Chapter 1: untitled wip 

Half second of disorientation dissolves sharply into perfect awareness. Pain radiating from my face. Stabbing ache in ribs like a punch in the gut. Broken rib, probably. Uncertain. Hurts on inhale, hurts on exhale. It is mid morning.

Strange dream lingers: You with teacups for eyes, sharp razor blades for fingers: disturbing. Odd sensation coiled up in my chest, like a breath not caught. Distress. Fear. No. Could it? Even with teacups for eyes, it’s still only you. Sadness, perhaps. Loss. Regret? It fades. It’s morning, dreams always fade.
It is thirty five degrees outside; nearly five degrees cooler than yesterday. 

The long slow trudge toward winter. Muted light peaking through the window; it is roughly quarter past nine, drizzling, and deeply overcast. Has been raining since somewhere around 4am. Will be muddy down the road; must remember to wear rain boots.
Left leg stiff, more than sore: twisted? Probably strained? Surely an Impact of a fall. Secondary injuries untended. It’s okay, bodies heal. A little pain never hurt anyone.

Mozart concerto in my head. Why? He likes Mozart. Doesn’t ever seem to know it is when he hears it. Doesn’t seem to care.

“I love that, what was it?” he’ll say, sitting, eyes closed, relaxed. I imagine what he says instead is, I love you, and means it. It is like sunshine. 

It is radiating out from him, like sun heat, like rings of smoke. Though he hasn’t said it yet, only feels it, feels the urge to. And then here I am caught in the moments just before he says it, the moment when it’s utterly true, before it has a chance to degrade, fall apart. He’s about to say it, to say, I love you, to me, of all people, to me, words about to appear in the air in front of him like hazy moving clouds. 

I let it hover over me, the idea, the sensation. Listening to Mozart, and him sitting in his chair enjoying Concerto B, instead of loving me, but it is so close. I concentrate, push the dire depths of my hopeless heart strings into the music. “I love” (you), he says, “what was that?”

One can only hope. 

Why must I have a soft heart, a romantic heart? 


I don’t want to open my eyes yet; reality is never quite as interesting. My subconscious is mad.

Nose runny, forehead sore, mild ache in left mandibular lateral incisor.

Eyes are watery, moisture from what exactly? Damp eyelashes. The fuck. Unconscious tears. Would I cry if I lost him? I think I would. Emotional wound is like a too- overwhelming physical one, prompting a physiological reaction. 

The world is a hazy gray place once the eyes are open. The dull light of morning. Off-ivory, bare walls, bedroom door shut tight, dull ceilings and the pattern of raindrops and streaks on the window.

I will continue on, I always do. Humans have the ability to adapt, and it is inevitable, this loss. But the memories, they will never be taken away. 


Charles is moving around the kitchen; water boiling in the water kettle. Boxes and boxes of teabags against the tabletop, next to the sugar squares. He’s still groggy, probably didn’t sleep well. Nightmares again (of course). One of these days I will just barge right in there, I will stop Charles’ nightmares with the sheer force of my will. I will stare them down, and fight them. He’s swearing under his breath now, why? Tired? Frustrated? 

Charles’ tired feet against the floor, walking toward my bedroom with a mug of hot liquid in his hand. He walks more carefully when he’s bringing me a cup of tea, as if something dreadful will happen if he spills it. Sensation in my chest, like my heart smiles as he approaches. I know the symptoms of being desperately, wistfully in love. Sort of wish I didn’t, but you can’t wish feelings away.

He taps on the door, like a polite housemate. A creak as the door opens slightly. I love that he doesn’t care what I think about it; he comes in because he needs to, because he wants to. Wants to see that I’m all right, whether or not I’m all right. Charles, he’s like a sunrise rising from the horizon. He feels like warmth sneaking into a cold place. His hair, dishevelled, his face full of sleep. I want to kiss him, I want to wrap myself around him and never let him go. Morning is not so gray when he’s here. He is my palette of colors. Swatches of meadow light, in a dewy tropical forest. 

He calls my name, voice is rough; hours of not speaking through the night. A rusty instrument. Imagine someone, hidden away in a cave for years, living a life of sleep and prayer, not speaking to a soul for years, then trying to form words with vocal chords that have been so disused they’ve forgotten their purpose; the human body needs to be used to fully function. Like your heart, says the my knowing subconscious. Like your heart, Luna. 

Metaphor: not really my area.

Charles sits down on my bed, the small of his back against leg. He is the very definition of colors, of warmth. Must act bored, act vaguely annoyed.

He’s set the tea down on my bedside table, his hand moving to my face.

“How are you this morning?” Always the protector, my Charles. No matter what happens. Light touches against my cheekbones, testing the bandage across my forehead, his fingers trace lightly at my torn lip.
“Fine. It’s fine” Deep breath; accidental cough; wince from the pain. Charles’ hands against my chest, only the thin material of a t-shirt between us. Eyes flutter shut again.
“Pass me my tea.” Not a question, it is a demand. And finally trying to talk. Heart beats weirdly. Warm mug in my hand, warm fingers on mine. “Thank you” I say, it is not uncharacteristic but I meant to say something else that will confuse him. He stops, and I open my eyes and watch him. He smiles. He looks concerned. I must look not great.

“That’s all right,” he says. His voice is gentle, soft like his hands.

I will put on my rain boots before going up to the mountains. It will not be difficult, and I am intensely private. I enjoy the solitude. I will walk carefully for Charles’ sake and Charles will hold my arm, in a friendly way. He loves another, and while it is heart wrenching, I want him to be happy. 

We will have dinner, and I will eat, at Charles’ insistence. Maybe soup at a shop next door. A quiet little cavern. And when we come home again I will play some Mozart to write, the music for him really. He will keep his eyes open. And he loves the music. 

And that will be enough.


There are remnants of rainwater on your skin; the beautiful planes across your face. I find you beautiful, your graceful being like the sunset itself. 
We are wandering through the woods, meandering through despite the thick clouds. We are hand in hand, comfortably silent, walking past fallen logs and tree skins. 

We laugh and  dance, and watch the sun leave us. Miles and miles of lush green trees, we fell together into our world – time stops. We do not. 

In Time 

Serenity is in the peak of daylight when all is quiet. All is calm. Reflective. Pure.

When I see you, and only you, time may pass. I would urge the time to slow down, with you. 

I want to be with you. 

I want to give you space. 

If we had one hour together, we would drink coffee and laugh. Breathe in the frosty air, and walk alongside each other. You would ask me to dinner and I may say yes, only if we have something good. You would open the door for me, and my heart will swell, because I am not used to this. To you. 

We could walk to a bookstore and read out loud to each other. If that is too mundane, we could walk silently together, to a park or somewhere you deem fun. As long as we are together. Even for an hour. 

If we had a week, or a little more, I would like to take you to my hometown. Visit street murals and look at graffiti art. I would like to take you to where I lived when I was five, a little street on the intersection of Sunset Blvd. I would tell you that I was born in a hospital that no longer exists, torn down and renovated into a shopping center because that is what big cities do to independent businesses. I would take you to the park where I used to play in the sandbox, and tell you that I was bullied by a boy named Lincoln, or was it Tyler? Then I would tell you that we are now friends on Facebook, our childhood youth long forgotten through the reins of adulthood. Strange how time heals.  

I would like to hear about your childhood, and what your favorite color was when you were seven. I would like to know who your grade school teachers were. Do you still keep in touch with them?

If we had more time, a month or a year, we could be simple. We would text each other funny words and set up dates. You would listen to me talk about my woes at work, and in turn, I would expect to hear about yours. We would eat good food, and sip on tea, hike along the mountain ridge and take ridiculous selfies on my smartphone. We would vacation outside of the norm. Go somewhere secluded. We would meditate, and connect through our mind streams. We say everything, without speaking at all. It is more important to me than anything else, and you would know this, because you feel the same way. 

We would work in silence in the same room, never needing to talk, because we are communicating deeply, in our hearts. I will talk to you about depreciation schedules and you will pretend to understand. You are far smarter than I, but I will complain nonetheless. You will tell me about your annoying aunt, who wants to start a business with you. We would discuss things in detail, until they make sense. We would live the normal life, you and I. Adulthood a blessing in reflection.

I will be rational, and you will too. We will drink coffee in the mornings and I will eat pastries with you. You will read the latest news, and be compassionate about human rights. We will vacation in the woods and you will watch me use a French press. I will tell you that I like flowly white curtains on windows and mirrors. I will take landscape photos and write metaphoric captions and you would roll your eyes, because captions are lame. 

We will know that love is a home to many moments. Moments of normalcy and comfort. That normal life. In time, if we had time. 

But if that is too much for you, we can easily forget one another, for we are strangers mostly, and goodbyes are not awkward. 

Though I will never forget you, not really.  

You’re Here. You’re there. 

Jennifer Ngan photography
Cancer they said. IT is cancer. Must undergo treatment. Cannot wait. No time. 
It was in the silence all around me, or maybe the smoke curling over my head. But in every way, you are all around me. When I looked away, you were still there. I close my eyes, you are still here. And in the darkness I heard the waves, only to wake and find myself there with sand under my feet, stars over my head, and the sounds, the crashing, the rocks, everything fell out of my arms as I hit the ground. 

The sky is devoid of any color, the ocean black and tumultuous, a reflection of above. I don’t want to be here. 
But you’re here, out there in the waves, and if I try, I could reach you, but it seems that I am trapped forever here, watching, waiting, dying. 

As I lay back down on the sand, the light of a million stars fill my eyes, and the sound of a million mourns fill my ears. The motions of your footsteps walking away from me. When the water rushed over to take me away, I was already gone. Because you are not here.

A dream last night. I was driving down a forgotten road in a sleepless ocean town. Rolling fields to one side of me, the endless ocean on the other. Broken fences, sand. Doors.

Open road ahead before me, leading me nowhere, leading me home.

No familiarity reminding me, no leafless dead trees haunting my view. No empty eyes staring back at me, and no expressionless hollow face. Just the cold wind piercing through.

 Just the water, the green grass, the swaying trees and the 3am skies. All calling, all leading me nowhere. Leading me home.

Jennifer Ngan photography
She drives a tiny car of frost colored pastels. 

In window-fog looking in, she is stenciled of a  lovely silhouette, and despite the glass’s cloudiness from inside, she cannot and will not clean it because she is terrified of erasing the proof that someone, somewhere in the world, understands.

The road splits her between two paths: one that she knows and walks every single day, despite the myriad of times she stumbles over rocks and twigs; and another that moves like a jagged snake, forcing her to encounter tomorrow’s uncertainty and fall, its twists and bends windy and alone. 

The choice is decided, no matter the weight of her own desire: once again, she is tripped by protuding sticks and falls to bash her knees against the stones for news that, despite its seemingly positive outcome, seems hopeless. 

Yet more and more, despite the news she sews to her skin, she aches to morph them into the family who never tucked her safely from the darkness. These nights, she curls quietly in bed, lanterns spill light into her bedroom’s darkest corners, and as each moment passes, she becomes more and more like a child in her mother’s clothes, a babydoll with soft limbs.

It was like seeing the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life and having it suck the very life and breath out of your body so all you feel is broken apart and smashed all over the floor in the most unexplainable  way imaginable.

It is close to sunrise now, and her closed eyes are seeing again. She is still on a forgotten abandoned ocean somewhere along the highway, and there are big dark stones everywhere amongst the cool colored sand, and the water is dark and gray, and the sky is filled with rolling clouds in every shade of charcoal. The air is stiff and cold, warm, and the sprinkles of rain fall quietly and gently all around.

She picks herself up from the floor and brushes away debris from the stones and continues to walk along the shore into the water and lie down on the sand with her face to the sky and close her eyes.

It was your arms, your eyes, your frown, your voice, all of it mended together into one and swept me away.


The winds roll over themselves across the icy lake and hit this house before anything else. I try to sleep, but dreams are of howls and thunder and fog. I wake to the low rumble of a hum. The electricity is gone; the generator takes over. 

I wake to thoughts of you, uneloquent flashes of feelings. Unrequited love, it seems, foolish girl i am. Despite the cold, despite the chill, I feel warm.

I avoid my bed because I know in that first moment of breath released, undistracred,  I will lose control. You came to me like the winds rolling off the lake and my shoulders shake and I’m uncertain how I should be. If I should be. 

But the calm after the storm of tears is worth it, perhaps. I started a new book, and maybe that was also a small reason of the sadness–that I finished a book and I didn’t want it to end. Like us.

I will leave, and i may never come back. I made the decision after I let you go. 

I think I will miss this place more than I ever have. We have grown accustomed to this life over the past few years. I’d forgotten, completely forgotten, how comforting this sort of familiarity can be. A sort of solitude, just you and I. 

Always You.

jennifer ngan photography
When I leave, i will bring your words with me. I will store it in my heart space. 
Maybe one day it’ll make sense. 
But for now, I might be gone for a little while. And it’ll be okay. For now, I will let you go. For I have held on too long. 

Today, I am finding love in old things. The scent of pine, tall trees and the mountain air. Details from the natural world, voluminous in its silent echoes. The strength of quiet. Of you. Always you. 

Which you are. 

But not.


Your words, repetitive and golden though always a sound of tiredness and exhaust. Perhaps you are lonely. Maybe you like solitude. Woods and trees. A mystery you are.  Always you.

Like a sad song that’s played, my days will go on. Without you here. 

or there.

My sense of being, may it let you go. I bare my heart,  beating wildly, for you to notice. But you don’t. You don’t really care. It’s all superficial. And it’s okay. It’s always okay. I will always bare my heart to you. I know. Always you. 

I’ll see you later, I suppose. I’m running away, resisting. I don’t want to. Part of me knows that when I leave this place, it will be hard to look back. And maybe I will lie. I will tell you how great it is without you. The mountain air, clear and crisp, pockets of cold. I’ll write you a letter. Maybe from afar. I’ll think of you often. Always you.

I Would Like to Forget You

An effortless being you must be, clouded in your beliefs of existence. Your steady silence and patience, a form of a strength which i cannot and will not define, speaks volumes in non-speak. I gravitate toward you. A magnetic pull of which defies explaination.
I don’t know you enough. But I want to say I love you. But I do not, maybe not. I would like to know you. It seemed like a whole lifetime before I got to say hello. Now it’s goodbye.

A pull from you, like strong currents from ocean waves, I melt to you. Completely. A conscious thought of wonderment. You are, without a doubt, a mystery shrouded in wholeness.

You taught me, again and again, not to dream of you. A poignant message, however keen.  For what is life, if life without you?

Perhaps you are hiding from me, unwilling to admit. Illicit imagery, a taste of the edge. A budding charm of a life uncertain. A cloud of confusion, retaliating your thoughts and beliefs. Your heart. Your being. To be. Very simply, as you say. But not so simply, when thoughts of me pervade you.

I would like to thank you, for clarifying to me what love is not. You were a misstep in my judgement, a will of strength to which I must let go. Because you are not who I thought.

I would like to forget you.

And I will, one day, melt to you less. And less. For you are not worth melting for.

There will be a time when I would like to love fully. Completely. For what you are is merely a means to an end. A hazy cloud of what it might’ve been, had it been. If. Though the end does not justify the means.

And it’s okay.

You May Say That I’m a Dreamer

Jennifer Ngan Photography

When I was five, I struggled in kindergarten because I had a hard time understanding and speaking English. All my life, I only spoke Cantonese at home, and going to school was terrifying as it was brutal. The teachers suggested to my parents that I should stay behind, and take another year to catch up. My immigrant mother did not budge and knew that I will grow into it. She wasn’t worried.

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A Dream in a Dream in a Dream

jennifer ngan photography
I’m wide awake, restless yet warm. I dreamt of you, just minutes before, still feeling the graze of your sweater on my skin. And your brown eyes burning into mine.

It was early morning, quiet and dark. We were both walking in tandem, breathing in the dewy air, the scent of jasmine prominent around us. Not one who is much for words, you say nothing but you smile that secret smile, and I, smile back and rest my head on your shoulder. We walk together, arm in arm flowing through. There is no destination. We just keep going.

Then it becomes a silent evening in, and the only sound is the turning of pages. We glance up and look at each other occasionally, smiling that secret smile. You’re working on a sketch, a drawing of sorts that you’re drawn to. Something you saw in a dream or a place, and trying to interpret that meaning through colors and shades. I am reading a book – and very much caught in the story, telling you about it when there is a pause in background music. You make predictions, and we laugh helplessly. My legs are resting atop yours, and I’m wondering how effortlessly easy this is. Us.

We both fell asleep with your sketch book in hand. I wake for a few minutes to spend that precious time with you – soothed by your steady breathing and strong arm resting under my head. When you open your eyes, you blink out of that dreamy shadow of sleep, and looking as if you’re seeing the world for the first time. In this quiet moment, time is still. The background music a mere blur of thumps and crescendos.

And within this moment, the quiet speaks the loudest. And it is within the presence of your quiet that I grow closer to you.