Diary of Tarantula Lau – February 16th

17 04 2017

I cut through the university grounds today. Found a gap in the fences around the large field by the gate and walked on the grass to feel it under my feet. It was brittle, and pale yellow – the color high class women favor for the parlor or the bedroom walls.

I wanted to fill my eyes with only one thing. Ignoring my black boots and dark green stockings, I was able to do so. The pale yellow seeped into every corner of my vision. It reminded me of the day they gave me away.

We were the first ones to walk on the blanket of snow that had fallen the night before. She was sniffling, but I don’t think she was crying. He coughed, because he’d spent another night sleeping by the stove in the folding bamboo chair. Our kang was narrow. Three pairs of footprints made a black trail of footprints behind us, but the ground before us was pristine, monochrome, glinting and almost blue.

I left the field, and walked over the bridge. For some reason, every university in China has a river running through it, and at least three bridges.

There was an old woman in a small grassy clearing surrounded by trees. The glade and the veranda reminded me of old ink prints of imperial concubines – Consort Yang with attendants on a terrace. Except the old woman, though zaftig with the bulk of several outer garments, would never be mistaken for a great beauty of ancient China.

Head down, she paced slowly across the clearing, contemplating each footstep like it would be her last. I wondered how she came to be at the very center of the university, if this was part of her routine. Her daily bread.

Rise at seven, and pass through the neighborhoods flanking the school. Make her way down the stairs, across footpaths, past students, bicycles, and cars all missing her vortex. Step, slowly, for hours, to arrive at this glade, which she probably thinks of as her glade. To pace back and forth, looking at the pale winter grass, filling her eyes with just one thing.

I took the bus to Taoranting Park, and sleeping on the way, dreamt of them for the first time since coming here. They were stepping carefully through the snow, placing one foot in front of the other, like it would be their very last, and between them was a hollow.

A shadow. Just wide enough for a ghost.

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