A World of Sand 1
Chun Shui Street was an old street in the southwest part of Hong Jing.
This street wasn’t that different from other bustling streets in the big city, and the shops spread from one end to the other.
At dusk, near nightfall, the streets grew even more lively.
At a fish stall, a crucian carp was caught in a plastic basin.
It tried to swim away but was still fished out.
Wang Chun Hua was almost 60 this year, and she was no different from the other middle-aged women in the city.
She had just gotten her perm at the barber next door.
Now she bought a Crucian Carp on the way home to make fish stew for her grandson.
“Ten yuan! ten yuan and not another cent, ah!” She took out a worn ten yuan bill from her wallet and handed it over to the seller forcefully.
She was proud to save some small change and smoothed her hair with her hand.
A voice from the radio, accompanied by the usual static, filled the surroundings.
The fish stall owner shook his head helplessly and put the money into the pocket of his apron.
He turned the radio’s volume up with his wet hand.
“We now announce an emergency news broadcast.” The female announcer paused for a moment then continued with her slightly restrained voice, “The big typhoon, Yun Na, will reach our city the night of the 12th.
The Meteorology Bureau reminds you now, from this evening, citizens should go out as little as possible.”
When Wang Chun Hua received the fish, she happened to hear this and turned her gaze to the sky.
As if to prove the announcer’s words, dark clouds covered the setting sun, and the sky soon turned dark.
The carp in her plastic bag struggled.
The fruit vendor of shop No.
18 also lifted his head and looked up at the gray sky.
As if sensing the rain in the atmosphere, he picked up half a basket of rotten apples and pour it into the basket of most expensive Hua Niu apples.
The rotten fruits fell like torrential rain, and several fell out of the basket and rolled farther and farther away on the gray sidewalk.
A leather shoe with thick soles stepped on one without hesitation.
The apple burst, and the juice spilled onto the sidewalk.
“Oh, is it good quality” Wang Chun Hua raised her foot to look at the fruit she had stepped on.
She kicked it with a disgusted expression, “I almost slipped!”
The vendor didn’t speak and carried the apples back to his store with his head hung low.
When the man didn’t apologize, Wang Chun Hua suddenly got angry.
Just as she was about to walk away, she saw the owner frantically dumping the rotten apples in with the expensive ones.
She remembered all the rumors she heard about this kind of shop, and her breath became erratic.
“Rotten apples being sold along with good apples, your conscious is really broken, ah!” She ran to the fruit stand and jabbed an apple, raising her voice.
The vendor didn’t reply but blushed and stared at her with a pair of blood-shot eyes.
Wang Chun Hua cleared her throat, preparing to taunt the vendor when a breeze blew past.
The wind was light, like the hair of a young maiden, a mother’s embrace.
It blew through Chun Hua’s hair, brushed her arms, and grazed her fingers.
The next moment, she felt as if something fell from her hand.
She lowered her head and saw a finger on the ground.
Where did that finger come from
The pain only then struck, and she shifted her gaze to her right hand where a huge, ugly wound now stared back at her.
She wanted to cry for help but found she could not utter a single word.
The vendor’s iron-like grip choked her by the throat, and a thin watermelon knife went to her mouth.
The fear was far more terrible than the physical pain.
The vendor picked up the knife handle and made a slash.
Her skin broke, and blood engulfed her eyesight.
A beast-like panting was all that echoed in her ears.
The desire to survive would always be mankind’s strongest catalyst to reach their greatest potential.
Wang Chun Hua pushed the vendor and tried to escape next door.
An old man sat in the shop.
Wang Chun Hua could hardly see, and she only thought the surroundings were strangely quiet.
She hunched down and tried to crawl into the threshold, but before she could reach the old man’s trouser hem, she was kicked down.
The expected pain didn’t come, so she gained the courage to look back.
Behind her, several men worked together to suppress the crazy vendor.
Meanwhile, the onlookers wore frightened expressions while they whispered: “How could this happen” “He’s usually okay,” or “Really couldn’t see he’s mentally ill, ah,” and so on.
Wang Chun Hua opened her mouth, wanting to speak but found that she could barely do that.
Her face and hands were covered in warm blood.
She leaned on her elbow and tried to stand.
But before she could steady herself, her knees buckled, and she staggered, bumping into the old man on the chair.
The old man toppled over without warning.
Wang Chun Hua was shocked.
After she steadied herself, she took two steps back and reached up to wipe the blood on her face.
The old man still maintained his posture even when toppled over, his grey hair neat and tidy, and his body clean.
He wore an old, blue, mourning garment and looked like a strange, serene sculpture.
Wang Chun Hua held her breath and moved forward again.
She poked the old man with her hand now missing the index finger and the old man sprawled onto the ground.
A handful of white sand poured out of his trouser’s pocket like hundreds of white aphids swarming out.
The sunset reflected in the window and cast over the old man’s face.
The shadow obscured half his face making it dark and the sun illuminated the other half, softening it a little.
The old man died with a smile on his face.
Chun Shui Street was oddly quiet.
Only the voice of the female announcer could be heard still softly repeating: “Police remind you to pay attention to safety while traveling, be alert…”
The magnetic voice carried over the entire block.
When all eyes focused on the old man, no one noticed a man wearing a cap lower the eaves of his cap and walk against the flow of the crowd.
Editor(s): Lati, Bet