Friday Fictioneers – “Gratitude”

Homeless Bridge


The students’ eyes beamed as they handed me their parting gift – a framed collection of hand-painted masks from the Chinese Opera.

Xie, xie,” I used the Chinese word of thanks, my eyes filling with tears. “It’s beautiful.”

On the way to the airport, I gazed at the cardboard homes and overcrowded streets cluttered with trash. Most of my students owned only one outfit, but had been sure to purchase a fine gift.



Back home, the abundance of wealth and comfort was dizzying.

“Are you alright?” my mother asked, alarmed.

My students’ farewell gift caught my eye. “I will be.”


This week’s Friday Fictioneers challenge was to use 100 words and the photo above to write a memoir from our own life.  This story was drawn from my experience teaching English in Mainland China while I was in college, an experience which certainly changed my perspective.

Photo Credit:  Copyright by Sandra Crook

16 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – “Gratitude”

  1. I felt much the same after returning from Thailand just before Christmas a few years ago. The trip was transforming, and coming home to the over-commercialized, mind-boggling, glut-o-rama made my head spin. Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A beautiful and meaningful memoir. You bring attention to an important subject. The contrast in lifestyle between the poorest and the richest…or even between the poorest and the “middle class” is astounding. I have no answers…no better system to propose…but I hope that someone finds a solution before we have only two classes of citizens; the ultra-rich and the perennially-poor.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much for your comment, Jan! And I couldn’t agree more… while we surround ourselves with Christmas cheer, it’s important that we take time to pray for the less fortunate and help in any way we can…


    2. Returning to America after some time away really is a culture shock! I think these experiences are good for us, though, and help us to keep things in perspective. I’ve never been to Thailand, but would love to go!


  2. Dear John Mark, Wonderful story and it is so true that the gap between the rich and the poor grows deeper each year – and I don’t like it at all. Life’s not fair. Good job! Nan 🙂


  3. We do get wake-up calls from time to time, don’t we. The trick is to let them in past our defences. Your story shows this process in a person who’s still soft enough to care and hopefully to make a difference, as you say above. Well told.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John Mark, This is a lovely memory you’ve shared with us. although wrapped in a fictional story. I’ve been living in India for some years now since my husband is an Indian citizen. I probably will get a bit of culture shock the next time I go there. My husband’s ill and I haven’t been back for a while. Well written. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Suzanne… I really appreciate your encouraging comment. I can only imagine how different life must be over in India.. but I’m sure it’s a true adventure!

      I’ll be praying for your husband, and hope you both have a blessed Christmas…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s