tion into her hip bone at the most recent happy hour. His breath like wet
cement against her cheek.
“You shouldn’t wear skirts like that to work,” he whispered.
She wondered at the implied or else. Then someone bought a round
When she told her mother she’d be going to Singapore, the old lady
said, “What if I die while you’re there?”
“That would suck,” BRB said. “Try not to.”
That was before it spread, anyway, before the pupils in her mother’s
eyes turned to dragon stone.
That first night, she showered in her nice hotel. She bought a yellow sundress in the gift shop. It was cheap, but she was skinny and tan,
so cheap things looked good. She took the shuttle to Clarke Quay after overhearing the concierge tell a hot businessman that was where the
She walked along the riverside, depressed that there was a Hooters,
that all the signs were in English. But it was fragrant and otherworldly
hot, and she found a restaurant with wild animal stencils on the wall
and waiters who seemed terrified, so she went in.
She ate tom yum soup and glass noodles with prawn and sprinkled
on a red chili oil that burned her guts. She drank a South African red
that tasted like old people’s couches. New Jersey was twelve hours ahead,
her sick mother was still asleep, and BRB felt a modicum of peace.
After dinner she strolled along the quay until she found a spot without a line that played rock and not trance. It was early, and people had
not yet begun dancing. The place was called Forbidden City. She drank
an eight-dollar vodka cranberry. She felt perfect that night, which meant
that her breasts inside the sundress were exploding against the material
and, further down, her waist was retreating against the same, pulled
inward, as if by her soul.
Halfway through her drink, her brain lit up like a Lite-Brite clown.
She hated herself for always forgetting how good it felt to be drunk. The
way, for example, she felt detached enough to recall her father, and even
his death. In particular she remembered the way she and her mother had
not called anyone to inform them. She thought how other people did not
love their dead enough, if they could muster up the words, the fingers on
a phone, even, to call someone ancillary and say, “Peter died.” Around
this time, she smelled him, her father.