Cheng Siliang (Jiangsu) 程思良(江苏省)

      For five years now, every August 27 Jenny has always opened the purple wooden box and brought out the precious thing inside with the greatest of care. She’s placed it on the table and stared at it blankly as she’s shed silent tears.
      Police Officer White can no longer remember how many times in the last five years he’s brought Jenny back to her apartment.
      "Thank you!" Jenny says.
      Officer White sighs as he watches the white-haired Jenny walk back into the apartment.
      On August 27 five years ago, at Rose Street Junction, Kane had pushed Jenny out of the way and been hit by the speeding car. He was knocked for a loop and died on the spot.
      Officer White had handled the accident, and since then he’s had an extra daily task. He’s had to bring Jenny back to her apartment from the spot at Rose Street Junction where she goes to stand in a trance.
      The precious thing Jenny keeps in the wooden box is a piece of clothing with her husband Kane's blood on it.

Common Man (Hubei) 凡夫(湖北省)

      Four men of honor, A, B, C and D, formed a life-and-death friendship when they were in the military. People called them the "four brothers". After they were discharged, they each went their separate ways.
      One year A invited the others to his home during the August Moon festival for a get-together of the “four brothers”. When the liquor had been half drunk, he showed them one green emerald and said, "I happened upon this. It’s worth millions."
      Suddenly fireworks were set off in all directions outside the window. When they sat back down after watching the show, the emerald had disappeared. It seemed to have sprouted wings and flown away. B and C tore off their shirts and turned their pockets inside-out to prove they were empty. Only D sat still, shame-faced.
      A laughed and said: "Forget it, we won’t let a thing like this ruin our brotherly affection." From then on, however, they didn’t have anything to do with D.
      Several years later, A’s house was torn down and the emerald was found in a rat’s nest. A accordingly invited B and C to accompany him to D’s home to make amends.
      D had passed away. His wife told them through her sobs, "We were so poor back then. D hid two of A’s mooncakes under his shirt to bring home to our children. It was to stave off their hunger!"
      A cast the emerald into a river. He knelt with B and C for a long time before D’s grave. "Brother,” they said, “we will take care of your children as our own. Our bond of friendship and brotherly affection is more precious than any jewel!"

Kou Jianbin (Hebei) 寇建斌(河北省)

      When Long Root came in, December was in the courtyard under the jujube tree playing the two-string. Long Root called out to him, “Uncle,” but he didn’t seem to hear. He didn’t even raise an eyelid, just kept playing. Except he accidently played two chords too high, like fish out of water, obvious clinkers. The good thing was that Long Root didn’t notice. He was already a few steps into December’s son’s room.
      December knew what Long Root was doing there. His father Cooked Wheat was very sick, and Long Root had come looking to December’s son for ideas about what to do.
      December and Cooked Wheat were lifelong enemies. Neither one would give an inch to the other. They’d been feuding and putting curses on each other for decades, and each had won some and lost some.
      When they were young, one had been a brick and tile layer and the other a carpenter, two fellows that no one in the village could do without if they were building a house. They didn’t speak at the time, but that didn’t cause problems. As long as the one could eyeball the height and length of the brick wall the other was laying down, and the other could see the length and thickness of the beams and the size of the doors and windows, the house would get put together just right.
      Later the two alternated in the village government. Sometimes one was in control and sometimes the other, an endless struggle. The history of this village was the history of their fighting. What the two of them couldn’t imagine was, a feud that was originally supposed to be one for the ages was written off in one stroke when it came down to their sons.
      The two younger men were as close as brothers. They asserted themselves only in this one matter; regardless of how much their fathers beat them and swore at them, it was all to no avail.
      Long Root and December’s son spoke in the son’s room for some time, then hurried off somewhere together. From their anxious demeanor and the brief, disjoint remarks that had floated over to December, he understood that Cooked Wheat was unconscious and would soon die. Long Root and December’s son had gone to make the funeral arrangements. December flung the two-string down and stood up.
      Cooked Wheat’s home was a complete mess. His bier had already been placed in the outer room. Outside the window, December could hear the sound of Cooked Wheat’s labored breathing. He didn’t go inside, just stood outside the window and cursed loudly. “Cooked Wheat, you son of a bitch! Your wanting to die is an admission of how scared you are. You and me still have things to settle!”
      A cry of alarm rang out inside the room. The man who had been in a coma for days suddenly sat up and yelled, “You, you’re hoping I die, but it’s not going to happen. We’re.... not through, yet!”

Sun Jinsheng (Hebei) 孙金生(河北省)

      In Ox Horn Village, deep in the big mountains, Strongman and pretty young Strawberry were engaged to be married. Just before the happy day, Strawberry abruptly told Strongman, “I won’t marry you for now! First I want to go to the big city to learn about the world and make a bunch of money. That way my life won’t be a waste!” Then she left without looking back. Strongman was jumping up and down in his anxiety!
      Strawberry went to the city with her distant cousin. The cousin had a job in a nightclub and helped Strawberry get a job as a waitress in a restaurant. Strawberry was quite happy. Even though she was so busy all day she never had a chance to stand still, she could make thirty Yuan a day. That was much better than tending the tiny plot of farmland back home! One thing distressed her, though. Customers were always putting the moves on her. Finally one day she gave a guy who was bullying her a slap in the face, slapping herself right out of a job.
      Her cousin got her another job cleaning tables in the nightclub where she worked. It was easy work but the noise drove her crazy. Most of the people who came in to sing karaoke sounded like howling wolves or screaming ghosts and thought it was beautiful. Also, while Strawberry tried to stay away from the male guests, some drunks would hug her and feel her up. She didn’t dare hit them this time. All she could do was run to her cousin to ward off the attack.
      One day Strawberry encountered a movie director at the club. The director liked her at first sight and wanted to give her a role in a movie. Her cousin was overjoyed and told Strawberry to make a special effort to treat the man right.
      The director suggested getting a private room so Strawberry could read some lines. Less than five minutes after entering the room, Strawberry jumped out of the third floor window.
      “Wake up! Wake up!” When Strawberry heard the voice and came to, she found herself lying in a hospital bed. She was pleasantly surprised to see Strongman standing there. “Hey, Strongman, bro’,” she said. “You come to take me away to get married? I’ll change clothes and let's head for the chapel!”
      Strongman was so overjoyed that he didn’t notice Strawberry turn away and quietly wipe the tears from her eyes....

Xu Yulan (Zhejiang) 徐玉兰(浙江省)

      In the supermarket, a plainly dressed boy was looking at pair after pair of exquisite gloves on the shelves. He stood there for a long time. Finally, and rationally, he scanned the tags with the prices written on them. One of his hands was clenched tightly in his pocket, while the other held determinedly onto a pair of thick cotton brown gloves. He was thinking, “My grandma ought to keep a little warmer this winter....”
      With a pair of gloves in his hand, he got in line behind some adults and waited for the cashier to scan the barcode. The screen showed eight Yuan. He took out a ten and got two Yuan back without delay. The moment he turned to leave, a big, tall figure darkened the field of view in front of him. He heard a voice saying as tactfully as possible, "My young friend, there’s something in your pocket that didn’t get scanned."
      "Oh, I, I’m sorry. I...." The boy felt like his heart was going to stop beating and he didn’t dare look up. Acting like he didn’t realize he’d done anything wrong, he pulled his hand stiffly out of his pocket, revealing the top half of a pair of socks....
      "Plum, give those socks to Teacher." A voice broke the silence and explained to the large security guard who was blocking the way to the exit, "I'm sorry, we got separated for a moment. I was doing something and told him to pick up the socks for me. Just put them with my things and I’ll pay for them together.”
      "Teacher, I, I...." Plum’s face turned red and he stammered. Looking like he’d been saved by the bell, he handed the socks to the teacher who was standing three customers behind him....

      Plum called out timidly from a corner near the supermarket exit. "Teacher...."
      "You’re still here, Plum. I was worried that you’d run off...."
      As she spoke, she pulled the socks from her shopping bag and put them in Plum’s hand. They were exquisitely embroidered with a strong, but gentle, bald-headed bear. Her expression was serious.
      "Teacher, I was bad. I waited for you here so I could say thank you. I’ll pay you back after I’ve earned enough money from my job as a laborer over the winter vacation."
      "As long as you know you did wrong, it’s OK. Consider it a gift from your teacher this time. Run along home, now. Look, snowflakes are coming down hard again….”
      Plum suddenly felt moisture filling his eyes. He had an awakening.

Zhang Wei (Anhui) 张维(安徽省)

This story is translated in Exhibition 02, story #1

Zuo Shihai (Shanxi) 左世海(山西省)

      To exercise my back muscles, I was walking backward on a path in the park when I accidentally bumped into a young man standing in the path fiddling with his phone.
      "Sorry!" I said, smiling apologetically at the fellow.
      He glanced at me, but otherwise paid me no mind. He put away his phone and walked quickly toward a grassy area by the side of the path.
      He hadn’t gone more than five meters or so when, with a "plop" like a heavy sack, he suddenly fell face up in a patch of weeds.
      The young man’s movements drew the attention of some people doing their morning exercises. As they crowded around, I walked over and saw that the fellow’s eyes were tightly closed. He was foaming at the mouth and his slender legs twitched constantly as they stretched out and drew back.
      From experience I knew he was having an epileptic fit, what people used to call “goat horn humors”. Without some timely help, it could be life-threatening.
      With the by-standers watching, I squatted down and propped up the young man’s upper body. I let his head lean on my left shoulder, and then I stuck out my right thumb and pinched his upper lip hard.
      Ten seconds passed, twenty seconds.... Finally the air wheezed in young man's throat, followed by a sudden burst of sticky white liquid expelled from his nostrils.
      "OK, you’ll be all right now!" I sighed as I watched the young fellow slowly open his eyes. Then I helped him to a stone bench off to the side where he could sit and rest.
      After he’d recovered, the young man looked at me and asked, "Was it you that saved me?"
      I smiled but didn’t say anything.
      "Thanks for giving me a wake-up call while I was passed out," the young man said. He reached over and brushed the dust from my jacket, then turned and walked away.
      Watching him go, I stuck my hand in my jacket pocket out of habit. I was stunned. I carry my wallet in my rear pants pocket. When had it gotten into my jacket pocket?

Cheng Wenfei (Jiangsu) 程文菲(江苏省)

      Confused, he found himself walking along a cold, shady street.
      He was overcome by a creepy feeling as he looked around.
      The people coming and going on the street were all dressed in black, and all wore the same expression. They even shared the same coldly indifferent attitude.
      An extreme pressure constricted his throat. He wanted to escape.
      People noticed his odd state. Step by step they drew near and tightly surrounded him. They laughed with a “chie-chie” sound like chickens or ducks.
      He was frightened to find that his clothes were turning darker, as though they were being dyed!
      He abruptly opened his eyes and took a deep breath.

Duan Lesan (Hunan) 段乐三(湖南省)

      Like-Jade sat next to a solitary grave at the bottom of a hill. This was the tenth year, and she still came here to complain through her sobs, an interminable complaint:
      “You, oh, you! How could you cast me aside so callously and not wake up? Those guys made you out to be a counter-revolutionary at that struggle session, and you said you were alone. I was your fiancée, I would have taken loving care of you. Would I have let you be all alone? When Zhang Three beat you at that struggle session, what part of you got hurt? You didn’t wait for me to come and save you. Why were you hard-hearted enough to go ahead and die? The green grass grows on your grave, and I’m waiting for you to come back to life. This year, bamboo shoots are coming up in the tilled soil by your grave, is that you?”
      "Yes, it is me." Su Feng appeared without warning behind Like-Jade.
      She turned around and saw him, and immediately sprang into his arms. Hugging him tightly, she asked: "Is it really you?”
    "I came looking for you at dawn,” he said. “There’s no longer any need to live under an alias and act like a ghost.”
      Like-Jade bit his arm hard, hot tears filling her eyes.
      In the distance, a jeep was headed to this desolate field. The driver opened the door as it approached. The person who got out of the jeep was none other than Zhang Three.
      Zhang was shocked to see Su Feng. When he calmed down, he came forward smiling and shook hands with him, clasping his hand tightly. Right after that, he took an envelope from his briefcase and handed it to Su Feng. "I’ve come here as an agent to give you a Notice of Rehabilitation." Then he drew close to Su Feng’s ear and said, "I’ve also come to apologize to you, old classmate!"
      Off to the side, the driver lit some incense and a candle for the grave. He ripped open a package of firecrackers and, turning his head, asked: "Director Zhang, can I set off the firecrackers?”
      Zhang Three said, "Yes, set them off!"
      They smiled at each other, understanding.
[Fannyi adds: And they all lived happily ever after under the inspired leadership of the CCP.]

Lin Jiehui (Hong Kong) 林洁慧(香港)

      “He” sits in the corner of the ward looking at the newspaper headlines: “Group Chairman Chen Fu’s Coma from Serious Car Crash Exceeds One Month”.
      “He” has been doing shopping malls for three decades and had been through hundreds of battles, but he still couldn’t avoid people “kicking him while he’s down”.
      “He” clearly remembered what happened before the accident – the company had separated itself from him that day. The director had used his private computer to transfer assets; and the Board had also called an emergency meeting to discuss replacing the chairman.
      At home his wife wanted to make a clean break with him. She’d had discussions with a lawyer named Zhang about filing for a court order annulling the marriage.
      His lover Suzi, who’d been staying at the villa, carried her luggage aboard his enemy’s expensive RV. She’d decided to leave him.
      Even the club where he often went had become a land of dispute; almost everyone there had engaged in bombastic discussions ridiculing him to no end.
      “Is this the low point of my life? I can’t avoid them looking down on me, but they shouldn’t think that a tiger who’s come down from the hills can be bullied by dogs. I won’t be brought down so easily by this.” Because the anger came welling up all of a sudden in his heart, he hadn’t been watching the road, and as a result he’d gotten in an accident.
      “He” had been here since the accident. His ex-wife brought his son to the ward to visit him every day, but other than that, he’d seen no one except doctors and nurses. “He” had a bad taste in his mouth about it, and deeply understood how fickle human emotions can be. “He” gazed upon the body he could no longer move and remembered the old days when he had flourished. Like Huang Liang*, he only now knew what was most important in his life.
      “He” built up the courage to move up beside his ex-wife and his son. He gently whispered, “Don’t worry, I’m going to wake up now, because I still have you.”
      And then “he” jumped backed into his body and slowly opened his eyes....
*[China’s Rip van Winkle, a man who woke up after a 20-year sleep – Fannyi]

Liu Yaolan (Hubei) 刘耀兰(湖北省)

      “I have an ink painting of a tiger,” Bureau Chief Wang told his subordinates. “I wonder, would you all like to see it?”          Everyone agreed that they would.
      Chief Wang took the painting out from a cabinet in his office and unrolled it. Everyone gathered around for a look.
      Li Guangsheng looked the painting over and said, “How could this be a tiger? It’s clearly a painting of a dog!”
      “Open your eyes and look,” the Chief said. “Really, now, what is it?
      “Chief,” Li said, “it can’t be a tiger. It’s obviously a dog!”
      Chief Wang turned to face Zhang Liang. “What do you think it is?”
      Zhang Liang looked it over but didn’t speak.
      Chief Wang asked him, “Why don’t you say something?”
      “I’m afraid I’ll say something wrong,” Zhang said.
      Chief Wang laughed and said, “That’s understandable. There’s someone I’m afraid of, too. I’m afraid of saying something wrong in front of the County Magistrate.”
      Zhang chuckled and said, “And I bet the Magistrate is also afraid of someone – his wife.”
      Chief Wang and the surrounding people laughed out loud.
      “By that logic,” Chief Wang said, “the Magistrate’s wife is afraid of someone as well, but who?”
      Zhang said, “She’s afraid of Heaven. In this piece of Heaven here in our county, Heaven’s the only thing bigger than she is.”
      Chief Wang seemed to awaken from a dream. His whole body shivered. The Magistrate hadn’t been seen in public for several days, and rumor had it that the guys from the Party Discipline Committee had taken his wife away to be investigated. He also remembered that the man he’d gotten this painting from had told him in confidence, “This painting’s value is considerable. Don’t let it go lightly.”
      When he thought of that, Chief Wang chuckled and said, "It seems my artistic skills have to improve. Otherwise my tigers might turn into class enemy dogs."

Lu Yongchang (Hong Kong) 卢永昌(香港)

      "Circumspectly acceding to the late emperor’s imperial edict, my lot is to awaken thee and thine."
      "For what reason dost thou awaken me?"
      "It is my wish to accompany you as a beast of burden as you bring the world under one rule."
      "I have fought hundreds of battles and ne’er tasted defeat. I have no need for thee."
      "The General’s skills in the martial arts are the foremost in the world. No one is thy equal. But I fear that taking the entire world in one stroke may not be attainable for thee."
      "Why is that?"
      "The General has slept deeply for millennia and is unaware of the state of the world in current times. What was erstwhile called ‘the world’ was seven nations, a thousand leagues, ten thousand chariots. In this era there are a myriad of nations, thousands of times what was before.”
      The general pondered a long time.
      "What do you want of me?"
      "A position of wealth and influence."
      “And what position would you have?”
      "But do you have superior skills?"
      "I am a man of deep wisdom and profound vigor, and I am familiar with worldly affairs. I can offer you strategies."
      "But you have a chronic disease?"
      "How comes it that thou should of a sudden inquire of this.... Thy true meaning is that I am by comparison a greedy person.”
      The general gestured to an attendant behind him, who immediately brought out a short-legged, wood-and-ivory table from the Qin-Han period. He also presented a document written on a bamboo slip of the type used in ancient times, upon which was written information about me. The general knelt down and sat back on his heels. I knelt down in like fashion on the opposite side of the table.
      "Have you ever been tested as to any of your qualifications?"
      "This.... is there is a test?"
      "You graduated three years ago, took supplemental classes, worked as a teaching assistant and as a teacher. Your career path is obvious. Why do you suddenly want to turn to the military?"
      "Because I thirst to do great deeds, to make a name for myself that will last a thousand generations."
      "If you want to do great deeds, you can continue your studies to serve the emperor in any capacity. Why do you insist on a military career?"
      "I’d like to try it out."
      "You haven’t had a job for six months. Were you looking for work?" For me, a job is just a means to make money. For the last half year I’ve had my head buried in my writing. Writing fiction is my dream, but how can I tell him that?
      "No, because I wanted to take a break."
      "Thank you. If there’s any news I'll let you know.”
      "But it was I who broke your seal! As the story line in most fiction goes, even if one doesn’t achieve his desires, he at least gets some job or other, right?
      "I’m sorry. Just like the basic requirement for getting a job is having work experience, a resurrected devil must at least have ambition. Facts are facts. Please leave.”
      I woke up in a cold sweat. I had to resume my job search.

Xu Zhenbang (Hong Kong) 徐振邦(香港)

      A car accident resulted in injuries to several people, including a young husband and wife.
     The day of the accident was their wedding anniversary. He was getting ready to celebrate with his pregnant wife, but they encountered the disaster on the way.
      The woman was slightly injured and fortunately the fetus was not affected; the man was not seriously hurt, either, but he was bumped in the head. He temporarily lost consciousness and slipped into a coma.
     After he had been in the hospital in a coma for some time, he finally responded to stimuli from the outside world. He slowly opened his eyes, raised his hand and touched the place on his head where he had been hit.
      "Uh ~ Where am I?”
      "You’re finally awake,” she said, grabbing his hand excitedly. “You’re in the hospital."
      He looked at her for a while, thinking, before things started to come back to him. "A crash. I remember a car crash."
      "Yes, you were in an accident. Now you're awake and things are OK."
      "I'm all right," he said. He pointed to her belly. "Is the baby all right?"
      "I’m all right, and so’s the baby." She leaned her head on his shoulder and started to cry.
      "Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of her," a man standing beside her told him politely.
      He turned his gaze slowly toward the man and stared blankly for a moment "You.... Who are you?”
      The man patted her back: "We’re married."
      "What?" He said excitedly. "You’re married…?"
      "Don’t get excited," she said, holding his hand. "We told you, but you were in a coma.
      “Don’t worry, Papa, he's really good to me."
      "Wh... why did you call me Pa... Papa?" He got even more excited.
      "Papa, you've been unconscious for more than twenty years."
      "More than twenty years...." He looked at her dully, "You are....?"
      "I’m your daughter. You were still in a coma when I was born."
      “Your mom….?”
      “Mama came to the hospital to be with you every day after you went into a coma. She chatted with you, wiped you down and exercised your muscles.” His daughter’s tears were flowing as she spoke. “Just before she passed, she told me to come to the hospital every day, because she believed you’d wake up some day….”

Zhou Guohua (Zhejiang) 周国华(浙江省)

      Old man Gong Song had been in a coma for three days.
      At age seventy-three, the old man had gone by himself on a “long kowtow”, a three-year pilgrimage to Lhasa. The villagers were all filled with admiration for him, but they each had a sense of premonition: they feared that, this time, the old man might be “taken away” by the Buddhist patriarchs. Although death is only a temporary parting, in their hearts everyone was very much unwilling to see him go.
      From the old man's slightly knitted eyebrows, his family understood that something was dragging him down. So they went and found Droma, who had just gone off to college, and brought her home.
      Standing before Ani’s (Grandpa’s) bed, Droma’s eyes were red. Ani was so thin there was almost no meat on his arms and legs. His body had been considered robust, back when he had insisted on going on the pilgrimage, but when he returned and was standing at the door, Papa almost hadn’t recognized him – his clothes were covered with holes and he seemed shorter by a half! That day Papa had cried as he hugged Ani, but Ani had laughed joyously.
      Ani was Droma’s pride and joy, and he also loved her so much it hurt. He often told her stories about the many good-hearted people who had helped him along the way. They had been sent to him by the Buddhist patriarchs.
      Droma took out a roll toasted to the color of gold. She put it by the old man's nose and said, “Ani, this is the '
tsampa' that brought you back to life. I found it for you. Wake up.”
      After a long time, the old man's eyebrows relaxed and his throat jerked a few times. Droma helped him sit up, then opened a can of some beverage and put a straw into his mouth. The old man took a couple of sips, burped, and surprisingly started to gnaw slowly on the roll. Four lines of tears flowed from his eyes and hers.
      She had heard him tell of the time he’d fallen by the side of the road, starving. A good-hearted man had stopped his car and given him steaming water to drink and fragrant "tsampa" to eat. He’d never had "tsampa" so fragrant and sweet. After eating it, his body was full of strength.
      Ani had often said that he’d never forget that taste even if he lived forever. He just hadn’t known whether he’d be able to taste it again in this world.

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              PAGE 4
Cheng Wenfei (程文菲)
Duan Lesan (段乐三)
Lin Jiehui (林洁慧)
Liu Yaolan (刘耀兰)
Lu Yongchang (卢永昌)
Xu Zhenbang (徐振邦)
Zhou Guohua (周国华)

​​         Chinese Stories in English   

Guardian Stories (Pages 3 and 4)

            These stories were published in the Chinese Herald, a Chinese-language newspaper in Auckland, New Zealand, as part of The Fourth World Chinese Same-Topic Flash Fiction Exhibition (第四次世界华文同题闪小说大展). The topic of each story, which can also serve as each story’s title, is Awakening (苏醒). We have organized the stories on each page alphabetically by author’s name.

Page 3 stories were translated from
Page 4 stories were translated from

            PAGE 3
Cheng Siliang (程思良)
Common Man (凡夫)
Kou Jianbin (寇建斌)
Sun Jinsheng (孙金生)
Xu Yulan (徐玉兰)
Zhang Wei (张维)
Zuo Shihai (左世海)