The neighbourhood women squawked at her and a riot began at our doorstep. The windows were wide-opened, and white curtains flapped against its white wooden frames as the wind blew through. The wind not only brought in the cold but carried with it the sounds of the banging and the screaming downstairs. ”Slut! Slut!” they cried. I turned to face her, oh Lord, what had she done now.
She had turned out the lights and we stood face to face. The flame of the candle she had just lighted danced a little and her glossy black hair fluttered and danced with the wind. There was a sudden snap of cold and I shivered. I glared at her.
The sweat from my champagne glass trickled down my elbows, and she sipped hers. She held the candle on its side so she could drip some wax on the bedside table. She pushed the candle into the pool of hot wax and picked up a cigarette. She lit it over the candle and drew in deeply. She looked back at me and raised her eyebrow with a sort of boredom, before breathing out with smoke seeping out of her nostrils. She blew the end of her breath into my face in a silent and nonchalant ‘what?’.
I sighed drawing in a breath of my cigarette attempting to copy her in a ‘right back at you’ sort of act. She turned to look out the window. There was nothing I could do but stare at her with a certain anger, piercing and hot. I am at a loss for words.
We used to be so close. We shared the same mind, the same soul, we were one. At this thought something sharp scraped me in the back, right below my left shoulder blade. It felt like a spear pierced my skin and in a sort of screwing motion was being drilled into my flesh. I touched my back with the ends of my fingers, there was nothing there. Just my imagination and a sharp pain. Her eyes were fixated on mine. No, we had not stopped staring.
I searched her eyes in hope to find something, but found nothing. Her stares were hollow. Empty. And the cold gripped me on the inside as I shivered. My stares turned cold.
She crossed lines I would not have crossed. The lines that I never would have even dreamt of crossing. Those lines had ripped that soul we were sharing apart. And it bled. It is still bleeding. But it is bleeding out fast. We stand face to face, on opposite sides of the line now. She would tell everyone she was I, I would throw my head back and laughed. She was not me. She cannot be me. No way. I spat.
She urged me to go over once in a while but I would not. I would never. So we don’t talk no more. Nowadays we just sit and stare. I sometimes would have a moment of tenderness wishing for her beauty and innocence again. I felt that tenderness and drew closer to her.
The sounds of the banging and screaming downstairs broke through the cold silence that held our gazes. It seemed to have gotten louder. I stared at her smirking red lips and that tenderness melted. Her beauty drifted further.
I put down my champagne and looked at her. She sneered. I decided I will leave her to be now. I cannot take it no more. The drilling in my back continued and the pain spread itself around my middle. It gripped me. I put out my cigarette and she picked up the candle. I tried to bid her to come but she closed her eyes. She had gone too far.
She lit the curtain on fire and let out a shrill laugh.
The women downstairs heard her laugh and some of them looked up. One of them saw the curtains go up in flames and pointed. The banging and screaming ceased as they turned to leave unsure whether to feel pleased.
I dragged myself out of the room and took one last look at her. The girl in the mirror, she was laughing. I turned my back on her and left her behind.
Oh dear, oh dear Salome, I heard them say. And tears streamed down my face as I flitted away to grieve my own death.
– Raina Ng