In Black and White

The snow feels like crushed diamonds beneath my feet, as I slowly walk towards the house. The winter day would be beautiful if it wasn’t for the fact that I am going to die in this house.

A part of me anyway.

The part that’s going to be dissected and spilled all over the psychiatrist’s room like entrails.

She is going to try to explain it all away in that obnoxiously calm voice of hers. Worse, she is going to say it’s okay to “show how I feel”.

I can already see her house’s burnt-red roof over there—behind the other burnt red roofs dotted by snow clumps, looking like lines of giant square amanitas.

Today I think I could walk on coals and not feel anything. My breath is so white with cold it’ll turn to snow crystals at any moment. Who am I going to be when I reach the house?

First option: The stoic Lin?

‘Yes, my father is dead. Yes, it’s terrible. It’s hard but … that’s how it is.’

Bullshit. So how about the second option?

‘Yeah, my dad’s dead and I don’t give a shit. The motherfucker had it coming.’

No. Nobody wants to hear that. Least of all me …

I crush more diamonds as I pass the last street corner before the house. Soon I’ll be inside the square mushroom, at the living room table where others go to confess and pay for it.

There’s a bag man scrounging around in a garbage bin over on that corner, opposite the house. He looks like a hippo wrapped in heavy dark-red carpets, two or three dirty jackets, blouses, to keep the cold out. Didn’t think they were out here in this neighborhood.

He smiles at me with teeth edged with nicotine and half-chewed remnants of something bread-ish he put into his mouth recently. It is a friendly smile to my surprise.

But I can’t help myself. For a moment I’m so revolted I wish I could blink him out of existence.

Since I don’t succeed I just try to walk faster, past him. He nods and makes a vague attempt at lifting his cap but it seems glued to his greasy tangle of hair so he gives up quickly.

“G’day. Lov’ly cold, isn’t it?”

His breath is white mist, the only thing that looks clean on him. I walk faster. He shrugs and turns back to the garbage bin. Then I get revolted again, but this time it’s over someone else.

I turn back and squeeze a hundred-dollar bill into his greasy, gloved hand, and before he can even say a word, I’ve withdrawn around the next corner.

I walk faster. More diamonds …

That was pathetic of me. But we never get a real choice about what life we are born to live, no matter how hard we try to tell ourselves otherwise, and if there’s one thing I can feel sympathy for it is that.