​​         Chinese Stories in English   

Gravitas Mini-Stories (Page 1)

7. Fairy Tales
8. Fantasy Rules
9. Finding Herself
10. Heaven
11. Him
12. Holiday Wish

1. Avoiding the Rain
2. Balcony View
3. Bean Drums
4. Can't be Mailed
5. Cat Lady
6. Coming of Age

13. Jammed Up City
14. Lazy Mare
15. Moral Purity
16. Naturally Wavy
 17. Now's the Time
18. Retirement

19. Revenge
20. Rice Balls
21. Simple Joy
22. Tear, A
23. Treasured Tears
24. Treatment

1. Avoiding the Rain
By @Legend Leben

     A rainstorm.
     Poppa Frog is looking around for a leaf for Momma Frog to get out of the rain when he spies a big foot that is about to come down on them. He bravely sticks out his hands to fend it off, but the foot gets pulled away.
     Under the tree, the girl says to the boy, "No matter how much of a hurry you're in, you still want to walk around the leaves. There might be little animals in love under there."
     Just then a thunderclap booms sharply. A voice from behind the cloud layer says, "Stubborn old goat! I've told you time and again to be careful with the thunder around trees. There might be lovers hiding from the rain under there!"

故事会 Stories Magazine, March 2013, 2nd Semimonthly Issue, P. 16
2. The View on the Balcony
Liu Lang

     A big balcony on an upper story. The thing about the balcony wasn't the bird's-eye view; it was the balcony itself.
     There was a rack for hanging laundry out to dry on the balcony. It could be raised and lowered automatically, really nifty. Men's and women's clothing was always draped gracefully on it.
     The most beautiful scenery was of course the women's underthings, an ensemble of many colors and various shapes on display, adorning the sky above the balcony.
     Suddenly one day, something untoward happened on the balcony. Alongside the panties that had been floating alluringly, a large pair of men's cotton underpants had been added, with a big patch sewn awkwardly on the crotch.
     A fashionable middle-aged woman called a young woman out onto the balcony. Facing the rack, she pointed to the underpants and said, "Explain this."
     Before long another drying rack, a very ordinary one, appeared in a dark corner of the balcony. Following convention, the large pair of cotton underpants was hung there with others of its kind. Even some gaudy shirts were hung out with them to dry on that rack.
     After more than half a year, the conventions got muddled up a bit. Surprisingly, the cotton underpants were put out to dry on the automatic rack. It was obviously chaotic, and very discordant.
     The balcony began to lose its value as scenery.
     After a year, those beautiful pieces of lingerie no longer appeared on the automatic rack. Only the large cotton underpants could occasionally be seen wafting in the breeze.
     Later, the young woman hired a worker to take down the rack that had been in the dark corner.
     Still later, the large cotton underpants disappeared from the balcony. They were replaced by even more splendid, more insubstantial, more alluring lingerie. The scenery on balcony was more beautiful than before.
     I heard that a nanny hired by the family with the balcony had cultivated a relationship within a year, and become the mistress of the household.
                                                                                                                                                         (Published in the Yangcheng Evening News)

http://bbs.tianya.cn/post-53748-3724-1.shtml, Story No. 1
3. Bean Drums
Bi Shumin

     I had a friend in kindergarten, a boy, who I knew very well. Back then we ate at the same small table. In Physical Labor class, Teacher used to give all of us Xinjiang folk dancing tambourines filled with string beans to trim. When I couldn't finish mine, he would come over to help me. That's why we called Xinjiang tambourines "bean drums".
     After more than ten years, we no longer had much contact, but we each knew that the other was living happily in his own corner of the city. Then one day his mother called to say that he had contracted throat cancer and was resting at home after surgery. If I had time.... she paused briefly before saying, "When you call him, could you do the talking? He'll be ecstatic to hear your voice, but he won't say anything back to you, because he can't talk."
     I gave him a call the next day. When I said his name, the answer was a long silence. Out of habit I waited for a reply before realizing suddenly that I wasn't going to get one. Then I started a conversation with myself, knowing for sure that he was listening quietly on the other end of the line. I talked to myself for a long time without any response or feedback, not even the sound of his breathing. The whole thing felt very weird. It was like being inside an endless pile of cotton....
     That night his mother called to say he was very happy, very grateful. She hoped I would call him often from now on.
     I said I would, but I put it off for a long time. Perhaps it was because I'd felt it was too exceptional that day, being the only one to speak. Eventually I dialed his home phone again. Once I'd said "Is this ...? I'm your tablemate from kindergarten...." I paused, not to wait for him to answer, but just to catch my breath and get ready to go on speaking. In this brief moment I heard a thin, sharp whooshing sound.... What was making that sound? Ah, yes, someone was vigorously shaking a bean drum!
     Tears filled my eyes in a flash. The heat of human emotions crossed the countless years and the mists of destiny, baking my warm and fuzzy memories.
     Whenever I finished a sentence that day, I heard that whooshing sound, just like the old days when we poured the trimmed string beans into a basket together. When I said goodbye, the long, clear sound of a bean drum answered me.

小小说名作、佳作阅读与欣赏 Famous Mini-Story Masterpieces to Read and Appreciate
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6ceb4af10101f1qd.html, Story #14
4. Can't Be Mailed

     She came to the small Post Office in this town every Wednesday, so the postal workers called her Miss Wednesday. She came again today, right on schedule, as if she had an appointment….
     The handsome young clerk raised his head and looked at her. "I'm sorry," he said with a smile, as he held up the envelope without an addressee's name on it. "You can't mail it like this."
     She just nodded her head a bit, and pursed her lips. She had an eager gleam in her eye as she stared closely at him.

Manuscript Compiled and Submitted by Grape
Mini-Fiction Blog, Republished from Youth Blog
5. Cat Lady Li Dairong
Author: Zhang Wei

     We're on a low mountain in the eastern part of the mountain chain that includes Mt. Tai [in Shandong Province]. In the autumn, in the dim light of three successive evenings, I'd seen a middle-aged woman with a very heavy sack walking around on the mountain road.
     At first I thought she was bringing dinner for some people. I found out only later that she was coming because of a group of stray cats, and all that stuff she brought with her was food and drink for them.
     She'd walk from east to west, in the middle of the road. One after the other the cats would pop their heads out from the spaces between the trees when they heard her coming: a bunch of little faces in the glow of the setting sun, like a field of sunflowers wafting in the evening breeze.
     Her name was Li Dairong. She was retired, and for years, rain or shine, she'd been taking care of these feral cats that others had abandoned. Along with her neighbors, she'd rescued a lot of seriously injured cats, taken them to the hospital and got them medicines and operations.
     She spent the better part of her savings doing this.
                                                                                                                                             From Southern Weekend, October 6, 2011

2011 中国最佳短片小说,主编王蒙,辽宁人民出版社,第295页
China's Best Short Stories 2011, Wang Meng Ed., p. 295
Translated from version at
6. A Coming-of-Age Gift

     The two of them were sitting at a table, facing each other. The tiny red flame in the lantern cast huge shadows on the wall.
     "Have you made up your mind? You won't stay in school?"
     "I'm dropping out, Dad!"
     The hunchback's eyes clouded up. "I'm poor. I'm sorry I couldn't do right by you!"
     His hand was shaking as he rolled a cigarette. When it was rolled up tightly he handed it to the boy. "Here, son, have a smoke."
     The boy was deeply moved. He knew this was his father's coming-of-age gift to him.

Manuscript Compiled and Submitted by Grape
Mini-Fiction Blog, Republished from Youth Blog
7. Fairy Tales
by Three Inch Figurine

     The little boy wanted to hear his father tell him a fairy tale every night before he would go to sleep. He also insisted on different story every night.
     The father agreed to do it, although it wasn't easy for him. From the Happy Prince to Peter Pan, he read a new story every evening.
     His son asked what they'd do when all the fairy tales were told. "Don't worry," the father said, "I have enough stories to last a lifetime." The boy laughed happily.
     The boy eventually died from his illness. The father knew that his own fairy tale had now ended.

故事会 Stories Magazine, March 2013, 2nd Semimonthly Issue, P. 16
8. Fantasy Rules: The Thief's Regrets
Narrated by Jin Yu, Adapted by An Dun

     A thief went out to steal things on New Year's Eve.
     Looking in through a window, he saw a husband and wife having an argument about whether the family reunion dinner was lavish enough. Through another window, he saw a man getting quietly drunk while a woman slept off to one side.
     But through a third window he saw an elderly couple eating as they sat facing each other. He could barely make out what they were saying as they urged each other to eat and drink. One said, "Have some more to drink." The other said, "Have a piece of the fatty meat. It's quite tasty…."
     "These people have money," the thief thought. "They've got wine to drink, and meat to eat. I'm going to steal their stuff." But when he entered their room later, he saw the leftovers from their meal on the table. The "wine" turned out to be the water in which they'd rinsed their rice. The "fatty meat" and "lean meat" were, respectively, roasted red and white sweet potatoes.
     "If poor people can pass their days with such elegance," the thief thought sentimentally, "why should I keep being a thief?"
                                                                                                                       (Selected from Friends of the Family Magazine, 2014 No. 1)

特别关注 Special Focus Magazine, 2014 #3, p. 14
9. Finding Herself
By @Dai Liren

     "The reason I'm going on this trip isn't to get away from you, it's to get away from myself."
     I had a girl tell me that once. Later, she'd send me a scenic postcard whenever she got to a new place. I'd mark my world map to show where she was.
     One day I got this card from her: "I've gone too far, so far I've forgotten the person I was. Do you remember?"
     I set out right away, following her trail. I put the "her" from each place in my luggage and gave it to her when I got back.

意林 YiLin Magazine #210
March 2013, First Semimonthly Issue, p. 43
10. Heaven
By: Ailx

     A hospital, in a corridor. Mr. H is walking back and forth anxiously, muttering something. It's because his wife is laying on the operating table, a child about to be born….
     "It's so dark here. I've been on this road 10 hours already, how come I haven't got to Heaven yet? They say people ascend to Heaven when they die, don't they?.… Wait a minute, I seem to see a light. Yes, yes, it's a light, just up there! Oh, I gotta go faster…. Oh! That's right! The people in Heaven all wear white clothes. Ahh, I'm in Heaven at last!!"
     When I thought of that, I couldn't help crying enthusiastically. Outside the door the doctor eagerly told Mr. H, who had been shaken to the point of going crazy: "She's delivered! She's delivered! It's a healthy boy! He's cute as can be, like an angel!"

From "A Collection of New One-Minute Stories"
Also published at
11. Him
Guo Moruo

     Short stories have become very popular in European literary circles recently. Some are as short as twelve or thirteen lines. I don't know, does this story of mine also have value as a work of fiction?
     The sky was already getting dark. He went out to the street to buy firewood.
     On his way back, he saw sixteen-year-old Moon Spirit on the street again, a white silk gown draped over the shoulder as though coming out of a bathhouse. A smile in his direction; and several bright-eyes alongside also acknowledged him with a glance. He looked at them silently, and sighed, "Ah, light, ah, love, how can I ever build up good graces like that? People who build up good grace are really lucky…."
     "Hey, Mr. K, are you coming or going?"
     The fellow calling to him was his old classmate, Mr. N. He took the firewood out from under his "fugai" and showed it to N, and said, "Once again, you run into me while I'm buying firewood." N laughed, and so did he. He asked N where he was going.
     "I'm going to Mr. Y's to hang out. Won't you come along?"
     "No, I got this firewood because I've got someone coming over."
     "You won't be going over there?"
     "No, I'm going home."
     They split up at the H Shrine. He went back to silently reciting his own poem.

100 Years, 100 Classic Mini-stories
2nd Printing, March 2012, P. 3
12. Holiday Wish
by Diligent Insight

     Little Ming made a wish before Christmas: He hoped that his Mom and Dad would be home for Chinese New Year's.
     Santa Claus appeared. "My boy," he said to Little Ming, "can you wish for something else? I'm afraid that when the time comes, I won't be able to get my hands on train tickets."
     Little Ming cried and said he hadn't seen his Mom and Dad in two years. Santa thought it over and said OK.
     Later there was a news report on TV: An old man with a white beard was suspected of operating a reindeer sleigh illegally during the holiday rush. He had been arrested pending further investigation.

故事会Stories Magazine, March 2013, 2nd Semimonthly Issue, P. 16
13. Jammed Up City

     Beijing, 5:30 on an ordinary afternoon. He got a phone call from her, the one who'd broken up with him several days before.
     "There's still two hours before the plane takes off. If you come, I won't go." She'd decided after all to give him one last chance before going off to the U.S.
     "I love you," he declared. "Wait for me." He stopped what he was doing and rushed out of the office building.
     Two hours later she'd taken off. He was still in the Sanlitun neighborhood trying to get a cab.

     This is a true story.

Digest of Today's Literature #353
February 2013, First Semimonthly Issue, p. 67
14. The Story of Lazy Mare
Sun Li


     She was a lazy wife who let her hair hang loose over her shoulders and didn't brush it. She didn't even wash her face or hands. She would sit outside her door all day long, basking in the warmth of the sun, as though she'd grown up in an icehouse.
     She wasn't yet forty. She liked to eat but didn't like to cook. Her husband didn't dare discipline her. He'd cussed her out once: "You old bag, all you do is sit in the sun." That night, she'd tied a belt onto a curtain rod and tried to hang herself.


     One day during the War Against Japan, the Woman's Association gave her an assignment to make a pair of shoes for the troops. She paraded all around the village telling everyone she met, "They say I'm lazy, but you watch, I'm going to make Anti-Japanese shoes, aren't I?"
     Take a look in her sewing kit: Three rotten hemp threads and an awl without a point.
     To make the shoes, for the tops she used a piece of the lining from her pants that she'd blackened with soot from the bottom of a pot, and for the soles she used a stack of heavy paper.


     For ten days the lazy wife didn't do anything but work on those shoes. They were delivered to the army base in a batch of five hundred pair. The comrades gladly took four hundred ninety-nine pair; only the lazy wife's pair was left. They sat in front of the Command Section, upside down, and everyone ignored them. Written on them in squiggly lines was the lazy wife's name: Lizzy Mayer.
     They sat there for half a year, and then a pregnant rat pulled the shoes into her hole.
     I think her name could be changed a bit. Calling her Lazy Mare isn't wrong, actually.

100 Years, 100 Classic Mini-stories
2nd Printing, March 2012, P. 25
15. A Memorial to Moral Purity

     Slender Willow was very poor and the villagers all snubbed her. She was just rubbing soot from the pot onto her face as the bandit came into the village.
     When the bandit demanded a young maiden, the villagers all looked at Slender Willow. She was cheap goods, anyway.  They grabbed her and washed her face.
     The bandit laughed evilly and pounced on her. But Slender Willow suddenly grabbed onto a tree and wouldn't let go no matter how much he hit and kicked her.
     The bandit pulled out a knife and cut her fingers off, but she kept her arms and legs wrapped around the tree like steel hoops. The bandit gave up.
     The villagers strove to take care of Slender Willow's injuries. They collected money to erect a memorial arch to her virtue.

Manuscript Compiled and Submitted by Grape
Mini-Fiction Blog, Republished from Youth Blog
16. Naturally Wavy

     He ran into her on the boulevard. She had a small child with her.
     "You doin' OK?" he asked.
     "Doin' great. You?"
     He rubbed the child's head of soft, wavy hair. "Cute kid. How old?"
     He thought about it for a minute. "You mean, you got married the year we broke up?"
     She didn't say anything, just looked at his bald head. He crumpled up the chemotherapy order in his hand.
     "I shaved it. My naturally wavy hair was too hard to take care of."

Manuscript Compiled and Submitted by Grape
Mini-Fiction Blog, Republished from Youth Blog
17. Now's the Time
Text by Wang Yu

     Zhang Three and Li Four had had a good working relationship for years and years. Mr. Zhang was a business proprietor and Mr. Li was a Bureau Chief. Since Chief Li tossed a little business in Mr. Zhang's way from time to time, they never fell completely "out of touch" with each other, but the "little favors" were becoming fewer and farther between.
     At the beginning of the new year, Mr. Zhang had a sudden feeling, as though he had caught whiff of an opportunity. He made a phone call to a source he had inside the bureau. He seldom used this source because the guy was rather low on the totem pole, but it was different this time.
     "Ask around carefully for me. See how darned old Chief Li really is."
     The source called him back early the next morning "It's confirmed. He has two years [left to retirement]!"
     When he heard the news, Mr. Zhang started taking steps to grab the initiative. He frequently invited Chief Li out to eat, or to go shopping, or just to go somewhere for a good time. In less than six months, he spent a little under ten thousand Yuan entertaining the Chief.
     Mr. Zhang's wife kept the books for the business, and she had her own ideas about the money her husband was spending. One day she couldn't hold it in any more. "You're laying all those 'goodies' on that one guy, could it be that you're feeding meat dumplings to a dog?"
     "I've checked everything out," Mr. Zhang replied, "and I'm certain there's no problem!"
     His wife was still worried. "What have you learned? What makes you so confident?"
     "My source tells me that the Bureau has started a lot of big projects recently and that the guys upstairs are going to award the contracts soon," Mr. Zhang said complacently.
     "Just because they have a lot of projects going on, does that necessarily have anything to do with you? Didn't you say that fellow Li, the Bureau Chief, doesn't usually 'eat under the table?'" Mr. Zhang's wife was becoming more and more skeptical.
     "That was the normal situation, but now he's started 'eating,' hasn't he?" Mr. Zhang was full of confidence.
     "How do you know he's started 'eating' now? I think you'd better be careful!" Doubt was still written all over his wife's face.
     "Rest assured, woman, I have unimpeachable inside information. The thing is, Chief Li is going to retire in another two years, so now's the time when he's got to 'get moving'. You haven't thought it through. When have we ever dropped the ball [doing things my way]?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                   From "Essays Monthly"

Translated from 分节阅读10, also available at
18. Retirement
by @Shangri-La

     After he retired, what he liked to do most was scold his wife for being too old and too fat and too gluttonous.
     One morning she suddenly coughed and spat blood. He saw it but didn't say anything all morning, just sat smoking and looking glum. At noon he took her to the hospital.
     When he found out she was bleeding orally from an infected tooth, he promptly stood up and bawled her out. "You useless old woman…."
     Before he finished the sentence, a tear had already appeared in the corner of his eye.

新故事New Stories Magazine No. 323, April 2013, p. 7
19. Revenge
By Zhao Chuangliang

     Old Wu was walking down the street with a brand new cell phone in his hand.
     The people who knew him all thought, "Poor guy." A few days ago his son, Wu Junior, had had his cell phone snatched by someone on this very street. Wu Junior had chased after the robber to get it back and had been stabbed to death. Someone had recognized the robber as a habitual offender, Bully Lee.
     Somebody whispered, "What's he going to do?"
     A witness to the incident said, "Mourn his son, I bet! His son was walking down this street holding his cell phone just like that when he got robbed."
     All of a sudden a man rushed out from a storefront and up to Old Wu. He snatched Old Wu's phone, turned around and ran off.
     "Bully Lee!" Someone shouted in alarm. But no one actually stepped forward to stop him, just like the day Wu Junior had been stabbed to death by this bandit. The people nearby were afraid of him. In fact they were scared to death, because this bully wasn't afraid to die, but they were. No one was willing to come forward to give testimony to prove his criminal activities. That's why Bully Lee was able to escape the law, and go free and unfettered, after killing Wu Junior.
     Old Wu didn't go chasing after him even though his phone had been snatched. The corners of his mouth lifted in a strange smile. Then he took something about the size of a cigarette pack out of his pocket.
     Holding that box, Old Wu looked as solemn as when he was holding the urn containing his son's ashes after the cremation. He used his right thumb to press a button on the box.
     "10, 9, 8… 3, 2, 1!" As Old Wu said the "1", the sound of an explosion resounded from somewhere not far away. Bully Lee's body turned into a fireball and flew off in all directions.
     "I can go home and make dinner." Old Wu had an expression of peaceful enjoyment on his face, like he'd just won a chess game.
     The cell phone was a time bomb, and the box was a remote detonator.
     That's how the curtain came down on a scheme for revenge, after a filthy body was changed to ashes.

20. Rice Balls

     My wife made me rice balls for a snack. "What did you put inside them?"
     "My love."
     My heart skipped a beat, because the passion had gotten pretty watered down in our marriage. I'd been thinking about how to put life back into the relationship, but then had second thoughts. What if there was nothing left in it….
     Oh, wow. She'd put salmon in the rice balls, my favorite. I was so happy, I wanted to tell her thanks, but I got tongue-tied and didn't say a thing.

Manuscript Compiled and Submitted by Grape
Mini-Fiction Blog, Republished from Youth Blog
21. Simple Joy

     There was a young girl who used to walk from home to school every day. One morning the weather wasn't too good. The clouds were getting thicker, and by afternoon the wind was blowing ever harder. Before long it started to rain heavily, with lightning and thunder.
     The young girl's mother was very worried. She was worried that the girl would be scared by the lightning, or even hit and knocked down.
     The storm got worse and worse. Lightning pierced the sky like a sharp sword. The girl's mother got in her car and sped along the road to school looking for her daughter. She saw the girl walking by herself along the side of the road, but noticed that the girl would stop walking and look up with a smile on her face whenever the lightening flashed. After watching quite a while, the mother finally had to call out to the girl.
     "What are you doing?" she asked.
     "God was taking my picture," the girl said, "so I was smiling."


Recommended by Chen Yaodong
22. A Tear

     "A crazy guy lived at the far end of this avenue. He closed his door and didn't come out again after his wife died." The housewife leaned closer to her new neighbor's ear. "They said he was making a robot."
     "Oh? Then what happened?"
     "Well, somehow, he just up and died. They didn't find him for a few days. There was just some junk left in his room, but no robot, of course. What a sin."
     "Oh…." The new neighbor suddenly felt indescribably sad. She turned her head, and a drop of oil slowly dripped out from the corner of her eye.

Manuscript Compiled and Submitted by Grape
Mini-Fiction Blog, Republished from Youth Blog
23. Treasured Tears
By @PrincePaste

     There once was a king with two daughters whose tears would turn into diamonds. The elder daughter married a prince who used her tears to build several castles, but the younger daughter married a shepherd.
     They came to see the king as he lay on his deathbed. The elder daughter was covered with gold and silver and pearls and gems. The younger daughter and the shepherd were as poor as ever.
     The king was surprised. "Clearly just one of her tears would be enough for you to live comfortably," he said.
     The shepherd agreed, but said he couldn't stand to see her cry.

新故事New Stories Magazine No. 323, April 2013, p. 7
24. Treatment
by @JiaHao

     He became short-tempered after he went blind. "You've given up hope," his mom scolded, "so from now on I'll just tell you when it's time to get up in the mornings, and when it's time to eat, and when it's time to go to bed. Otherwise I won't pay you any mind."
     True to her word, after that his mom only said those three sentences to him each day. This made him feel guilty and ashamed. Gradually he calmed down and cooperated in his medical treatment.
     He recovered his sight a year later, but he didn't see his mom. The family told him she had passed away the year before. Not wanting to interfere with his treatment, she had recorded those three sentences before she passed….

新故事New Stories Magazine No. 323, April 2013, p. 7

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