​​         Chinese Stories in English   

1. Printing a Mommy (打印一个妈妈)
Phoenix (凤凰)

      Mike’s 3D Printshop is next to the school, so lots of kids come in every day. They ask Mike to print toys and things to eat, weird things they’ve designed themselves. They’re always happy and can’t get enough of the things they’ve conceived on their own.
      One day a child named Lucy walked into the store. Mike knew her. She always asked for something uniquely hers to be printed, whether it was food or a toy. Mike greeted her. "What do you want to have printed today, Lucy? Something to eat or something to play with?"
      "I want you to print a mommy!" She brought out a photo, "This is my mommy! Print her out for me!"
      "No problem!” Mike said with a smile. “But tell me, please, do you want to eat her or play with her?"
      "Neither! I want you to print out a living mommy!" Lucy also smiled as she spoke. Her mother had been sick forever and had passed away a few days before. The girl wanted to have a mommy printed out so she’d have one.
      "Uh...." Mike suddenly felt embarrassed. The request to print a living mommy put him on the spot. He’d never printed a real person before and it seemed that no one else had, either. Even if he could, the law absolutely wouldn’t allow such a thing. If it did, it would make a mess of humanity.
      "What's the matter? Can't you do it?" Lucy raised her head to look at him. She really missed her mommy and hoped to heaven he could print her one.
      Mike didn't dare look directly at those eyes. He lowered his head and said, "Of course I can! The problem is, it'll be a bit difficult to print a mommy for you. It’ll take some time. Understand?"
      Lucy smiled. "It’ll take a little time? No problem! I can wait! Well, today, please print me a mommy out of bread. I want to eat her, and then I’ll have a mommy with me always!"
      "Okay! Wait a sec and I’ll print you a bread mommy right away!" He took the photo from Lucy's hand and got busy.
      He scanned and printed, and in just a few minutes a bread mommy appeared. She had blond hair and blue eyes, and was even wearing clothes. She wasn’t real, of course, just a loaf of bread. Lucy took her and smiled at first, but then started to cry. Seeing the bread mommy reminded her of her real mother.
      Two days later, Lucy came into the print shop again. As soon as she walked in the door, she said, "Uncle Mike, have you finished printing my mommy?" Mike looked up and smiled when he saw her. "I'm sorry, Baby! I've been very busy the last few days and haven't finished designing your mommy yet...."
      "You need to design her? Don’t you just need to scan the picture?"
      Mike waved his hands when he saw the girl’s eager and puzzled look. "Of course I need to design her! Printing a mommy is by far the most difficult print job I’ve ever done. I not only have to make sure she has all her arms and legs, I’ve also got to be sure her eyes can move and her mouth can speak. I want to give you the best mommy!"
      Lucy smiled at that. "Yes, I need the best mommy. She’s got to be exactly the same as the original. So go ahead with your designing!" All of a sudden she averted her eyes and lowered her voice. "Uncle Mike, it’s hard to print a mommy, I know, so doesn’t it take a lot of money? I don't have much money, but I’ll think of something!"
      Mike smiled. "I'm glad to give printing a mommy a try. And as for the money, don't worry. Your mom’ll pay me...."
      Lucy interrupted him. "You can’t have mommy pay for it. Let me pay! I’m the one who asked you to print her out! When she’s printed out, she won’t have worked yet and won’t have any money!"
      "Yes, yes, yes! I almost forgot all that!" Mike nodded, "Now, let me print a toy mommy for you first! Once you have her, you won't need to keep thinking about mommy!" He found the file for Lucy’s mother on the computer and clicked the print button. The toy mommy printed out a few minutes later, exuding a delicate fragrance.
      A smile spread slowly across Lucy’s face as she held the toy mommy in her hands. She handed some money to Mike but he waved it off. "I won't take your money now, Lucy. I’ll collect for everything at once later on!" Lucy thanked him and skipped out of the shop with her toy mommy. Mike stood in the doorway watching her go cheerfully on her way. “I’ve got to give that girl a living mother,” he thought.
      Lucy’s inquisitive voice was heard in the shop every few days for a while. "Uncle Mike, have you finished printing my mommy?" Mike gave her some reason to put her off every time: "I’m right in the middle of designing her heart, Lucy!" “I’m just now designing her head, Lucy!" "Be patient, Lucy, your mommy will appear before you in a few days!"....
      One day Lucy came to the shop again and asked anxiously, “Have you finished printing out mommy, Uncle Mike?"
      He smiled and said, "Yes, Lucy, I’ve already printed her out for you, but there’s a little problem...."
      "What problem?" the girl asked impatiently.
      "It's just that, a lot of things from the past, she might not remember...."
      "Oh, that's not a problem,” she laughed. “As long as she’s a living mother!"
      "Okay,” Mike laughed, too. “And now, let's ask Lucy's mother to come on out!"
      Suddenly all Lucy could see was a woman walking out from the back of the shop. Lucy took only one glance before jumping up and exclaiming, "Mommy! You really are my mommy!"
      The woman smiled. "Uncle Mike printed me, Lucy. There’re many differences between me and the original. You won't hate me, will you?"
      Lucy took the woman's hand. "I won't hate you, Mommy. In time, I’ll even learn to love you!"
      Mike was smiling, too. "Go on home with your mommy, Lucy. I didn’t spend much time on this so I won't charge you anything!"
      Laughing, Lucy grabbed her mommy’s hand and they left the printshop. Mike, still smiling, watched them go. Printing a mom, that was by far the hardest print job in the world up till then, but he’d done it. He’d just spent some time at it. Of course, his success was inseparable from the tens of thousands of good people who cared.
      Many places around the country now had statues of Lucy’s mom. They’d been printed out by caring people in each place. Each statue held in its hands a card that said:
            “This was Lucy's mommy, but she’s now left this world. Lucy loves her mommy very
            much, and she needs a mommy. If you look like her mommy and are willing to be her
            mommy, please contact me. Mike, 16 George Avenue, Columbus, Ohio.
            Phone: (614) xxx-xxxx.”

Text at p. 21; Translated from 简书 at:
2. Red Splotches on a Peacock Mural (孔雀壁画上的一点红)

Li Junjie (李俊杰)

[By (apparently unwritten) rule, every flash fiction anthology seems required to include at least one anti-Japanese story, lest the people forget whom they’re supposed to hate – Fannyi]
      "Reporting in, Commander. The hut has been searched but nothing’s been found!"
      "Keep searching. Don't overlook any corner...."
      The woman dressed as a Japanese special agent had not found what she wanted in the earthen hut, so she ordered the Japanese soldiers next to her to continue the search.
      "You’ll tell me where the letter from the Intelligence Section is, or I’ll give you a taste of something vicious!" I heard what she said but just looked at her contemptuously, and she seemed to run out of patience when she saw my look. She went and took her knife and slammed it into my thigh. Red blood oozed out from inside and slowly soaked my pants. All I could feel was a sharp pain in my thigh and I was in danger of fainting, but I didn’t give in. I understood that if I told her what she wanted, the lives of more revolutionary comrades would be sacrificed. No way would I talk.
      "You still won’t give up!" Pow, pow…. Two loud slaps and my face was burning up. Maybe I’d lost too much blood, but my vision blurred and I gradually lost consciousness. I saw her staring at the peacock mural on the dirt wall for a moment before lighting a fire, then I couldn't see anything more.
      Although I wasn’t conscious, a few pictures still popped up in my subconscious mind. They brought last night’s scene back to me: the Village Party Organization had a job for me to do. I was to go to Harmony County’s county seat and make contact with an informer, and bring back some important information.
      I arrived at the dry goods shop early, around noon. The shop had a time-honored reputation – over a hundred years in business – and was also the secret point for me to obtain the intelligence. After I exchanged passwords with the shop’s intelligence officer, he handed the secret communique to me. I left the shop soon thereafter.
      As a special agent of the Party, I was instinctively alert to my surroundings. Seeing nothing unusual, I set out to return to Willow Hillock Village right away. I had no time to look and see what exactly was written in the letter and knew only that it was an urgent communique, which had to be handed over to the Party Organization in Willow River Village in a hurry, before midnight.
      It was the third watch, around midnight, and all around me was quiet. Taking advantage of the dim light, I climbed a ladder and jumped down outside the courtyard. I didn’t hear or see anything moving, so I walked towards the woods. Once through the woods and across the creek, Willow River Village was five clicks away. The letter was very important and had to be delivered quickly.
      Suddenly a faint sound of wind came up behind me, as subtle as a gust of wind blowing through grass. I slowed my pace slightly, and the wind gradually disappeared. I turned my head abruptly, afraid someone was following me, but could see only pitch black, nothing else, so I continued on my way.
      I saw the creek and a bridge when I left the woods. When I crossed the bridge I’d be in Willow River Village. Right then all I could hear was a bird call, "cuckoo, cuckoo", coming from the direction of the bridge. "That’s not good. I was followed." I became instantly alert when I heard the bird call because it wasn’t a real bird, but a secret signal from the Willow River Monitor. Did that mean I’d been followed by the Japanese devils? It got harder to breathe the more I thought about it. The thing was, though, I looked all around carefully whenever I came to a crossroads. Why hadn’t I seen them?
      I didn't dare think about it too much. The communique I carried this time was more important than an individual life! No matter what, I had to ensure that it was handed over whole to the Party Organization, so I walked quickly across the bridge, found an earthen home with a light on and hurriedly went in to hide. Then all I could hear was the voices and footsteps of Japanese soldiers gradually getting louder outside the earthen wall. They obviously had the place surrounded.
      "We absolutely cannot let them get this letter!" I didn't care about much by then. I tore open the letter, and a moment later, threw it straight into the oven to burn. But how could I transmit the message to the Village Party Organization?
      Just then I saw a mural of a peacock painted on the adobe wall. It looked both valiant and spirited. The tail feathers are all bright red, except the last three feathers were only engraved and not colored in. I remembered right away what I’d been told when I was in training with the Party Committee, that earthen houses with peacock murals were message transmission points. All the feathers colored red indicated that the situation was in crisis. If the feathers were not colored, there was no intelligence.
      I didn’t see a red marker in the area, so I bit my finger and drew circles, upright bars and right-pointing arrows in each of three peacock feathers with my own blood. I also used my blood to dye the three brightest feathers on the peacock's tail red.
      Bang, bang, bang!... Pow! The wooden door was kicked open and a Japanese female agent leading a group of soldiers rushed into the house like hobgoblins. They pressed me to hand over the communique but I ignored them. After searching to no avail, this beautiful woman with a devil’s heart lashed out fiercely and left her bright red palm print on my face. She interrogated me over and over and, when she saw that I wouldn't give in, she took out a knife and stabbed me hard. In an instant, I could feel nothing but the sharp pain in my leg. A surge of heat welled up in my mind right away and my head became heavier and heavier. I lost all sensation....
      I woke up to find several Eighth Route Army soldiers sitting beside me on the sofa-bed. When he saw I was awake, their leader smiled at me and said, "That was great!" I learned only later that the woman who brought the Jap devils with her was Lisa, a senior Japanese agent. She’d been sent to the area from Nanjing on special assignment by the chief gangster of the Japanese Army. She’d fought against the Eighth Route Army many times before and, because she was good at obstructing intelligence operations, she’d caused the local Communist troops a good deal of difficulty. This time, though, she hadn't expected to “get her ship stuck in the gutter" and had failed by letting me pass on the information. The Communist Party scouts in Willow River Village had deciphered the "peacock code" and took action in the middle of the night. They set traps inside and outside the village on the mountain trails, riverbanks and bridges that the Japs would have to pass through, so as to ambush them before they were ready....
      Early the next morning, a team sent by the Japanese Army’s 751 Corps to escort a shipment of munitions appeared at the foot of the mountain. When they were within range for an attack, the buried mines exploded all around them like lightning and rolling thunder in the sky. Coupled with the firepower hidden on the hillside, it forced the Japanese soldiers in short order to abandon their vehicles and flee. A large amount of munitions was captured and, after learning the location of a secret stash of arms not far from the front line, the Communist troops succeeded through careful planning in a surprise attack to capture it and rescue me in the process. Lisa, the senior Japanese agent, remained calm on the surface when she was captured, but nevertheless felt that her actions were "perfectly tailored" and wondered how a slit in the seams had been discovered, leading ultimately to failure of the entire plan. She indicated that she was willing to die to find the answer, because otherwise, she’d never be able to rest in peace.
      That’s when the leader of the Party’s underground patted her shoulder and said meaningfully, "Dark clouds cannot cover the sun forever, and evil will eventually be defeated." Lisa instantly fainted when she heard that, and died immediately without regaining consciousness. I only later learned the metaphorical meaning behind the "peacock code": the circle represented the sun and referred to “tomorrow”; the vertical bars represented gun barrels, meaning “munitions”. And the arrow pointing to the right indicated come to pass, which also meant “on the way”.

Text on p. 24, Translated from 每日头条 at:
3. Initial Aspirations (初始之心)

Zhang Aiguo (张爱国)

      The Lord of the North received a secret communique. Bright Pavilion Tian, a trusted military advisor in the southland, had been sentenced to death by the Lord of the South for opposing that lord’s repeated Northern Expeditions and was detained on death row. He now had a mind to return to the North and lay down his life in service of the Northern Lord.
      The Lord of the North was overjoyed.
      Tian had formerly been one of the Northern Lord’s oldest ministers. Back then, the northern and southern lands were as yet undivided. The entire world belonged to the Northern Lord, but he was muddleheaded and corrupt, leading to mass uprisings and disorder. The people had no way to make a living.
      Tian had bitterly remonstrated his lord many times, but his lord not only didn’t listen – he put Tian in jail. Later Tian escaped with the help of a prison official and defected to the Southern Lord. That lord had just rebelled, and Tian helped him gain control over the entire country south of the Yangtze River. The Southern Lord was now facing his northern counterpart from a peak across the river.
      The repeated Northern Expeditions from the southland brought about an awakening in the Northern Lord. He strove to make his nation strong and prosperous, but he had no talented advisors to support him. On several occasions he sent people to sneak into the southland to request Bight Pavilion Tian to return. Tian was filled with hatred for the north’s ruler, however, and did not come back.
      The Northern Lord instituted numerous schemes and, after many twists and turns, Tian was captured and brought back to the northland.
      When he saw Tian brought before him in a wheelchair, the Northern Lord bowed, grasped his hand and said, "Our Beloved Minister, tell us without delay about the situation down there."
      "Your Majesty, the southern thief has indeed won the hearts and minds of the people of the world over the past few years, and thus his strength has increased with each passing day. But now, speaking of the current juncture, he wants once again to devote all the people and material resources of the southland to a Northern Expedition.
      “Your servant advised against it and told him that production in the northland had recovered recently, that society was stable and the people were living in peace. This is precisely the aspiration I and your other ministers had had from the very beginning, to ‘save the people from catastrophe’. Your servant also reminded him that both the north and the south would suffer if there were another Northern Expedition. The people would certainly lose their means of livelihood and turn against our aspirations. He didn't listen and insisted on going his own way. Further...."
      Tian rubbed what remained of his legs. "Your Majesty, this was your servant’s reward for his offense."
      "It's good to have Our Beloved Minister back. Your return is a blessing for ourselves and for the people of the realm as well." The Northern Lord burst into tears. "We were a mess in our early years. Although we often paid lip service to the adage that the monarch is a boat and the people are the waters, did we ever take even half a word of it to heart? That caused the people to suffer and turn their backs on us. Half of our ancestor’s country was lost because we were arrogant and didn’t listen to what Our Beloved Minister was saying....”
      "Your Majesty, your servant noted all the several mistakes in your self-criticism when he was down there." Tian also had tears of strong emotion in his eyes, "Your Majesty has remembered the pain long after the cause of the pain is gone, and has turned over a new leaf. Now not only the people of the northland, but also those of the southland yearn for Your Majesty."
      "Although we feel the desire strongly, our wisdom and technical knowledge are shallow because we were deficient in our studies in our early years. We haven’t the capacity to speak about anything but what is right before our eyes." The Lord of the North squatted in front of Tian’s wheelchair. "Every summer in recent years, the northland has suffered from floods and the people’s losses have been severe. Our Beloved Minister is proficient in astronomy and geography. We request you to investigate and discover as soon as possible where the disaster will strike this year, so that we may take appropriate precautions."
      A few days later, after Tian had consulted the classics and played through repeated scenarios, he reported to the Northern Lord. "As we enter summer, River Prefecture in the east will be inundated with foods."
      The lord did not dare ignore this prediction. Following Tian’s suggestions, on the one hand he ordered the area around River Prefecture to reinforce its dikes and make necessary preparations to respond to the calamity; on the other he ordered the states and counties in the west to transfer food to River Prefecture with all deliberate speed to be ready to respond to any eventuality.
      Tian burned the midnight oil in a seeming desire to make up for his absence during the past few years. Over a period of three months, he proposed in succession a series of new policies on land taxation, water conservancy, the trading markets and the
Baojia system for preserving public order. His lord was thoroughly delighted and immediately implemented these suggestions in the northland. Some senior ministers warned him: "Your Majesty, one must learn to walk before trying to run. The new policies cannot be implemented in such haste, and further, some of the content needs to be deliberated further."
      "Gentlemen, these new policies were formulated by Our Beloved Minister Tian alone. Which one of the many recommendations Our Beloved Minister has put forward to us will not be proven to have been far-sighted? Alas! We only regret that back then...." The Northern Lord sighed deeply. "Time and tide wait for no man, gentlemen. What we’re doing, in truth, stems from a desire to make up for the sins of our early years; and in the expectation that the world will be reunited as soon as possible, and made peaceful, to allow the people to earn their livelihood."
      It would not have been appropriate for the ministers to say anything more.
      As Tian had expected, the beginning of summer brought torrential rain to the northland, not in River Prefecture in the east, but in Mountain Prefecture in the west. Now the problem loomed large: The officials and people of Mountain Prefecture had not taken any precautions because "the Ultimate Advisor" Tian had said the flooding would occur in the east. As a result, all the rivers, lakes, reservoirs and dams in the territory overflowed, farmland and houses were destroyed, and uncountable numbers of people and animals drowned. Even more serious, after the waters receded, the local governments could not produce a single kernel of grain for disaster relief – the grain had all been shipped to River Prefecture not long before.
      The Lord of the North was dumbfounded. He ordered River Prefecture and other places to send the grain back to Mountain Prefecture as fast as possible, but the road was long and the water damage was severe. After half a month, the victims in Mountain Prefecture hadn’t received even a bite of relief food. The people of Mountain Prefecture gave up: “What kind of court do we have? They told us to give our food to others, so now we ourselves are starving to death....”
      Civil upheaval spread through Mountain Prefecture and nearby areas like fire through a hayfield, and the populace in other areas also mobilized. The series of new policies promoted by the imperial court looked good on paper, but once they were manipulated by the government at all levels, they become the "king’s law" for naked squeezing of property from the people. In less than a month, stalwart men had risen up and armed themselves. The entire northland was plunged into unprecedented war and chaos.
      There came a day when the palace was about to be destroyed by the insurgents. The Lord of the North was ready to draw his sword and commit suicide when Tian came to him. As soon as the Northern Lord realized that the Lord of the South was unexpectedly pushing Tian’s wheelchair, he understood everything.
      "You didn’t expect this, did you, my stupid majesty!" Tian patted the stumps of his legs. "My two legs were worth it."
      "Yes, you’re worthy of something, you and your Southern Lord. But don’t you see? War is everywhere in the entire northland, and people are dying everywhere. And who is it that’s dying? The common people!" The Northern Lord was very calm. "Bright Pavilion Tian, your initial aspiration was to save the people from calamities. But what has life been like for the common people in my northland in recent years? And how about the livelihood of people in the southland under the bellicose and aggressive policies instituted by the two of you? You used your genius and your wisdom to deceive us and to bring ruin to the northland. You’ve brought ruin to the entire world, and to the common people. Are you ashamed of yourselves?"
      As he was speaking, someone came in to report to the Lord of the South. “Ten or more states and counties in the southland have rebelled and have occupied the southern capital.”
      Outside the palace, cries of “Kill!” again shook the heavens.

Text on p. 27; Translated from 谁说我糊弄人的博客 Chinese text here
4. Visiting One’s Own Grave (给自己上坟)

Shen Ping (申平)

      Old Wei, the Cemetery Administrator, had seen everything. But he’d never seen anyone pay respects at his own grave.
      The cemetery had recently expanded and one of the new hillsides was exclusively for pre-sale, which is to say, the plots were being sold to people who were still alive. Plots only a few feet wide sold for tens of thousands of yuan, and not only that, a “residence” in the shade would increase in value as much as one in the sun, sometimes doubling in one year. Therefore, while no one had expected it, some people even went into business buying cemetery plots for resale.
      That part of the hillside was landscaped in tiers, like layer upon layer of terraced paddies. An uninscribed gravestone was set up in front of any pre-sold plot to indicate that it had an owner who would come there to repose peacefully after death. Of course, since these pre-sold plots did not as yet have "residents", no one ever came to pay their respects to the departed.
      One day, tough, Old Wei noticed that a small wreath had appeared in front of a tombstone. “What the....” He was momentarily at a loss for words because he hadn't seen anyone “moving in”. Later, he thought that some silly goose might’ve gone to the wrong grave and placed the wreath there, so he didn’t worry much about it. After a few more days, however, he discovered that fruits and similar offerings had appeared in front of the tombstone, and this time he began to pay attention.
      One morning Old Wei saw an elderly man coming up the hill on an electric scooter. When he reached a place where he could ride no further, he propped up the scooter and walked straight to that same tombstone carrying a bag of things. He stood there in silence, bowing three times. Old Wei thought this was too comical. He walked over slowly and stood not too far away from the man to watch this unusual event.
      The old man suddenly clasped his hands together in front of him again and closed his eyes. His lips moved as he mumbled something Old Wei couldn’t make out. Then he started to sob.
      Old Wei thought the fellow was a real riot.
      The old man wiped away his tears after some time. Then he bent down and took out a stack of
fake paper money from his bag, the type people use to make offerings to the dead, and took out a lighter to set it on fire.
      "Wait! No fires allowed in the cemetery!" Old Wei couldn't help but shout as he walked toward the guy.
      The man seemed surprised. He turned to look at Old Wei, his eyes red and hostile.
      "Please understand, my good man. This is a rule of the cemetery’s management. No one can violate it.” Old Wei looked the fellow up and down. He was at least seventy years old, with a wrinkled face, thin muscles and a body that looked like it could be blown over by a gust of wind.
      The old man put away the lighter with seeming reluctance and put the fake money back in his bag. Old Wei noticed that the denominations on the face of the bills were quite large. If it were real money, one could buy all the grave plots on the entire hill.
      "My good man, you’re doing this for.... Whose grave are you visiting?" Old Wei tried to strike up a conversation.
      The old man looked at him askance and said angrily "That’s none of your business!" He picked up his bag and went off down the mountain.
      Old Wei saw the fellow return few days later, accompanied by a woman who was slightly younger than him. They took two small stone lions from the scooter and walked to the tombstone, each carrying one of the statutes. Old Wei followed and saw that they were panting when they got to the grave. “Those stone lions must weigh something,” he thought.
      "Hello, you two," Old Wei said, his eyes scanning their faces. Unexpectedly the old man looked askance at him and snorted immediately. Then he turned around and walked to some nearby bushes, as if he were going to relieve himself. It was the woman who smiled at Old Wei and said, "Hello."
      “Ma’am, this, uh, whatever you’re doing… who’s it for?"
      The woman smiled, seemingly in embarrassment. "Who else? For ourselves, obviously." She paused a moment before continuing, "Ah, this old man, my husband, he’s a bit daft. He didn’t just clamor to buy a grave site, he has to come here two out of every three days….”
      "Well, it’s one thing to come here and take a look,” Old Wei said. “But why is he offering flowers and burning paper money? Maybe he’s not quite right?"
      The woman sighed. "I see you’re not so young yourself, so you should understand. This isn’t something our unfilial children compel him to do, not yet, anyway. All they think about is doing everything they can to pry money out of your hands. They don’t care at all whether you live or die. My old man says they definitely won’t come visit our graves when we’re dead, so it's better to come and make offerings to ourselves while we’re still alive. And invest some money in it, too. Tee hee!"
      At first Old Wei wanted to laugh when he heard that, but then he got a sour taste in his mouth. That’s because he remembered all those many graves in the cemetery that no one had taken care of for years or decades. They called them "orphan graves".
      That’s when the old man came back from the bushes. He still ignored Old Wei and went ahead setting up a stone lion.
      Old Wei discreetly went on his way. He thought of what the woman had just told him and felt as if a stone were weighing down his heart. He had children, too, but they all lived far away and it was difficult to see them even once a year. As for money, they never gave him a cent, which meant he’d had to take this job managing a cemetery in these barren mountains in order to make ends meet, even though he was over sixty years old. What would it be like if he died one day? Where would they bury him? And would they come to visit his grave?
      “Looks like I’ll have to consider arranging a cemetery plot for myself,” he thought, “and start paying my respects at the grave.”

Text at p. 39; Translated from 搜狐 at:
5. Black Washed White (黑洗白)

Dai Keren (代克仁)

      A young fellow named Mr. Black teaches at Awesome City Middle School. His full name is One Bright Black. Very few students skip his lectures or play games or read comic books in his class....
      Why is that? His teaching skills are average, but he has a set pattern for punishing students who disobey the rules and regulations. He can often devise some marvelous or uncanny method of punishment in accordance with the circumstances, and he does not reuse those methods. The students are so afraid of him that those he’s punished feel a chill run down their spine at the mere mention of his name.
      One day in class, he was at the podium struggling to explain quadratic functions when the shrill ringing of a cell phone resounded throughout the room. He paused momentarily while his face turned very dark. He scanned the classroom once and soon focused on a classmate named Beanie White.
      Beanie had recently transferred into Awesome City Middle School, so naturally he didn't know how severe Mr. Black was. Every student in the class looked at him, and every one of them began to sweat for him.
      Mr. Black’s face was black with anger as he stared at Beanie. He stared so hard it made Beanie as anxious as if he was supposed to haul up fifteen buckets of water from a well and had lost count of the number of buckets. He didn't know what strange method the teacher would use to punish him. He’d heard of the man's methods, but had never personally witnessed or experienced them.
      After a while, Mr. Black told Beanie, "You! Come with me." Beanie was scared silly but still bowed his head and followed the teacher out of the classroom.
      The two walked along the edge of the playground to the logistics office’s boiler room. Mr. Black stopped still and kicked a lump of coal that lay beside his foot. "Pick it up," he ordered.
      Beanie obediently picked it up and held it in his hand.
      They walked back toward the classroom. When they got to a faucet on the edge of the playground, the teacher pointed to the lump of coal in Beanie’s hand and said without emotion, "You can return to the classroom when you’ve washed that lump of coal until it’s white."
      Wash a piece of black coal white? How could that be possible! Beanie was flabbergasted. He asked, "Mr. Black, how can this lump of coal bump be washed white?" His voice was very soft, but the teacher heard him.
      "It’s OK if you don’t do it. Just go home and ask your parents about it." This was Mr. Black’s coup de grace. He knew that both students and parents feared this tactic.
      A teacher’s orders cannot be disobeyed. Beanie weighed his options and chose to wash the coal lump.
      It was the coldest time of year, when dripping water turns into ice and old crows freeze to death, but Beanie faced the music. He unscrewed the faucet, gritted his teeth and began to wash the lump of coal.
      The school's greenery workers normally used the playground faucet to water the flowers and grass. It happened to be right outside the teaching building. Mr. Black was sitting on the raised podium in front of the class and could see Beanie just by turning his head.
      Beanie therefore had no way to escape, nor could he merely "go through the motions" of his assigned task. Everyone anticipated that he couldn’t avoid staying obediently in front of the faucet the entire time the class was in session.
      But against everyone's expectations, he came back to class after only three minutes. He stood at the classroom door and announced loud and clear, "I’ve washed the coal white, teacher. Look –" He held out his hand, which was frozen as stiff as a carrot, and there was a small piece of gray ore in his palm.
      Mr. Black’s face dropped. He announced that this wouldn’t count as Beanie’s punishment. He thought he’d just happened to pick up a stone that was stained with soot.
      So he brought Beanie back to the rear of the school’s boiler room. This time, he personally picked up a lump of coal from the middle of the pile and gave it to Beanie. He ordered the boy to wash the piece white before returning to the classroom.
      Before long Beanie was back in class. His hand, again frozen stiff as a carrot, held another piece of gray ore. This time, Mr. Black’s dark face turned pale when he saw it. Without a second look at Beanie, and without regard for the class, he ran to the coal pile behind the boiler room and picked up several more lumps of coal. He held them under the faucet and washed them himself. Then he turned around abruptly and ran to his home.
      The classroom looked like dumplings turning over in a wok by that time. The students had rushed out one after the other and run to the coal pile to pick up more lumps of coal. When they washed them under the faucet, some of them were washed gray. Some students took out their cell phones right away and took photos to upload to the web.
      The police came to the school's logistics management office the next day. They took Mr. Black’s father-in-law away in handcuffs. Rumor had it that he was suspected of an economic crime [i.e., supplying cheap coal contaminated with pyrite and covered with coal dust to disguise the fact].
      Mr. Black’s family was in an uproar. His wife cried and cursed him through her tears. "Did you get kicked in the head by a donkey? You can’t just focus on your teaching, you have to spend your days thinking up bullshit tricks to keep your students in line. Now your tricks have got my dad.… Ohhh, there’s no way I can make it through this. I'm going to divorce you...."
      When people next saw Mr. Black, they noticed he had scratch marks all over his face. It was like he’d been in a fight with a cat.
      After that, Mr. Black never again thought up "tricks" to punish his students.

Text at p. 42, Translated from 江河文学 at:

http://www.cggc.ceec.net.cn/attach/0/1805181404072542867.pdf, at P. 44

To get Chinese text by return email, send name of story to jimmahler1@yahoo.com

3. Initial Aspirations

1. Printing a Mommy

2. Red Splotches 

4. Visiting One’s Own Grave
5. Black Washed White

Raindrops (Page 02)
Stories printed in Li River Annual Chinese Mini-Stories 2018
《漓江年选•2018年中国年度微型小说》作家网 选编 冰峰 陈亚美 主编
Text at page noted after story; translated from the webpages cited below.