Reading Short Story 5  

Death Price : 2  





English Translation:

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So she waited a little longer at the airport, and went without food or water.

Twelve o’clock came. Thongsy saw a car drive up full of cargo, and a woman got out and went straight to Mister The Lieutenant. She was the wife of some high-ranking army officer and was able to do business between the provinces, using the army airplanes to send her merchandise without paying shipping fees.

"The bosses are sending goods to the soldiers, so the plane is quite heavy and no more than ten passengers are allowed. You must wait for the next flight."

The hot May sun radiated down on the cement airfield; seen from afar, it shimmered like hot flames.  Thongsy sat under a shade tree by the edge of the airfield facing Luang Prabang Road, holding her six-month-old baby with one hand, while fanning herself slowly with the other. Her other two young children were eating rice wrapped in banana leaves, which she’d bought at the market that morning.  The children looked unkempt. Their clothes were old, dirty, and torn. She had borrowed five thousand kip from a relative to prepare for this journey. But the fruitless trips to the airport and the money spent to buy food for each day of waiting had cost her a good deal. Now she had only two thousand kip left.  She was trying as best she could to be frugal.  She was thinking of selling her ring so she could bribe Mister The Lieutenant to let her onto the airplane, but because the ring was the last bit of wealth she’d inherited from her parents, she hesitated. She decided to continue waiting, hoping she’d be able to leave any day now. A lot of other people were waiting, too, most of them, like herself, the wives of low-ranking army officers. They knew that, in order to depart promptly, it was necessary to bribe Mister The Lieutenant. But since they didn’t have enough money, they waited patiently for their luck to change, even though the situation seemed hopeless.


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