Top Three Stories of Chinese Flash Fiction Competition in 2014
That Year, That Sheep
by Ti La Mi Su
Father had gone to the fair with our only sheep. We badly needed the money to celebrate the new year’s coming.
We hoped Father would be coming home with pork, firecrackers, new clothes, sweets, and the like.
We waited and waited, until midnight, he returned with nothing but snow on his shoes.
“That sheep was sold for 200 yuan, but somehow,” Father appeared frustrated and helpless. “I lost the money.”
Mother sighed. And that year, we had a hard and dull time.
As years passed, I went to college and shared a room with Xiao Min, a girl from the same village. Far away from home, Xiao Min and I comforted eath other, and soon we became closest friends. While we were growing up together and studying in the same school, we actually didn’t talk much. It had been rumored that Xiao Min’s mother and my father used to be lovers, and they failed to get tied just because of the parental interference. For this reason, when my mother got married to my father, she denied him any connection with Xiao Min and her family. Thus we kids were kept from each other.
One day, I was just closing a conversation with my father on the phone when Xiao Min said, “Your dad is really a good man.”
“You bet. Then what?”
“He gave me life.”
“What?”I almost fainted. “How---?”
“That winter, I had an acute encephalitis. It was your dad who paid 200 yuan for the hospitalization. Otherwise, I’d have been dead.”
I was suddenly reminded of the day when Father had gone to the fair with our only sheep.
Later, I asked him, “Dad, why did you tell us you had lost the money? Since Xiao Min---”
“Shhhh---” Father stopped me.
“It was an emergency. I didn’t know what to say. Your mom, you know, she has a petty mind.”
I agreed Father had done a right thing. Still, I thought Mother should have the right to know the truth.
Finally, I talked to Mother about the sheep and the money. “It’s ten years since Xiao Min’s mother told me all about this.” She said, quietly.