Chinese Stories in English
1. Cold Night by Yu Dafu (Sentimental, ♥♥)
2. The Mirror by Chen Yonglin (Sentimental, ♥♥♥)
3. My Gap-Toothed Father by Xiao Ran (Sentimental, ♥♥
4. Trouble with Prudence, The by Zhao Qian (Humor, ♥♥♥)
5. Bandage by Yin Xianhua (Sentimental, ♥♥♥)
1. Cold Night (寒宵)
Yu Dafu (郁达夫)
[Editor's Note] This selection was entitled Lamps in the Cold when it was published in March 1926 in Volume One, Issue One, of Creative Monthly. In Final Voices, the last piece in the magazine, the author said about this selection and another short story entitled Lamps in the Street, which was published in the same issue: "These two things were originally to be published in a weekly. The idea at first was to combine nineteen of these things together into a full-length novel about the hopeless situation in those days and my depressed state of mind. Later, though, various wrongs were done to me, and as it turned out I was unable to put my plan into effect, so now the only thing to do is to publish this unfinished, two-section fragment." The title was changed to "Cold Night" in 1927 when it was included in The Complete Works of Dafu, volume three, Collections of the Past.
There was no other way. I'd had to tell her to go on back and wait another half an hour. I'd promised her, when she asked, that I would go back to where she was waiting.
I'd had just about enough to drink. The guests who'd been in the rooms on either side of the courtyard had all left a long time ago, and the waiters had turned off the pale yellow electric lights. The coals in the stove were spread out in disarray, bringing the white back to the small, transparent door at the bottom of the stove, which had been a fiery red.
My mind was in a fog after several consecutive sleepless nights and all-day drinking bouts. I'd told Yisheng in no uncertain terms that I didn't like her always hanging around beside me and had been stewing about it for a long time. I couldn't even take a piss when I wanted.
It hadn't been easy talking her into leaving. I'd had to agree to her condition that I'd leave after half an hour. She'd winced as I escorted her to the gate because she sucked in a blast of the cold wind. After the gate opened, we could see lots of snowflakes dancing in the red canopy that shot out from the electric lights inside.
"Uh! It's snowing again. I can't come over if it's snowing!"
I was half joking. The other half wanted to go home to see if any important letters had come during the past week.
"Uh-uh, that won't do. In that case I'm not leaving."
She opened her cloak and wrapped it around me. She snuggled close to my body, icy cold, smooth as silk, soft and sweet-smelling. It was her face, and her lips, and her thin, gentle breath that stuck really close to me.
"You reek of booze! I can't stand it!"
Pretending to be mad, Yisheng looked at me sharply. When she nestled back up to me again, still in the courtyard, someone called out from inside:
"No, no, Liu Qing! You can't play around like that in the courtyard! There's a ten Yuan fine!"
"But we're doing it anyway, doing it anyway…."
She snickered as her lips pressed up against me again.
I stayed wrapped up in the cloak with her. The shop manager walked slowly out from the murky, slightly icy interior of the courtyard and barked, "Get a cab." I jumped at the sound and only then rolled out of her cloak, shivering as I breathed in another burst of the cold wind.
She turned her head and said, one more time, "Half an hour from now. Don't forget!" Then she walked off deliberately.
Later, when I left, I braved the cold wind for only a few steps before stopping to relieve myself in the dark corner of a wall. As I continued walking, a number of ice-cold snowflakes hit me in the face. I lifted my head to look up into the sky but there was only a dull blackness. I couldn't make out anything in it. Only when I looked back down could I see a row of icy, obscure, beer-colored roof tiles giving off steam.
I walked in the room and saw Yisheng laying on the platform. The door behind her opened and a waiter came out with a heated washcloth and a screen.
"Why are you rushing around? I just want to lie down! And bring a packet of opium!"
The waiter was upset, but I'm a regular customer. He smiled and answered "Yes, sir" with a tone of indifference, and went out quickly.
I don't know how long I lay on the platform across from Yisheng before the waiter shook me awake. "It's really coming down out there," he said haltingly. "You don't want to catch cold. Should I phone Flying Dragon and have them send a cab?"
I woke Yisheng up and we each washed our faces and smoked a cigarette while we waited for the taxi. Neither of us had recovered from the downer and we didn't feel like talking.
Suddenly we heard a "beep, beep" break the stillness. I went through the outer room and out the door with Yisheng. I saw that the courtyard was already too wet and slippery for comfort, and several more snowflakes hit me in the face.
"With snow like this, I'm afraid we won't be able to go anywhere tomorrow."
My own voice sounded strange to me, like a drum being beaten under a tarp.
The shops along both sides of the avenue had all closed for the night. The only sound on the street was our taxi's tires slushing through the mud as we bounced along. There were few cars or pedestrians coming from the other direction. The taxi's ceiling lamp seemed to be broken and it was very dark inside. Snowflakes shown in the two beams from the taxi's headlights, far, far into the dark and drizzle. It looked like a dream.
The horn sounded several times, and the headlights shined on a white wall as the taxi turned a corner. All of a sudden, when we were almost to the door of Yisheng's house, I got agitated. It was like a pot of boiling water was rushing up from my stomach, and my eyes felt hot.
"Don't go home, Yisheng! Let's go back to Hanjiatan* [where the opium dens are]. We can go to Liuqing's and spend the night talking about it."
I'd broken the silence. I sat up straight in the car seat, making this request of Yisheng and at the same time knocking on the glass partition to tell the driver to head back towards Hanjiatan.
*[Fannyi – Hanjiatan was one of the "Big Eight Hutongs" or alleys that made up Beijing's Red Light District in the 1920s. See here.]
传世经典微型小说108篇 / 108 World-Wide Classic Mini-Stories, page 320
武汉长江文艺出版社; 高田宏, 方莹, 孙琳 主任编辑 Gao Tianhong, Fang Ying, Sun Lin, Eds.
Translated from version published here
2. The Mirror (镜子)
Chen Yonglin (陈永林)
Everyone who knew her said she was no good. “Everyone” includes those closest to her, like her grandfather, grandmother, father and mother, as well as her uncles, aunts and other relatives, and people in the village, too. Later even people who didn’t know her said she was no good, when they heard about her.
She thought she was no good, too.
That's why she did things that bad girls are supposed to do: she got tattoos, dyed her hair, skipped school, bullied other students, drank, smoked and hung out with the community’s shadier characters.
One Friday afternoon she attended her first two classes, but the third class was Physical Labor. She didn’t want to sweep the playground, and still less wanted to get all dusty, so she decided to head out the school gate. When the guard wouldn’t open the exit gate, she asked him, "You want to get beaten again?" The last time he’d refused to open the gate for her, she’d had some nonstudents give him a licking. This time the guard could only open the gate obediently.
But she had nowhere to go.
She didn’t want to go home, where her parents would chew her out. They didn’t think much of her, and all they ever did was beat her or cuss at her. Her mother had told her, “You’re a jinx. Whenever I see you I think of your missing little brother. I can’t breathe and my heart aches. Stay out of my sight." So she tried to let her mother see her as little as possible.
She didn’t know what to do to pass the time, so she just sat, bored, in the grass by the side of the road. Out of habit she took the mirror from her purse. A little boy's face appeared in the mirror and she said, "Where are you now, little brother? It’s been eight years, so you’re eleven now. Do you know, little brother? It was you that made me this way...."
She’d been five years old that year. Her parents went to work in the fields and left her to take care of her brother. When the “ding-dong-dong” sound of a pellet drum resounded through the village, accompanied by someone yelling, "Trade chicken feathers for lamp wicks," she took her brother outside to look.
The person yelling "chicken feathers for lamp wicks" was a man over forty years old. He gave her two pieces of candy, one each for her and her brother. A moment later her head began to feel fuzzy and she had trouble keeping her eyes open. She was seeing double and everything was spinning around her. She felt listless and her legs were weak. As if in a trance, she saw the man shove her brother into a grain basket. She jumped over and yanked on the basket as hard as she could so the man couldn't leave. He pulled out a mirror and handed it to her. She took it, letting loose of the basket.
Everyone said she was evil and vengeful, that she’d sold her brother for a piece of candy and a mirror just so she wouldn’t have to take care of him and her parents could devote themselves exclusively to her. Of course it was her mother who said it first, but later everyone was saying it was so.
That’s how the “no good” label got stuck to her face.
Her peers in the village never played with her after that. If anyone did play with her, their parents would bawl them out. "You want to turn into someone as bad as her? And do you want to sell your brother for a piece of candy and a mirror, too?”
She didn’t even have anyone to talk to. It was unbearably stifling. When she really wanted to talk to someone, she’d talk to the mirror. It was a magic mirror and she was the only one who could see her little brother in it. No one else could.
People thought she was crazy because she talked to the mirror. She thought, if she didn’t have the mirror, she really would go crazy.
Just then someone yelled, "Stop thief! Stop thief!" A young boy came running toward her with a woman chasing him. The boy came alongside her and the woman shouted, "Help me catch him! He stole my wallet!"
The boy smiled at her as he ran past, and she smiled back. When the woman got to her, she stretched out her foot and tripped her. The woman stumbled to the ground, and by the time she got up the boy had gotten away.
The woman grabbed her and accused her of being partners with the boy. She didn't argue. The woman demanded that she accompany her to the police station. She said OK.
When they got to the station house, an officer made a case file for her. First he asked her name. She said, "Bad girl." The officer didn't believe her so she said, "Everyone who knows me calls me that."
"Where do you go to school?"
"I don't," she replied. "Got kicked out a long time ago."
"How old are you?"
When the officer asked if she was in with the thief, she said she wasn't. The woman said, "If you weren't his partner, why did you smile at him? And you helped him by tripping me, too. You tripped me so I couldn't catch him and he could escape."
The girl laughed. "If you say so." Then she told the officer, "go ahead and arrest me. I've never parked my butt in a cop house before and really want to see what it's like."
"We'll get your parents down here first," the officer said.
"They're both dead. Who's raising me? I'm eighteen, an adult, and have been taking care of myself for a long time."
But the officer checked her bag and saw a second year junior high textbook. He also saw the school's name written in an exercise book. When he called the school, she sighed. "Oh, well, so I don't get to park my but in jail."
The officer asked, "Why do you want to park your butt in jail?”
"I don't know," she answered, shaking her head.
Her parents came and got her. When they got home, it was once again her mother who rained curses down on her. "Why did you come back? Why not just die out there? You can jump in the river, run out in front of a car, slash your wrists, hang yourself, jump off a building.... just get it over with, the sooner the better. Every day you live the anger takes a day off my life…."
After her parents went to bed, she again spoke to her mirror. "Your big sister really misses you, little brother, really misses you. You can come home now. If you come home, they won't despise me or hate me like they do...." Once she started talking to the mirror like that, she couldn't stop.
It wasn't long after that when they got word from the police: a young boy in a neighboring province looked like her kidnapped brother.
Her parents cried for joy and hurried to the hospital for a DNA test.
The test results showed that the young boy was indeed her little brother.
When the police took her parents to pick up him up, her mother surprisingly wanted her to come along. She shook her head firmly.
She said a lot of things to her brother in the mirror while she was home alone that night. ".... It's not that I don't want to see you, little brother, but I'm afraid to. As soon as I see you I'll think about how I turned bad, and that I'll never be happy. You don't want your big sister to be unhappy, do you? Since you're coming home, I'll be even more of a third wheel around here. I never thought they'd be able to find you and I planned on taking care of mom and dad in their old age.... Little brother, let your big sister give you one last kiss."
"She pursed her lips and kissed her brother in the mirror. Then she threw the mirror to the floor and, "wham" the mirror that had kept her company for eight years was smashed into smithereens.
At daylight she went out the door carrying her book bag.
At the train station she paced back and forth, trying to decide where to buy a ticket to.
A man with a scar on his face kept his eyes on her for a long time. Then he threw his half-smoked cigarette to the floor, smashed it with his foot, and walked towards her.
2016 中国年度小小说第一页, Chinese Mini-Fiction 2016, Page 47
任晓燕，秦俑，赵建宇 选编 Compiled by Ren Xiaoyan, Qin Yong, Zhao Jianyu
Translated from 忆期刊 at http://www.17kqk.com/m/view.php?aid=30464
3. My Gap-Toothed Father (豁牙子老爹)
Xiao Ran (肖冉)
My old man laughed all the time, even when there was nothing to laugh at. His laughter sounded funny because there was always a windy "hoo-hoo" whistling sound mixed in. Once when guests visited us during the Chinese New Year holiday, I told him quietly to keep his cool and not laugh so much, or if he did laugh, to do it softly without letting air leak out. But my Dad felt, "It's the holidays, you know, and everyone's happy. If I laughed without letting air out, that wouldn't be genuine, would it? It would put a damper on everyone's spirits."
The old man couldn't do anything about it, anyway. One of his front teeth was missing, so how could he stop air from leaking through the gap?
He'd been 30 years old when he lost that tooth. In his words: "I'd just entered my third decade when I lost one of my front teeth from laughing. The 'Gap to my Inner Buddha', I called it. At first the tooth was still attached to the gums, hanging there loosely like a wounded soldier whose normal morale was shaken by losing a battle."
One day when he came home from work, my dad was all excited and gave me a small box of candy. Printed on the lid was the Lady of the Moon – it was a brand of candy famous in those parts. She was flying through the air with her brocade belt flowing behind her
When I was a kid I believed the Lady of the Moon had candy hidden all over under her gorgeous robes. When her belt flowed behind her, a rain of candy would fall upon the earth. That's one way you can tell how much I loved candy.
One day, taking advantage of the fact that my Mom wasn't around, my Dad whispered to me, "I bought you some candy, Son, a new kind." He got a twinkle in his eye and couldn't resist trying to put a hand softly on the lid. I opened it gingerly. A tiny piece of candy with two feet lay inside. I figured it was basted with butter. It was wearing a steel helmet on its head.
When my teeth touched it, I made a judgment that it was hard candy. It was my custom when I was a child to suck on soft candy, but to chew hard candy. Mostly I was following Chairman Mao's teaching to "gnaw on a hard bone." So I bit down on this one with all my might.
"Ow!" My front tooth started to hurt. In the [martial arts] novels by Jin Yong, the term "hurts like the jaws of death" is often used. I'd never experienced anything like that, but when I think back on how it felt when my front tooth started to hurt, the pain of the jaws of death couldn't hurt any worse. It started in my brain and spread out through my scalp.
My insides were filled with anger but there was no way I could get revenge on that piece of hard candy, so I took it out on my Dad. "What is this crappy candy? I feel like I've been stoned to death!" Once that hateful anger had found a way to bust out of my insides through my mouth, it came up like a swarm of bees and made by head start to pound. My Dad started to laugh when he saw how mad I was. He laughed harder and harder until his "fists were waving in the air".
Starting that day, the "hoo-hoo" whistling and my old man's laughter went away on a honeymoon because my father got himself a false tooth – of course, as soon as the honeymoon was over, he and the false tooth separated.
I didn't know until later, when my Mom told me that what my father had given me wasn't candy at all. It was my father's false tooth that always got chives stuck in it when he ate his favorite scrambled eggs and chives!
My old man didn't think it was a hassle to be missing a front tooth. In fact, he'd tell jokes about himself. "With the front tooth gone," he'd say, "it's easier to let the bad humors out. That's why there's that whistling sound. The whistle's good, because it means all the evil humors are getting out of my stomach, and then I feel better"
Or he'd say, "When you guys laugh, all you get is the sound of laughter. I get a whistle, too. It's like getting two for the price of one!"
Later, because the gum where the tooth was missing had been exposed for such a long time, it ulcerated and caused him pain every day. The old man began to complain. At first he complained that he hadn't been able to control his intake of candy when he was young, and that he hadn't brushed his teeth regularly.
Later he began to blame me. He covered his cheek with one hand and said, "My boy, I don't care what you say. If you hadn't always been climbing up in my face to rub my cheek when you were a kid, and speculating about my teeth, there's no way your old man's front tooth would've fallen out."
I laughed out loud at being teased, and he started to whistle a laugh, too. With his innocent, lovable face, he looked just like a baby who'd lost his milk teeth.
When a soldier leaves the service, you have to find an able-bodied young fellow to replace him. My old man understood the logic of that, so after he'd thought about it a while, he decided to go get an implant. He told my grandma, "Our family's been poor my whole life, but this time your son's going to be a rich guy for once. I'm getting a yellow gold tooth." My grandmother giggled and showed him her own toothless grin. The mention of a yellow gold tooth had of course got her going, as my old man had known it would. His teeth were already shiny and yellow, like they were made of brass.
They'd have to take out the original root to set the implant and my old man needed me to go with him. I adopted the strategy that the Great Powers had used when they invaded China in recent history – that is, I laid out a bunch of requirements. My old man reluctantly signed off on all kinds of humiliating treaty conditions, and then we hurried off to retire the "old soldier" and set the new implant.
When it was done, my old man was emboldened enough to shake it off. He turned into a Great Power and rejected the various requirements I'd imposed on him. He had good reason: With his new tooth he was like the New China. He needed to start from scratch in his relations with others, namely, to get rid of the vestiges of imperialism before reclaiming his rightful place in society. He let out a victory laugh and the sound of his laughter was clean and neat, but with a slightly metallic sound.
Years later, when my old man was in his fifties, the other front tooth also retired gloriously from active duty. He thought that, since he himself would be retiring in a few years anyway, he'd wait until that time and then get himself a whole set of dazzling white dentures. Until then, whenever he didn't have anything to do for a day, he'd devote himself to the struggle with his teeth. My father is a good student of Chairman Mao and is confident that with the struggle will bring him unending happiness.
2013 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 92
Translated from version at http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_64d44c910101iwpn.html
4. The Trouble with Prudence (都是谨慎惹的事)
Zhao Qian (赵谦)
A-Wen spotted a desk set she liked in the furniture store. Her son, who was about to start elementary school, would be able to use it, so she ordered the set. She paid a deposit, left her address and phone number, and told the store manager someone would be home in the afternoon so he could deliver it.
But A-Wen had been waiting at home for some time and the set still hadn't been delivered. She'd called the store several times to see what the delay was. The manager said they were too busy at the moment and asked her to please wait. She waited until it got dark, then decided there was little chance it would be delivered that day, so she took a shower and sat down to watch some TV with her son.
Just then there was a knock at the door. She looked through the peep hole and saw two men with the dismantled desk set beside them.
"C'mon, miss, open the door," they shouted. "We're here to deliver your desk."
A-Wen was about to open the door when she suddenly remembered that her husband was away on a business trip. Only she and her son were at home, and what could they do if these were bad guys. So she shouted, "Come back tomorrow."
But the delivery men didn't leave. "Look, miss," one of them said, "we've come all this way to deliver your desk. It's big and heavy, and you live on the fourth floor. We're about ready to drop. Could you please open the door? We'll get it set up in no more than five minutes."
A-Wen couldn't think of anything to say to that, so she took out her cell phone to call her husband and ask him what to do.
Her husband told her she was right to be so vigilant. Then he asked, "What are you wearing?"
A-Wen told him she had just showered and had a skirt on.
"That won't do," her husband said. "Hurry up and put on some pants."
A-Wen started to cry. "Can't you come home?"
"Are you kidding? I'm more than a hundred twenty-five miles away."
A-Wen had to do what her husband said. She set down the phone and put a pair of pants under her skirt. Then she thought twice about it and took off the thin skirt. Even after changing, though, she still felt nervous, so she asked the delivery men once again to come back the next day.
"We already registered at the front gate of your community and put our names on file," they pleaded with her. You've got nothing to worry about. There won't be any problems."
A-Wen phoned her husband back to tell him she'd changed into pants and to ask him what to do next. He said, "Don't hang up the phone. That way I'll be able to hear everything that goes on. Now go open the door."
Instead of opening the door right away, A-Wen decided to do one more thing. She went into the kitchen to get a paring knife and put it in her pocket.
The two young men sighed with relief when she finally opened the door, then got right to work. A-Wen's husband could hear everything over the phone. At first there was nothing out of the ordinary, just the sound of things being moved. He was starting to think about hanging up when, all of a sudden, he heard his wife cry out "Oh, no", followed by the phone going dead.
He was startled and hurriedly called her back, but no one answered. "This is bad," he thought. "Something bad must be happening. Those two guys have really got a lot of nerve." So he called two of his buddies who lived closest to his home and had them go over to take a look. If something had really gone wrong, they could call the police.
What A-Wen's husband didn't know was that, when the two guys had finished setting up the desk set and were getting ready to leave, his son had suddenly tripped over their toolbox. He fell and hit his head on the corner of a stool and started bleeding profusely. A-Wen was scared stiff and dropped phone. One of the young men reacted quickly and picked the boy up in his arms. "We can take our truck to the hospital," he yelled. A-wen followed them down the stairs, forgetting to take her phone with her.
The other young man started the truck and sped off straight for the hospital. He drove swift as the wind all the way to the emergency room, where the boy was bandaged. That took about an hour, and then the two young men took A-Wen and her son back home.
When they got there, A-Wen found that the lock on the security door had been broken and the door was open. Her husband's buddies, A-Qiang and A-Guang, were inside waiting in a state of extreme agitation. They were overjoyed when they saw A-Wen, and when they noticed that the boy had a bandage wrapped around his head, they asked what had happened. A-Wen told them the whole story.
A-Guang slapped his thigh and said, "Your husband thought something really bad was going on and had us come over to take a look. We knocked on the door a long time, and when no one answered, we got a tool to pry the door open. We came in and saw blood on the floor, so we called the police."
"You called the police?" Both the deliverymen looked at A-Guang and asked him in surprise. A-Qiang nodded his head and said, "You two can go on back to the store. The police got the address from when you registered in the front gate to the community, and they've gone there looking for you."
The two young men got very agitated and immediately left for the store. While they were still some distance away, they noticed two police cars parked by the entry. As they approached in trepidation their boss spotted them and shouted, "They're back."
Woosh! Several policemen immediately surrounded them. The young men kept saying, "It was all a misunderstanding, just a misunderstanding. It must be a misunderstanding. We were doing a good deed." Then they recounted the whole story.
When they finished, their boss said, "Why did you have to get everyone so worked up? All you had to do was call us!" Then he started shouting. "It would have been OK if we could have gotten through to you, but one of your phones was turned off and the other was busy all the time."
One of the young men automatically took out his phone and looked at it. "Hey," he cried, "my phone's dead."
"And what about yours?" the boss asked the other one.
This young man answered in a whisper. "I gave my mom a call while we were in the truck to tell her that their kid had tripped over our toolbox and we were taking him to the hospital. My mom's pretty cautious, and she was afraid the owner would blame us, so she told me not to hang up the phone. She said that way she could keep abreast of the situation and if we really did get blamed, she could contact my aunts and they could give us some moral support..... "
Before he'd finished speaking, a woman's voice rang out from beside him. "My son's right. In fact, if I'd heard things getting out of hand, I could've hurried right on over. I tell you, you really can't blame those two for what happened today. The kid ran into the toolbox on his own. But I'll give you some advice today, Mr. Boss Man. If you want my son to continue working there, you'll have to buy him some insurance. And you'd best have a North Pole Navigation System or something like that installed in the van, too." They didn't know whether to laugh or cry when they heard that.
Getting back to A-Wen, when she saw that her security door was ruined, she could think of only one thing to do. She told A-Qiang and A-Guang, "You guys don't leave. You'll stand guard at the door to protect me and my son tonight." The two men were dumfounded.
"Besides that," A-Wen continued, "just so my husband doesn't get the wrong idea, call him and explain the situation up front. Then keep the line open so he can hear everything you do all night." While she was talking, she deliberately let them see the paring knife in her pocket.
A-Qiang and A-Guang wanted to cry.
2013 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 130
Translated from version at http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_947133f30101hr44.html
5. Bandage (一块创可贴)
Affectionate Man [Yin Xianhua] (一只男鸳鸯) [殷贤华]
Little Dogie was coming home from school that day, playing a video game as he walked. He was concentrating on his device’s screen and not paying attention to the road. As he turned the corner at a remote intersection toward the end of West Street, he bumped into an old lady and knocked her down.
The woman kept hollering “ai-yo” in pain as she lay on her back on the ground. Doggie was scared and didn’t know what to do.
When the lady looked and saw it was a peach-fuzzed kid who’d run into her, she sneered at him and chewed him out. "Look at you, you little brat. Where’d your eyes go? What’re you standing there like an idiot for? Help me stand up!"
Dogie recovered his senses and squatted down right away to help the old lady. He noticed blood dripping from her right hand. "Ma’am, your hand’s hurt!” he exclaimed.
The woman only then saw she was bleeding. When she’d hit the ground, her right hand happened to knock against a small stone and it scraped the skin of her thumb....
She scowled, and Dogie cried in regret, "It’s all my fault, Ma’am! I’m sorry! We’ve got bandages at my place. I’ll go right now and get you one to stop the bleeding!”
The woman’s scowl lightened up when she heard that. “I see the little brat knows how to apologize when he’s wrong,” she said with a smile. “That’s commendable! I just got nicked a little, no harm done. You don’t have to go home for a bandage!"
Surprisingly, Little Dogie pouted. “No!” he said stubbornly. “I caused this and I’ve got to accept responsibility. My family lives in the Sweet Olive Community just up the road. You wait here for me, Ma’am!" He flew off before the woman could answer.
Dogie ran home and found his mother relaxing and knitting a sweater, while his Dad was lounging in front of the TV. “Dad! Mom!” he panted, out of breath, “I ran into an old lady and hurt her!”
His parents’ faces paled and they immediately stopped what they were doing. "How’d it happen?” they asked in unison.
Dogie wiped the sweat off his forehead as he narrated more or less the whole sequence of events.
His parents looked at him seriously.
"The place where you knocked her down was the corner at the far end of West Street?" his Dad asked. Dogie nodded.
His mother asked: "No one else saw it happen?" Dogie nodded again.
That calmed his parents down. His Dad said: "Dogie, there's no surveillance camera monitoring that place, and no one else saw it, so just act like it never happened!"
That upset Dogie. "How can it never have happened?" he retorted. "The lady is there waiting for me to bring her back a bandage!"
His Mom cursed. "You little idiot! Take her what bandage? If that lady's an extortionist, we're screwed! You're not to go back there!"
Dogie stood there hesitantly holding the bandage. He was still thinking of taking it to the lady, but his Dad held him back. There was nothing he could do, so he stifled his frustration and lay down on his bed, ignoring his parents. He could hear them muttering in the living room for a long time, but couldn't tell what they were saying, and he had no desire to listen more closely.
Starting the next day, his Mom took on the job of escorting him to and from school. It was different from the way it was before, the difference being that she completely changed the route they followed. They took a roundabout way, keeping far away from the street where he'd knocked down the old lady.
A week went by without incident. It seemed like a thousand-pound load had been taken off his parent's shoulders. They sighed in relief.
Feeling that the risk has passed, Dogie's Mom was ready to stop taking him to and from school when the neighbors brought some surprising news. They told her that an old lady had come to the Sweet Olive Community and said she was looking for a peach-fuzzed kid, whose name she didn't know. They had no idea what the old woman wanted.
Dogie's Mom told his Dad this news right away, and they discussed countermeasures. His Dad was in a stew. He mumbled, "Yo, this old lady's really persistent! But how did she find our community?"
Dogie overheard the adults' conversation and volunteered, "I told the old lady we live in the Sweet Olive Community!
His Dad was so mad that he wanted to slap Dogie, but his Mom stopped him. Dogie was sullen but stifled it and lay down in bed for a nap, not paying attention to his parents. He could hear them muttering in the living room for a long time, but couldn't tell what they were saying, and he had no desire to listen more closely.
His Mom woke him suddenly from a sound sleep. He saw that his parents had gotten all their things together and were ready to go out the door. He rubbed his eyes, puzzled, and asked, "Dad, Mom, are we going somewhere?"
His Mom whispered in reply. "We're going to move to your uncle's place on the east side for a while, so we can avoid the hassle of the old lady coming to Sweet Olive Community and finding us!"
Dogie reluctantly packed up his things and followed his parents out the door. But when they got to the ground floor of their building, he saw the woman he'd knocked down standing there. He ran over to her and asked cautiously, "Is your injury better, Ma'am?" Then, without waiting to be asked, he pointed to his Mom and Dad and explained, "I wasn't lying to you. My Dad and Mom wouldn't let me take you the bandage!"
His parents' faces drained of color as soon as Dogie said that, but they had nowhere to hide. They had to go over awkwardly and say hello to the woman.
The old lady stroked Dogie's head. She seemed gratified and said, "You really are a good boy. I wasn't wrong about you. I came looking for you for only one reason, I just wanted to see you and tell you two things from my own mouth: First is that people need to be honest and stand by their word; and second, don't play games while you're walking; it's not safe!"
Dogie nodded earnestly. "Thank you, Ma'am. I understand, and I'll remember what you've said!" Then he brought a bandage out from his book bag and, taking the old lady's right thumb, he gently started to stick the bandage on it. Then he and the old lady both laughed, because the wound on her thumb had already healed!
Watching this scene, Dogie's parents' faces turned red....
2016 China Annual Flash Fiction – Selections from Authornet, page 136
2016中国年度卫星小说 – 作家网选片, Translated from 殷贤华的博客,
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6d4709100102w9g7.html, under the name亲口告诉你两件事
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