Would you read on? We look forward to your comments. Be sure to scroll down for the name of last weeks courageous author who offered their first page to you for critique. This weeks First page follows:
Shanghai, 1933 / Year of Rooster
Every few minutes, the young female mourner paused from her loud wailing. She wiped her face with a grimy cloth, and peeked curiously at the people crowded along the street watching the funeral procession. This was her first experience as a paid mourner in Shanghai, and Li-ming was hot and sticky in the stiff white mourning robe and hood covering her patched, dirty clothes. But she barely noticed her discomfort as she gazed at the amazing city where she had arrived just yesterday by ox cart.
Several weeks ago, she and her cousin had disguised themselves as boys and run away from their ancestral home in the remote northwestern village of Twentieth Tower Gate of China’s Great Wall. Soon to be married to aged widowers, they both agreed in secret they would rather die escaping than live forever miserable. And so on a moonless night, Li-ming and her cousin fled from the serpentine shadow of the Great Dragon Wall, with their dowry coins stolen from their parents securely hidden in their underwear.
After weeks of perilous travel, they had arrived at Shanghai’s West Gate, dust-covered, hungry, and their dowries nearly gone. There the plump manager of the Shanghai Sang-fu Mourning Company, with a leering smile, offered them food, work and housing. Li-ming had looked briefly at her cousin before nodding a silent acceptance for both of them. She desperately hoped their work as paid mourners would soon erase their impoverished past and, in time, enable them to repay and restore honor to their families.
The two had rejoiced in their hearts at this seeming good fortune bestowed by the gods. And as they hurried past a shrine on their way to the Mourning Company, they did a quick bai bai worship. However, the grimy idol looked back at them with stony silence, and neglected to warn them that paid wailing by day would soon be accompanied by far more unpleasant duties at night. And that now their chances of living for more than a year or two longer were few.
Last weeks victim, I mean author was the brave Vonie Harris. Thank you Vonie for sharing your first page with us.