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Author: Anni Baobei  Translated by Keiko Wong

 

It was raining.

The rhythm of the rain was like another cycle of life starting. I felt that I had passed through a long dark tunnel to the exit of a dream and this was a new beginning. The dusk that entered through a slit of curtains was pale and as blurry as face powder. Bald trees, the spires of neo-classical villas. Silent streets. 

The city was sinking into soundless chaos.

I was alone in a white-washed room. Lush ferns, soft sofa, floor-lamp, a white rug. This wasn’t my place.

Sam was back.

I made a random selection from a rail of cotton shirts in his closet. All white. Taking a shower in the small adjacent bathroom, hot water dampened my hair and ran down my face. Suddenly my brain was awakened.

This was the first time Sam had taken me to his home, and it was just like I'd always imagined. Everything was white. Simple and clean. Dustless. No female clutter, no flowers. Nothing fancy. Nothing lusty, just a clinical place. I was right then, there was no wife, or girlfriend in Sam’s life; he was just a middle-aged man who liked to keep a bar and wipe his wine glasses.

The only personal touch was a picture placed in a silver frame; a black and white picture, yellowed by age. It showed a young European man with a sweet smile. He was dressed in torn old jeans and a clean shirt, sitting by a fountain in a square. The bright sunlight in the picture already seemed to have faded.

Wearing Sam's neat shirt over my dirty jeans I went downstairs to the first floor and approached its owner across a white wool rug. There was a bedroom and study on the third floor, sitting-room and kitchen on the middle floor. The first floor he had made his bar. Sen was asleep on the sofa. The pulled-down white linen curtain admitted a pale light. All I could hear in the sealed box of the room was that rhythm of the rain. Sen was barefoot, his head on a cushion.

I sat on the rug near to the sofa and lit a cigarette. This room was like the bottom of the ocean. The clamour of the rain still seemed unreal. I smoked while I looked at this man. Lines were visible on his face, the track marks of passing time. He would have been handsome when he was younger. When I pressed my lips gently on his fingers I felt his blood flowing there. His eyes opened. 

 



Why am I here?

No one answered when I called you from the airport, he said. Your keys were in the door, you phone line was unplugged, your windows open. You were lying in bed with a fever, wine bottles and cigarette ends everywhere. You’ve never known how to take care of yourself, you are putting yourself at risk.

I said, then do feel sympathy for me?

Do you need it? He looked at me calmly. Why have you been silent for so long?

Some things had to be taken care of. Some difficulties at home. I finished my book.

I've read it, he said. Was everything ok, while I was away? Have you caused any trouble, or lost anything?

I got married. And I made a trip to Xinjiang.

Married? He looked at me skeptically. But you still live alone?

My guy disappeared, with our marriage certificate and another woman.

He stroked my head. Jo, why do you keep making the same mistakes?

No idea. Never tried to figure it out.

How was Xinjiang?

Cramped, the same as everywhere.

I started to lead an itinerant life ten years ago. We all struggle senselessly, like fish in a tank.

I want to visit a small island in Taiwan. On the East coast.

Why?

I want to see the sea in winter, with you.

His eyes showed affection as he looked at me. He gave my hair another stroke. 

Why did you have it cut?

I’m starting a new life.

To be continued  ISBN 978-988-18419-7-1

安妮宝贝著 Keiko Wong 译

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© 2010-2018 Keiko Wong - journey of life, travel photography, portraits, literature 中英文现代文学译者,摄影师