A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 5)

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Flash Fiction #163

This is the 5th part. The previous four parts are here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

I didn’t know what to do. So I asked my friend Big Head and Iron Ball, who sympathized with me. Big Head suggested that I talked with Altan, who sometimes played soccer with us. Altan was a middle-aged businessman who was a Mongolian. He rode his camel from village to village to sell rare spices. Our rural university was surrounded by villages and he often sat outside the north gate or the south gate of the university with his camel, waiting for his university clients to come to him for trade. At this rural place, new roads were being paved every day and animals, such as donkeys, horses, mares, or camels were forbidden to use the paved road or to come into the campus.

Altan listened to my story attentively and then said to me, “if you are not happy with your aunt, uncle, and cousin, you should talk with them and negotiate with them openly.”

“What are you talking about? Are you nuts? My aunt and uncle are not open for negotiations. They just bark their orders. Are you drunk? We thought you might have some good ideas since you traveled a lot, but I guess …” I said.

“My ancestor Genghis Khan was a master negotiator. Whenever there were disputes among people, he would lead them to Burkhan Khaldun mountain, kneel down to pray to the heaven, and let each vent his opinions. Afterwards, he would start to negotiate. And they would not come back until they reached an agreement.” Altan said.

Iron Ball chuckled, “I heard about your negotiation stories. My father said they reached an agreement only because they were so hungry that they wanted to end the negotiation so that they could go home for dinner.”

“Iron Ball, you are getting more cynical just like your father. We Mongolians have a good heart and we are open to people around us. Being good and being sincere is often the best strategy. That’s my advice to you, Arjin.” Altan said.

The three of us went away. Altan was no use. Walking home, I just felt depressed and hopeless. Being good and sincere will only fan the flame of the anger of my aunt and uncle. I didn’t know Altan was so naive.

The next day, after school, I suddenly had a good idea. I thought I could at least be like Genghis Khan, talking with my cousin Nalan, and asking her to stop badmouthing about me. “If you don’t stop, I will unleash my vengeance like Genghis Khan.” I imagined myself saying. What a beautiful line. I practiced it several times on the way home.

Nalan, Twenty Five Years Ago

One afternoon after school, my cousin suddenly came to me and said that he had something to say to me. I didn’t understand what he wanted to say or what he wanted to do. I always kept myself away from him and never talked with him. Sometimes he looked at me as if he hated me with a passion, which was quite scary. What did I do? I didn’t do anything. He was just unhappy. I guess I was probably the only weak entity that he could vent his anger.

I asked him to tell me what he wanted to say, but he said we had to go out to a sacred place. So I followed him out of our apartment building. Not far from our building was the site of a new development, where bulldozers, diggers, wheel loaders used to dig a hole to lay the foundation for a new five story apartment building. The soil was piled up on one side, very high, like a three story hill. The problem was that there was a dispute on payment and the construction had been halted for months. By now, the three story hill looked quite desolate. Children liked to go there to play hide and seek even if parents warned them not to. I had climbed the little hill before. From the top of this little hill, one could see the big hole underneath. It looked quite deep.

Cousin Arjin led the way to climb that hill. I followed but I was very suspicious of him. Probably he tried to beat me or push me or even kill me. My imagination ran wild. And this was at the end of October, when the Steppe weather became cold and windy towards the time of the sunset. When the sun was up, it felt like a warm and crispy autumn day, but when the sun was about to go down, the wind and dusts just whirled up immediately. I felt increasingly uneasy following Arjin. We climbed the little hill and came to the top of it. Suddenly he knelt down, and asked me to do the same. I just couldn’t believe my eyes. Was Arjin in a cult or something? Was he going to sacrifice me to fulfill a cult demand? I read stories like that in a book about vikings who liked to sacrifice girls about my age. I was so scared that I felt that my face turned red. Suddenly I just screamed and rushed towards Arjin as he was kneeling there. I pushed him. Then I turned around and ran down the hill.

I couldn’t go home since I knew Arjin would chase after me. So I ran and ran until I reached the south gate of the university, away from the staff living quarter.

(To Be Continued Here)

11 thoughts on “A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 5)

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