Ruse Astray

“Only a couple days, Chinhua. It’s just play-acting.”

She bit her lip, sorry she’d answered the ad in the South China Morning Post. “Wouldn’t it be easier to just tell them?”

He paled. “My parents are very traditional. Gay is not a thing they would ever understand.”

She sighed, then took the notepad he held out.

It was straightforward.

They’d met the year before, started dating.

Her name was now Lan. She was a student. They were in love.

Later he’d tell them they’d broken up.

It was only for a few days.

After the New Year, they’d leave Wuhan.

Friday Fictioneers


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  1. kirizar

    Did you write this with hard returns for each line of dialogue? My phone sent it to me as one paragraph and that made it a little harder to read. (Sorry, snuggled under the covers, not ready to get up and go to face the world/my computer.)

    A very good short scene. You do get a lot in with only a few lines!

    • J Hardy Carroll

      Yes, I used hard returns for each sentence except the second one. WP is wonky on mobile. In a lot of places, actually. A creaking pile of legacy code. I really need to change my hosting, too. Thanks for reading and the comment!

      • kirizar

        I wouldn’t know how to change hosting. So, you at least have a fighting chance of working with the kinks of WordPress. I can only complain about them.

  2. Iain Kelly

    The best laid plans… Great use of current affairs. I imagine there will be a lot of stories coming out of this crisis in the years to come. I like the set up here.

  3. Dale

    Not that the situation is the same, but this reminds me of “The Farewell” in which they held a wedding to gather all the family to say goodbye to the grandmother who was dying of cancer. The couple had only been together a few months and had not planned on marriage at all… now I wonder how that ended…

  4. granonine

    You’ve set the stage for a good drama. All the characters in place, the spectre of CoVid looming, and the possibility of the young man having a partner somewhere out there who could be very sad by the time this is all over. Good writing :)

  5. Nobbinmaug

    It’s heartbreaking to think people have to go to such lengths to hide who they are from the people who should love them unconditionally. I’m hopeful that we’re finally moving away from such stigmas.

  6. Lynn Love

    Sad he has to go to such extreme lengths just to keep the family off his back. As you say, the situation could quickly overtake them and I love the idea of this being a ‘full’ short story – it has such much potential for drama, those two strangers locked in isolation together. It’s a great idea

  7. Anonymous

    Good story! Will they be able to leave Wuhan or will they still be in isolation?! I had a viral gene to my story this week!

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