Since I have been successful in keeping to my word count goals for my novel for over a week now, I decided to reward myself by doing a flash fiction piece. This one is a little bit longer than usual as it is just over one thousand words so maybe not technically a flash fiction piece but more of a short story. It was inspired by Ken Broad’s picture posted for his Super Snap and the fact I have spent three weeks helping my son complete a project on China for school. So here it is:
The Dragon Moon
It had been a warm day but now the night’s chilling breeze sent a shiver though Ming’s slender body. Her traditional style pink silk dress was not practical for an evening like this but she had chosen it for just this occasion and was determined to wear it no matter what the weather. She tilted her head up towards the sky, every star twinkled just for her and she welcomed their encouragement. Her family would not be pleased with her and although she did not want to bring dishonour to them, the pull of the dragon moon promise was too strong to deny. Ming inhaled the strong sweet aroma of her family’s peach tree blossoms. It was an indication that spring was in full swing. She gently held a delicate peach blossom in her palm its symbolism was something she had waited what seemed a lifetime for.
Ming was unaware that she was being watched. The intruder, a traveller named Shen, had intended on stealing away to her family’s warm barn for just one more night when he had stumbled upon Ming standing all alone at the edge of the orchard. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen and he was entranced by her. She was so delicate that her body swayed gently with the breeze. Her skin appeared to illuminate under the stars and her black hair hung loosely down her back and shimmered under the moonlight. Shen had always lived a noble life but when his young wife and son died due to birthing complications, he no longer found the joy in living. Shen felt he somehow did not deserve to live the life of comfort any longer and decided a more difficult path may help him to forget his sorrows. Shen had finally made peace with himself and his path and was heading home to his family. His village was only a day’s walk away.
As the evening grew deeper, tears stung Ming’s eyes. She had been a fool to believe any man’s promises. The teacher had come to her village the year before to teach the small children how to speak English. Ming often sold food grown by her family at the village market twice a week. She had been intrigued by the teacher who would smile at her so kindly each time he made a purchase from her. His English features were so different to hers and he was so very tall. He began to teach her English words, first the names of the fruits she sold and then greeting and parting words. After several months Ming could speak English in small sentences.
Ming grew impatient waiting for market days and made excuses to go into the village at other times just so she could pass the school where she knew the teacher was. Then one day as she passed the school the teacher was not inside. She felt heavy hearted. As she rounded the corner she was pulled into a narrow pathway that went between the school building and the teacher’s accommodation. The teacher pressed his lips against hers, Ming knew it was wrong but instead of fighting him, her entire body surrendered to him as she felt waves of pleasure travel through her like little jitters of electricity. That was the beginning of their secret romance. When the teacher who Ming came to know as John announced he would be leaving the village, Ming pleaded with him to take her with him. He told her that it was impossible for him to bring her with him but promised he would return for her under her dragon moon and then they would be married.
Shen watched as the vision before him dropped to the ground and began to shake. He did not want to reveal himself for fear of being captured and imprisoned but he felt compelled to rush to her side. He removed his padded jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. She startled a bit but accepted the gift of warmth he had given her. Her eyes would not look directly at him instead were dipped in a very customary way. Shen explained that he would not harm the girl and asked if she were all right. She nodded subtly and then he watched as a peach blossom slid from her hand. He sat close to her in silence as she sobbed.
When the girl was weakened from her emotional outpouring, she grew quiet. Shen stood and helped her to her feet. A few droplets of water began to fall from the sky. He walked with her through the orchard toward where the family’s shrine was. They tucked themselves under the overhang of the roof. As Shen looked up he saw a dragon framed perfectly by the moon. He could see the girl was looking at it too.
“Who are you and why are you here?” Shen was surprised to hear the girl’s tender voice at last.
“My name is Shen, I was just passing by on my way home to my village. I was going to stay the night in your barn but then I saw you.” He did not want to frighten her.
“You will not tell anyone you saw me out here.” Shen could hear the familiar sound of defeat in her voice.
“I will not tell anyone as long as you return the favour.”
The girl removed Shen’s coat and handed it to him, her hand brushed his, her touch reignited something inside of him that had burned out long ago. “May I ask your name?”
Ming thought carefully about giving her name away so freely to this dirty looking stranger. He had kind eyes that were older than he was in years and somehow she knew he meant her no harm. There was something else about him that Ming connected with immediately, so she told him her name and turned and headed towards her family home.
Shen watched as Ming walked off into what was left of the night. He felt exhilarated for the first time in over a year.
Ming’s family never found out about Ming’s plan to elope with the Englishman that night. She was clearly saddened and her father grew concerned for her future. He made enquiries about finding her a husband. Her family still practised a more traditional approach to marriage. Ming no longer cared whether her father arranged a marriage for her or not.
After a few months had gone by since Ming’s dragon moon her father announced that a family had requested to meet with him earlier in the week because they believed Ming might make a suitable wife for their son. He seemed very pleased that the meeting and negotiations had been successful. The engagement would be announced soon and the couple would exchange rings before a special dinner for their relatives.
On the day of the engagement Ming was still not herself. Her grandmother and mother readied her by dressing her in a traditional red dress and doing her hair and makeup for the occasion. She did not get too excited. Then when Ming was guided to the room where the ring exchange would take place she began to feel butterflies in her stomach. Thoughts of John and how it felt to be near him entered her mind. What if she never feels that way for her husband?
As Ming entered the room she kept her eyes to the floor. Then as the offering of tea was made to the groom’s family, Ming’s heart skipped a beat. Sat in the row in front of her was a much cleaner and happier looking Shen. Ming couldn’t help but feel the night of her dragon moon was a successful one afterall.