A nightmare I have is that I end up where I started

CW: references to suicide, alcohol abuse

 

For twenty-five years I lived without having an answer to ‘What is your biggest fear?’, but yesterday (Tues 2nd July 2018) I discovered the answer is actually: I’ll die in the place I was born.

 

:::

 

My grandfather, whom I met only briefly in Vietnam, said, if you are a true child of your nation, then you’ll be born, live and die all in the same place. Which I understand, but feel it was a cruel thing for him to say to me, without ever really knowing me. But also, if it’s true, then I wouldn’t mind being a true child of the only thing I’ve ever known: floating alone in a limbo of displacement.

 

:::

 

Awake at strange hours I’ve come to conclude there is nothing much to see around my streets. I walk around in the dead of night with the fear of getting killed, but know that if I was killed I’d only confirm what everyone’s been saying all along, that it was my fault, that the world is a dangerous place. So instead I spend my nights at home, in my room, and only see as much as an internet connection allows me to see.

 

:::

 

Been using the word ‘cruel’ a lot lately, along with ‘fate’, almost a little too liberally that it’s beginning to lose its meaning, becoming synonymous to ‘life’ and/or ‘reality’.

 

:::

 

I love musical cues because they tell me how to feel. In particular, I love the musical cues in South-Korean dramas and Wong-Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love.

 

:::

 

It’s midnight and I’m not even tipsy despite being half a bottle down.

 

:::

 

One way to get yourself killed in Vietnam is to hesitate while crossing the road. Another way, my Mom says, is getting drunk and falling asleep in the gutter of a rural town.

 

:::

 

The sex last night (Sun 24th June, 2018) was good. The next morning on the same road I’ve driven down for the past fourteen years I saw things I never noticed before.

 

:::

 

I keep losing keys my parents cut for me. Don’t you want to come home? It’s been a year and a half since I have. The only pair I’ve never lost were misshapen and didn’t work.

 

:::

 

I keep having this fantasy that if a zombie apocalypse befalls the world it’ll be my time to shine.

I keep worrying that if a zombie apocalypse actually becomes a reality I’d probably miss out, after falling asleep drunk and getting bitten in my sleep. I went on a date with a girl I liked and admired, she said, ‘Isn’t The Walking Dead just Home and Away but with zombies?’ and I swear, I’ve never fallen in love so fast before.

:::

Learning about displacement in Year 11 Physics blew my mind. That even if you travelled really, really far and end up where you started, then, your displacement would equal zero. Isn’t that such a cruel thing? Zero: a word full of possibility. Zero: a word full of disappointment.

 

:::

 

I love the poster for In the Mood for Love where Maggie Cheung’s legs go on for years and Tony Leung lying on them as if it’s the only thing anchoring him to reality. Like same, can relate Tony Leung, can relate.

 

:::

 

This morning (Weds 20th June, 2018) every single form of public transport left as soon as I got there. Late by a fraction of a moment, story of my life, which is only half right, since I normally almost always arrive fifteen minutes earlier, one of ten behaviours I inherited from Dad.

 

:::

 

I had a dream where I was forced to cut through life with a blunt steak knife, then, I became the wife of someone I didn’t love, but needed.

 

:::

 

If the world grows cold and there’s no-one left to witness it revolving, is that a tragedy or a comfort?

:::

 

Disappearing suddenly and shirking my responsibilities is always the solution, but that’s only because I’m a selfish asshole with the emotional resilience of an egg yolk.

 

:::

 

The true ungodly hours are the daily nine to five grind.

 

:::

 

I have a pulse that’s visible, it lives in my brain and plays dead for days at a time.

 

:::

 

 

Sometimes, when it’s winter I let out a huge breath and pretend I’m an ice dragon.

 

:::

 

It’s 4 am and I’m not passed out drunk yet.

 

:::

 

It’d be nice if the world worked the way I wanted it to––but, if I had my way, I’d probably just give the earth back to the trees, and go live in deep space where nobody can bother me and I bother nobody.

 

:::

 

Everyday I see ghosts of myself, and wonder whether I am slowly becoming who I am meant to be, or am I getting further away?

 

:::

 

I don’t feel lonely in a strange bed in a strange place because home has never felt like home.

 

:::

 

‘Displacement equaling zero’ reminds me of my mother. Even if everyone I knew and loved told me I was beautiful, and even if I felt beautiful, and had worked towards being my own definition of beautiful, say, on my wedding day, she’d still find a flaw to point out. I can go ‘Oh sure, that’s such a Viet mom thing to do’, but I think I spent, am spending my lifetime trying not to defend that position, trying not to become that kind of person.

 

:::

 

Cruel-kindness isn’t a thing, not if someone gets hurt in the process.

 

:::

 

Nothing is a thing, if someone gets hurt in the process.

 

 

 

Jennifer Nguyen is a member of West Writers Group. She is a fiction editor for Rambutan Literary and editorial mentee at Djed Press. Previously, she was a creative producer for Emerging Writers’ Festival 2017. Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Pencilled In, Bowen Street Press Review, RABBIT and online at The Regal Fox. Twitter @jennifer_ngyn

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