Baoding

by Oonah V Joslin

The gift felt intriguingly weighty for such a small package.

“What’s in it?”

“A cure for impatience, Nephew,” came the cryptic reply. I was used to such replies.

“Can I open it now?” I asked.

This was met with a sigh. “Yes.”

I didn’t want to tear the paper. It was hand made and with painted Chinese scenes. They looked like the Jade Mountain I’d seen so often in The Oriental Museum, delicately carved, ‘depicting life’s great journey,’ my mother had told me.

A red and gold silk box peeped out from the wrappings, and more Chinese images. I thought it was just an ornate box and then it made a noise – bell sounds, high and low reminiscent of wind chimes – a cleansing kind of sound.

“Yin and yang,” I said, “Female and male,” and Shuang nodded appreciatively.

“You remembered which is which at last?”

“Yes. Yang dangles,” I said. “I love the sound.”

I undid the catch and lifted the lid. Nestled in dimples of silk, were two metal balls, peacock blue. One was painted with a red dragon and the other with a green, both outlined in gold. As I took them out, they spoke in their soothing tones again.

“These are Baoding Balls. You use them to increase your energy via the acupuncture points of your hands and to help your general wellbeing,” Shuang explained with perfect seriousness.

In fact I’d never seen Aunt Shuang smile let alone laugh. I doubted, unlike my mother, she had a sense of humour. So I read the instructions and tried to rotate and revolve the balls to the best of my ability. Shuang looked on sympathetically and then said, “You will no doubt improve with practice.”

“Forty, eh? Bit of a milestone,” I said, putting them back in their box.

“Don’t they say life begins?” said Shuang.

“That’s what they say…” I said.

“Oh well,” she said turning away, “plenty of time to learn to play properly with your balls, then.”

Oonah V Joslin is managing editor of Every Day Poets.com, a prize winner twice at Micro Horror and you can find links to more of her work at oonahverse, her blogspot.

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  1. #1 by fiona on July 23, 2009 - 7:32 pm

    well crafted and good characters that stay with you after the reading of it. clever twist at the end!

  2. #2 by Oonah V Joslin on July 25, 2009 - 3:02 pm

    Thank you Fiona for taking the time to leve a comment.

  3. #3 by Mark on July 25, 2009 - 3:44 pm

    Gentle, revealing and gives a good grin at the end.

    Great stuff.

    Cheers

    Mark

  4. #4 by caroline choille on July 25, 2009 - 8:17 pm

    I remeber it Oonah – It’s a cracker. Very smooth I thought.

    All the best
    caroline.

  5. #5 by Bill West on July 25, 2009 - 8:58 pm

    Well crafted and just a little bit naughty!

    Well done, Oonah.

  6. #6 by Oonah V Joslin on July 26, 2009 - 6:09 pm

    Thanks all :)

  7. #7 by Fiona Glass on July 28, 2009 - 7:39 pm

    Just lovely. I love the surprise ending and yet you don’t deliberately mislead the readers; just allow them to assume the (too) obvious!

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