Hidden Flashes

January 3rd, 2014, 10pm

The cat begins at the top of my field of vision, half-way through crossing the street. My eyes naturally are at my feet to begin with, ensuring they don’t step into the path of the ubiquitous motorbikes. Upon reaching the other side, the cat has travelled to below-eye level, resting on its vinyl motorbike throne and smiling up at me. Its blind mirth seems to beckon me further down the road, and also to say, “stop worrying,” as though it sees some form of reassurance just out of my view.

But my nostrils flare in the smoke of all the energy surrounding me. So many rapid-fire stories. I’m overcome from time to time.

In the open-air food market from before:

Cats and dogs are the stench, and human feces as well. I travel weakly down aisles, around poles, over piles of goods and refuse. A little girl, about 3 or 4, eyes me upon arrival to her mother’s stall. She wags her pointer finger at my party, and spits some watery food out at us. Her mother hits her face then, just enough. Steadfast defiance remains and I laugh good-naturedly, politely.

Where am I going? The market stalls, waiting for shoppers who “wanna buy something?” I can’t tolerate the fecal smell, the slapping of souls on the stewed pavement. My comfort zone a mere memory now, a flash of general uncertainty. I don’t know how to look at things anymore, how to frame them. The feeling doesn’t pass completely.

Later, at a ceramics market perched alone on the side of an unfinished highway, we stop to look at the wares. A flash of teeth at the beginning of a haggling exchange can quickly become the flashing of eyes, a dance can become a chase. I’m blown away by subtleties when I cut through these gossamer layers of emotion. Suddenly, I see wrinkles, tensed shoulders, tight jaws.

In my memory, the girl is wagging her finger again with a cute gravity. The ceramics saleswoman closes a deal just as we’re walking out, “30 dollar.” Cheeks hissing her heat, and the flash becoming the thin curve of her smile that hides as she bows her head in parting.

Gueorgui and Adrian said thanks.

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Sara Segel

Observer, Sound-smith, Tokyoite

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