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Mini Shishuo Xinyu

Chow reminded Cheng that a lot of writers drink but drinking does not turn him into a writer.

Fiction | Flash Fiction
July 28, 2023

1. Choi returns to work after maternity leave. “辛苦哂 (san1 fu2 saai3, thank you for your hard work),” a colleague says to her, as if giving birth was the same as completing a task.

2. “辛苦哂,” the dentist says to Wong. 

3. Wong cares for his dental health for once. Now, he is broke but with great teeth. He thinks he cares for his teeth more than his kidneys. He would readily sell his kidney, but he does not want to be toothless before he dies. 

4.  Leung goes to a poetry event at a live lounge. She now learns that there are enough poets to fill up an entire room. She thought she was the only one. On stage, a white poet says that the night looks exactly like what he imagined a poetry event to be. Did he also imagine Leung sitting on the floor next to the piano?

5. Chow asks at the dinner table if PhD is some kind of disease. “That’s why he smells,” Choi replies.

6. Wong, an artist, sleeps with a businessman. The morning after, he realizes that rich people can borrow their friends’ purchased paintings to hang at home. The painting is larger than the dining room. In fact, the balcony is also larger than the dining room. Wong borrows cash for a taxi ride from the businessman. They never see each other again. 

7. Chow reminds Cheng that a lot of writers drink, but drinking does not turn him into a writer. 

8. Wong cannot help laughing at how “hermits” sounds the same as “ninja,” jan2 ze2. No one else in the room is laughing except for Cheng, but Cheng is onto another thing: if you have a disco ball for a heart, anywhere you go is a disco.

9. Wong locks the door when he shows his friends his film. Some of them hear footsteps outside and shiver. Their skeletons turn furry, purring when it comes, it comes

10. Cheng, Leung, Chow, and Choi drink to ‘Li Sao’ (‘The Lament’). They cannot say they came from Hong Kong without welling up. They blurt out its name in its unspeakable dialect—and laugh in unison—for Wong. Their vision blurs as they ramble on: the fish did not eat rice dumplings 糭 in place of Qu Yuan’s drowned body. They ate dumblings 傻.