Matthew Anderson

April Rain

You look around and you greet the night, the damp reluctance of the sticky afternoon dissipated and forgotten. You stroll around this new place with these new companions at your side, newness in every step. The vehicles roaming about at this late stage of slumber are few, luckily for you, otherwise your stumbling vacillations could be rendered fatal. Your head swims in shisha, is numbed by vodka cokes; your hand reaches to the side, searching for body. Its desire to to grip is natural and forceful; after clawing at the air several times, you reach Harry’s back with your left hand, that naughtier and more devilish of the upper body’s gripping appendages; he neither moves away nor bends in, permitting your touch simply.
           You call for Leo’s attention, walking ahead in his pair of two. You’ve got something you must tell him, something suddenly urgent. But as he looks back, you hesitate. You stumble upon his name, forgetting the one his parents gave him and remembering only “Leo”; he is confused, you mumble “never mind” in a toneless Chinese, Harry gives him an apologetic shrug. Your quartet ascends up a twirling passageway and before you can protest you are drawn within; Harry takes his hand and leads you higher, a coy smile revealing you are happy to be acted upon. Overgrown hydrangeas envelop you, reducing your sight to only the petals and stems which bristle against your face and invigorate your nose; wherever you go, you’re unable to calculate a spatial logic, but it’s all the same to you.
           Then one step leads onto a broad avenue and you’re above it all. From the top of the overpass you look down, drawn in by the sight of the somnambulant vehicles: they appear to move unnaturally slow, as if your bird’s eye view has halted their motion. These fuzzy perceptions cause you to stop to think, stop to wonder; you’ve got words to express, a vague disbelief in these overlapping existences, but you keep these thoughts quiet. The nocturnal mist has gathered in wistful clouds above, your head craned towards the heavens you walk with the V-shaped slitherings of a snake, no conviction or direction. Lily, Leo’s new girlfriend, looks back to observe as Leo convenes with Harry, your lover, his elementary school confidant; you sense your face muscles contorting in an effort to smile.
           In the moment everything seems transcendent, past what you’ve come to experience before, as if this overpass and its mist and your wanting touches have finally broken the claws of time. Your face in touch with the gentle blow of the midnight wind, the sensation is such that you could feel the vast stretch of forever in these expanses, the moment itself is its own infinity. But you near Earth once more, all things that come up must come back down, you realize time has played a cruel trick once again and your head slips down, just the tiniest angle; Leo and Lily do not notice but Harry does, you hope he does not hold tonight’s sudden sorrow against you.
           There is a dog, he appears in the corner of your vision sleeping in his little alley, a world of dirt and no kisses. You coo:
           “狗狗,” dog, Harry repeats your phrase with the same high-pitched puerile tone, one of the talismans of affection that you’ve come to cling to in these last few weeks hoping to invoke a small immortality.
           You believe in your heart that each moment deserves an embrace, to be clung to viciously. Some of them can be stretched out to considerable lengths, while others disappear before you know they have been, of course you do not usually notice the difference until it is much too late. But right now, you can focus on reveling in Harry’s frame wrapped up against yours, the way your steps lose balance in common stride, your two gravities connected by the effusion of semen that paces through tubes momentarily common.
           You cross the street, turn left.
           “What languages do you speak, again?”
           Leo cranes his head back as he asks, unwilling to stop moving forward in this search for a midnight repast. It’s clear Harry has mentioned you to his friend in your absence; you smile, never the one to scoff at little pieces of happiness. Leo’s broken the silence, you’re preparing to repay his generous conversational efforts with an engaging answer. But as your brain turns you witness a look of terror and opportunity on Lily’s face: she grabs ahold of Leo’s arm, “stop!” she shouts, preventing you all from strolling into moving traffic.
           And for a second, the question is forgotten, this group splitting into pairs who recede into each other in this confluence of life and death. It takes time, touch, and breath to emerge from this hazy lake of dread, but eventually, you can answer:
           “I speak some Japanese, but I’m still learning, you can count it but not too seriously.”
           “Spanish is deep within my heart.”
           “I speak German to find my Urmensch.”
           And naturally, he asks about your Chinese:
           “My Chinese is okay, just okay,” you claim a lower level than you believe you have to protect yourself from future errors. “Don’t be modest” he says, you tell him you’ve got a lot of room to improve, lots of literature to read to polish your Chinese and make it shine; but you’ve gotten too cocky and used a phrase outside of your typical realm, he misunderstands and looks to Harry quizzically.
           “It’s green,” Lily informs, a commend to be obeyed. The city is haunted, not by the smog that wanders over from the big red hen across the strait but by a somber mist, it saunters just above where human beings may reach.
           The moon is green, green and murky, oh how right Lorca is…
           And with green comes red, two blocks in front.
           “You know why they do that, right?”
           “Do what?”
           “Red creates hunger.” Maybe Harry’s heard it before, or maybe he finds this uninspiring. Suddenly your brain gets stuck on weed, in this land so far where you dare not seek it out; you crave a blunt so bad you begin to approach a state of delirium.
           Your eyes call out to the girl in front of the 7-11, she suffers from suspension. Her face’s angles turn with purpose towards the store’s innards, they’re a mystery to you, and her state of animation is even less clear. She stands and waits in front of the automatic door, keeping just enough distance to trick the sensors into standing still, staring with what you can only assume to be her obstinate eyes. She’s frozen, inconceivably frozen like part of the storefront décor, but as much as you may worry and fret for lost souls, eventually your attention is redirected:
           “How’s this place?” Leo has spotted a restaurant, the same red that called out to you minutes before.
           “Open 11 am to 7 am,” Lily chuckles half-convincingly.
           Open so early or open so late? They are two sides of the same coin, a Schrödinger’s cat of capricious gluttony. Call it whatever you want, use whatever term you like, it won’t ever cease to be strange…
           Your kind has congregated by the door, it is clear you’ve got intentions to enter but there is no haste. You stand farthest from the entrance, savoring the sobering lime streaks of moon, distancing yourself from the walls’ chilling red tint.
           As Leo puts his hands and eyes firmly onto the windows, breathing hotly onto the plexiglass, there is no response, no soul to draw you in or shoo you away.
           There is no explicit decision to enter, the thought simply lingers for long enough to render itself inevitable. You sit down at a booth, couple facing couple. The conversation begins genially, spirits raised by the possibility of food; menus receive some fleeting interest. Lily rubs her shoulders and says she is cold. As she is robed by her mate your face betrays signs of panicked opportunism; you agree with her enthusiastically and Harry hands you his jacket, for the moment you are doubly warm. The voices around you echo: your head wanders along its axis to take in the peculiar scene, decorations staring you down. Each and every one takes on a shameless sheen of fabricated normality, as if some mischievous hand means to disturb and dislocate. Harry reminds you of the hand you’ve placed in the middle of the bench, through his touch it regains an existence; you look to him but his eyes are focused elsewhere.
           Your ears perceive the crinkle crackle of old vinyl, percolating like popcorn on the stove; from the volume you guess that it emanates from a machine in some distant, unseen corner. The style is reminiscent of post-war Americana jukebox, but it’s sung in a language indecipherable to you, not Mandarin, not English, possibly not of this earth… The 50’s-style crooning optimism spins around the record player’s axis, drifting to your ear, unsettling you.
           Out of a lack of visuals, you begin to imagine: beings soulful and lonely (just like you) broadcasting their musical gifts to you lightyears away, wondering if the humans can feel their same sadness, you wish suddenly to shed yourself of your perfect pitch.
           As your ears try to pick up on anything but the music, they drift towards the conversation: Lily talks about her time in Florida as a college student. You take Lily’s reference to her time in your country as an opportunity to enter the conversation.
           “Where in Florida, exactly?”
           “Near Tampa.” You frown, you try to conceal it but your face is too transparent.
           Sounds Trumpy.
           Your next question, accompanied by your furrowed brow, purports to be subtle:
           “Did you like it down there?”
           “Like it? I loved it!” She went to Disney, she loved the weather, she was inspired by her professors.
           Lily asks: “Have you been to Florida?”
           You ponder the question, tempted to say no:
           “I’ve been to Disney.” But you’ve never really been, no, it doesn’t count; you try to squeeze out this nuance in your Mandarin.
           “To me, Florida is just a concept; an idea, really.” Your peers are left silent by this vaguely pretentious notion.
           The waitress swoops by, reminding your group of its original purpose. You look at the menu and it looks back. You see characters you’ve known since the beginning of your Chinese studies, in a way since birth. You read characters you learned only last week and yet proclaim with confidence, hoping no one calls your bluff. You’re intimidated by the presence of characters you still don’t know, for which you must ask Harry for help to bring them out of their silent paper slumber. You order first and most eagerly, searching for something to occupy your hands and mouth.
           “Big spice” you insist even as the waitress looks with craven eyes, demanding are you sure?
           “Oh yes, I lived in Sichuan,” you state, as if their spicy nature was transferred to you through osmosis in four short months.
           The befuddled waitress writes your dreams onto paper, thereby making them somewhat real. She is powerful and so are you, you can see this power in the eyes of your late-night companions; they behold you with reverence, look at this boy from foreign soil contending with Sichuan spice, they may feel wary of the Chinese state but the mythology of Sichuan they still respect.
           The food comes quickly. It piles onto the table, becoming a hill and then a mountain and then an entire village of consumption. You can’t say no, you’ve already asserted your will; the Chinese equivalent of “please stop” does not come quickly enough, does not flow with the assurance of comfort. The smell is of the fiery hot pot broth stirring and gurgling in front of your eyes, the sight is of the lights becoming more faint, a candle-like haze obscuring your vision.
           Your eyes have been larger than your stomach, that much is clear now. But you’re alone to have this revelation. Harry will not understand if you translate literally, and you refuse to use English, though he would likely comprehend; outside of your own head this language is a sign of weakness and cultural blight, a language you give into only in short encounters where it cannot be resisted, murmuring a dull thank you head down in defeat.
           The spice, having heretofore played nicely, begins to pick up in intensity. The first two or three mushrooms have been nice, pleasantly stimulating. But the spice has begun to accrue; by the fourth, you feel a tingle, by the fifth you sweat. You shovel the food in anyways. You submerge the bok choy in your side of the pot, the big spice cauldron belching with heat; by the time it reaches your mouth, water doesn’t help. It’s a petrifying sensation, like being bound; you imagine yourself being mistaken for a corpse, wrapped up into the robes of a mummy inadvertently, signs of life gradually disappearing. When you try to call the waitress, she is unavailable; you know anyways that water will do you no good, may just trick you into thinking you can feel relief, all you’ve got to do now is swallow this itching pain.
           You look to Harry, he calls out to you with a wry grin:
           “I don’t want your spicy lips!”
           It’s meant to be a joke, judging from Lily and Leo’s laughter; you gather this long after the others, joining in late on the giggles but not without a scornful look. The pain escalates. At this point you have become aware that you must be showing, your face must be shriveling up in discomfort. You can’t help it, you are yourself, you are the way your body reacts, the way your mind sometimes spirals downwards, the way your head looks down as you walk. You don’t want to change, feel you shouldn’t need to change, why should Harry find you have irredeemable faults?
           Sometimes people want us to be a better version of ourselves so they can love us more wholly. But you can’t shed your skin so completely, you’ll always keep some of your faults no matter how much you improve, and if perfection is all that shall do, you have already failed.
           After a brief hiatus into the world of your gray matter, sound returns to your ears, not entirely to your relief.
           “Well it’s illegal in Florida, so…” Harry turns your way to flip through your pages, his foreign encyclopedia:
           “Is it illegal in Delaware?”
           “What’s that?”
           “Weed.” You feel your mind drop in a cartoon-like fall.
           “Hard to say.” You laugh, they do not understand that its illegality is only a curious factoid, almost irrelevant to a user endowed with your white skin. They keep discussing, Harry and his boy friend discuss its effects and their curiosities; you would tell them, of course, if they asked, that your senior year of college was consumed by the substance, the response to “how much” being too much, too much being every day for every pain and every prolonged stay in your own head.
           But they don’t ask and you are glad, you would probably have to conceal the extent; you couldn’t mention the time you smoked too much and found yourself in urgent care, thinking your heart would stop from moving too fast. The nurse dissected you with disgust or confusion, bills chased you at your childhood home where you hastily blamed them on a nameless malaise.
           The walls start to disintegrate into puddles of hot grease, the collection of mushrooms and peppers unnamable in either English or Chinese fading into another dimension. You can’t handle the sensations: your neck craning to pass down burning cabbage, the walls morphing into a state best described as accelerated ooze, the benches who’ve grown eyes the floor that’s sprouted lava the mouth you fear will fall clean off.
           “You’re sweating.” Harry’s voice sounds about three octaves too low and forty decibels too loud, but his tone, mildly accusing but mostly declaratory, seems to be real. He has observed you and you grow with a desire to thank him for his diligence in monitoring your homeostasis, wow you’ve been such a gentleman tonight, looking at me and referring to me and even touching me, please take my body whole as an offering.
           “Miss, can you help…”
           You just want to turn down the spice, but the question goes unanswered, perhaps purposely ignored, who knows what this waitress is thinking? You catch a glimpse of her face, a slight flash of a halfmoon of visage, you swear it’s changed into something unhuman.
           It is said by some, I cannot confirm but I can act as messenger, that in some moments people can hear their own accompaniments: the jubilant rejoice of a full orchestra resounding during a bridal kiss, the oak pinch of a cello gasping in a last breath; what you perceive now is a demonic quintet, strings cacophonically out of tune, the collective sound sliding down and down and down, like a Doppler effect on infinite loop.
           You rise to use the restroom. Your haste causes some strained eyebrows amongst your company, but it’s pressing at this exact second, body and mind need relief; Oh how it pains me to lose even a second of your wonderful conversation this is what you plan to say but all you manage is a brief gesture of departure and if it is registered you are not there to see it.
           The pair of waitresses attend to some tedious tasks. They wipe down tables over and over, the wood sheen already shining to the point of numbness. They rearrange each booth’s cutlery and tablecloths, the joints in their hands and fingers cracking with their unseasonably demanding tasks. They don’t take notice as you walk past them, but when you reach the stairs, their eyes shoot back briefly, in harmony: their movements continue in the brief bullet-like stare, the work stops for nothing and no one, they shuffle to and fro while short-circuiting in plain sight.
           In so many places here on this island one must inevitably either ascend or descend to use the restroom, in this case it is the former.
           Et si tu n’existais pas…
           The 80’s-style French ballad invades your thoughts. If you did not exist, tell me why would I? You take the stairs with a cautious weight, feeling the beige walls contract. The Chinese paper-carving seems to rotate and switch angles; records of Taiwanese jukebox stars shrink on their perch, their croonings become more tinny. It’s always been your belief that things appear in the mind for a reason: thoughts, songs, bits of conversation…and so this Et si tu n’existais pas, you cannot ignore it, so futile, so full of doubt…but who is this you, are you here and will you disappear, like these dreams of domestic tranquility pursued in flagrant disregard of damnation’s decree…
           You reach the top.
           To the left, an eating quarter haphazardly covered by drapes, one single table peeking out from behind the insulation: cutlery is placed, silk covers adorn the chairs and caress their hourglass figures, a water carafe filled with lemons lounges longingly on this lazy lazy Susan. Who has been here, who waits to be sat? Or is this an event in progress, interrupted by your own exploration, some polite spirits wishing only to dine in their eternal peace…You take some haste moving to the right, fearing you’ll provoke an unseemly intrusion on this dinner soirée. As the bathroom appears in front of your eyes, you enter. The stall doors are all neatly shut and the air feels very still, it implies an unperturbed ancient order.
           It is only after some minutes pass that something changes. Your skin feels the heat, the mangy heat that has not only risen but collected around your person; it is your arm that titillates with the intimation of crawling or scratching, goosebumps aroused.
           You stare directly into the mirror, hoping to ground yourself through the sight of your own face. But what’s happened to your skin? Your pores are unhappy with the water they encounter, they’ve broken out. Cracks and crevices are signs of nights unslept: only twenty-three years but the rose glow of childhood is gone, leaving only a sort of inchoate wildness ravaging in your eyes’ frontiers.
           It’s a deadly combo, the menial death-like perpetuity of 8-5 combined with a burning desire to hang on to the life of the soul, burning candles late into the night just to feel something different, preparing for work the next morning as if readying for a wake.
           Your face curves in response to your movements. You take measure of your jawline to see if the skin has become more taut, it is only wishful thinking, less of you is of course a better you but this wisdom comes only implied.
           Slight sound, whatever this is it begins to reverb around the four corners. To the back, urinals’ mouths lie gaping, clamoring for drink. Even as the industrial light bars fight for life, their shine becoming only dimmer and dimmer, something within the bathroom’s pale blue speckled walls is aroused and put into relief by this faint state of function.
           Your eyes drift from the walls to their own reflections in the mirror. The forms begin to mix, where before these blues were different shades now they seem one and the same, colors and shapes and dimensions are unreliably tangible in this pointed dark.
           When the voice speaks into your ear, you greet it humanely.
           “Are you enjoying your image?” A light voice with an unctuous quality, like a throat phlegmy with dairy; an alto in a floating choir.
           “Enjoying is a strong word.”
           “Why don’t you take another look?” Your eyes close, consumed by a purple sea: it is as if, through this willful suspension of sensation, your vision can be taught like a nose confronted with coffee grounds to take new form.
           Eyes open, they see they see: on your face the same craters as before, magnified and enlarged, whispers of this new era. The rebellion shows on your face, some can read it and others ignore it, this aching desire to be free amongst an inability to forsake your daily bread.
           “You’ve still got your scar.”
           “It has faded, what of my self remains?”
           Visions of flowers plucked from vast meadows swirl around your eyes in luxurious circles; lovely little pink roses fill up the senses greedily and crowd the mirror, before long they’ve gobbled up every little bit of your awareness. Between you and this experience there is no intermediary: you see no walls, there are none.
           You raise your hands to your face to assure yourself of your body’s continued function and composition. The saccharine pink mixes with the purply scarlet of the hands. At some immeasurable distance, your opaque friend calls, the voice icy, canned and unintelligible: you succumb deeper to the notion that you’ve entered a long, faraway plain, with no end and no beginning.
           In the mirror your pupils, look how they’ve grown, the mirror wants me to believe… Who knows if what you are communicated through the slice of glass is true, but if you should believe it, you should see that your eyes begin to collide with their physical reality.
           The pupils engorge, swelling to grotesque proportions like a despot stuffed with the food rations of threadbare subjects. They exceed the confines of their lemon drop shape, gorging across your forehead and swelling over your cheeks, neglected sunny sides running over and across and sullying all those human features.
           Yes, it is actually quite terrible the sight of it, worse are the thoughts that spin in your mind…you try to close your eyes but they have become the totality of your bodily form, closing them would certainly mean—
           Pulses; vibration. The ground shakes, the sky topples in response, the planet and its universe engage in a rough game of coitus. Within these counteracting movements there is an insistence on regularity. The vibrations are quantifiable, you count them in a scientifically distancing German; watch the mirror eins a doppelganger’s fingers zwei travel up the arm, slowing drei pressing into the fünf skin, passing the biceps and getting so
           You’re whiplashed into a new present: a deep, deep chasm emerges, separating this present moment from the last. You wonder what expanses of time could fit within it: the dinosaurs, Neanderthals, the Middle Ages.
           In the mirror silky red veins peer out of your arms, throbbing threateningly. And as they thump and thump to the beat of a drum you feel alive, because you’re feeling the throbs, experiencing them in the image of your very own body, reacting with appropriate terror… The head, it aches with an exploding urgency. There’s nothing left but to breathe: in, out, back into your lungs, as you breathe you also think:
           Stability is nice, yes, or the idea of it, just like this tidy matter of inspiration and respiration; but stability is inertia and also an illusion, two warm bodies put side by side don’t equal eternal life…
           You never meant to invoke morbidity through these solitary incantations, no? But morbidity finds you anyways. Your face pale in the mirror, shriveled up like some sort of raisin in early decay, you wonder where did the light go?
           I’m headed into a collection of dark clouds, in this moment I’m flying but the clouds are too weak, the weight of my yearnings will cause imminent descent.
           Your hand approaches the mirror and your heart skips; throughout your body you feel frenetic sparks as your eyes take in your limb nearing the glass. Climax, plateau, a levelling of all that has been and all that will be. Before you can touch yourself, your companion returns and pries in a wispy Castilian:
           “¿Qué te hace llorar?”
           “Heavy rain and the absence thereof, my mother, movies where dogs die.” Your answer is robotic and you know that it borders on an untruth, because recently tears sprout from different wells, places of hurt, sad songs and insurmountable distances.
           You are yourself here in this mirror. You are yourself downstairs, in the company of a lover and others. You are yourself when you plead for mutual affection, yourself when you’re all alone, when you feel solitude is the state you were born into and will have no option but to forever occupy. An outpouring of selves, do they flow out from some central point of essence, and do they ever get lonely so far away from their brethren?
           “You know I’ve been thinking…” Your companion keeps a polite silence, waiting for you to finish your ellipsis.
           “What if I found a loophole.
           Say I were to walk, and walk, and walk, so far that I got stuck. Stuck somewhere liminal: in between. Could I go farther, could I go beyond for an experiment or an experience, where could I go?”
           “Where you’ve never gone before.”
           Mellifluous words on vinyl return and fill the space, they’re warped and totally devoid of shape; the sound has fallen from melancholia into something else entirely.
           The heart pounds and pounds even when it knows it is not being chased by a tiger, to the organs the sensations are the same, a need to escape.
           Oh I’ve got to run, got to get out before I’m gobbled up gefressen; run a marathon, run across the world, dart across continents for the sake of freedom and flight.
           The jukebox woman’s tone is mockingly shrill, the chairs and table to the side questionably vacant, a whole room devoid of flesh but alive with the stares of the dead. There it was dark but here it is light, on the staircase towards which you’ve fled, colored of redrum red. Down down down, stairs taken two, three at a time; you try to wash yourself clean of these dirty spots in your brain. At the bottom you come face to face with Harry, noses almost pressed together, an unseemly collusion.
           “Sure. I’m good.”
           He’s unhappy with your absence: embarrassed even, embarrassed by the optics of the situation. He is apologetic as you return to the table. It occurs to you you’ve forgotten to wash your hands, just like you’ve forgotten to actually use the restroom: dirt still lingers in your hands and in Harry’s exasperated expression.
           Returning to the world of skin and bones, you take it slow and tread lightly, still unable to participate in conversation: you’re looking around, taking in the sight of unoccupied booths, glancing quickly at the faces of your corporeal companions. It is a good thing that the walls have settled into something more mundane, a miracle your atoms have settled into place. You sense the ground underneath your feet, the bindings of time and space and gravity, perhaps the only stability you’ll ever know. You have been followed:
           “Have you ever been loved?”
           You think to yourself in the mundane comfort of your mother tongue:
           “It depends…”
           I mean to say yes, if love can be described as floating then yes I’ve loved and I’m loving right now, can’t you see? It’s a vacuous sort of pleasure, a rush of desire and satisfaction… I’m here with him and for now we’re grounded, gravity may clip our us into inanimation but I can keep a collection of faded embraces and quotidian moments shared, it’ll be worth this pain and the new ones to come…
           The mood is of settling debts and exiting into the night. Harry looks to you and grasps you gently by the arm, you smile and melt with appreciation:
           “Yours was 350,” his voice is even and business-like. You reach for your wallet, tossed away, slipping and drifting.
           You’re idling, Lily watches silently as Leo and Harry exchange utterances.
           The cash gets counted and the women begin to clean the table. Things are gathered and goodbyes are begun, but none too quickly as changes in state happen here only gradually: there is no one daring enough to make direct orders, inertia is overcome only slowly.
           And you don’t mind, no; you feel you’ve given some part of yourself to this establishment, that your flesh and tears have been mixed into its fundament and spread across its walls, and therefore you are wont to leave.
           Leo opens the door: the humid swamp outside hits you and the restaurant’s red already starts to fade, you are crossing the doorway and there is only one way to go.
           Harry once told you in consolation that he also finds Leo hard to understand at times, hard to follow his circles and respond to his questions without answers, but in this moment, as they collude outside in hushed tones, they have no difficulties.
           You look towards Lily as she lies politely to the periphery, think of some of the things Harry told you between pillows in preparation. In bed you spoke of Leo’s beds, characterized as they were by liaisons with hospitalized women and his unfortunate habit of sticking his member in holes outside of the boundaries of his relationship; as Harry confided such secrets you savored his words, holding your breath and holding him tighter.
           The intermittent trembling of the late-night streetlamps alights in you a queer sense of pause and reflection. You stand in a circle, words not said louder than the few words that escape. In these moments of paltry smiles and wishes to come together one day more, parting wishes are torn apart by an onslaught of horrendous rain.
           A transgression, another rift between “then” and “now,” brief words give way to elated panic. Lily looks for cover under Leo’s shielding embrace, you know only because you can see the vague definitions of their bodies; they run to shelter, their outlines covered by sheets of vengeful rain that conquer the night.
           As Taiwan’s drought comes to a theatrical end Harry begins to run away, in three quick steps he’s invisible; you follow him blindly.
           He’s forgotten where he’s parked and it never occurred to you to take notice. In this state of invisibility your efforts to find the scooter are futile.
           You stop under an awning. Under the strongest part of the cloth you’re still facing attacks, but now, you can see; you can see that you are the only living creatures around not to have taken refuge between four walls, you can see you’re all alone, you can see that only the heavens and their fury make your company.
           Eyes lock in stare, bodies do not touch. The tears of the sky mix with your own, neither sad nor happy ones just tears of recognition; he betrays no expression. No happiness in your pairing, no solace in your solitude. Old arguments return, they play on repeat.
           “I like you.”
           “I like you too, but…”
           “Why don’t you take me seriously?”
           “How can you say that?”
           “Will you teach me to ride a scooter?”
           “If it’s that troublesome…”
           The words stop flowing but the stare does not budge. Four eyes are searching for communication, but they merely find words that have already been said. The rain picks up in speed and in menace; it collides into the awning and destroys its resistance, look at you now, you are totally exposed.
           If only I could see his face
           Me, I can’t see my face either, no, but I know how I feel
           I am burdened I am cleansed by the sudden weight of reality
           Rain returns to Taiwan and brings with a new dawn…

Matthew Anderson graduated last year from the University of Delaware, where he studied Foreign Languages and English literature. In 2021 he published his first novel, Love in Doom and Secession, about a politically-independent Delaware that devolves into chaos. His work has been published in the Eunoia Review. He currently lives in Taichung, Taiwan, where he will study a Master's degree in Chinese literature.
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