I turned up spades this week in my Deal Me In short story reading challenge randomizing deck o’ cards. Spades direct me to Daily Science Fiction, so I went over there and found this:
The Paper Dragon
by Stephen S. Power
Right after I read it, I thought, “That was so good!” Then I thought about it for a while, and thought, “Well, that was stupid.” Then I thought about it some more, particularly in light of the fact that my first reaction was so positive; I realized my reaction should be, “DAMN, that’s fine!”
Set during World War II, the story begins when a group of school children on a nature hike come across an origami dragon stuck in some brush. The narrator-child peers inside as if he could read the Japanese characters on the inner surface of the paper. He tears off and hides a piece with characters in a different color than the others.
So the story begins. It ends after the war, when he gets the characters he’s preserved translated.
Start to finish, this story is a parable about actions, reactions, intent, consequences, and so much more. A massive load of meaning, packed into an apparently transparent little story.
Stephen S. Power is the author of the novel The Dragon Round, now out in trade paperback from Simon & Schuster. “The Paper Dragon,” which was inspired by Japan’s use of “fire balloons” during World War II, is his sixth story in Daily Science Fiction. His short fiction has also appeared recently in The Arcanist and Unnerving. He tweets at @stephenspower, his site is stephenspower.com, and he’s a proud member of Codex and the SFWA.
If YOU need a short story to read, I have free ones here on my Free Reads page. I also have four collections for 99 cents each linked from my Short Stories page. I also have a new book of short stories, LONNIE, ME, AND…. at Amazon in print and for Kindle and Kindle apps. Soon to be available through independent book stores, and in multiple formats through Untreed Reads.
A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: Write about intended and unintended consequences.