The following short stories were produced in Horatio Potter’s Short Story Plot Workshop in June of 2013.
1) “A Wealthy Man Encounters a Difficult Time”
By Sivngim Nguon
There was a wealthy man with a beautiful wife. He was born in a rich family with many rice fields, factories, and other businesses. Even when he traveled to another provinces, he found that he had everything and he never had any difficulties, compared to others who would tell him about their difficult lives.
The wealthy man asked himself why he had never felt any difficulty. After thinking about others with their problems, he decided to tell his wife that he wanted to discover sadness; his wife rejected this idea. But he did’t care about his wife’s objections. So he decided to leave home and find a place where he could experience difficulties.
On his travels, he met poor people without any food, beggars, and sick people who asked him for help. Since he had brought a lot of money with him, he gave some to them but still was not able to experience any difficulty himself.
Just when he decided to return home, he saw an old man near the riverbank drawing a picture. This old man looked very happy.
The wealthy men approached him, asking: “Grandfather, you look so happy and free of sorrows.”
“Right now I have no difficulties; that doesn’t mean I’ve never experienced any,” the old man responded.
“What difficulty did you have? How did you face it?”
“Difficulty comes from your mind. If you think something is difficult, it will be; if you think it is easy; it will be so. The obstacles that obstruct our success—when no one helps us if we need help, or we feel hungry but can find no food—makes us feel surrounded by difficulty.”
The wealthy man said, “ I’ve never faced any obstacle since I was born; that’s why I want to know about this.”
Then the old man laughed: “Obstacle! Difficulty! Which one is better? No one wants to know about this but they want to experience it. Because we can learn from it. And it depends on how we face the problem. A strong person can solve the problem but a weak person cannot. And they let the obstacles lead them. If you still have your wealth, how can you know what this is like? If you are never sick, how do you know about illness?”
And then the wealthy man, still thinking about what the grandfather said, replied: “If you still have wealth how can you know….”
2) “Enough with Potatoes!”
By Meng Karuna
(There was a family of bears. Among them, the son Nano was) daydreaming about fruit—apples, lychees, rambutan—thinking about them over and over again, especially the delicious apples he was growing on his family’s small plantation. Suddenly his mother calls: “Wake up; there’s a fire. The plantation is on fire!”
When he hears this, he grabs the fruit basket and runs to the plantation, thinking: “Oh my gosh! I just succeeded in growing this apple tree. I haven’t even had a chance to taste the apples yet, and there is a fire. I hope the fire will not burn down my apple tree.
His father, noticing he is not carrying any water to put out the fire but instead a fruit basket, asks him: “ Are you stupid! There are lots of containers around that could be used for water, why take this wicker fruit basket?”
Nano doesn’t pay attention and is still running with the fruit basket. Then his mother grabs him saying: “Are you stupid; do you want to die? Don’t you see that the fire is dangerous. What’s happened to you and your common sense? What’s your plan?”
Then he hugged his mother and cried, “ I want to pick the apples because I took such great care of the tree. I want to eat them. But now the fire is burning. Maybe some of the apples won’t burn, that’s why I need to go in there to see if I can save some. My whole life is devoted to these apples.”
Then his mother said to him: “Listen to me! Don’t take a risk like this. We cannot put out the fire. Please let it burn.”
He yelled at his mother: “You mean, wait until it’s all burned up? What about my apple tree? No, I can’t wait; I need to go in.”
And then his father tried to persuade him against this action: “Nano, my good bear, let it go! We can grow another tree. I promise you I will find some good apple seeds. Get rid of this idea.”
Nano was happy with this. “Father you are great but be sure to keep your promise.” He then departed for the forest to meet his friend Airay.
He met his friend who asked him: “Friend, what happened? You look like you lost the lottery! If you tell me what happened, maybe I can help.”
“Hmm…my story is about coincidence. There was no cause of this fire that I could see, so why did the plantation burn? There are many other plantations in the area, so why did just this one burn?”
Airay said: “I know how you feel but don’t be upset. No one wanted this to happen. You can grow the tree again and I will help. Please go back home, maybe your parents are worried about you.”
When he arrived home he was pleased because it was dinnertime. But he became unhappy because all he saw was a steamed potato.
He yelled at his mother: “I’ve told you before I hate steamed potatoes. Why did you fix this? You don’t care about me. I don’t want to eat it.”
His father scolded him: “You act so childish. Our plantation just burnt down and all we have is potatoes. If you don’t want to eat them, there is nothing for you to eat. I want to tell you that it will take a long time to find good apple seeds to grow another tree, and a long time for the tree to grow and produce fruit. If you plan to wait for your apples to grow before you eat, your mother and I will start your funeral preparations now.”
He decided to eat but kept saying: ”Enough with potatoes!”
3) “A Flower Cycle”
By Sun Sothera
A flower grower is talking to his flower plant encouraging it to grow beautifully.
A dog asks the flower plant why it is growing so near the sidewalk. The flower plant responds: “This shouldn’t be my problem; my owner wants me to grow here.”
The dog says, “If you grow here, it is easy for someone to pick you.”
A cow comes by and asks the same question: “Why are you growing here; aren’t you afraid of something happening to you?”
And the flower plant responds the same way: “It’s our problem, not yours.”
The cow remains silent but starts putting its lips on the flowers. The flower plant feels pain and wonders why the cow is doing this to it. The flower plant keeps trying to grow.
A few days later, someone passes by and asks the flower plant: “Why are you growing along the sidewalk? Aren’t you afraid of being hurt? This is not a suitable place for you to grow. Someone or some animal will harm you? You should go somewhere else to grow. If you remain here, you will never be safe because your owner and others will come to cut you down every time. Since you are still beautiful, you have some benefit for them and they will let you stay. “
Even though the flower plant heard this, she didn’t change her mind. She knows that all of this will happen anyway. But the flower plant is always respectful to the flower grower and the land itself. If one day the owner or someone else wants to cut her, its okay; she will give up everything for them.
Five days later, the flower plant has grown another cluster of very beautiful flowers. All those who pass admire the plant very much. The plant feels very happy and thankful to the flower grower’s magic for making it so beautiful.
Now the grower appears. He answers a telephone call and speaks very happily as if talking to his girlfriend. After he ends the call, he cuts the cluster of beautiful flowers and takes it with him.
Even though the rest of the flower plant is in pain, it feels happy and says to the owner: “I did my best for you and you’ve cut the results. Please live in peace.”
After the cluster of flowers is cut, the plant’s beauty fades. Everyone who used to talk to her, including the cow and dog, looks down on her, especially the grass.
by Rathana Cheng
The starter gun goes off. Everyone dives into the water, trying to swim very fast to the other end of the pool. A few minutes later, the competition is over but only one competitor has reached the goal. The audience, who had been clapping enthusiastically, now is bored and begins to leave, because the person they expected to win did not. The last competitor finally reaches the goal. He is very skinny.
The audience who still remains is fairly silent, just whispering to each other. The skinny swimmer feels badly about this, since the audience is whispering about him:
“What kind of swimmer is he? So skinny; a plain face and a bad swimmer!”
“Don’t mind him; he comes from the countryside. He can’t compare to us.”
“That’s right; I’m so embarrassed for him.”
“Which rural area does he come from! How dare he show up in the city! It’s impossible.”
“It would be good if he just forgot about any swimming competitions so he won’t embarrass anyone.”
And they laugh — “Ha, ha, ha!!!”
Hearing this kind of chatter upsets the skinny swimmer, who had left the pool, and he starts to cry. Then he asks himself: “Why does everyone despise farmers? What have farmers done wrong to cause this kind of denigration? Is there any justice in this world? If so, where is it? Should I give up my dream? Should I stop swimming in competitions or not?”
Some girl comes along and asks him: “What happened? Why are you crying?”
The skinny swimmer looks surprised that anyone bothers to talk to him.
“If you have any problem, just let me know: I can help you.”
The skinny swimmer asks: “Are you a city person?”
“Yes I am; why do you ask?”
“That’s enough; I don’t want to talk with you. Everyone here looks down on me. They consider farmers as trash. I’ve decided to stop competing.”
The girl responds: “Don’t give up on me; don’t be hopeless. Everyone is not the same. My name is Sokhneag.”
“My name is Bora.”
And they become friends.
Bora tries to learn how to swim better. There is another competition. He decides to compete.
The competition starts and everyone tries their best. He wins first place. And he changes everyone’s attitude about farmers.
5) “Everything but Dignity”
by Sam Sophal
Just as she stops talking, her tears start to fall. She’s so upset, wondering why the love she expected to last is now over.
Choranay leans against the window pane then looks out feeling hopeless. The sound of the cicadas is everywhere, capturing her attention. While trying to find the source of their sound she notices a pair of Myna birds. They are happily playing with each other. It seems like they want to tease her. Choranay asks herself whether she is a suitable match for Ratana, or if she has done something wrong? Immediately she calls one of Ratana’s friends to ask for some advice on how to resolve her problem with Ratana.
A few days later, Piset comes as advisor for their reconciliation. He has found some free time to meet with Ratana. At first they just talk about general things, enjoying each other’s conversation. Then Piset brings up the subject: “By the way! I heard that you are Choranay’s boyfriend, right?”
Ratana smiles at Piset and replies: “Yes, but we stopped communicating about a week ago.”
“What? Why? Chouranay is not only a wealthy girl but also beautiful.”
“Until now, I’ve had many girlfriends, including Chouranay, It doesn’t matter whether a girl is beautiful or not, maybe she is only beautiful for other men, not me.”
“So what kind of girl do you like? “
“She may be beautiful and wealthy, but she must not lack one thing, she must not lack dignity as a woman. The kind of girl I want is one that knows her worth as a woman, who respects herself. In short, the girls that I used to know and communicate with are not on my list. Whether beautiful or rich, that is not important to me; what is important is dignity, humility, and respect for elders… that’s enough.”
6) “It’s Over!”
By Kong Sok Sompou
A doctor and nurse are running quickly to the emergency room. When he opens the emergency room door, his smiling face looks confident. He is finished in half an hour and says smiling: “The patient is stable.”
All the relatives are very happy and thank the young, handsome doctor.
Time has passed from rainy season to dry season. The same doctor is dripping with sweat in the emergency operation room, without the smiling confident face and with trembling hands, very different from four months ago. Finally he concludes his operation with tears streaming down his face because the patient died.
He screams: “Mother! Why couldn’t I help you? I have helped so many patients; why not this time? I’ve been so wrong. I’ve only thought about my work and my patients, but never about you. It is over for me.”
7) “Short Story”
by Seng Chanmonirath
In my imagination, everything exists but I immediately think of one problem. Even though in my imagination there are so many things, none of them have yet come true. I wonder what I should do to make them happen. And I try to find one thing to connect with my imagination to make something work. I’m worried about this and I’ve gone to buy some equipment to make my dreams come true. But it doesn’t work.
I’m so worried and sit alone on the sidewalk near the supermarket. I look at the crowds of people passing by and suddenly an older guy comes over to ask:
“Granddaughter, what’s wrong?”
“I’m thinking about finding a way to make my dreams come true; but I don’t know how.” I tell him about my troubles.
That grandfather smiles and pats me on the head saying, “If you want your dreams to come true, you can’t go looking for something to attract your imagination as you would people. If you have a dream, you need to clearly analyze it, make a plan, and put it into action. Then your dream will come true, instead of just sitting and waiting for it to happen.”
That grandfather, having finished talking, got into his modern car and left.
I’ve tried to do as he said. Finally my dream has come true step-by-step. I have no more worries.
Later on, I realize that grandfather had as much imagination as me and that he’d practiced his plan until it had come true: he was a successful entrepreneur not waiting for the dream to happen by itself.
I’m very happy now. I have everything just as I dreamed.
8) “Warmth in My Life”
By Moun Phala
After Seiha graduated high school, his parents sent him to study in Phnom Penh. He traveled with his mom there. She looked for a rental room and bought supplies for him, including a new motorbike. He also got a cell phone and computer. His life seemed so happy and wealthy since he had everything. They can’t compare to other farmers. But then his mother returned to their country home. He began to feel lonely and unhappy unlike when he was living with his parents in the countryside. He felt uncomfortable with himself because he had everything —family, expensive things — even his new friends did not feel this emptiness. His parents and family made him feel warmly happy, especially through their love for him.
Time passes by but he still misses his parents. He chooses to do something else to make him forget how much he misses them: studying, hanging around with friends, sports, surfing the Internet. He is now worried about being so dependent on his parents and not feeling confident about himself. He feels depressed as well because he can’t be independent.
So we must all plan personally what do to for ourselves and society.