A short story by MW
A fictional story based on real settings and sightings whilst in China
(Around 18th October to the 2nd November)
What came before me was something out of a nightmare. As I slowly grew accustomed to the dark grey light which offered so little help to my vision, I started to see rag-tag stalls heaped with second-hand clothes and dusty colourless bed-sheets, and I began to hear the sounds of a trade-market; haggling over small scraps; the hoarse cries of sellers hoping to gain from this hoard of squabbling, filthy mess of people.
With an air of quiet disgust I looked round at my new surroundings. The rubble of a floor was covered with peels of bananas, mouldy cabbage leaves and squashed melons with the contents slowly pouring out from its insides. I had never seen my home country like this before: a dark grey unkempt world hidden behind sentimental lies and fifty-foot high solid brick walls. It was only then that I realised the hidden truth of our ‘great’ empire.
Stray dogs, infested with flies and with floppy ears or cut-off tails, weaved to and fro inbetween the suburban mass of wandering strangers, stragglers and shoppers, trying in vain to discover the odd piece of cabbage, piece of apple or peel of orange, as we all sought to get the best deals off the stall-owners, who were still ranting and shouting, pulling the grasping greedy hands off their prize possessions. I held tightly onto the hand of my brother, and closed my eyes, trying to block out this atrocious view that I could never be rid of.
Keeping to our allotted time, we bought two packs of shitake mushrooms (if they were the same weight we do not know), big Chinese cabbage leaves, butternut squash, and a couple of traditional Chinese herbs. Then we moved on through the crowd into the covered section of the market; full off old beds, widowed seamstresses begging for a trade, and the fruit-sellers; juicy pink apples, boxes of Sharon fruit and unripe peaches with cloved tops in the tranquil shape of a love-heart. We plodded nonchalantly past the packed stalls, but bought nothing. Our stomachs were churning from the experience and we were greatly anticipating the journey home, back past those lovely creamy-white slated buildings and avenues of lush green oakwood trees…this memory lasts with me to this day.
Next short story: Mist. (About the fog in London during the 11-13th December 2013)