Hong Kong, China. September 2018
“Well, where did you see it last?” asks Zoo without looking up. He crushes the tiny ants that surge from behind our toaster.
“The wedding,” I say.
The wedding table dangles upside down outside our apartment’s kitchen window. Tethered by a green cable from the roof top, it hangs fourteen stories above the ground, the fragmented remains of green fairy lights glinting in the storm’s twilight.
People had shown up to the rooftop wedding wearing ironic hats and complaining about having to taking off their shoes. They padded barefoot across the dank astroturf to forage for vegan canapés and Pimms Cups overflowing with fruit. Fairy lights had been wound around the white table legs like glittery plastic vines.
“That jade bangle is an heirloom, you know,” says Zoo, brushing his thumbs against his jeans, ant-bodies tumbling to the floor, “it belongs in my family.”
It had looked so pretty on posh Arabella’s little wrist. She had noticed my stare. Her bright red lipstick was smeared from kissing the bride in the stairwell while the groom served up canapés and Cups. Oh, she said. It was just lying on the floor, she gave a tinkly fairy light laugh, so I rescued it. It’s yours, is it?
Arabella’s genteel thievery is legend. She will bribe our helpers or sleep with our lovers for the chance to sift through our belongings for treasures. She will keep as much as she can get away with and ridicule what she cannot. Zoo thinks I don’t know.
Yes, I tell her, It’s mine.
The table spins and bangs against the wall just to the side of the window. Mangkhut is a ten on a typhoon scale that runs from one to eight.
“Should we check on the neighbor?” I ask Zoo.
“Why?” he says, examining his thumb where an ant piece wriggles. Now, a shiver ripples through the building.
“His window might have blown out? Or in?”
“You slept with Sam, didn’t you.” Catastrophe swirls in the winds around the calm eye of Zoo’s storm. “Does Sam have my jade bangle?”
I have been an awful girlfriend. I have anglicized his name just enough that he is not sure I have done it. A small bastardization from my lazy foreign tongue. I eat buttery, imported biscuits in bed while I read. I smoke cheap, knock-off cigarettes that I get from the street vendors. Especially after sex.
Sometimes the sex is like a desperate hunt beneath the other’s skin for the secrets we have buried there. At others, it has all the intimacy of strangers on a rush hour train. Then I lie awake smoking and pinching him every time he falls asleep.
“Well?” He is waiting for an answer.
I don’t know who Sam is.
“Yes,” I say.
The table jolts and slips as its tethering loses some part of its battle with the wind. Now it twists and thumps against our window. The double-glazing shudders. I try to remember if wind speeds are affected by the height of the apartment building. It may not have been covered in the low, flat country I am from. I may not know even if it was. My mental map of the world is a scrunched-up ball of paper.
“Jesus,” says Zoo.
“I know, should I call the building management?”
“Because you slept with our neighbor?”
That clarifies who Sam is.
Zoo slams out our front door and the window cracks. I pull the jade bangle from my pocket and set it down on the kitchen counter.
Kerry Anderson is a Singapore-based fiction writer and coder of archaic text-based systems. If she is a simulation, it’s probably ASCII. Her stories have appeared in Itch Online, Nova Short Story Competition, Sad Girls, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Writers.com.