Good Narrative Principles

After the Great Leap


Xui Li woke up one morning with a vivid image of a frog squatting on a log as calm and still as can be. The only part of the frog that moved were his eyes, which constantly scanned the surface of the murky pond. Xui Li had no need to speak to the village elders, he understood that he was the frog on the log and that his life had come to resemble a very still and murky pond. Though he loved the daily rhythm of his life, his young wife and feisty infant son, Xui Li packed up his clothes, hid his tears from others and waved goodbye. He was heading to the city, to the locus of opportunity. Along the way, he stopped and shared a cup of green tea with a kind farmer who made mention of a phrase he had never heard before, “The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”. Xui Li had the farmer read the paper broadsheet to him and was too embarrassed to admit that words like “bourgeois element” and “revisionists” were foreign to him. He dimly understood concepts like class struggle. Just as he stood to thank the farmer for his kindness. a group of rowdy youths calling themselves the Red Guard swarmed past him with such force that they broke the farmer’s clay teapot. Xui Li, on the lookout for omens of any sort, took that as a bad sign and headed home. Back in bed with his wife, he was lulled to sleep by the comforting rhythm of the frogs calling to each other.


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