FLASH FICTION, LITERATURE

“The Delicate Lotus” by Jennifer J. Chow

0 Comments 25 March 2015

gregg chadwick art

Lotus turned at the breaking of the branch and saw the shadow of a carriage rolling by, its driver hidden despite the lightening sky. Dawn would arrive in a few minutes. She had to decide between fetching her clothes from the rock and retrieving the statuette. Lotus waded into the water. When she finished, her back was turned towards the traveler on the road as she shook off, and donned her cotton shirt and pants.


A slant of pale light allowed Lotus to examine her prize. She rubbed her fingers over the stallion. Every lunar year, the representative zodiac figure was placed in the lake and allowed to drift in its silky waters. She wondered which one of the boys had carved it. Though the horse fit in the palm of her hand, its features were meticulously wrought. The hooves pranced, the nostrils flared, and a proud mane flowed down its back. Lotus grinned, imagining it lined up with her other miniature animals: the snake, the dragon, and the rabbit. She had won the competition for the past three years.


Lotus could still smell the residue of firecrackers in the air from last night’s celebration. She remembered the twisting of the lion as it danced, bringing in the Year of the Horse. She recalled the restlessness of the girls as they tried to settle down on the hard ground. Then the boys had yelled, “Happy New Year! Gung Hay Fat Choy!” through the curtain separating the large room into its separate sides, and the girls had erupted into giggles. Their old spinster chaperone, Auntie Yeh, had stayed up long into the night hushing them.


That’s why Lotus had left later than usual to retrieve the statuette. The previous years, she had enjoyed sneaking out in the moonlight, lit only by the scattered stars. There was something mysterious and beautiful about shedding her clothes in the dark and joining with the lake. Something that spoke to the water element in her.
Lateness had always guaranteed her win. The other girls were too scared to go out at night and only ventured near the water when the sun’s rays firmly hit the earth. Lotus stroked the horse’s head again—and heard a real whinny in response.


She frowned and turned toward the sound. Lotus looked back at the road that wound next to the lake. The carriage she had noticed before lay waiting. The driver had gotten out. Maybe he needed help. She looked at the sky and placed the statuette in her pocket. Her bare feet kicked up the rich, red earth as she approached the man.


“Sir, are you trying to get to town?”
“Yes, I’m lost.”


She gave him brief directions as the sun rose higher in the sky. At the thought of the other girls happily eating their rice porridge breakfast, her stomach growled.


The man pulled out a lacquer box and opened it under her nose. Steamed buns filled the air with their sweet aroma. “Eat,” he said.


She grabbed one, but as she did, her prized horse statuette slipped from her fingers. Beyond her noisy munching, she heard a sickening crunch. It was the stranger’s foot as he crushed the little horse under his heavy boot.

 

gregg chadwick art

Gregg Chadwick, “Mulholland Blue”

 

Learn more about Jennifer J. Chow on her website.

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jennifer j chow

Purchase Jennifer’s novel The 228 Legacy now on Amazon.

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- who has written 1 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Jennifer J. Chow, an Asian-American writer, lives near Los Angeles. Her short fiction has appeared in several literary magazines. Her multicultural women’s fiction novel, The 228 Legacy (Martin Sisters Publishing), was a 2013 IndieFab Finalist from Foreword Reviews. www.jenniferjchow.com

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