A Lasting Prayer

A Lasting Prayer

Ma Fan was upset, he had been chosen to be a paratrooper. As a conscript of the Chinese army, he must obey orders but he did not want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. He is afraid of heights.

A month later, Ma struggled to force down his bile as he sat with his buddies in the lumbering transport plane. He’d managed to overcome his phobia and struggle through the ground phase of the training and now he faced the moment of truth - ‘The Jump.’

He followed the Jump Master’s commands like an automaton. He did not remember standing up and hooking up. One moment he was at the door of the plane and the next second he was falling through the air. He felt a jerk of the static line and glanced up to see the dark green silk wrapped up like the twisted fried breadstick he ate for breakfast.

He fought off the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach and slapped the quick release button on his chest and saw the chute fly away from him then yanked the handle of the reserve chute on his chest, only to see the bundle of green silk pop out then collapsed like a giant lump of noodles.

Anxiety and fear enveloped him then he remembered that he was a Buddhist. Ma clasped his palms together and chanted with reverent fervor, “Nan wu amih tou fou (Holy Buddha), Nan wu amih tou fou (Holy Buddha)….” as his body continued to tumble toward the ground.

In his fervent prayer, he sensed a warm glow and felt a slowing in his descent. He squinted opened his eyes and saw that he was enveloped in a ball of green aura. Then to his utter disbelief, a giant pair of green hands rose upward from a tall pagoda in the midst of the lush green hills. The hands formed a cradle as it climbed through the low clouds and caught the young trooper in mid-air then proceeded to descend slowly toward the ground.

Ma crouched on all fours at the lip of the green palm that had just saved his life. He surveyed the beautiful green landscape and shouted with glee, “Jesus Christ! Ahhhh….” For, at that moment, the pair of green hands split apart then disappeared in in a puff of green smoke.

Long Tang

Long Tang is a research analyst and military historian. He taught Chinese history and culture at the Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, FL, and wrote the Tales of the Dragon column for WashingtonTimes.com. He published Tales of the Dragon – The Book of Lore, an anthology of Chinese legends, folklore, and fables; Pets Only - A novel that he co-authored with his dog Shadow; and Tales of the Dragon - The Book of War, a nonfiction chronicle of the military history of ancient China. Website: tanglongent.com

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