Truyện ngắn tiếng Anh: Cocaine
It all started with a kiss. That was a pleasant day indeed – the harsh sunlight barely touched the veranda where they were sitting,...
It all started with a kiss.
That was a pleasant day indeed – the harsh sunlight barely touched the veranda where they were sitting, and the cacophony of bustling city lives was muffled by the evergreen into some sort of buzzing white noises. The dry heat was affronting enough to keep their hands hovering over the bubbling wine glasses, but also mellow enough so that they did not have to retreat to the artificial comfort of the AC. They were entertaining themselves with idling hearsay and inconsequential stories, and she asked if she can lay down to rest for a bit, for she felt tired and drowsy from all the constant walking and unrelenting heat that day.
So when she closed her eyes, he went ahead, bent down and planted a kiss on her lips.
And the day just got better.
The sky gleamed brightly a pristine azure, and the sun wound up caught in unrecognizable tangle of clouds. When he broke his lips away from hers and look into her deep dark hazel eyes, someone has turned off the soothing buzzing of cars, trucks and people, and someone else has turned off the messily jumbled shapes that is the outside world, too. They looked into each other eyes for a long while, then they kissed again.
And again, and again, and again.
When he got home that day, he could not sleep. The softness of her lips, the smell of her hair, the warmth of her body stayed with him still. When she went to bed that night, she dreamed her first dream in god knows how many years. She dreamed of him embracing her with all his might, his hands gently running all over her body, his kisses passionate and pure.
So they decided to meet again.
He gets up from his squeaking chair, his hands still trembling and his vision blurred. He looks yonder the half-shut window. The veranda is still here, the wooden chairs are still here, the landscape still hasn’t changed. The sky is still blue, the sun still harsh, the heat still dry – it is almost as if nothing has changed from that day. Except one thing.
He paces around the room impatiently.
How and when did it go wrong? He does not know, and that was precisely what bothering him. Humans, they hold this adamant insistence that everything has to have a meaning, that nothing ever happens for no reasons at all. They go and assign meanings to otherwise meaningless occurrences, they try and find patterns in an otherwise chaotic universe. It is the unknown, unclear, unexplained that drives people insane. He needs to go to the bottom of this, he needs an answer. He needs, he wants, and he deserves closure.
“Get away from me!” she screamed. Somewhere in his consciousness, he realized that nothing he said would ever change her mind, but that was not an answer he could accept.
“It doesn’t end like this. It can’t end like this.”
“Yes it can, and it does. I don’t want to see you anymore.”
“I told you why.”
“It’s stupid. It’s just a misunderstanding, it’s nothing at all –“
“Not to me,” she interrupted. He petrified in disbelief.
Four times has he picked up the phone, and four times has he set it down the small nightstand by his bed. He wants to talk to her – but what else is there to talk about? She has made very clear that she does not want anything to do with him ever, and she that he knows does not change her mind on a whim. Besides, would she even pick up the phone? She has deliberately avoided him for months now. They live in the same city, every day they travel down the same street, every weekend they go to the same place and yet, somehow, she managed to elude his searching sight altogether.
To hell with it, he thought. So he pressed the glistening green “Dial” button.
They were standing in a crowded supermarket. She was resting her head on his shoulder ever so lightly, her eyes lost in the rapids of people racing past. He squeezed her hand, so she turned her head and planted a kiss soundless on his cheek.
“What was that for?”
“You know how people all come into your life for a specific purpose?”
“Yeah? What of it?”
“When that reason is gone, they will be gone from your life forever, too. That’s why if someone or something comes into your life for no reason at all—“
“They will go for no reason at all, right?”
“You read me like a book.”
So he turned and kissed her on her forehead.
Nine calls later, he decides to stop trying. In fact, he could have done so after the first or second call – she most definitely is home and on her phone right now, she simply refuses to pick up his call. He knows her schedule like the back of his hand.
What am I to do what am I to do, he thought. Oh how he wishes he still has his old trusty chopper with him. He would don his helmet and leather jacket and pants, and he would rev his engine and race full speed in the direction of her house. The road has this strange calming effect on him – when he was weaving in and out the freezing traffic like the shadow of an apex predator silently stalks his prey, he felt most at ease. He would carry a spare suit for her too, and as long as there is gas in their tank and fire in their hearts they would travel on.
And so they met again, in the stairwell of her apartment.
They wasted no time at all – he pinned her to the wall, closed his arms round her thighs and picked her up effortlessly. They kissed and kissed some more, their body intertwined like mistletoe on a Christmas tree, their brains lit up with chemical and electric impulses like the flashing strobes of the dance floor. Had it not for fear of getting caught, they would have stripped all their clothes right there and then, and made love until kingdom comes. When they stopped to catch a breath – and only to catch a breath – she was smiling this devious smile.
“Did you miss me?”
“Sometimes, at night, I dreamed of you.”
“Me too. I miss you so much. I think it’s due to all the chemicals.”
“You know how when you hug and kiss someone you love, your body produces serotonin? Well serotonin is the chemical that is responsible for your happiness and well-being. I think I’m addicted to it now.”
He gazed into her eyes, wide and deep as the cosmos itself.
“I think I’m addicted to you.”
I need rehabilitation, he thinks.
So he takes from his pocket a crumpled dollar bill, and with his still trembling hands, rolls it into a nice small tube. He bends down over the small table in the corner, upon which lines of powdered white happiness have been carefully crushed and neatly arranged. He closes his eyes and takes a long drag.
Lo and behold! There she is in the flesh, standing in front of him mysterious and whole. Her smile warm and her presence radiant, so much that she seems almost unreal and unapproachable.
“Why do you have to remember?”
“Because people, people are heartless and cruel. No one ever remembers anything. They can take their dearest, most loving memory, take it down a long winding road one day, leave it by the shoulder and simply forget to return. I have to remember or else all of this would be lost. I have to remember, or else you would disappear.”
“So you take it on you to remember, even the most painful memories?”
“What a task to bear.”
“What a task.”
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