Flash Fiction: A Red Swan in Shanxi Province
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) =
Wild, red swan
- A Shout Out to Chris
I wanted to take this space to thank cam8510 for reminding how fun flash fiction is to write, and for referring me to a great site for reading it. (Link below).
- Flash Fiction World: for Writers and Readers of short, short, and Short Stories
Flash Fiction World promotes the art of short, short writing. We have hundreds of free to read stories, articles for writers, contests and markets, editing and reviewing services,and much more.
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