Love of the Colonizer

Siming and her lover strolled beneath the festival lights, and she shared her whimsy: that by reversing the soft leather bow harness she wore, she could transform it into wings. Alas, her weight grounded her, and her potential to soar was limited. He hung on her every word, clasping her hand as tightly as if he were grasping for the her voice, which threatened to ascend and leave its tail behind. She had indeed learned to jest and distinguish jokes. For she was tiny and delicate, inhabiting a world that was light as a blueberry cake delivery, pink-ish wrapping paper, and an extravagant leather bow harness — as light as a frivolous suicide.

As light as the bubbles that floated away from his furrowed brow when he sought to confirm her words. After that, whether he was adapting to local customs or displaying his innate kindness, he always spoke to Siming with gentle courtesy. "May I have the napkin?" "Are you ready to depart?" His "please" forever lingered at the end of his sentences like a persistent echo. Before the magic words crashed down, conversations gave out a sense of uncertainty as apocalypse news. It all felt anticlimactic.

Siming felt precious first time hearing his plea. Memories of her past life at the auction house, where she delicately gloved and placed jewelry in display cases, came rushing back to her. It was then that she yearned to become a rag doll, a simple plaything for a Kurdish refugee girl. She wished to be a doll whose cotton stuffing poked out and fell wherever the girl went, yet was held tightly. Siming believed that the idea of “protection” had to be an obsession that required an immense amount of force, as if one had to be crushed by life and small knives cutting through the surface. This was the only way to be treated gently and properly. On the second occasion, Siming was reminded of the glass repair adhesive sold on Aliexpress. It wasn’t really a type of glue, but rather an unknown chemical solution that mended optical defects, as deceptive as her words filling the gaps between the cracks in her heart and mind — a masterful deception. She experienced a panic attack when she lost track of how many times she heard his “please”. He whisked her away in the dead of night, crossing rivers and tunnels. He straightened her stiff arms and legs, telling her “we’re home.”

They debated which World War was more historically important, the first or the second. He said her colonization had taken over his home that almost became their home. They saw deers in the deepest forest of his childhood park, and he even wrote in his journal about touching the pale velveteen she had introduced him to. As he aged, his hair became darker, joining her hair like a flowing stream when he embraced her. He called her An'an, Siming, An'an, Siming. He taught her words that were difficult to pronounce: lichens-laikens, crispy-cripsy, lasagna-lasgania. His handwriting was as slanted as Greek. He half-playfully asked her to learn Persian, but she only remembered one word: “bad,” which happened to share the same pronunciation in English. He also learned her hand-woven secret code: otsukaresama deshita [1], and the Korean myths surrounding beer, fried chicken the first snow. [2]

When he held video conferences on the third floor, he secretly messaged her about the snow forecast, punctuating his excitement with three exclamation points. She ran barefoot out the door, sinking faster than the cold air. Her feet root to the ground, she throwing her head back, and in the air, a giant butterfly was shaking off powder, denser than salts on the pavement. He told her, “I haven’t been in your first snow in New York, so this is our first snow.” Siming was always a bit spoiled, sometimes feigning ignorance. She asked if cheating was also necessary to attain the blessing of being together forever. He just smiled. Her loveliness that was once synonymous with lovable or pitiful in ancient Chinese, fell from his eyes. 

Before winter crept onto her skin as a mis-prescribed  balm, she felt confident that it must be “lovely”. She was not a servant in the face of illness, but a warrior always under command, determined to conquer  everything. As the dawn approaching earlier, she secretly speculated that it was “pitiful”, was a disease that would permanently parasitize her life, or was a virus awakened in the Arctic permafrost. But she felt too happy. At this most complacent moment, she lacked the courage to diagnose herself. After all, that meant disengagement and injury from or for him. He was the most precious person, capable of being an otherworldly genius. She thought she should be the only one whose multiple  choice questions were ruined. She began her eloquent speech about leaping the Q train track, saying she wasn't afraid of pain, but finally understood why the Japanese suicide favored jumping into the tracks. She also feared that her blood and bones would nurture a new plague, and this world did not need more infectious diseases.

It was yesterday when his work was done, and the sky had already turned magnetic blue, the dew shimmered like pearls and the moon curved like a bow. They finally spoke on the phone, with words like those from a Shōjo manga [3]: let's meet at the tallest Christmas tree in the city! She then kidnapped him into his most hated public transport, looking at his eyelashes sideways: his flock of eyelashes become wagging tails of golden retrievers under a rainbow. The bombs she cautiously laid out failed to hijack him. He just looked at her, with a countenance as loving as when she talked about accidentally feeding expired peanuts to squirrels. He declared she wasn’t mentally ill but affectionately emotional, affectionately emotional so lavishly loving. Rhetoric gradually dismounted. she reinvented her appearance in his iris.

She still recalled the moment how she had hesitatingly suggested spending the Mid-Autumn Festival together, and how his gaze had lowered, his utterance of an almost saccharine "I love you" gently resonating. In that instant, she had not yet realized that it marked the beginning of an exquisite divine pleasure (she practice her learning from entering-through-the-narrow-gate[4]), but had only thought some old sayings: the round and complete is always desirable, and that goodness always arrives in pairs.

I had apparently become round and complete with him and the pain that had parasitized on my life then.

[1] "You've worked hard" in Japanese.

[2] In Korea, there is a superstition that if you witness the first snowfall with the person you like, true love will blossom between both and it will be long-lasting.

[3] Girl comics in shōjo manga

[4] Strait is the GateAndré Gide, and the Bible: “Enter through the narrow gate … small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to eternal life.”

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