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SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

Trần Băng Khuê | The Vows (6)

The moon was bright red. My fingers in the dirt. The lumps of soft earth broke away, revealing a tongue that has disintegrated, turned black. My useless tongue. The tongue that could not keep its word. Then suddenly there it was, I discovered another tongue by it. It was tarried by the soil, but it was still clear that it was still fresh, its flesh damp with blood. I was very confused, for sure I had never buried such a tongue. Who’s tongue is this? Where did it come from? Why would anyone want to cut their tongue off and bury it as I did?

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PHOTOGRAPHY SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm | Just This Life (88)

His eyes glossed over white, icy, opaque. The stranger, the father of my thirteen year old daughter. I had begged him- please forget her, I forgive you. He just laughed, the light never reaching his eyes- she, to you is the mother of my child. I had loved him, the love of my life. He had picked me to dance, me the awkward skinny girl, amidst all those tall pretty ones.

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Nguyễn Văn Thiện | WAITING FOR THEM (47)

A couple of times I would wake up in the middle of the night, but this time I found a stranger next to me. “Can I stay here with you” – the stranger would quietly plead – “there’s no other shrub left!”. I asked: “Where are you from?”. “From the village” – the stranger replied, a little less shy. It was a girl, her voice crisp, kind and sweet. Naturally, as a reflex action I would have stood up straight away, but after so many days either laying down or on my knees, my feet were like jelly, all wobbly. I could not rise further than my knees, my arms raised in front of me, not sure why. The young woman grabbed my hands, her hands soft, gently pulled me down. “Sit” – she said quietly – “they’re nearly here!”. The scent of the young woman overwhelmed my tiny familiar grove of trees. My fears were somewhat suddenly lighter. Perhaps they will come. The four hands held onto each other, locked on tighter onto each other. We stared into each other’s eyes for a moment, as though it was a preordained meeting, two pairs of teardrops rolled slowly down the two pairs of cheeks to shatter upon two pairs of youthful knees. We grabbed onto each other, groaning in the deep darkness of trees.

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SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

Lê Vĩnh Tài | THE WATCH – CHIẾC ĐỒNG HỒ (176)

How did you feel when she gave you the watch on your birthday?

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Nguyễn Văn Thiện | Not my words (46)

No longer participating in any kind of social gathering and exchange, I am often alone looking out at the mead. Completely speechless, wordless, unless another person was nearby, and it is their words that would come out of my mouth. I had in submission surrendered my lips to the people around me, while I sat and waited, to see who would be the next person. Who will pass by with talk of nothing void of a beginning nor an end? I was watchful, as though for a burglar. And of course without warning, a stranger said: “Demons meet up there on the third floor, right next to the writer’s headquarters”.

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SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

Nguyễn Văn Thiện | Lone Wolf (45)

Day after day, life continues at a rapid pace, always in a rush, where people leave to seemingly never return. There are the lonely nights, the mead in disarray due to some bloody war, the thrashing of endless living, the heartbreaking screams, the gratifying splattered blood and flesh across the horizon. In the end, as the sun rises, all is back in its place as it were, any evidence erased by the wind. Where we now live, is the residence of the night, of the conspiracy to harm, of the lurking agreements and handshakes in the dark. Hence, now and then the wind howls in bitterness, now and then, the clouds weave such laden pitiful images, and the flowers, the wild daisies silently carry their pain upon a patch of meadow bleached white in snow.

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PHOTOGRAPHY SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

A ten seconds dream

  By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm I climbed down the side of the rock, the grey hair man followed me ten paces behind rapidly shortening our distance. Why would he not leave me be? The salty rock surface mixed in with pools of wet coral makes for a cocktail of impending clumsy falls, gingerly I […]

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PHOTOGRAPHY SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

Lê Vĩnh Tài | CIGARETTE SMOKE – KHÓI THUỐC LÁ (217)

In the darkness she sat up, left the bed. The mosquito and he too was drawn towards her. Even with his eyes closed, he could still see the older man and her together, when not once did her footsteps make a sound. He accepts one must be responsible for one’s action, but why does the older man need to scrutinise everything for three-generations, so much heartache.
“I don’t want everyone to end up like this, how can anyone survive?” she spoke up in the end, in shortness of breath.
Like smoke would dissipate in the air.
As though it has never existed.

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SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

Nguyễn Văn Thiện | A THOUSAND TIMES NUMBER SEVEN (10)

I rounded up seven rainstorms on Mount Chư Mang, layered them like an apocalyptic tsunami, did you see my love, would it be so hard to believe? The storm at the very end was of an age in shorts oxen herding, stealing potato roots smearing mud chewing wiping sludge off our eyes beneath the rain. The torrent a top achingly cold came solo from afar, heard the water seeping into bone pitied the tiny innocent heart, with all his paths leading into a barren desert. Placed above is the rain from a blistering land of sandstorms sweeping away the old trees. Then above an unexpected storm on the path to a nervous breakdown during that search for fun, in the half-light the four walls of the mountain pale white, chilling, lucky though, still in my hands the warmth of another.

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Lê Vĩnh Tài | THE BODY PART FACTORY (132)

The male sales assistant smiled: “Yes, my wife’s also itchy when she borrowed her little sister’s legs, busted the veins on her legs opening them too wide.” I frowned: “That’s your wife’s business, my wife has a pair of very lovely long legs.”

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Nguyễn Văn Thiện | Burying one’s shadow – Chôn cất bóng mình (44)

In the middle of all the digging, an abyss appeared beneath his feet. Unable to find his shadow in time for the burial, noon, in Mount Chư Mang, he had to bury himself.
He said: “Who are we burying? Why does it feel like we’re burying ourselves?”.
“Firstly, we bury our arms. The arms tired for how many seasons, now need a rest, to stretch out, to set free the clouds of doubt, love and loss.

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ART SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

Nguyễn Văn Thiện | FIRE – CHÁY (31)

Only ashes remain, after the fire. And the grappling hearts. It’s us, our hearts, the remaining pieces after the burning catastrophe, can you see, us all black and blue damp with blood in the endless rising smoke. Now, no longer human, I’m finally officially free, allowed to see deep into my own heart as an outsider.

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ART SHORT STORIES/TRUYỆN NGẮN

Nguyễn Văn Thiện | SOLUS (26)

Life’s cruelty leaves one in a state of persistent terror of loneliness. Each day, I emerge inline in suburbia, in cafes or pubs with my mates. But always gruesomely possessed as though thick clouds blinded me, I saw no one, absolutely no one, just the sound of echoing laughter from some far off fantastic place. I’m alone. 

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Nguyễn Văn Thiện | Wild stallion – Ngựa hoang (42)

By Nguyễn Văn Thiện, translated by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

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Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm | I developed early (63)

His footsteps on pillows of clouds, from him emit rays of sunshine, and lingering fragrance of lilies from the valley.

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Trần Băng Khuê | The Caterpillars contained in jars (5)

The summer was pouring liquid fire. Again a redundant observation, clearly every summer there’s a fire, especially here. There has never been a cool summer. I’ve seen the white clouds in the blue sky each morning. They’re deceiving, delivering such a soothing fresh day. But, immediately, within moments, the sky may turn grey yet noon. The grey horizons usually paired with annoying dark clouds.

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Nguyễn Văn Thiện | Empty (41)

I’m describing an empty world, perhaps you do not want to believe me, but I did see it with my own eyes. I’m standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, at my feet, the empty waves are tirelessly rushing ashore. High up, by chance, the moon came, like an old friend meeting for the first time, the clear soulless face of the moon looked down at the water. The moon saw me, even so far away, but now my abdomen is vacant of its entrails, in my chest, sections of my legs were not hollow, but neither be filled.

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Nguyễn Văn Thiện | A hand (5)

By Nguyễn Văn Thiện, translation by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm 

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Lê Vĩnh Tài | A DISSERTATION UPON A ROSE – BẢN LUẬN VĂN VỀ ĐOÁ HOA HỒNG (211)

His silence pointed towards an accomplice, coy: “The world is changing, one day you find yourself not wanting to deny your daughter growing up with never seeing a rose. It looks as though it’s bleeding. It reminds young women of their menstruation.”

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Nguyễn Văn Thiện | FACES OF FAMILIAR SPIRITS (22)

By Nguyễn Văn Thiện, translation by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm    FACES OF FAMILIAR SPIRITS   People say: “Write something nice!”. Making up a sweet story is simple, but the story of Mount Chư Mang has never ceased to haunt me. I ardently went in search of an adventure like the sad tale of Don […]