Flash Fiction: A Red Swan in Shanxi Province

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Xiao knew the net would be there. It would betray her fate. It would undermine her attempt at leaving all of this for good. She jumped anyway, and a few feet down it caught her. She tumbled into the center of it and lay there, swaying back and forth. Spotlights shone up at her, and voices shouted reprimand. A security guard appeared on the roof and a truck with a cherry-picker pulled up, its crane poised to pluck her down from that netted loft of reprieve.

“Time to go back to your room, Xiao hong. Shift starts in three hours.”

Her escort flipped the light switch. The walls were painted a sterile pale green. Eight bunks filled the room, a room the size of a doctor’s office. Four on each side left only a thin corridor to pass from the entryway to a small window at the other end.

From seven points in the room, seven faces peered out at her from under starched, white sheets. The guard released her arms at the door. Xiao hung her head, and footslogged to her bunk.

She dreamed in audio. Loud, wet smacks – four of them. Screams followed. Then vision entered. She was sitting in a grassy patch outside her dormitory, watching them install the nets. It had been a week after the four suicides. Vision ceased and audio resumed. This time she heard the tumult of hundreds, indignation in their unified voice.

When she woke suddenly the voices were still there, but outside. She dropped from her bunk and cast her eyes out the window. Her roommates joined her, jostling for a view. One of them opened the window. The din swelled.

A swarm of workers met a phalanx of riot police. An officer standing on the bed of a truck lifted his facemask and spoke through a bullhorn, “Please, please! Send a representative to negotiate. Send a representative!”

Xiao’s eyebrows furrowed. The days of her toil would finally placate to absolution.

To none of her seven roommates in particular, she said, “I will be a red swan in Shanxi Province, bringing fire and water.”

The Meaning of Her Name

Xiao (shao) =
Little
Hong =
Wild, red swan

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Comments 11 comments

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

jambo87, first of all, the story is so gripping and emotional that if it had been a full length novel, I would have had trouble putting it down before finishing. Wonderful story. Secondly, thank you for the very nice gesture of mentioning my name. I appreciate it. Good luck with this story.


jambo87 profile image

jambo87 3 years ago from Outer Space / Inner Space Author

Thank you so much Chris! I had originally attempted to create a longer story with the idea but had trouble fleshing out a plot. I will have to try again. I haven't heard from Flash Fiction World for this one, so I guess the editor didn't agree -- to each his own, I suppose.

And no problem for the shout out. I enjoy your work and admire your heart and hope that the link will bring some more well-deserved traffic your way.

Best to you and yours,

Jim


jambo87 profile image

jambo87 3 years ago from Outer Space / Inner Space Author

--Scratch that. I just got an acceptance email from the editor!


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Excellent Jim. Vic is a great guy who runs FFW and works another job as well. He dreams of the day when he can make his living purely with FFW and writing. there is one thing I would suggest. If you have a little extra money, have Vic go over one of your stories. He will go back and forth with you until you are happy with the result. I did it twice and I believe it has improved my writing. Good luck and congratulations. I will go take a look. I have two stories posted there and will be sending another soon.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia

Interesting and very thought provoking fictional clip.

SSSSS


jambo87 profile image

jambo87 3 years ago from Outer Space / Inner Space Author

Thanks Chris, that's a good idea. As an aspiring editor myself, I see a twofold benefit in doing so.

I look forward to reading your next submission.


jambo87 profile image

jambo87 3 years ago from Outer Space / Inner Space Author

Thanks Randy, I'm happy you enjoyed it!


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Jim, I'm sending another FF to Vic for review. It is under 300 and is a horror piece. I haven't done this before, so I wanted some input. Should be educational at least. Have you written any other FF?


jambo87 profile image

jambo87 3 years ago from Outer Space / Inner Space Author

Hey Chris. My piece "Groan" was accepted at FFW recently. To be honest, I don't have much experience writing horror, but I'd be happy to provide a critical read of your tale if you'd like.

The past couple of weeks I've been swamped with editing a non-fiction book and some web copy, and with school starting up next week I haven't been able to fit in any new creative pieces of my own. I hope to get back to it in a few weeks.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

With school, you are at a very busy time in your life. You've got the right priorities it sounds like, so HP and creative writing may not be at the top right now. My piece is only 234 words. I'll send it through email. Thanks Jim and good luck in everything.


jambo87 profile image

jambo87 3 years ago from Outer Space / Inner Space Author

Thanks Chris. Great stuff!

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