'Death of a Taiwanese Girl in London'

extract from Nero Huang's "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 about what I am afraid of. In this sort of weather, someone must have died in this second and no one knows. I walk past a park. The lake in the park has dried up. A white plastic bag is hung on the branches by the wind. I carry on walking and I reach a street near the tube station. A guy is peeing in 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 bends over to pick it up slowly.

I go into the tube station, and take the tube to the south bank of the Thames. I get off the train and follow the crowd towards the exit. I hear a scream from a distance, and I see a woman on the platform- her left arm is clamped by the car door firmly, she screams: 'Mum!' Before I have time to react, the door opens again. The woman and her friend quickly jump on the train. The train speeds past 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 of me. I follow the man from afar, and come out of the tunnel behind 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 projects out strangely. In the dark, the goods lie quietly on the shelf.

This night is filled quietly with the sense of death and 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 get on another tube heading towards London Waterloo station. I have to get to where people are.

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

 

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

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

or, you can help her!

 

I get off at the Waterloo station. As I exit the station, I see 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 suddenly become very afraid. I suddenly think maybe I should turn around and go home. 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 got so scared while I felt someone 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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