Exchange

Jerry was a little boy of 7, though he looked like 5. He was thin, smart and parentless. He has been living with a family of the shoe maker ever since he could remember anything.The shoe maker was the only one who makes decent woman shoes in this town called “Rednow”. The shoemaker, his name was Chou, was a middle aged man with only one eye. Once he told jerry he lost one of his eyes in a fight for a patch of a dragon skin-nothing could make better shoe pieces than dragon skin, because they are soft while malleable. The most important of all, legends said that dragon skin shoe would cure helosis. Jerry never knew whether Chou had won the battle and the patch of skin at last, not because jerry didn’t ask, but because every time when Chou called about the fight, he would get so excited that he would keep talking about every detail of the fighting for days, and nobody is patient enough to listen to him finish the story.

So, Jerry lived with the shoe maker’s family for several years. Chou had a wife, Phun, and together they had a daughter called Qiu. She was beautiful and sensitive. She was 17 the year when jerry was 7. Jerry disliked her, in his opinion; she was someone who spent too much time in front of mirror counting her freckles. She had her own room while jerry has to sleep with the cow at night. That was another reason why he didn’t like her. The world at that time was not fair.

In September, Qiu got really ill. Firstly it was a skin rush, so Phun burned sulpher in her room, in order to “drive the devil away”. Then the next morning, when Phun went into Qiu’s room, she saw a big yellow ogre lying in her daughter’s place. She screamed aloud and the yellow monster woke up and called her mom. After that, Qiu dared not use any self-made therapy anymore. Many doctors were sent for; still Qiu was growing yellower each day. She lost her ability to talk, and she could barely move.  The once so beautiful girl has become the horror and shame of the family.

One morning, the whole family was woken up by a heavy knock at the gate. Jerry pushed away the cow that was sleeping over him and went to get the door. A very heavy man was there. He was fat with tiny eyes that were almost invisible under his flesh. He was wearing a pink shirt which was quite tight that his belly button could be seen above his tight dark pants. His shoes are made by the cheapest leather and his big toes were vaguely visible. He hardly had any hairs and all of them were in the areas above and behind his enormously big ears. He has a chubby face which resembles a birthday cake. He smiled and said:
I’m here to treat the daughter.

Jerry called Chou, who came out half asleep in his bright red sleeping robe. He went up to the fat man, suspiciously while with hope, invited him to go in. The fat man went directly into Qiu’s room. The room was quite big. It was the first time for jerry to go into Qiu’s room–normally he was not allowed before Qiu got sick and not interested after Qiu got sick. Rumors say that the disease of the shoemaker’s daughter was so contagious that anyone who went near would start to turn yellow very soon. But at this moment, jerry, in his ragged clothes and barefooted, could not hold back the curiosity that was booming inside him. He followed Chou and the fat man into the massive ward of sickness. The roomed still had a strong smell of sulpher. The wooden walls and floors were both contaminated by some yellow substances. The curtain did a terrible job in sealing the light and the sun was beginning to shine through onto a huge yellow thing on the bed. Jerry recognized that was Qiu. The later was lying on the bed like a huge yellow pillow. She has been like that for two weeks and her skin, once smooth and beautiful, was totally destroyed by blisters. The fat man came in with a sneer on his face.

“I see”, he said, he looked at Jerry, “it the problem with the soul here”, he said, “and I need a better one.”

Jerry was not paying attention to the fat man. He was staring at the yellow blisters on Qiu, wondering what sound it would make it if they were pierced. Chou stared at the fat man in bewilderedness with his good eye while Phun was choking silently.

“Soul” continued the fat man “is crucial”.

His words were like a spell that attacked Jerry. He felt a sudden strong wind blowing his face and hair, he closed his eyes. The world was spinning fast, he felt that he was being lifted up and turned over. All of a sudden, everything quieted down. He opened his eyes and saw himself standing in front of him. He wanted to speak, but his mouth was filled with bitter blisters that it hurts when he tried to move the muscle. He looked around, seeking for help while he saw the smiling face of the fat man, Chou, Phun, and himself.

“Thank you so much,” he heard Phun saying, “thank you for taking my daughter back”.

“Not a daughter anymore”, he heard Chou talking with overwhelming joy in his voice, “we have a son now. They laughed and they left the room. Jerry heard the door locked and he knew he would never come out again.

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