All Stories, Fantasy, Horror

Their Greenness is a Kind of Grief by Jie Wang

The sun is gone. They have a new sun now: a giant in a suit and tie floating in the sky like a zeppelin, holding a gigantic glaring mirror. They don’t know what the light source is. Maybe still the old sun. Maybe it was captured and hidden by the giant. The new sun never sets. He gives them no break.

“This is really ‘the empire on which the sun never sets’,” she says.

“The high radiation is really damaging. My skin is getting thinner and thinner,” he says.

“Me too. If it goes on like this, we will turn into one of those monkeys.”

“I’d rather die.”

Suddenly it starts to rain. Not the real rain, but the rain of green banknotes that make the monkeys come out of the bamboo forest like slugs coming out of the soil in a real rain. The monkeys will pray to the giant and dance in a trance, before they pick up the money.

“Every time it surprises me that there are so many of them,” he says.

“Yes. They hide so well. Sometimes I have the feeling that they are watching us, with their one thousand eyes,” she says. “Do you feel the same way?”

“Yes. I think the giant is watching us, too. He’s like one of those paintings which always stares at you no matter from what angle you look at him.”

“Maybe he’s Buddha, and he has one thousand eyes and one thousand arms. Maybe he’s God, and we are returning to Eden, by giving up the fruit of knowledge, and these bamboos are the trees of life.”

“I don’t know how you can be so nonchalant.”

“Well, what can you do about it? Poke him down with a bamboo?” she says.

“I’d rather poke you with my bamboo.”

“Oh please do.”

He laughs and folds her in his arms. They used to have sex like monkeys, but over time the edge of their desire has softened into something else, something similar to poetry.

The monkeys are all on their hands and knees picking up the money now. If a monkey keeps doing this for too long, it will become two-dimensional: a flat skin with its face on it, like a banknote, then the wind will sweep it away along with withered bamboo leaves.

She averts her gaze. She doesn’t want to see the monkeys die. He picks up some banknotes, and folds them into origami cranes. He wants to make one thousand origami cranes.

“Can you fold me into an origami crane?” she asks.


“I want to fly. Away from this place.”

So he folds her into an origami crane, and flies her up with a line. She is laughing and shouting, “Higher! Higher!” So he lets go of more and more of the line, and she gets closer and closer to the giant. He thinks of Icarus. He pulls her back.

“Why?” she complains.

“I’m afraid you are going to be burnt to ashes.”

She scrutinises his face. She sighs and resigns herself to earth. They lie down in the shade of the bamboos. The bamboos are swaying in the wind like seaweed underwater, or the hair of a drowned person. They are drowning on earth.

“But earth’s the right place for love,” she murmurs.

“Sorry?” he asks, turning to her. She looks at his eyes, his eyes used to be as green as bamboo leaves, but they are getting more and more transparent like his skin.

“When our skin becomes completely transparent, we will start to grow monkey fur,” she says.

“It’s just evolution, or reversion.”

“Do you think we will forget our names?”

“Probably. The monkeys seem to have lost their language ability,” he says.

“I don’t want to forget my name, and moreover, I don’t want to forget yours, and everything you said.”

“Me neither.”

“Have you ever thought of suicide?” she says.

“All the time. Do you think we should go to the Colosseum? To die like gladiators?”

“No, to die as lovers.”

The Colosseum is surrounded and besieged by bamboos, which have stretched into the arcades and started growing inside. The Colosseum seems to be the only artefact still standing. The arena is scattered with bones of those who refused to become monkeys.

“Nothing lasts forever,” she says, “not even stones, let alone flesh and blood. I’ve never felt so flesh-and-blood before, with my skin almost transparent, with my veins and viscera so exposed.”

“You are still beautiful.”

She looks at him: the evaporating greenness in his eyes like the dew in the sun, the labyrinth of his infinitely intricate nervous system lit up like a Christmas tree, the secrets spelled out by his bones wrapped in the blood-red satin, the river system of the pitch-black pulsating testosterone, the verdant vibrating oestrogen, the scarlet stimulating dopamine, the golden soothing serotonin, and the volcano of his heart pumping lava around his body, around the mineral veins of his sinews and the Elgin Marbles of his muscles.

What a universe with all its depth, dimensions and galaxies, she thinks. But she also sees the galaxies on fire, burning, crumbling and tumbling down. She sees herself in his arms and sheltered by his shadow in the sun. She can feel his ashes falling onto her skin and into her eyes. Suddenly she holds him tightly. She says, “I’m not afraid of turning into ashes, but if I turn into ashes, I cannot hold you anymore.”

“Then let’s not go to the arena, let’s not step into the sun,” he says, stroking her hair.

“Then we will become monkeys. Will we still remember each other, even if we forget each other’s names?”

“I don’t know.”

She looks at him, and she looks around. They are shrouded in the last moment of their humanity. Stretching out before them are endless weeds, without any names or memories.

Jie Wang

Image by young ho seo from Pixabay 

8 thoughts on “Their Greenness is a Kind of Grief by Jie Wang”

  1. Wow!!
    This is inventive.
    I would be a liar if I said that I understood it all but the idea of evolution or reversion is brilliant. Especially when (With what I understand???) evolution is death. But I suppose when you think on it, the only way to evolve is due to death.
    We also had mention of Buddha, the idea of The Garden Of Eden, some Roman mythology and the Gladiatorial battles. Maybe the reversal of evolution is a prod at God saying ‘Fuck you!’ But I think you are too nice a person to go down that road. (But it works!!)
    I think this is a dam sight more clever than my meagre mind will ever understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that it was Vonnegut, don’t remember the name of the book, who had humans devolving into dolphins in one of his books that demonstrated his dislike of current human society. He thought that it was an improvement. I’d like to keep my music collection and my human compatriots.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As Hugh says, wonderful creativity here. A really esoteric feel that has a mysterious story crossing continents, cultures, time zones. It reminded me a lot of some of my favourite writers – a sense of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, a bit of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, with bits of Paul Auster’s and J.M. Coetzee’s more fable like work. In short, great stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jie
    For me, when a story is not to be understood the normal way, but is affecting, such as this, I let it happen like a song. I experience it and it sticks–such as this wonderfully written, sad little piece–it stays with me.


  4. Vivid images “can you fold me into an origami crane?” and descriptions of the inside of the body viewed “like a universe,” through the thin skin. There’s love, and people turning into monkeys…. kind of a wild acid trip. Everything ends someday, for everyone, human love too. In the meantime, let’s try not to be such monkeys!


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