.
      I was startled and shouted, “Grandpa!”
      He patted his hands and smiled. “I didn't want to throw it back,” he said, “but I had to.”
      I choked back my tears. “Is that what you do every year, Grandpa?” I asked, stamping my feet. “Why?”
      Grandpa sidestepped the question. “Yeah, it’s really a bore! With you here as a witness today, Little Roc, I’d never dare renege on my promise again after that.”
      Grandpa passed away that winter. That day my father, who’d always been quite reserved, lay across Grandpa’s knees and cried loud and bitterly.
      My father died this year. Two days before he passed, he talked to me alone about some things in Grandpa’s past. The last thing my father said was, “Roc, you have to remember that man. The man who falsified Grandpa’s family background and put him in the rich peasant class. The man who forced Grandpa to kneel on broken glass for three months! Make sure you remember him!”
      I couldn't help but think of his knees, and that eel. The doubts that had accumulated in my heart for so many years suddenly cleared up.
      “Dad, I said, “think about it. Grandpa let go of that years ago.”
      My father sighed.

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2. Uncle's Ears (伯父的耳朵)

      At the end of last year, when I came home after working in another part of the country, I found my uncle completely deaf.
      He was still wearing his gray Mao suit, and still smoking that cheap red cut tobacco. I handed him a high-grade cigarette, but he was the same as always. He took it and put it behind his ear, but when he was about to leave, he took it and put it down on the table.
      My wife and I talked about whether to buy him a hearing aid or something. She said, “His son has a ton of money. If you buy a hearing aid for him, won’t it make people think his son’s not filial enough?” I thought about it and she was right, so I didn’t buy the hearing aid, but I kept wondering why my cousin didn’t get him one.
      The question was always on my mind, so I went to my cousin and asked him. He said whenever he bought one it would get lost. He’d already bought three. I thought that was strange. Uncle wasn’t usually so absent-minded.
      Uncle was small and thin, but his wife was big and tall. Once when I was young I saw the work team divvying up sweet potatoes. Their family was a little low on work points. His wife told him to argue for more, but he wouldn’t and they quarreled. She got him under her arm and whacked his butt. Uncle’d always been a little deaf since then.
      Uncle is an old party member and served as Village Chief and then as Village Party Secretary for a long time.
      People thought well of him, and some of that carried over to his son. One year, to his surprise, my cousin was chosen to be Village Chief before he’d even been able to prepare himself mentally for the job.
      He accomplished a lot after taking up his post and was therefore chosen to serve successive terms.
      The year before last, the village started to develop. It and the three neighboring villages each gave up half their land to form a large economic development zone.
      My cousin’s family got rich during this time. They acquired a foreign-style house and a sedan. My lean, mean former cousin was gone, replaced by a fat bucket of lard.
      Uncle passed away early in June of this year. That day my cousin asked me to help go through his things. I browsed reverently through Uncle’s old awards while I was sorting stuff out and turned up a delicate wooden box with a lock on it. I opened it up and was astonished to find three hearing aids inside, held down neatly by Uncle’s party membership credentials.

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3. O's Worries (阿O的烦恼)

      O always handed over everything he earned to his old man.
      His wife made a fuss about it several times. Each time he admitted that it was his fault for earning so little. He crossed his heart and promised that next time, no matter what, he’d leave a little aside for himself.
      But when the next time came, O never once kept his promise.
      One evening his wife gave him an ultimatum: If she didn’t see some money next time, she’d divorce him. O got his silver tongue working right away. He used all the nice words he could, and made the most determined promise, but in the end he sighed with deep regret, “If only I could earn a little more money.”
      That night O did indeed dream that he had a lot of money. At the beginning of the dream, there was a big bag of cash on a table. As O was counting it with trembling hands, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, his wife opened the door. She was astounded. “Didn’t we agree? Why’d you bring the cash home instead of putting it in the bank?”
      “Don’t worry. This time I’m keeping it all. It’s just that I’d never counted so much money before. I brought the cash home to satisfy that craving.”
      Pow! She slapped him hard on the shoulder. “You’re crazy! Do me a favor and deposit it in the bank tomorrow.”
      His wife’s slap stirred up a small whirlwind and one of the banknotes on the table flew into the air. O reached out to grab it but missed. The note circled around his head and wriggled beside his ear with a crisp, crinkly sound. Then it changed direction, flew toward the door and single-mindedly squeezed out through the seam between the door and the jamb. O opened the door and pursued it relentlessly.
      The banknote had immediately quieted down when it squeezed into the other room. Squeak, a door opened and O’s mother rushed in wearing her pajamas. Her eyes brightened as soon as she saw O. “I found some money, O! Look, a hundred yuan. It fell out of the sky! Here, take it. Go buy some supplements to make us healthy.” She stretched out her emaciated hand and stroked O's face. “Look how green your face is. You need some supplements.”
      His face shivered violently. “Come into my room, Mom.”
      O told his wife about the dream when he woke up. She heard him out, then abruptly turned over and sat up. She turned on the light and stared at O. He was flustered and said weakly, “It was just a dream.”
      She didn't say anything, just shook her head and sighed softly.

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4. The Coed (那个女生)

      A young girl was sitting on the ground with her face buried between her legs. There was a row of words written in white chalk in front of her. "Please help with six yuan bus fare."
      Like everyone else, I walked on by without looking back.
      But I had second thoughts when I got to the corner. I turned back and watched her surreptitiously, hoping someone would stop, but no one did.
      Unexpectedly, I couldn't leave. I went over to the gate and smoked a cigarette. Then I turned and walked back to the corner like I didn’t have anything to do. I snuck a look back at her, then turned and went back to the gate. I repeated this until I’d smoked three cigarettes. She kept sitting there quietly.
      I made up my mind and walked over to her resolutely. I fished some change out quickly. There was enough. I let out my breath and handed her six yuan.
      After I bought my own ticket, a thought flashed in my mind. I should go back and see whether the girl was still there.
      Just as I was turning around, I suddenly remembered someone. My little brother. If it was him, he would have walked over to the girl without hesitation as soon as he’d laid eyes on her.
      The past erupted from the recesses of my mind:
      That year, that day, I’d been in the hospital corridor as fidgety as an ant on a hot nest. The nurse kept urging me, "Take the patient to the main hospital right away. He might still be saved!"
      None of my fellow tradespeople said anything. They all knew I was broke and deep in debt. When I turned my pleading eyes toward them, they all avoided my gaze.
      My family finally raised a little money.
      But my little brother ended up dying anyway. I don't know if it was because of the delay, and I don't dare think about it, but at the time people's indifference scorched my heart and was burned deeply into my mind.
      I decided not to go back and check on whether the girl was a con artist.

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Stories by Jia Shuling (贾淑玲)
5. Revisiting (重游)

      I couldn’t find my mother. Father lowered his head and, through a cloud of cigarette smoke, said she must be at the train station.
      That’s where I found her. She’d purchased a ticket to her hometown. I didn't know why she wanted to go back there. I’d often heard her say she was an orphan without a single relative in that place.
      When I questioned her, she said that she was going to see a tree. “I’ll go with you, Mom,” I said, hugging her. I could see flakes of frost on her hair.
      We rode two days on the train before we got to her hometown.
      It was an old tree. She walked around it twice and stroked the trunk with her rough hands. Then she squatted down slowly.
      Her hands trembled as she reached into the tree roots. I only then noticed the hidden opening.
      Her face turned from nervous worry to excitement – after scooping out a bunch of stuff, she pulled out a small bottle. The mouth of the bottle was sealed.
      "What’s that?"
      "Something that someone left here. He said that if I couldn't find him when I got back, he’d use this to let me know he was safe and sound. He really didn't die…."
      "Who is ‘he’?"
      "The two of them went off together back then. Later, your dad came back and told me he’d died. I waited for him five years before I married your father."
      In our silence, the autumn breeze kept blowing.
      She opened the bottle. A piece of paper with some writing on it was folded up inside: “I came back, but just as a visitor, not as someone returning home. I have a home and a family where I live. I only came back to the old hometown to let you know I’m safe and sound.”
      "Let's go home, my darling daughter! Your dad’s waiting for us!" There were tears in her eyes.
      The autumn breeze kept blowing. Her footsteps were a little chaotic, and so were mine as I kept pace with her. The leaves were falling beside us....

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6. Robbery (抢劫)

      The bus was driving through a remote area when a tall man waved for it to stop. The driver pulled over and the man got on.
      He wasn’t in any hurry to buy a ticket. After looking all around the bus, he suddenly pulled a dagger out from inside his shirt. "Nobody move,” he shouted at the passengers. “All of you take out your money!"
      They panicked. No one knew what to do.
      “The first one to move or shout will be the first one I stab!” the man threatened viciously.”
      It got quiet inside the bus. A woman with a child in her arms was scared into taking out her wallet and handing it to the man.
      Just then an old woman walked slowly forward from the last row of seats. She walked up to the man, raised her hand and slapped his face. Her gaze was as chilling as the weapon in the man's hand.
      The other passengers didn't know what the old woman thought she was doing. They held their breath.
      The hand the man had used to take the mother’s money stopped moving, as though it had been gripped by a martial arts master.
      "If your pa knew this is how you’re raising the money for his medical expenses,” the old woman said sternly with a fierce look in her eyes, “he’d die before accepting any of it! How could I have raised a son as stupid as you?" She took the wallet from the man's hand and returned it to the mother holding her child. Then she bowed deeply to everyone, tears flowing down her wrinkled cheeks.
      The man stood to one side, not moving a muscle. He looked extremely embarrassed.
      Pandemonium broke out on the bus....
      The mother holding her child took the wallet she’d lost and then regained, and stuffed it into the old woman’s hands. Some of the other passengers also gave her money. "Thank you, thank you all…." the old woman said emotionally.
      The man helped the old woman off the bus at the next stop. She said to him, “Tomorrow let’s do the No. 35 bus on Brightness Road!”

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7. I Am Your Lamp (我是你的灯)

      He ate dinner in a hurry after he got off work. "Dear,” he said, kissing her forehead, “I’m going out for a while. A friend has asked me for a favor." He smiled, but only faintly, as he said it. She knew he wasn’t one to tell lies. He went out after dinner almost every day, and always for the same reason.
      Loneliness flooded the room like fog the moment he closed the door. She spent the time he was gone guessing where he was. Her legs went numb and she slapped them. It had been several months, but she had no way to get the image of the horrible car accident out of her mind.
      He brought a cake home on her birthday. The words “I Love You, Happy Birthday” were written on it. She wanted to use the opportunity to ask him, “What do you do when you go out every night?” She never once did, though. She felt that the car accident had not only taken her legs, but had also left her confidence kneeling on the ground.
      He ate the birthday cake with her. “Go on to bed, Dear,” he said, kissing her forehead. "A friend wants to see me tonight." She smiled as she watched him leave.
      Tears involuntarily wet her face the moment the door closed.
      She reached for her phone and, after hesitating a long time, dialed her brother’s number.
      "Can you help me? Follow your brother-in-law and see what he does at night...."
      She spent several days as anxious as a defendant waiting for the verdict.
      Finally she received a text message from her brother. She burst into tears.
      There were only a few words in the message. “He’s ... cleaning the bathrooms in a bar.”
      She phoned her husband that night for the first time. "Come home, Dear, I’m afraid of the dark."
      He spoke softly into the phone. "Don't be afraid. I am your lamp."

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8. Keeping Watch (守望)

      City A had a strong appeal to him. He swore he would go there to live.
      He got an opportunity and eventually made a bundle. Newly rich, he returned to his hometown in the countryside, where he attracted the adoration of countless young girls.
      "I’m going to City A to buy a house." He said it resolutely.
      "Neither I nor your father care where you go to buy a house, but you must promise to marry Blue Jade.” His mother started nagging him again. “A man in your thirties, you might not be anxious about it, but we are!"
      Blue Jade had always liked him. She’d never married, and at twenty-seven she was already considered an old maid in the countryside. He was silent for a long time, thinking it over. Then he gritted his teeth and squeezing two words out of his mouth: “I will.”
      He bought a house in City A, but not a new one. He insisted on buying a resale. But he wouldn’t buy one that was listed for sale – he insisted on buying one that the seller hadn’t planned on selling. That is to say, as soon as he got to A City, he went straight to Unit 502 on the fifth floor of Building One in Sunshine Residential Park. Blue Jade couldn’t figure out why.
      He offered a high price to buy the place. The couple living there, happily surprised, took the money and moved out.
      He stood in the unit, smoking a cigarette and looking at the scenery outside the window.
      "Why were you willing to pay a high price to buy this place?" Blue Jade finally couldn't help asking.
      He turned around and stared at her. Slowly he raised his hand up in front of her face. "I did the woodwork in this building five years ago,” he said, biting off each word. “This is where I lost the forefinger on this right hand on mine."
      Blue Jade stared at the stub of his right forefinger. Her tears started to flow.
      He turned and resumed looking out the window. He didn't tell her that he had another reason. Five years previously, he’d come looking for work in City A because his first love had gotten married and moved here, to the New Lake community across the way.

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9. Colorful Wings (彩色的翅膀)

April 20th
      The man and the woman smiled at last after Dr. Li came into the ward. “The young patient filled in the volunteer form,” he’d said excitedly. “If he dies, he’s to donate a variety of organs, including his kidneys.”
      "That’s great!" the man said.
      The woman cried, "There’s hope our Peaceful, then?"
      While Dr. Li, the man and the woman were talking, Peaceful was saving a butterfly struggling in a spider’s web. After she set it loose, she gently raised her hand and laughed. “The butterfly dances to the other side of Heaven.”
April 25
      Dr. Li said, "He’s going through a dangerous period."
      The woman cried. "Then, I’m afraid there’s no hope for our little Peaceful!"
May 1
      The man rushed into the ward and said, "He’s been sent to the ICU again."
      “Really?” The woman tried to control her emotions as best she could, but her voice still trembled.
      The man nodded. "His family’s there. They’re all crying."
May 2nd
      The man looked tired. "He’s out of ICU again," he said.
      The woman broke down. "Oh, God!" she screamed crazily.
May 12th
      “We can’t save that patient,” Dr. Li said. “Get ready.”
      The man and the woman had just started to smile when suddenly they froze. The hospital building was shaking. Someone screamed, “Earthquake!” The people ran right out of the building.
      Peaceful and her mother and father stood in front of the hospital building for quite some time, along with the young patient and his parents. They admired the butterflies flitting among the flowers around the pond on the hospital grounds –
      They spread their colorful wings and flew toward the other side of Heaven....

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Stories by Huang Zhihao (黄志浩)
10. Father Wanted (招聘爸爸)

      Strongheart Zhang lumbered down the street after he got off the train,
      He had to stop when he came to a narrow alleyway. A help wanted ad on the wall on the left side of the alley had intensely attracted his eye. Written in crooked characters, the ad read:
      “My name is Little Jade Zhang. I’m six years old this year. I haven’t seen my papa sense (since) I was born. Now, I want to hier (hire) a new papa. This papa doesn’t have to have any money, but has to be good to my mama; he doesn’t have to be good looking, but he’s got to have a loving heart; he doesn’t need to talk good, but he’s got to brush my mama’s hair for her and wash her feet; he doesn't need to take me to the park, but he has to spend a lot of time sitting in the sun with my mama....”
      Strongheart Zhang couldn’t keep his tears from flowing as he read the ad and read it again. As he watched the sun setting in the west, he picked up his luggage and stepped into the ally that he’d been away from for so long....

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11. Girl and Wildflowers (少女与野花)

      One day a painter went into the mountains in search of inspiration. On his way home, he came across a girl who had had to drop out of school for lack of money for tuition.
      The dropout was sitting on the side of a hill staring numbly at a large tree. The painter looked her over and then quickly walked toward her, but he stopped abruptly when he reached in his pocket – the money he’d had with him had grown wings and flown away. After thinking about it for a moment, he led the girl to a field of wildflowers at the foot of the mountain.
      He took up his brush confidently and gestured for the girl, who had squatted down among the flowers, not to move. He began to paint her and, stroke by stroke, the painting came together. He’d never gotten so into a painting before. Before long a smiling girl with wildflowers irresistibly touching her face appeared on his canvas.
      The painter laughed with satisfaction. "It’s done!" he told the girl. The dropout girl happily ran out from the field of flowers and gave him a colorful bunch of blossoms....
      Half a month later, the artist sold this insightful work, "Girl and Wildflowers", to a wealthy businessman. He held the stack of banknotes in his hand, sky high. "Now that dropout can go back to school to continue her studies!"
      One day several years later, the painter was sitting in his doorway enjoying the cool air when a small black sedan suddenly pulled up beside him. While he was wondering what was going on, he was stunned to see a glamorous woman get out of the car.
      "You, you are?"
      "I’m the dropout girl you funded.
      "I’m returning this painting to you, so now we’re even!” the woman continued. Then she got back in the car and drove away.
      The painter teared up. In his glistening tears, his insightful work "Girl and Wildflowers" instantly turned into ashes....

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12 Who’s the Dummy? (谁是傻瓜)

      One day a collector went to a market for a stroll. In an inconspicuous corner, a piece of porcelainware caught his eye.
      “How much?” he asked the piece’s owner.
      "Ten yuan."
      The collector shook his head and left.
      He returned to the market few days later and again saw the piece of porcelainware.
      He noticed it was dusty and he couldn't help leaning over to wipe it off.
      "Five yuan, Sir," the owner said crisply this time.
      The collector hesitated a bit, but still didn’t buy it.
      One day half a month later, second thoughts began to rise deep in the collector’s gut....
      He went back to the market that day. The owner of the porcelain saw him while he was still some distance away, and ran over to greet him with a smile. "Sir, some dummy bought that piece for fifty yuan!"
      The collector was shaken and almost fell over. He muttered to himself: "What a dummy! What a dummy!"

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13. Three Trees (三棵树)

      "I’m going to build a house in a few days, Dad.” Big Pillar hummed a little ditty and asked his father, Old Yang, “Will you let me cut down these three tung trees?"
      Old Yang didn’t say anything, but looked up at the bird nests in the trees and frowned.
      Second Pillar and his wife stood under the eaves of the house and whispered. "Look, Dad, the furniture in our house is old, so we’ve been thinking about cutting the trees down to make some better-looking stuff."
      Old Yang took a cigarette from his pocket and lit it. His dry, cracked lips seemed to move a little but quickly closed up again.
      "Pop, Jasmine wants to buy a cell phone. She’ll divorce me if we don’t sell the trees!" Third Pillar had just come back from his mother-in-law’s place.
      Old Yang looked at Big Pillar thoughtfully, then looked over Second Pillar and his wife, and finally laid his eyes on Third Pillar.
      "You’re all too late!” Old Yang said loudly, looking at the birds’ nests in the trees. “Someone else already has a claim!"
      "Who?" His three sons ran up and got in his face.
      "Your mother. It’s one of the costs of treating her while she’s sick in bed!" It was the first time Old Yang had yelled at his sons, and he roared like an angry leopard....

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14. Puzzled (惑)

      Rice Li rubbed his achy eyes when he came out of the examination room. The sky was extraordinarily blue, and the water was exceptionally clear.
      "Burning the midnight oil last night really wasn’t a waste. I was able to use a bunch of the topics I studied!" He looked like he’d found a pot of gold on his way home. He was beside himself with joy.
      "If you aced that test, Young Li, they can't overlook you! The Assistant Office Manager’s job...."
      The Old Director's words rang in his ears and bathed him in an aroma as sweet as peonies, making him feel even happier. He burst out loud in self-satisfied laughter as he rubbed his red, swollen eyes.
      One day half a month later, the Old Director called to him soberly in the hallway. "What happened on that test, Rice?”
      He stood still, feeling puzzled.
      Seeing that the Old Director's face was distorted with anger, Rice was as apprehensive as a bunny rabbit.
      Watching the Old Director’s back as he tottered away, Rice tried to recall every detail of the exam. "Could I... Could I have forgotten to write my name on the exam paper?"

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15. The #51 Flower Shop (51号花店)

      Every day after work, I’d rush to the No. 51 Flower Shop to buy flowers. It was a habit I developed a month ago.
      The limited space in my house is occupied by flower pots and vases. My wife can't help but complain: "You love flowers, so spend your life with them!"
      I’d smile and act like I didn't hear her.
      "Don’t move your flowers into my room, Papa. I hate them!" Even my five-year-old daughter complained.
      I’d smile and act like I didn't hear her.
      "Don't buy any more flowers, child. Get things for the family, like rice and oil and...." My mother would sit cross-legged on the bed and count on a small abacus.
      I’d smile and act like I didn't hear her.
      Going to the No. 51 Flower Shop was the happiest part of my day. I never got tired of it....
      Today, though, I had no interest in going there. After work I couldn’t help complaining, "My boss, Director Wang, he really died too young. Driving after he’d had so much to drink!"
      The woman who runs the No. 51 Flower Shop was my boss’s lover.

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16. Water for Dad (给爹倒碗水)

      In the afternoon, she was sitting by the door reading a magazine.
      She was really into it when her Dad called to her.
      She put the book down reluctantly and went inside.
      “Second Girl, get a bowl of water … for your dad!” She glanced at her dad and picked up the thermos. She looked at it. It was like a deflated ball, empty.
      She took a porcelain bowl to the neighbor’s and went in.
      My dad…. He’s had too much to drink. Can I borrow a bowl of boiled water for him to drink?”
      “You’re too late. I just used the last of it to wash my hair.” The neighbor’s expression was very regretful.
      “Second Girl, whenever you go to Shenzhen, let my Peach Blossom go with you.”
      “Peach Blossom isn’t even fourteen, yet, First Girl!”
      “She will be in another month!” The neighbor was looking at her anxiously.
      Her face darkened. “Oh. We’ll see.”
      She was burning with anxiety when she got back to her own kitchen. She complained bitterly about her father drinking so much.
      “Second.... Girl, where’s my water? Do you want your dad to die of thirst?” He started in on her again from the other room.
      She ladled some water into the pot and started to light the fire to boil it.
      When it was half way to boiling, she went back to the doorway to read her magazine.
      "The girl’s so lucky, finally going to college." She finished the magazine in the time it takes to sigh.
      “Second Girl, come.... here!” Her dad was calling her from the other room.
      She threw the magazine on the floor right away and ran to the other room.
      “The water isn't boiling, yet, dad.” She was trembling.
      “Do you.... hate me, Second Girl?” He sat up on the bed to ask her.
      She kept picking at her fingernails, not daring to look up at his face.
      “Get on back to school tomorrow, Second Girl!” He took a handful of money out from his trousers pocket as he spoke.
      “Oh, dad, weren't you going to have me go.... work in Shenzhen?” She grabbed his hand.
      “That’s not your lot in life…. working like that. I sold our goats, and went to your aunt, too!” He started coughing.
      She was so happy she wanted to jump for joy. "Wait, Dad,” she said excitedly. “I’ll get your water!"
      She skipped into the kitchen and hurried to take the lid off the pot. She stopped cold when she looked in it – the pot was empty!
      She slapped her forehead when she realized that the water had boiled away while she was reading the magazine!

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17. Payback (报复)

      Mark lay across the bed with his eyes slightly closed. The wound on his face still ached dully....
      He’d been squatting lazily beside the cage on that gloriously sunny afternoon, laughing at the tiger. He was making fun of the tiger’s stupidity and ignorance, and also ridiculing the zoo master’s ruthlessness and stinginess. Even he himself couldn’t say for sure, couldn’t explain it clearly.
      Spring was approaching, getting nearer and nearer. If it weren't for this tiger, Mark would have already gone home with the children.
      Mark was watching the tiger pace back and forth. He couldn't help thinking that it must be the King of Tigers. Otherwise, why would so many people come to see it!
      Mark couldn't keep from dozing off in the warm sunlight.
      The dream was sweet as always. Mark was smiling happily as he donned an apron, about to prepare a tableful of delicacies for the children to eat to their hearts’ content. He took a knife and cheerfully cut the meat, and soon the slices were piled into little mounds....
      Just as he’d started to drool, he’d been awakened by a boy's piercing scream. He’d rushed to the boy without regard for his own safety, and the tiger's sharp claws had raked across his face. For a moment he seemed to understand something, that the flames from the tiger’s eyes had burned his face....
      Mark opened his eyes and, despite the pain, forced himself to sit up on his sickbed. How he wanted.... How he wanted to go back to the zoo and apologize to the tiger – he really shouldn’t have taken away part of its rations!



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