Death of a
I craved a cigarette. Knowing I could not very well be caught
smoking around the house, I told my mother in the kitchen soaking herbs that I
was going for a walk. She didn't say
anything; all her attention was on the falsetto Mandarin voices on the latest
radio dramas. She didn't even
understand Mandarin. The seductive
whisperings of the lead male character followed me as I went outside, filling
the street with his melodramatic pleas for love, voice rising and stopping just
as quickly as I slammed the door shut.
led to the Park. The neighborhood was
tiny, filled with people who chose not to affiliate with each other unless it
was for the purpose of gossip or barbeques.
Seeing sweet, giggly Rebecca, whom her parents named 'light greater than
dawn' in their own language, lighting up a DuMaurier would bring both. But few adults dared venture into the Park,
where the music pounded heavy vibrations into the dirt and basketball games and
fistfights went hand-in-hand like a teenaged couple. It was here that I had my first kiss, my first cigarette, and my
first beer as puberty hit me smack on the head. Yuck.
even like it here. I hated to be reminded of my past but this was the only
place where privacy was assured. I
walked towards the swings, circled with cigarette butts, expecting them to be
vacated of children as always. Nobody
but hoodlums came here, well, hoodlums and unfortunates like me who can't
drive. But tonight, someone else was
I almost didn't
recognize her and she certainly didn't recognize me. She sat there with her small, glasses-framed eyes cast down,
untried hair long and waist length like a princess of Ming. Her overly stylish Le Chateau shirt was
threatening to get caught in the eyes of the chains. Her skin was porcelain
still; she hadn't discovered the joys of surfing in the summer and boarding in
the winter. I knew that she was 13,
didn't even acknowledge me as I sat down in the swings next to her. I offered her a cigarette, a gesture of
friendship. She refused, saying it was
bad for her. Things had changed a
"Where are you from?" I asked, still trying to be friendly and
ease her apparent loneliness.
on what kind of answer you want," she said, immediately taking offense. She was still sensitive towards her
ethnicity and longed for translucent skin and blue eyes. Brat.
A year from now, her skin would tan like a peasant during a trip to
Paris where she would learn to accept herself.
what school are you from."
looked down at her faux-fur lined shirt.
She didn't like it but she had brought it anyways. Her friends said it suited her. "It doesn't matter."
don't like it there very much, huh?
It's okay, I didn't like my grade school either."
you know;;;l;lut …"
know how to answer without offending her again. Three years from now, she would be able to tell the difference,
too. "You don't like your school." I repeated.
like it. I like the parties there. I
like the people there." She paused for
a few seconds and looked me up and down.
"The people in my school are rich."
Ouch. Yes, things did change a lot. Most people would be able to tell that my
'vintage' shirt had lived out its first life as designer's men wear and my
pants were bought from the local boutique on sale. Lacking in perception, my clothes embarrassed her.
I wanted to ask her about her
friends. Was Emily talking behind her
back again? Are you still pining for
Marc with a 'C'? Darling, how does it feel to go to romantic movies alone just
to feel loved? Instead, I smiled at
her, my face changing expressions suddenly like the masked actors in the
Chinese opera I saw a year ago. She
would not understand: it was two years before she would see it.
disturbed her; she was not used to simple gestures. Even now, she refused to meet my gaze, still afraid of her
heart's intent, still afraid of mine. I
was the older, attractive woman who seduced and bedded her. Two years ago, she had found that her best
friend was homosexual after seven years of knowing him; two years from now, she
would stop questioning herself.
be graduating this year." The thought
had been resonating in her mind but this was the first she spoke of it. I supposed that this was the only thing
impressive enough in her life to be mentioned to me.
"Really? What school are you going to?"
a hint of uneasiness in her gestures. I
still hadn't seen the brown of her eyes and I was starting to miss them.
the freak school. I found out I got
school, huh? When I first received the
acceptance letter, I was so relieved that I didn't have to go to high school
with everybody else.
"Really? It's a nice school." I suddenly couldn't help but smirk. "I go there."
feel her image of me changing. Her
fingers, still chubby from lack of work and practice, traced invisible pictures
on her lap. Eyes, eyes as always.
want to go."
"Why not?" I pressed.
Why not when she didn't have any attachments? She held no obligations to those she hated. For some reason I couldn't remember what her
friends told her about Unionville, though I was sure it wasn't positive. Couldn't she see they would grow to be
jealous of what she would become?
miss my friends."
make new ones."
want to… not with those people. I heard
they were all low-class losers."
an eyebrow; I hadn't heard that phrase for a while. My mind seemed to be unable to recall it during the last three
years although that very phrase had been used against me so many times. Once again, she was trying to defend herself
by offending me.
"Where did you hear that from?"
friends again? Should I ask her how
loosely she was using that word or just smile and believe her dreams with
her? In September, three years past, I
had learned what true friendship and loyalty meant; she still had to wait a
couple of months.
as bad as you think. You will meet some
nothing. Thirteen years old and
already she thought she can take on the world.
She did not know that empresses were nothing without legions of girl
friends armed with work shirts, guitars and lipstick, but then she had not
discovered feminism and androgyny either.
of my watch edged to nine o'clock and I knew it was time for her to go. She was reluctant to leave. She had little to return to but the sound of
her mother's soap operas and the ringing of the phone when her friends wanted
to go shopping. Did she feel that her
life was worthless? Nine months from
now, one of her ex-boyfriends would successfully commit suicide in front of
sixty other people but not her. She
would stop thinking only for herself and return to this spot to mourn, placing
three upturned burning cigarettes in the sand like sticks of incense.
have to go." She said, look directly at
me for the first time. Her eyes were a
darker brown than I'd expected.
shrugged. She meant little to me except
a method to pass time. I liked her as
little as I liked myself.
here a lot… I like it here."
she was lying again. "Yeah, me
too." We both came here to be alone.
up. "Nice to meet you."
give me her name and I didn't give her mine.
Already, she had learned to walk away from relationships without
regret. If only she learned to dispel
of her snobbery just as quickly. I
nodded goodbye to her and watched as her figure walked away and turn into a
ghost of the night.
had a good three hours to kill before I needed to be back home but I started
walking home anyways. The air was
becoming too cold for my comfort and the music was turning into a drone in my
As I walked up on my driveway, I
realized that I had not had a single cigarette. I had no reason to.
seen all the pictures; I've studied them forever. I wanna make a movie, so let's star in it together. Don't make a move until I say 'action'. -Pulp