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MO, Yan



Big Breasts and Wide Hips

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Fires continued to burn on the bridge, the now yellow flames sending thick white smoke out of the piles of straw. The green bridge flooring arched high in the air as it groaned and gasped and moaned. In her mind, the burning bridge was transformed into a giant snake writhing in agony, trying desperately to fly up into the sky with both its head and tail nailed down. The poor bridge, she thought sadly. And that poor German bicycle, the only modern machine in Gaomi, was now nothing but charred, twisted metal. Her nose was assailed by the smells of gunpowder, rubber, blood, and mud that turned the heated air sticky and thick, and her breast was suffused with a foul miasma that seemed about to explode. Worse yet, a layer of grease had formed on the roasted bushes in front of them, and a wave of sparking heat rushed toward her, igniting crackling fires in the bushes. Scooping Qiudi up in her arms, she screamed for her sisters to leave the bushes. Then, standing on the dike, she counted until they were all there with her, grimy-faced and barefoot, their eyes staring blankly, their earlobes roasted red. They scampered down the dike and ran toward an abandoned patch of ground that everyone said was once the foundation and crumbled walls of a Muslim woman’s house that had since been reclaimed by wild hemp and cocklebur. As she ran into the tangle of undergrowth, her legs felt as if they were made of dough, and the nettles pricked her feet painfully. Her sisters, crying and complaining, stumbled along behind her. So they all sat down amid the hemp and wrapped their arms around each other, the younger girls burying their faces in Laidi’s clothing; only she kept her head up, gazing fearfully at the fire raging over the dike.

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