The Sunday afternoon Bloomsbury Group tour drifted past, their guide waxing posh and poetic about Mrs Dalloway. Floral summer dresses caught the sunlight through the leaves; bright, surreal and kaleidoscopic. I felt his hand on my hip and reached behind to guide him inside me, biting my T-shirt so as not to cry out and give us away. I didn't know his name and I can't remember what he looked like, only how he felt.
Syllables are hard and round in my mouth but my self is a shape without edges. Sentences have speech marks and indentations, so I may know the difference between speaking and thinking. There are full stops and commas, so I may know the right time to draw breath. When I read words on a page, the markers are provided for me. Living in a body is different.
My matchmaker is a man. A man in a crisp, white shirt and trousers. ‘Shouldn’t you be an old lady?’ I ask. He bridles. ‘That’s kind of a cliché.’ I’m two weeks into my first trip to China. As a kid living in pre-Handover Hong Kong, China was a terrifying, monolithic presence. Now, it is a place I long to understand.
The girl is in hospital, and the doctor tells her a story about a man who died in his bed at home, an old man. At the moment of death, he appeared to his estranged daughter. He was suddenly in the cafe where she worked, stood by a table for a moment with his hand resting on a bottle of ketchup. Before she could ask what he was doing there, he flickered out, like someone had thrown a switch.
I was in an optimistic mood, encouraging a writer friend to go for larger opportunities. I turned to her and pressed, "But don't you want your work to be more out there, more present in the culture?" She thought for a moment, then asked, "What culture?" Good question.