Pale Heart

Inside her there is life throbbing, an urge to live, to seize what lies before her, beauty, love. Across the table she sits, reserved in a dark blue jacket, her short hair a fluttering black sheen. Hesitant and thrilled, waiting for an opening to ask:

“Don't you want to know what happened?”

“We don't know each other very well,” I say.

“They thought my heart was going to fail.”

I imagine her heart pumping. An underworld of despair—it shakes and pours a flood of red. It doesn't go with her young face and pale skin. She looks up from the table as I prepare to speak.

“You're fine now.”

“The doctors kicked me out after two days.”

“Hong Kong hospitals.”

She's not convinced, but she takes my answer for now. We order fruit smoothies, spring specials in an anonymous cafe with a false Japanese ambience. The city spreads along the crowded streets and travels like light in her eyes, rising to a distant call. On the phone she talks about me with a friend. I look at my bare arm and my chiffon top. What was I thinking?

“They're worried about me meeting you,” she grins at me, “a strange woman.”

She seems like a good friend to have, someone who will tell you everything.

I'm starting to regret this.

“Do you ever write in Chinese?” she asks.

“Can't type. It's more common for your generation.”

“My generation!”

We're on different sides of her laugh. The game blurs, just beyond her world and my false attempts. Words always—the exploitation of an imagination, a weak heart, a time lost to the future. The failure is mine.

She doesn't see it in any light.

“Am I going to hear from you again?” she asks.

“I'll have to find a way,” I say.


words: Nicole Wong, Hong Kong
(Meditations in an Emergency)

image: Peter Schwartz, Maine
(Sitrah Ahra)


another table talk: Coming Undone (#9)


BluePrintReview - issue 21 - shortcuts / detours