23. September 2015 · Comments Off on Dumb Luck · Categories: NMM.Trajectory., Romancing the Edge

On Sunday I go to St. Mary’s Church by myself, since Muriel and Bill are Presbyterians but rarely go to church.

It is a long walk.  The sky is gray and threatening and I take an umbrella, but it is not raining.

A polished blue and white station wagon glides by and stops next to me.   A smiling golden haired young man leans out the window.

Where are you going?

I say St. Mary’s Church.

That’s on my way.  I can drop you off.

I get into the car and we go down the road.

He is dressed in his Sunday best.  I wonder whether he goes to Muriel’s church.

He looks over and says, don’t be all scrunched up by the door.

I’m okay.

Move closer, over here.

There is something in his voice that is a little too insistent.

I inch a little towards him and I put my umbrella between us.

Suddenly he makes a turn.

I tell him St. Mary’s is straight down the road.

I know.

Then  he turns again and we are at a huge construction site.  There are cranes, bulldozers and piles of building material all around us.

There is no one working here.

He stops the car.

Come closer to me.

I don’t move.

If you do what I say I won’t hurt you.

I don’t believe him.

He moves towards me.

His face has changed.  There is something in his eyes that is bewildering.

Why are you doing this?   You’re young and good looking.   Lots of girls would go out with you.

He stops.

I go on.  You don’t have to do this.

He still has that look but something in his eyes changed.

I go on.  What about love?

He turns his face away.  I can’t see his eyes.

Slowly he moves back behind the wheel and starts the car.

We arrive at the church.   We weren’t that far away.  Parishioners are everywhere.

I grab my umbrella.

Can I see you again?

Sure, I say, as I open the door and jump out.

Suddenly, he guns the car and speeds away.   At that, my knees buckle.  I stumble and I barely manage not to fall.

I slide into a back pew and sit down.

Only then I feel the terror.

29. May 2013 · Comments Off on Nipped in the Bud · Categories: Romancing the Edge

I am thirteen.  I have just come back to my grandmother’s house from about a year with my father.

Measured in weeks and months I was not away very long, but I feel that I have just returned from time travel into a different world.  I am not even sure that I will not wake up and find that being here is wishful dreaming.

I don’t remember when my cousin Amadeus began coming by for tea.  He and I have a lot to talk about.   Never mind that he is tall and handsome or that he has the reputation of being a bad boy.  He is smart.  Very smart.

Yes, there is an undercurrent of excitement when we are with each other.  But then, he is my first cousin.   We are not allowed to marry first cousins.  He is safe.

One afternoon, Amadeus and I take our tea and cake with us and go up to the terrace where we can see the inner harbor.

When we come back, Titi takes Amadeus aside.

He does not come for tea again.

We are still friends.  After all, we are cousins.

0 R

26. May 2013 · Comments Off on Someone Not Me · Categories: Romancing the Edge

A letter arrives from Hong Kong.   It is from Len.   I remember a tall, lanky young Englishman.   He was at my fifteenth birthday party that my sister threw for me at the Ritz night club.

There was a lot of merriment at the party.  They made a fuss when the cake was brought in, and the band played my favorite songs.  My sister had let me design my dress.  She said I looked so chic and grown up in my navy silk halter dress.

It was exciting and fun, especially the dancing.  Still, I felt a little bit as though I was playing dress up.  I was the only one who drank a ginger ale “Shirley Temple” with a maraschino cherry on top.

Len’s letter is a volcanic declaration of love.

How can that be?  Who is this person he is writing to?  I don’t remember dancing with him or even talking with him.  He was quiet, even shy.

I read the letter again.  It fascinates me, as though I am reading a lover’s letter meant for someone else, someone who inspires this kind of passion.  But there is a puzzling escape clause.  He says that he knows it is “no good” and that it is impossible.

I do not know how to answer.

One evening, Len and his friend arrive at our house.   Ah Ngung ushers them into the parlor with the uncomfortable hard rosewood chairs surrounded by antique vases and bric-a-brac.  That’s the room we call Outer Siberia.  Our friends never sit there.

Len phoned earlier and spoke with Titi who arranged the visit.

After a few minutes of polite conversation, we go on a group date.  Several cousins come along.   We go to the Central Hotel and Casino.   Not a single spark flies.  Not unless we count the ones between Uncle Artur and his girlfriend, who are dancing on the other side of the room.

The following summer in Hong Kong Len offers me a ride in his car.  I’m sure that the feelings he expressed in that one letter have long given way to reality.  Besides, he knows that I am leaving the country in a few weeks.

I hop in.   We make a bit of polite conversation but mostly I am enjoying the breeze and the sunshine.

He stops the car in the middle of nowhere and opens the door for me so that we can admire the view.  But there is no view.  There are just a lot of bushes and grass.

It gets awkward.

Mimosa copy

Suddenly, I see a mimosa plant.  I reach out and touch it, and the leaves close.  Look, I say, a touch me not plant.

Without a word, Len opens the car door for me.  We drive back in silence.

25. May 2013 · Comments Off on Black Hill · Categories: Romancing the Edge

Devil’s Peak sounds dangerous and exciting.   I am going along with my sister’s friends for a motorcycle ride.   In the early evening we meet in a nondescript restaurant in the New Territories.  After the ride, we will all meet here.

There are four or five motorcycles.  The guys drive the machines.  We cling to their backs.

I am clinging to Rich’s back.    Last summer he was the one driving the car when we left the night club after my fifteenth birthday party.   He went faster and faster.  Even though there were almost no other cars on the road, everyone was yelling at him to slow down.

A taxi comes out of a side street.  Rich swerves but we hit the taxi anyway.   We take a fender off the taxi.  Rich does not slam on the brakes.  He zigzags between the buildings and eventually we come to a stop.

I lurch forward and skin my knees.   I am in the devil’s seat between Rich and my sister.   If Rich had put on the brakes sooner I would have gone through the windshield.   My sister says Rich has nerves of steel.   He rides his father’s racehorses too.

We come to the base of the mountain.  The road is wide, the wind is picking up.   I feel a few drops of rain.  Then a few more drops.  I don’t see any of the other motorcycles.

It is starting to rain.  I wonder if the others are going ahead up the mountain.  Rich is not slowing down or turning around.   The rain is warm.  I don’t mind getting wet.

Black Hill

We are on a narrow dirt road that winds up the hill like a corkscrew. The rain is pouring.   Even if we wanted to turn back now we can’t.  We have to go all the way up first.

It gets dark quickly.   We see by the motorcycle lights.   The wind gets stronger and there is the sound of thunder.  Lightning flashes across the sky and lights up the dark sea below.   I hang on tightly to Rich’s back.  We are now soaked through.

Then we make a turn and the road slopes down.    We are finally descending.   The rain blows so hard I can hardly see the road except when lightning flashes.

The road is getting muddy and the motorcycle slides a little.  Then the motorcycle lights go out.

O my god !  I am too young to die.

Every time Rich makes a turn I pray that it’s in the right direction because I can’t see.

Then a flash of lightning shows that we are back at the base.  Soon we are riding on the wide road.

When we walk in the restaurant everyone gasps.  My sister looks as though she has seen a ghost.  The whole group is here.   They are dry and nursing tall drinks.

Rich and I are the only ones looking like wet rats.

Someone says good thing Rich has nerves of steel.   No need to call the police after all.   Glasses clink.   Cheers!  Live fast, love hard, die young!