Jamie knew that scowl, she had seen it many times since John had returned from Asia. She had even researched and found a condition called “reverse culture shock” that can occur when people return home from overseas after many years. Now she wondered what happened to her old friend. Maybe if she could reach him, the old John would return. She tried to dig deeper, and asked “If you miss China, why don’t you just go back?”

“Listen Jamie, please do not go there, I told you I am fine.  The USA is my home now, and I will readjust.”

“I am not trying to push you, but at least tell me, honestly, what is the thing you miss most about Beijing?”

John wiped the scowl from his face, realizing that she just wanted to help.

“Well,” John said softly, “actually this may sound strange, but I miss the fact that in China, there are no guns.”

Jamie started to speak, when John abruptly headed for the door. “I need a walk. Did you say you wanted eggs?” Jamie nodded, and John quickly exited toward the neighborhood market.

The fresh air felt good. The smell of springtime surrounded the sidewalk, almost as if the air itself were running from the toxic fumes of the passing cars. This market was unique, with a nice large green lawn, and beautiful cherry trees that had been there for years.

Arriving on the lawn, John heard “Stop, no!” A paralyzing scream. Then another scream, and then several gunshots. He slowly sank to the ground. In a daze, he heard sirens and radios in the distance. “Active Shooter Alert” blasted over a loud speaker. He struggled to breathe, as the blood gushed from his chest. For a moment time stopped, as he gazed up at the sky. He saw an eagle flying, reminding him of his birthplace, America, the land of the free.

As he gasped, and took his last breath, he collapsed onto his back. Looking up, he saw the beautiful cherry blossoms, almost like heaven, in full bloom, a sign of eternal spring.

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Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse (@marianna-pieterse)
7 months ago

This is such a beautifully written, sad story. Your protagonist must have felt so hopeless. What a horrible reality, to be worried about gunmen and senseless killings, constantly having to look over your shoulder. It was such a tragic end for him.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

What a horribly sad story. As soon as he said that the thing he liked best about China was that there were no guns, I had a feeling something awful was going to happen. Nicely done.

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
7 months ago

A moving story, producing strong emotions.

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Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
7 months ago

Heartbreaking. A simple trip to the grocery store. A beautiful April day. A truly horrible reminder of some of our current realities. Sometimes a well-told story is the best way to cultivate awareness. Well done.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
7 months ago

I completely agree with Fuji – a well-told story is the best way to cultivate awareness. Very sad, thought-provoking and perhaps another step towards change. Well done!

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

A sad story, with disaster striking at the moment of optimism and the protagonist’s decision to do his best to adapt. With the intention of buying eggs, the symbol for new life, he falls victim to violence and evil. Still, he is witnessing a symbol of eternal spring. There Is hope. Beautiful!

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago

Hello again Culture Dragon, I have just made it to the beginning of the end to the stories. I decided this time to read from the end, not wanting the end writers to feel neglected. It’s good that you are back into the thick of it again, that is where your voice belongs.

As I read your story I tried to place my self in your shoes, to see the story through two different cultures (Culture Dragon, more to the name than meets the eye!) There is a lot of depth in your story, could John be talking to himself? He has just returned, he is homesick, and is reasoning to himself. Christer used the eggs, the symbol for the new life. Do we draw the conclusion from his fear that there is no such place as the perfect place, do we bring into our world that which we fear?

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago

What a tragic story and a very sad ending. But there is hope in there. I hope someday we all live a peaceful, happy life.

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