Issue Seven (May 2009)
Woon woke up with a nasty backache. The reason became apparent when he tried to sit up, only to fall off the carousel horse he had impossibly been sleeping on. Then again all things were possible with enough alcohol. He couldn’t remember leaving the party, much less sneaking into the amusement park. A quick look around told him it was the Shijingshan Amusement park: Beijing’s answer to Disney Land. Unfortunately, Disney noticed and sued a few years back. Woon forgot how the matter was resolved. Personally, he never understood what the big deal was. Amusement parks all pretty much looked the same anyway.
The phone rings once, twice, three times. I roll over to check the red glow from the digital clock on my nightstand. It reads: Three A.M. Lifting the receiver from its cradle and without waiting for the late night caller to reveal her identity I mumble, “Pamela? Is that you?”
I was baking flatbreads on the hearthstone when I saw my sister walk out of the forest.
I paused, disbelieving. She had left us, many years ago, to become a hermit. She had abandoned both my husband Nayen and me, and we had never heard from her afterwards. We had thought her safely ensconced within the forest, weathering monsoon after monsoon in some crude hut, serenely meditating on the gods of the Triad. And now she was walking towards me, as if she still belonged in my house.
Hot days always make Mina feel fat.
The heat builds in the city without relief, layer upon layer of furnace glare beneath the sky’s blue arch. It bounces from the brick and glass buildings, and rises in a bituminous mist from the baking black roads. A sulphurous smell spreads from the exposed river-flats, and the cicadas shriek long into the sleepless nights.