"Winter in B-City, when it's time for the lips to chap, somebody's starting to feel sorrow. Remember the friends of the past, the day the north wind gusts in, and the birds have flown, far, far away, my feelings for you became endless delays..."
Walking down the street in a long trench coat, thick gloves, the scarf I knitted myself; I saw my breath hanging in the air. The white water vapours blended in with the white sky and white snow. Dragging my legs forward one at a time in clumsy winter pants and winter boots, I asked my classmate if he could still smell any alcohol in my breath. He said a little bit.
That was from last night with my friend, where we had barbecue skewers while taking shots after shots of vodka. The two bottles I brought were empty by the end of it, and I had to carry my friend home before I plunged onto the pavement and returned home with a scratched face.
I know I should stop drinking that much, but I have had two jugs of beer every day since quarantine. I can feel myself getting slower every time I take a sip, but I just can't help it. There's a hole deep down that nothing can fill, but a depressant can temporarily mask it. I would spend most of my free time being a barfly until I left B-City for G-Village.
Another traffic light until the school gate, I took a big gulp of the frigid air. The lights turned red, and I waited with my classmate. A truck turned around and ran over a person in front of our eyes. I can still remember that scene vividly.
The man was wearing long black pants and a long jacket. He was going fast. Time is money in the morning, and money is the only thing on people's minds when they go to work. Unfortunately for him, money was also on the truck driver's mind. We saw his leg get mangled underneath the wheels, his flesh ground up, pressed against the tarmac like a smeared burger patty. The bloodstains seeped through his black pants, where a huge hole was torn. He twisted and turned on the hard and icy ground. With every turn, he let out a more scorching anguished wail. I reached for my phone, called the ambulance, and walked on. The man rushed and rushed and ended up being rushed to the hospital.
"Ice-cold mornings, the sunlight froze on the street. Amidst the pedestrians, there's the girl that broke my heart. As I am hustling over the crowd, I can't seem to find your smile, so on the road, picturing our reunion."
I never used to eat lunch until recently. Once I did, I'd always come down to the cafeteria early, so I could beat the other 200 people battling for the five microwave usage rights to heat the food I cooked last night. But also partly because the girl I like whom I would never make a move on also did that. I say partly, but although 10% is partly, 90% is also partly. She would finish in 15 minutes before going back up to the school lab, either preparing for Biology or Chemistry class in a white lab coat or solving that jigsaw puzzle nobody's able to solve because some bastard took a piece away. Her lab coat flutters with the flow of her steps, and her eyes would glisten every time she held a test tube or an Erlenmeyer.
Back then, I played football during lunch. A guy I never liked would get into a heated argument with me and try to sock me. The argument was stupid to the extent that I forgot what we were even arguing about. Then, he wanted to grab me by my collar but did not come to school for a few weeks because I snapped his fingers. I didn't get into any trouble doing that.
"Winter in B-City, white as feathers, the season of snowflakes, it's hard to decline..."
I would never pay attention during afternoon classes and instead play Weiqi online. Sometimes I would wreck my opponent, sometimes I would destroy them halfway, but then blunder myself and get wrecked, and sometimes I just play so bad that I never had a chance from the beginning.
My teacher, whom I had since grade 6 would notice, and tell me if I'm not going to pay attention, at least face away from the back so when the principal comes and looks in, it will look as if he's doing a good job keeping class discipline. I would play Weiqi while sipping my jasmine tea until I graduated with a perfect grade in that subject.
Looking back on it, though, it's probably still better to pay some attention in class. My teacher deserved at least some respect for all the hard work he put in. And also I think I should have been a bit nicer to my favourite teacher, who happened to teach my favourite subject.
I remember once I was doing an organic chemistry experiment during lunch break. I wanted to extract caffeine from coffee. The procedure was theoretically quite simple, and I used some dichloromethane as an extracting agent. But then, when I tried to evaporate off the DCM, I accidentally overheated it, and it spontaneously combusted. I was the only one in the lab, so I quickly put out the flame, opened all the windows and turned on all the ventilators. The smell of phosgene, a product of DCM combustion, has a suffocating feeling and a hay-like odour that is still burned into my memory. The girl returned from lunch, and I warned her not to go into that lab since phosgene was used as a chemical weapon. She did still notice the hay-like smell in the hallway.
During the afternoon classes on that day, I started to feel dizzy and sick, nauseating even. I went to the hospital afterwards, and after some careful examinations and observations, I was finally allowed to return home.
The following day I asked her if she had any symptoms, she answered no. I felt almost relieved, even though I inhaled most of it, and probably at higher risk of developing cancer.
"Winter of the longing, white as feathers, the past I'm losing, it's hard to decline. The night it is snowing is heaven for loners, in solitude on the street, avoiding the festive people, in the city lights far away, is there a person like me, looking out of their window, imagining the world of another."
The bells would ring, and I would rush out of the school gate. The blood patch at that intersection is still there and will not disappear until the next rain, a long time away. The cold north wind would mess up my hair as I walked towards the bus stop. Sometimes, if I had tea remaining or ran out of pocket money, I would sip my tea, but more often than not, I would buy a large can of beer with a small flask of spirit. The feeling of ice-cold beer on a cold winter day is still something I cannot describe with my command of language to this day.
The girl would walk over to the bus stop in a slightly, rather just barely oversized jacket and wearing a black newsboy cap and would sit next to me on the bench beneath a bare hawthorn tree. Her cheeks were red, probably just as red as my fingertips from holding the can of beer.
I always started the conversation by saying, good weather today, whether it's sunny, rainy, windy, or snowy. She would always agree. I would then ask if she wanted anything from the corner store that I planned on going to, she would say no, then I'd not go. I would ask how her day was. Sometimes she said her day was great. Sometimes she went on a rant. But anyway, we would continue this conversation on the bus, along with the growling engine noises, an empty tin, and a full flask of spirit.
"Winter in B-City, white as feathers, the season of snowflakes, it's hard to decline. Winter of the longing, white as feathers, the past I'm losing, it's hard to decline..."