Short Story: The Village of Kindness

The children in the village learn from a young age to be kind. “No” means no, it’s ok to be angry but not hurtful, allow extra time when travelling to allow for interruptions.

They learn this from their elders, their peers, their juniors, through explicit instruction, through observation, through experience. And when everyone is kind, it is easy to follow the crowd.

But there are outsiders who see their kindness as an opportunity, and they come expecting a group of easily exploited pushovers.

The children in the village learn from a young age to be kind. Boundaries should be respected, a listening ear is available to all, protect one another.

The harder the outsiders pushes, the harder they push back.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

July stories: 19/21

Short Story: Brutal Play Time

Only one word can do this scene justice.

Brutal.

A dozen sweaty, young people lie strewn around the living room like discarded clothes after a flash sale.

Among them, a single Border Collie hops excitedly from one limp child to the other, every bit as energetic as when they first started playing together four hours ago.

Looks like bedtime won’t be a problem tonight.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

July stories: 18/21

Short Story: The Char Siu Bao

She licks her lips and swallows before her drool escapes.

Glistening braised pork, deep red watermelon juice, glossy stir fried cabbage. The dishes have been left on display for hours, but even cold and stale, it looks delicious. Customers want fresh food, so maybe the owner won’t mind if she snags a bite?

The char siu bao that she grabs is hard and cold, but food is food. She stuffs the bun into her mouth before it can be taken from her.

She spits it out with tears of pain leaking out of her eyes.

The bao wasn’t just tough, it’s hard as a rock.

“That’s fake.”

She jumps at the foreign voice. A man watches her from the side entrance of the restaurant, apron wrinkled and hair tied back in a tangled ponytail.

“Here.” He holds out another white bun. “Let’s trade.”

The other bao curves around his fingers the way hers doesn’t. Is it a trick? She knows some people like to add weird things to food as pranks on people like her.

Without a word, the man pinches out a piece. Steam waffs into the air from the pork filling as he takes a bite.

“It’s safe,” he says.

If he can eat it, she can too. They trade buns at the same time and she scurries back the moment she has her hot treasure.

This is the taste she was expecting when she saw the food on display.

“If you want more, I have an open table inside,” the man says, “My treat.”

“What’s the catch?” she asks.

“No catch. Someone helped me last time. I’m just paying it forward.”

When she doesn’t answer, he just steps back into the building.

“My break’s over, but if you take a seat I’ll serve you,” he says in parting.

She fiddles with the hem of her shirt as she rocks nervously on her feet. She’s still hungry, and this is a public space. If he tries to do anything funny, she can run.

Worn hands smooth the wrinkles out of her clothes, fingers comb greasy hair into order, and she gathers the little courage she has left like a cloak and walks in.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

July stories: 17/21

Short Story: A Red Day

Her movie is just about to reach its climax when her little brother storms into her room with a petulant frown. She pauses the film as he dives face down onto her bed.

“Colour?” she asks.

Her blanket swallows her brother’s grumbled reply.

A red day then. She slips on her earbuds, picks up her laptop, and grabs her weighted blanket from her window seat before heading to her bed. The laptop goes on her bedside table, the blanket gets wrapped around her brother like the skin of a burrito, leaving just the top half of his head exposed.

At this age, he’s still light enough for her to tug him closer to her bedhead. She settles against the upholstery, his small body at her side and her laptop perched on her lap. One hand cards through his soft hair, the other adjusts the volume controls and resumes her movie.

There’s ten minutes left when the bundle beside her moves, her brother shifting to sit up straighter and lean his cheek against her arm. She takes off her earbuds and turns up the sound. Her brother listens silently to the heroes on screen pledging their continued protection over the land they have just saved.

“Colour?” she asks as the credit rolls.

“Yellow,” comes the quiet murmur.

“Alright.”

She heads over to the kid’s section and lets him choose their next movie.

~End~

Genre: family, slice of life

July stories: 13/21

Short Story: Lucky Break

Loose music sheets flutter in the air like autumn leaves, the only movements in a shell shocked practice hall.

He stares at the fallen tuba bracketed by his legs. Just another inch closer, and his family line would have ended with him.

The tubist breaks the stunned silence with a horrified gasp. “I am so sorry!”

One of the violists jump in. “You’re lucky. You were this close to an ER trip.”

If he really was lucky, the tuba wouldn’t have almost crushed him when its stand snapped. But he can’t deny that the accident could have been worse, so he keeps his mouth shut and scoots carefully away from the heavy brass instrument.

Is it too late for him to change seats?

~End~

Genre: slice of life

July stories: 12/21