"Death of a Taiwanese Girl in London"

extract of Nero Huang's book "London"

Streets are empty in London. In this chilly twilight, offices on the street are all lit up, but no one is in there.

I walk alone, and stop to tie my shoes by a wooden bench. No one is here. I want to sit down for a bit, but I don't dare to. I am not exactly clear of what I am afraid of. In this sort of weather, someone must have died in this second, but no one knows. I walk pass a park, the lake in the park has dried up, a white plastic bag is hung on the branches by the wind. I carries on walking and I reach a street near the tube station. A guy is peeing on the street. A speeding car roars in the distance. I run across the road. The umbrella of an old woman falls to the ground - she stops, and bents over to pick it up slowly.

I goes into the tube station, and takes the tube to the south bank of the Thames. I gets off the train and follows the crowd towards the exit. I hear a scream from a distance, to see a woman on the platform - her left arm is clamped by the car door firmly, she screams: 'Mom!' Before I have the time to react, the door opens again. The woman and her friend quickly jump on the train. The train speeds to cross me without hesitation.

She must have tried to rush into the car in the last minute - I can't seem to recall any mother figure among her friends.

I try to get out the station. There are nine exits. I choose a random one.

Inside the long tunnel to the exit there are only me and a man in a black coat in front. I follow the man from afar, and come out of the tunnel only after him.

He stops at the exit, as if checking directions, before disappearing into the street corner.

I pass by a closed supermarket. The red light of the self-checkout machine project out strangely. In the dark, the goods lie quietly on the shelf.

This night is too full of the sense of death, quietly, that I don't know what to do with myself. I walk to another tube station, unresolvedly. A guy in a strange costume walks out from the station, about to go to a masked carnival.

I gets on another tube heading towards London Waterloo station. I have to get to where people are.

On the tube, I see an ads with pictures of helpless women. It's one of those ads to raise funds for the people on the street using black humour:

 

Homeless Chloe has got three options to sleep on a bed tonight:

Hurting herself to sleep on the hospital bed/committing some crime to sleep in the prison/sleeping on a stranger's bed -

or, you can help her!

 

I gets off in the Waterloo station. As I exits the station, I sees a man with red eyes arguing with a woman with her back to me. Of course Chloe has her fourth choice. I take the escalator from Waterloo tube station to Waterloo train station.

It's crowded on the escalator. I get suddenly very afraid. I suddenly think maybe I should turn and go home. The innocence in this city is too few. Everyone runs nakedly and roars, just to get a place to sleep tonight.

I am truly afraid of dying tonight. I am so afraid that I gets so scared while I feel someone is touching my leg behind me.

It is a little girl. Her head leans on my leg. Her mother is too busy taking care of her older sister to care about her.

I smiles to her. I truly wish that she would never grow up.

 

 

written in London, 2015 winter

(original Chinese version was the winner of Lin Rong San Literary Award 2016)

Nero Huang

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