Aspirin Girl

i.

I pushed the glass door of the rice noodle shop and back on the 9th street, my face started to burn from the straight noon sunlight. The people in the rice shop were all Chinese, apart from a white guy with brown curly hair who also spoke Chinese. Nihao. Xiexie. It was when I merged into the delicately casual styled people I realized that I was already in New York.

“Let’s take a walk. ” said Lisa.

“Ok.”

“I need coffee.”

“Me too,” I said. “ I saw a lot of coffee shops when I walked here from the MTR station.”

“Artists live here. I need coffee.”

“Where should we go?”

“That way.”

We walked along the 9th street to the east. East village was far more crowded than where I lived in Long Island City. 

“I miss Shanghai. I hate it when I need to wait for the laundry. Wash and dry and the whole morning is gone.”

Lisa has worked here since April. Four months has consumed all her passion for living in New York City.

“Still don’t know when I would go back.” she said, “Have you been to Flushing?”

“Not yet.”

“I go to Flushing at weekends. My stomach is still Chinese. One could never lie to her own stomach.”

“I haven’t been to the restaurants a lot, it’s too expensive eating out.”

“You can’t think it in RMB. You’ll be crazy. Get used to it.”

We found a coffee shop that has available seats. She ordered an iced latte and I ordered iced americano with no ice. The 12oz cup was half full, or half empty. I asked the girl at the cashier if I could use the washroom. She passed me a long thin wood stick with a large silver key tied to one end. She was wearing a red and white striped Shirt with sleeves all up to the upper arms. The grey beanie looked good on her with two silver large circle earrings. 

We drunk very slowly. But it was just 3 o’clock when we finish our coffee.

“Where should we go next?”

“Anywhere.”

“There’s a park down there.”

“Let’s go.” I said.

The park was much larger than I had expected. And it was crowded. We couldn’t find a place to sit under open shadows. 

“Can’t even find a shade.” said Lisa.

We sat on the sunbathed bench then. My butt is burning.

“Are you twins?” A white old man walked past up and stopped. I barely noticed him before he suddenly stopped at a strange position with a strange lightly tinted gesture. 

He was trying to put a pen into his chest pocket of his saturated blue shirt. But he kept missing the target. I noticed a wrinkled white plastic bag dangling in his right hand together with an old guitar. More than three strings were loose.

I looked through my sunglasses and then through the old man and not through the square gate behind him. The gate looked extra grandeur from where I sat. We did not speak a word, both of us.

“you are sisters, am I right?” He stood there as if he was stopped by a sudden incident from going forward.

“No. Just because Asians look the same. ” I said.

“You are mother and daughter then. I’m not mistaken this time. Don’t tell me I’m wrong.”

Silence.

“Come on, tell me I’m right.” I feel regretted as my answer in some way encouraged him.

“What does he want?” I whispered to Lisa in Chinese.

“He just wants to talk to someone, some girl. There are a lot of people like this here. Just ignore.”

We didn’t even look at him when we were talking.

“We are just friends.”Lisa looked straight at him and.

“Sorry about that.” the old man said.

“It’s ok.” Then I tried to look away. The conversation was over, if there ever was one. I probably smiled a smile. Actually, we could leave immediately. Or maybe we both think we don’t need to. It’s weak.


“Do you know this person called…” 

He did not leave.

My eyes stayed on him for a second. He let the guitar rest against his thigh and took out a cellphone, the white plastic bag dangling with his right hand trying to find something no the screen. The scorching sun sucked out of the water of the time, leaving it flat and dry on the sand. The girl sitting on the right bench pretended a carelessness when she looked at us, and she took back her eyes with some apology.

At a fleeting moment, I made my decision to leave. I quickly got up and left him searching on his cellphone. The sunlight was blinding. He would never find anything on that phone. Then we would hide in the shades. All the burning was far behind. After two hours it would be forgotten by anyone of us there.


But I didn’t move. I smelled something plastic melting. My sunglasses were burning. My cheeks were aching.

Suddenly I noticed something shining. It was a little shiny spot. It made all slow down, and I began to look at him. His was all wet wearing a long sleeve shirt. I could see the shape of his swelling belly against his saturated blue shirt. He was still scrolling on his phone, standing there. I did not know what to do with it.


“This.” I heard a vague song coming out of his phone. “Listen to this song.” He handed me his phone. I hesitated a little bit and took it. It was even hard to tell if it was a song or not. It was a video with someone singing, and the video was all those photos you would see in the old postcards of loving couples and families.

I gave the phone back to him when the music was over.

“ Is this your song?” I asked.

“ it’s my uncle’s. He’s a great singer. He’s superman’s uncle.”

“ Who’s Superman?”

“ I am the superman.”

“ It was too much noise. I wasn’t able to hear anything.” I looked around and saw Lisa was gazing something distant.

“Can I sit? I can play my guitar and sing to you.”

Still, Lisa did not give any response.

“Ok. ” I said.

He came and sat to my left. 

“Can I have some of your water?” He asked.

I looked at the Poland Spring in my bottle, it was just half drank. I didn’t usually spend 2 dollars on a bottle of water. 

“You have it.” I give the bottle to him.

“I just need a little.” He took my bottle, unscrewed the cap, and carefully poured the water into the cap. The water in the bottle shone in the sun and looked thicker. The tiny cap seemed even tinier in his big fingers. He then sprinkled the water from the cap on a napkin in his shirt pocket. There were some golden bread crumbs on his shirt. I could smell fried chicken wings and cheeseburger. It probably came from the dangling plastic bag.

He tuned the guitar before his performance. His large body trembled when he was singing and beating on his guitar. I felt like a small stone sitting beside him. Luckily no one ever bothered to look this way.

While he was singing I thought about the long table in the rice noodle shop, about the fresh pimples on the waitress’ face. I saw a girl’s blonde curly hair floated with the summer air. Someone fell to the ground when we were walking here. His long slim figure hit the ground so hard that he couldn’t get up. There were crowds and somebody talked about the ambulance. And Lisa talked about New York, about minding your own business.

“How do you like it?”

“It’s good.”

“I have another one, it’s better. Listen.”

He’s right. The second one is much better, although still no one ever stopped. I began to guess how they would think of us, of us three. One white old man wearing full-saturated blue shirt played guitar for two beautiful young Asian girls. They were all baked under the sun. So what?

Another song ended.

“Your song reminds me of Rodriguez. ” I said.

“Someone said this to me before. But I never listen to him. People say I’m like Leonard Cohen.” he said.

“Leonard Cohen. ”I repeated. I turned right to see Lisa. But her face was all on the other side and I couldn’t see her expression at all.

“Another song. I promise this one is better.”

“I should go.”

“Oh yes. Your friend. Don’t make her wait too long. We could go out for dinner and I can sing for you. You know, someday.” he said.

“Yeah, sure. ” I answered without moving.

“Give me your number. ”he said.

Lisa turned her head and looked at me.

“I don’t have a number yet.”

“How long have you been here.”

“Several days.”

“Do you have something I can write on?” He took out the pen in his pocket.

I handed him the thick plastic shell notebook I had just bought in staples, sky-blue with white iron rings.

He wrote down his name and his number with the ball pen. His name is Charles.

“Thanks for your songs, Charles.”

“Thanks for listening. Call me.”

Lisa did not talk about what happened in the park when we were heading for the MTA station. I threw the Poland spring in the first garbage can I met.

“He was too lonely.” I broke the silence.

“You’re too softhearted. ”she replied.

For dinner we had some salad in my apartment and drank white wine. We bought the wine on a small but good liquor store. We both drank two glasses and I cried when we drank.


ii.


Ii turned off the air conditioner and pushed open the window. The moist summer breeze came in with the sound of a rambling train passing by.

“It’s hot. ” Jason said, without moving his eyes off the screen.

“I had a headache, the air conditioner here is too strong.” I sat down in bed.

“People here are afraid of heat, they can’t live without the air conditioner. You’ll get used to it.” He paused tying on his laptop, stretched his body and yawned. 

“I can’t live without air conditioner now. ”he said.

That night we huddled in my small twin-size bed. The quilt was too thin. My feet cramped at midnight. I got up after it went off and turned off the air conditioner. I opened the window and lay back to the bed. About every two minutes a train passed long and I counted the time from when one disappeared and another one came. And I found it was hard to decide at which second the sound totally disappeared.

I fell asleep with one of the train’s rumbling sound. I remembered waking up a few times and felt soaking wet of Jason’s T-shirt. When I turned on the air conditioning and closed the window I couldn’t remember.

It was five when the alarm went off. I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Then I toasted two slices of the raisin cinnamon bread. I boiled some water and made a big cup of black instant coffee. When I was adding the peanut butter on the toast, I could hear the sound breath of the girl who lived in the living room. There’s a bookshelf between us.

I took a sip of the black coffee. The first cup of coffee is always good. While I was eating the toast, I thought about buying a small folding table somewhere today. I also need a clock and a coffee machine. Buying a cup of latte cost you 6 dollars including 18% tips. You signed and chose the tips. I gave tips with the thoughts that everybody was surviving with life. 

I gently put the plate into the sink and made myself another cup of black coffee. The room was so cold that I put on my jacket. He was sleeping soundly now. He was right. People have different sensations of temperature.

We went to have brunch in a coffee shop two blocks away. He had avocado toast and an iced latte while I had an iced americano.

“These Asians would make other people feel they were the minorities here.” he looked around and realized most of the people there were Asians. 

“It’s too expensive living here.”

“Chinese people are more wealthy. Many of the Americans don’t have savings.”

“Really? I feel I couldn’t even afford the food here. I can’t imagine eating every meal cost you 200 yuan.”

“At least you have a room. Do you know the poorest people are those who couldn’t afford to pay a month’s rent? They lived in motels and paid for the room on a daily basis. This certainly caused much more than paying monthly. But they don’t have money for a month.”

I sighed.

“Do you know banana people?”

“Of course. Yellow peels with white interior, I don’t like this.”

“I mean those people living on bananas. They eat bananas as bread and pasta, just like monkeys.”

“I didn’t know.”

“you’re among the ruling class, with such fancy apartment.”

I did not say anything. I felt so weak when I went to add milk to the coffee. It was too simple. It was simplified. And nothing could be simplified in this way.

After brunch, we went to MOMA and found foo many people standing in front of Vincent Van Gogh’s starry night.

“Too many people. I’m going to die if I live here.”

“It’s not always crowded like Time’s square. ”I said.

“Anyway, I don’t like taking a train either.”

“Don’t we have to take the train as everyone takes the train?”

“It’s old and disgusting.”

“Because it’s been there for the longest time!”

“Let’s take a Uber back to your place.”

It took four hours to drive from New York to Boson. Jason didn’t have lunch when he left. 

Long Island city was part of Queens. Always the first stop after the train left Manhattan. Rich young people and Chinese students live here in tall luxury buildings. There were pools and fancy gyms and 24 hours doorman, and the air-conditioning that made summer like winter and vice versa. I shared an apartment with two other Chinese girls and paid 1500 dollars for the smaller room. 

“New York is a place that could eat you. ” Jason said as I was signing the cheque for the rent. 

But I liked my room. It was at the end of the corridor so I could have the view of the whole east side. Every morning I watched the train tracks of the long island railway. There were more than 10 train tracks down there and also the track of the 7 train and you could always wait for one minute and a train would pass by. I loved watching the sunrise when all the buildings along the skyline became silhouettes. And in the afternoon when the sun went to the south I could see every building and street even to the disappearing end of the furthest line. I never put down my curtains, even at nights. I watched the tall building in front of me when I was working on my desk at night. It was a new building and all the room were empty with standard designs. They left the lights on for the whole night, waiting for rich tenants. Like what they said in the real estate advertisement: 

One station from the center, imagine your life in the sky.

I often felt I was in the wrong place. But I enjoyed watching the sun rising from the queens every morning. The pinkish orange light would come between 5 and 6 and suddenly disappeared at one moment. If I had spent 700 dollars more than I could afford, then every day watching the fleeting moment of the whole pink cost me 23 dollars. I was thinking if I would spend money on 23 dollars a day for the sunrise. I was always secretly calculating all these when I was alone and bored. 

I was eating a smoked chicken sandwich when Jason texted he arrived home. I told him to eat something. He said he did not have time to eat and complaint about why people need to eat three times a day to keep going. 

I washed and dried the plate and suddenly felt tired. I went to bed immediately. 

“I don’t have a prejudice against people. But if only there is one, I don’t believe in people who have no interest in food.” Before I fell asleep, I suddenly remember this sentence. But I could remember who said this. While I was thinking about this I heard some rustling sound behind me. I was facing the wall and the sound became louder. Certainly, someone walked into my room and was flipping through my stuff. I heard the slippers on the floor as the sound approaching my bed. I couldn’t remember when he entered my room.

I decided to turn around. But I felt I couldn’t move even an inch. I was overwhelmed by some bigger force and all of a sudden I realized what was happening. 

It was coming, again. 

Usually, when it happened I would just stay where I stayed and closed my eyes. It would just go away after I fell asleep again. I felt something cold and sticky behind my right ear, and then into my ear, a big coarse tongue was licking me! How could he? How could someone lick me? I tried hard to turn around. I can’t move. I focused all my thoughts on my right shoulder and tried once again with all my strength. 

I didn’t know if it was because I was so determined to move, I felt I was turning back. Before I could see what was happening, there was temporary darkness falling and the tongue disappeared. Only the hollow building watching me out there. I got up and pulled down the curtain.

Why me?

I kept asking, why me?

I was hit hard by someone last week. A tall skeleton guy hit me on my arm when I came out of the Times Square station. I ran immediately. I was horrified, humiliated and weak. He was targeting on my chest I could see. And he was staring me furiously. I still didn’t know why he hit me. And I failed to explain why I felt that it was me who did something wrong. Why I ran away? Why I got that feeling?

“ Why you? Do you feel you are special? Tell me for what you think you’re special?” The girl was standing in the hallway outside the classroom. For the first time of her life, she was certain that people were going so far away from her. They never came back.


iii.


I called Charles three weeks after we met in the park. He didn’t pick up the phone until the third call.

“Hello, is that Charles?”

“Yes, who am I speaking to?”

“You may not remember me. I’m the girl in the park. We met last month and you sang to me.”

“ Washington square park?”

“ Maybe, it has a huge gate.”

“ What’s your name?”

“ Mary.”

“ I couldn’t remember. But thanks for calling.”

“ I was with a friend.”

“ Oh, I remember now.”

“ I’m just calling to say thank you for the songs. We were in a hurry that day. And you asked me for dinner.”

“ Yes, where do you live. Can you come to Brooklyn?”

“ I live in Long Island City. I could not go for dinner. But I’m happy if we could have coffee somewhere.”

“ Of course. I would love to. I have a new song for you.”

“ For me?”

“ Yes, do you want to listen to it?”

“ Now? On the phone?”

“Yes, do you want to listen to it?”

“Yeah, I mean…”

He started to sing the song. I listened to him sing and watched the people passing by the lobby of the building. It was a good song and it was a good evening. We made an appointment to meet in the park again although he kept saying to go for dinner. 

I hung up the phone. It was a bit past nine and I put on the earphone and walked to the supermarket. I walked by a man smoking weed in the intersection. I just got to know what marijuana smelled after I was in New York. Jason asked me how I felt about the courses and I said I was on my way to the supermarket. He suggested me not taking the subway after 9 pm. It was a nearby supermarket, I replied. I bought a few bottles of sparkling water and later randomly picked a red wine in the liquor store next door. I saw a black shadow running through the quiet pavement. It should a black cat. It was the first time I saw a cat in New York.


iv.


It was four o’clock at Washington Square Park. Early fall sunlight on the playing kids and people reading books lying on the grass. There are chess tables by the entrance each with one chess player sitting eagerly for a game. I went through along the boulevard between the trees.

I didn’t recognize Charles in the beginning. Probably because he was not so old as I thought. Or maybe he was chatting with someone else on a bench when I passed by. I stopped a few yards from the bench and looked back. I thought he recognized me. Then he said goodbye to the poker-faced girl he talked to.

“I just know it’s you. ”he said. He was wearing a full-saturated red shirt today. His hair looked more white as he wore a pair of black-framed glasses. His face was more rugged from what I remembered from the last impression.

“How are you?”

“I’m good. How are you?”

“I’m good. Busy. Can we go and get some coffee?”

“Of course. You busy with school?”

“Yes.”

“You’re in NYU, right?”

“No.”

“Oh, I thought you’re in NYU. It’s near.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Ok, but we artists will find our own way.”

“Yeah, perhaps.”

We went to the coffee shop where Lisa and I bought coffee last time. While we waited in the line he asked if I liked yuppy coffee. I said yes because I did not understand what was yuppy coffee. He asked again and this time I asked what was yuppy coffee.

“Coffee shop like this, they sell yummy coffee. Do you like yuppy coffee?”

“It’s just coffee. You don’t like it?”

“I don’t. They don’t have real coffee. But it’s fine.”

“Where do they sell real coffee?”

“I know a cafe just one block away.”

And we left the line and went to a cafe in the corner. 

Inside the cafe, the wood walls and warm lights separated the outside world from the cozy space behind the old door made of wood. We took our seats and a short Latino waiter was unhappy about Charles’ guitar. “Not in the corridor please,” he said. Charles reluctantly placed the guitar under the desk. The waiter shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the counter. 

One-third of the seats were taken in the cafe. At the counter, I ordered an iced Americano and he ordered a hot coffee as well as an English muffin. After that, I stood by the counter and waited. I saw an elderly waitress showing some attitudes towards Charles, but she suddenly said to me in a nice and soft way, “I will bring the coffee over to you, honey.”

He applied two pieces of butter on both of the muffins and add two sugars into the coffee. The second sugar was spilled all over the table. 

“You want some of the muffins?”

“Thanks. I’m not hungry.”

“You could have some. I have enough good food for the weekdays. The people I work with give me lots of good food. They are good people. Do you have good food to eat?”

“Yes, I cook.”

“That’s great. What do you eat.”

“Hmm. Rice and fish and vegetables.”

“What kind of rice?”

“White rice.”

“You mean Jasmine rice?”

“I don’t know if it is jasmine rice.”

“It is if it’s white.”

While he ate the muffins and I drank the Americano he told me he got his degree of philosophy in NYU. I said I only read a little of Schopenhauer and he said he liked some of Schopenhauer but not all. And he told me philosophers destroyed his life and he was only recently rescued by Jesus.

“I’m an artist now.” he said, “but I was a bastard and destroyed all my relationships with girls all the time.”

While he was talking a residue of bread fell from his mouth and rested on my empty plate. I kept drinking coffee and listened to him talking. He did not need me to talk back so much and he could keep talking all by himself. I put 2 dollars for the coffee when we left although he insisted to pay.

“I did not follow the lyrics of the Aspirin girl on the phone. My English is not so good.” I said when we returned to the park.

“ Every time I sing, the lyrics are different. And I never write them down. You could be my manager and write down those lyrics for me.”

I did not respond.

“ You could be my manager and I’ll give all my money to you. I’m bad at managing money. You can be a good manager, I can tell.” 

“I’m not good at money, either. ” I said.

“ It doesn’t matter. You could still be my manager.”

“ You’re kidding.”

“ No, I want you to be my manager.”

“ Can you sing the song?The one on the phone.”

“ The aspirin girl?”

“ Yes.”

“ But I have better songs. Do you want to listen to better songs.”

“ I want to listen to Aspirin girl.”

“Of course.”

We sat on the wet grass of the park. It rained yesterday. 

Oh, I said I had a bad day.

you said you had a bad headache.

I said why don’t we get out of here,

Why not go to another place,

Where there’s no phones, no work,

 no calls and no calculating tips, no tax report, 

no people arguing all the time on television.


Look what they have done to television,

When I was a little boy it wasn’t all like that.

Mother said things change so fast,

And she would feel better with aspirin, oh better with aspirin.

Oh, I said I had a bad day.

You said you had a bad headache.

I said why don’t we get out of here,

Why not go to another place,

Where there’s sunshine, there’s rain, 

there are clouds to connect the dots.

I’m so worried,

You say.

I’m just having this terrible headache.

And what I need is just aspirin.

One dose, two doses, three doses and a day.

One dose, two doses, three doses and a night.

Oh, my girl.

Oh, my aspirin girl.


Let’s get out of here, 

Let’s go somewhere, 

And don’t forget to take our aspirin

If we met mom we could share some to her.

Mother used to tell me one should be ready to share

I wonder if anyone shares aspirin with her over there.


“ I like this song.” 

“ It’s a good song.”

And then he began to sing a second song. While he was singing a young man ran all the way to us from the other side of the park. He was playing football when we arrived. His hair was very short and I could not tell his age. He did not wear a shirt and he was quite lean.

“I’m sorry I interrupted. I don’t speak English well. I can speak six languages and I come here. Can I borrow your guitar?”

“I’m singing to this girl.”

“One second.” He reached out his hand to Charles.

Charles handed him the guitar. The young man took the guitar and sat down on the grass. He played the guitar for about five minutes and stopped all of a sudden and gave the guitar back to Charles. He said thanks and took his football and ran away.

“ You’re in love with this guy.” 

“ Why do you say this?”

“ I was kidding, you should listen to this song.”

The songs became much the same after. I played with the grass and watched the people in the park. The fourth song finished and the young man came again.

“ Sorry, can I borrow again?”

“ I’m singing to her. She would my manager and make me really famous.”

“ One second.” he reached out his hand.

This time he played longer, he did not sing. I did not quite understand the music but it was good.

“Thank you.” When he finished he said to us and ran away.

“ Are you sure you’re not in love with him?”

I did not say anything. I kept playing with the grass but the sun had gone away. 

“ I should go. ” I said.

“ Oh, you don’t want to listen to another song.”

“ I need to work.”

“ Ok. I hope you love my songs.”

“ I love the lyrics.”

“ Think about the manager. I knew some guy who was just like me. He’s so famous now.”

“I don’t speak good English.”

“You’ll be good.”

“ I’ve got to go.” I stood up. My jeans were wet.

“ When shall we meet next time? We need to practice.”

“ I’ll be busy for these two months. Maybe December.”

“ December? Ok. Let’s talk about it.”

We waved goodbye one block from the park. I pictured him walking away with a full-saturated red spot fading from the arch, as I did not look back. 

Later Charles gave me lots of calls but I answered none. In November he texted me again about the manager thing and mentioned a bar show he was invited to. I replied nothing but happy Thanksgiving on the Thanksgiving day. 

In the Thanksgiving evening, all restaurants were closed on my way home from school. So I heated up some food and worked on my finals. I would eat leftovers even if all restaurants were open. It was just thinking that way made me feel a bit better on holidays.


v.


Jason came to New York one week before Thanksgiving. He asked me if I wanted to spend the thanksgiving in Boston. The round-trip itself would cost 100 dollars at least, I thought. He said he could come to New York and drive me back to Boston and then I came back by bus. I knew it was a huge give-in for him already. I said let me think about it. In the end, we just pretended to have forgotten about the Thanksgiving trip. That was sort of how we continued with this relationship.

The morning after Thanksgiving he told me he was seeing a friend in New York and invited me to MET together. I did not go as his friend was a total stranger.  It was almost 12 pm when he returned to his hotel and text me. “I’m exhausted and let’s meet tomorrow morning,” he said. I said ok. I was editing my pictures on the computer and watching the trains from my window.

The next morning we met at his hotel. He complained about the breakfast while we ate stone-hard bread and over-cooked bacon. I told him I wanted to move to another place.

“The family issue still not solved?”

“No.”

“That’s pretty annoying then. But..just to let you know…I still have some savings.”

“I can’t live like this.”

“Just wait until the leasing contract ends. It affects your credit if you leave now. Insurance is also a large sum of money, isn’t it?”

“The coming summer.”

“Don’t worry that much. I can see you are doing quite well.”

“You think so?”

“Yes.”

My cellphone on the desk rang. It was Charles. I did not pick it up. Jason said nothing.

The phone rang again one minute later.

“Is it your number in New York?”

“Yes.”

“Anything unusual?”

Then I told him about Charles.

“But why did you go?” He was not blaming me.

“I just thought he was too lonely.”

“There are lonely people everywhere in New York. Some of them have kids. Others don’t. They just screw up their life by themselves.”

“You are like a kid.” He added.

“I am almost 30.” 

“Well, then how could you feel and judge like an adolescent.”

“I had been very cautious, all the time.”

“You will get used to it. Later when you see more people like him, or bitter, you get used to it.”

I said nothing then.

“It’s not good to say but, some female friends once told me Asian girls are welcome here. Be careful.”

“Ok.”

“And this.” Jason took out a cheque form a book and gave it to me.

“Thank you.”

“I wouldn’t be using this money recently. After all, expensive New York City.”

Jason was about to return to Boston in the noontime as it was an out-of-plan trip. We bought two boxes of sushi and two bottles of coconut water. And he paid. After he left I took a new path to the Indian grocery where I always bought vegetables. I took some wrong turns as I had never walked that way. And I found myself on a broad street that I never stepped on. Sunlight was all over the wall of a gray building and I saw a huge drawing on the wall. It was fading and it was a woman’s face. People walked on this street as usual, but it seemed to me that I hadn’t seen anything like this for long. And then I saw someone drinking a large cup of coffee and eating an hot-dog on the side of the street. I did not stop at the Indian grocery as planned. I kept walking down the road. “Don’t go to blocks you are not similar with if unnecessary,” it crossed my mind, but I kept walking. Sun was glowing on me and I felt the cold wind. I muffled myself tightly in the coat and I did not stop. I passed another small grocery and I smelled delicious food in there. Later I passed by an empty park, a liquor store, a Dunkin Donuts, a laundry shop, a barber shop and entered some blocks more quiet with lower houses. I began to hear rustles of the fallen leaves. I saw people eating together at the table in a basement room. I walked on and saw someone lying on a sofa and watching TV in a room. I sat down on a step.

I felt tears on my face. I didn’t know when I started to cry. I thought of the girl’s face. The girl with a poker face, with sunglasses on, is an Asian girl. How do I explain? To explain that it was the Asian girl’s face, that made me stop and turn back. And explain to whom? I did not know what destroyed a person at a certain point. And I did not know what destroyed me.


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