New place, new language, new identity. She puts down her luggage. Lies down on the off-white sheets, flips the channels – they’re all either French or tasteless – then gives up turns off the telly and stares at the grey ceiling.
Her mind floats back to that autumn night he forced sugar-coated strawberries down the back of her hoodie in Shilin and she made him reach inside to get them out. They laughed and held hands and took a random bus to a random stop just to get lost. Three stops after the museum and they were effectively in the middle of nowhere. They hopped off, it was chilly – it’s only chilly in Taiwan, never freezing cold – and quiet and dark. She would’ve been freaked out if she was alone, but his laughter lit up the night. He was fearless, and so became she. They walked aimlessly just talking and he stopped at a random alley. Reddish-brown bricks; no stale smell, but the air felt damp and creepers grew along the walls. A single dim streetlamp flickered at the other end. He sat on the floor with his legs straight, had his hands on his lap and his eyes on her, a request. She sat on his lap, her legs crossed around him, there in that damp alley in the dim flickering light. His faded jeans and her fruity scent. She looked into his hazel eyes and they ignited her soul. They sat there for almost twenty minutes just looking at each other and smiling, then he said “so are you going to kiss me?” and she said “do you want to?” and that was the first time they kissed. Gently at first, cautiously, then he pressed his lips harder against hers and they were in sugar-coated heaven.
Now we’re a few thousand miles and a time zone away, boy, and a gulf that surpasses all these – do you still remember all that I do? Do you still remember how you listened to my heartbeat, how our faces came so close, how all we needed was a long look into each other’s eyes for the whole world to disappear? Do you remember how it was like when I was yours and you could hug me whenever you wanted, like in the bus when I was sleeping and our stop was here but you wrapped your arms around my waist and said you didn’t want to get off? Or when we were in the lift, or when we snuck into the cinema? Do you remember the staircase hours when everything came so naturally? Do you think of me too, like how I’m thinking about you now, the tears forming a puddle on the hard pillow? When have you cried for me? – I forgot to ask you that before we parted – and do I seem like a dream to you now, the way our days feel unreal to me, like I can’t believe they ever happened? Do you feel a pang when you see people kissing on TV or couples on the street? Do you feel lonely too?