Come, the night is still young. The streetplayers dance and sing, and they hopscotch upon imaginary squares – their loud, brazen chatter like a lively crowd. But she is utterly spent. Her knees are weak and needy. It would only be until she collapses onto the ground entirely, and woe will be her.
She has spent her energies wisely, she feels, and her bed is like a fluffy pillow waiting for her tired head. To dream. To wonder. The only prayer is that they dismiss her act out of common sense.
Along the path she walks into her apartment alleyway, the stretch of the narrow street alone with the nightly lights – hung from the alcoves beside lit curtained windows. There is an awkward feeling, to see a place once bustling, and now empty. She dislikes saying her goodbyes for the same reason. But she has to. Or the 'Hellos' forget their significance.
She can hear from above the jovial laughter of a card game played.
The playground beside, still bright. The lamps' eyes ever watchful over it. The swings and slides and blue monkeybars to hang on.
And one of the swings, just rocking back and forth, a little squeak on each passing. The wind, she first imagines it to be. There she sees it – the young who sit there. Would somebody help push me up? Up – higher than the sun, and the skies? My legs are too short and stubby, and I don't know how to swing myself.
I will gladly help you up, she says.
You have to push them gently, on their back. A light tap. And as they get used to the motions, ask them how everything looks from where they are. Do I look tiny, like a figurine? This figurine still pushes you, you ought to know. One day I shall teach you to use your legs, when you grow old enough.
Wave hello to the trees, and the clouds for me. But never let go of the chain. please.. I don't want you to fall and hurt yourself. Did you wave hello? I'm happy you did.
This is the highest I can help you now. The swing won't go any higher. So you have to swing your legs, and keep yourself high. And once you tire of the limit, I hope you find your wings. Your angelic wings. Everyone has them, but they are invisible to the naked eye. Only the heart can see.
So fly. Fly away. Away from here, from where I stand. Fly until you are as the magical birds you've always envied. And do remember for me, I once was.
She waves at the swings. Then she enters the lobby of her apartment. The red carpet at her feet, and glancing at the golden-lit leather couches around a space. Men with their grey suits in discussion.
“Enjoyed your night, Quon?” Mme. Hilde (the Receptionist) greets.
“I have. And you?”
“Oh— it's just fine. Running smoothly.”
“Good.. night.” Quon hangs her hands upon the counter, gazing at Mme. Hilde's bewildered hazel eyes with a kind of heartfelt sincerity. A beat, or two, and finally Quon departs for the elevators.
In the slow jazz beat, feeling the upward lurch, she tries pursing her lips – and whispers, “Hello.” There isn't anyone else with her. It is an unheard “Hello.” (Heard only by her, the voicer.) And with the word made she tries recalling the related images in mind.
Hello is said, to the ones you meet. Familiar and strange faces. A greeting. With which you ease open their ego-barriers for conversing. And once that's over, do you say goodbye? we'll meet again someday. Goodbye? I'll always cherish you in memory.
Sometimes the memory outlives its realities. Sometimes the memory is all you have to know they lived, once upon a time.
(The doors ding! 9th floor reached.)
What would you do, to chat with a memory whose answer speaks obviously? Relive that moment again and again? Masturbate with your melancholies? Why yes. It isn't fair you won't find something like it ever more. To grasp and feel it at hand.
And Quon finds her room. She enters the unlit darkness of it, locking the door behind her. Hello, home sweet home, how have you been? Her beret goes on the top of her wardrobe, and her parasol.. if she can wish it back in her hands. To find its knobby handle along her fingertips, and lay it at the corner. What will she tell Alphonse? He won't be happy.
She walks into her kitchen. Out the balcony windows, she sees the city in its incandescent splendour. The distant high rises, lamps and traffic in their swirling, fractal layouts. Ever shifting, ever moving. It hypnotizes her to stare out for so long; all the light blossoms inside, making silvery silhouettes out of the furniture and her.
The great moon by the horizon waxes towards fullness. It moves her to a relaxed stillness, and she softly breathes the quiet air in.
Eventually, she wanders down her hallway into the little washroom, where she flicks the ivory light on. Rubbing her eyes to the sudden brightness, Quon comes to her washbasin – where she can see herself reflecting in the mirror.
She finds herself modest in her frilly lace-trimmed dress, trailing to her knees. Her face oval and complacent, if tattered with the wearings of the day. When she undoes her hair, it unfurls down her shoulders like a wreath. As if you expect yourself to suddenly act in the mirror, spontaneously reciting a Shakespearean sonnet. Or tap dance. Flash a seductive wink, and become entranced like Narcissus of the pool. Hehe. How amusing.
Putting vanilla mint toothpaste on her brush, Quon goes to give her mouth a once-over. Spit. Rinse. Gargle. (What if itty bitty bacteria are hiding back there?)
Then rinse her face gently, and scrub away the dirt from her pores.
She stands in front of the mirror, to look at herself, and then she pulls up her dress to leave on the porcelain floor. Oh, her. Such naked, revealing skin on her, hid only within the black bra and undies. Clasped round her tender self. Her heart is so full, and then on the laces she starts to pull. It is tight on her, and soon she loosens them away - drop them down too.
She wonders why the way she is, her fullsome rosy hair, on her head, and below her belly button. In a bout of curiosity, she decides.. to run her fingers
Open the curtains of your being
gracing her eyes, stroking her nose, touching her lips so light as to make her quiver with an inner tickling,
To clothe you in a further nudity
tracing the curve of her neck, finding petite strands of her hair, and sliding down her shoulders to the breasts, the rosy areolae,
And uncover the bodies of your body
reminding her warmly: is this her always?
And wandering to her bedroom, she finds her little nightgown and slides into it. Now she is Quon, the Dreamer. Where is M. Alphonse?