A Tom Lin's next stories


III: Kanojo (Her)

             “I’m taking drugs again,” Chita told me in our first conversation this school year, as I tried to sit on the messy floor of my new apartment’s room. I didn’t even have a desk for my computer yet, which was the reason it sat on the floor.

            “Well, it’s normal for anyone to take drugs.” I typed back on the instant message, the ‘breem’ chime telling me that my words were sent. “I mean, you are in college after all, which is the place where we’re suppose to experience all we can get out of life.”

            “Yeah, but I kinda feel bad.”

            “Why? Everyone does it, even the professors and TAs.”

            I met Chita back in December, when Mike’s and my site, Section 9, was just born and getting ready to grow. She was the best friend of Eiji, who was just born as a persona. She is now in some art college in New York, the name of it not remembered by Eiji.

            “You’re a nice guy, aren’t you, Eiji?” She said after a minute or so, as I was trying to figure out some pre-lab problems for Chemistry 122.

            “Hey! Don’t say that!” I typed back rapidly, a joking smile on my face. “Don’t you know that nice guys never get the chicks?” 

*   *   *   *   *   * 

            Dive to Blue, by L’arc~en~Ciel (French for ‘Rainbow’), must be the best song about suicide ever. It has a really happy drum tune, that makes its lyrics really brighter than the theme it holds.

                        "Fly out now"

                        Someone muttered

                        "Let's jump beyond the boundaries just under our knees."

                        The back-to-back freedom.

                        "You were never tied down by those rusted shackles In the first place."


Maybe this is the reason I love this song. I see myself in it somehow… 

*   *   *   *   *   * 

            I’ve only heard the ever-always happy Chita sad once, when I was still trapped in the restaurant work from hell, back in the nearly forgotten summer. A really good friend of hers had dumped her boyfriend, and the boyfriend (Who was also Chita’s friend) insulted her and blamed her for their separation. It must have been pretty harsh insults. I had never imagined that Chita could get sad.

            She told me as she cried, she told me she was depressed. “I just never thought that people would change so fast, you know? That they could be nice one day and then turn into snakes the next day.”

            I didn’t like to see anybody sad. Seeing them sad made me sad. I don’t remember how I tried to relieve her of this sadness, but I do know I tried.

            Liang, Tom, Eiji. Me myself own these masks, these personas. They say that you can’t feel the pain anymore if you just separated yourself from you body, become a third person watching yourself being hurt, being sad. If you do this, just watching yourself instead of being yourself, then the world would be a little brighter, a little better of a place. They could be wrong.

            I own many personas. I hide myself behind a smile when I feel sad. Psychology says that you feel happier if you have a smile on your face. Psychology is often wrong. 

*   *   *   *   *   * 

            Non-fiction has always been bad to me, even when I did ‘based on a true story’ ones instead. I remember writing one based upon some Bolivian cult, whose name I can’t quite remember, and can find no information on them because Bolivia is such an insignificant little country. I wrote about the rituals of the cult, how they tied a virgin woman to a stake, and then have each member ejaculate their semen onto the woman, to ‘purify’ her from the sins that the virgin possessed, before killing her and offering her soul to God (Or Sun God, to be specific).

            It was too gross to be written, was what everyone said, even though the newspapers had no problem writing them. I got sick of non-fic then and went back to fiction. People never say that anything is too gross in fiction, because it’s fiction, because it’s not real. They feel that the world is saner if they don’t find out about the sick things that humankind does. 

*   *   *   *   *   * 

            “Isn’t your first name Tom?” Chita asked me a few weeks ago, as I was trying to get some ideas for my non-fiction essay.

            “Yeah, why?” We never ever used our real names on instant messages, because our real-selfs aren’t the same personas as our net-selfs. Tom and Hana could not exist in the net world of information, as Eiji and Chita could not survive in the real world of the outside.

            “No way!” She quickly typed back. “I’m now seeing a guy whose name is Tom Lin also, and he’s also trying to write a non-fiction piece about himself!”

            “Whoa, no way in hell…”

            “Hey, you SURE you live in Ohio? Or have you been lying to me all along?”

            “I swear I’m not!” I said, with a kind of urgency in my typings. “I really do live in Columbus.”

            “Well, he’s also a fiction writer. Want me to send you his non-fic?”

            I received and read this other ‘Tom’s’ non-fic, which was more complete than mine at the moment. At least his was on paper. The piece was basically ‘Tom’ waking up and talking to his friend on the phone, the usual ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and ‘motherfucker’ resting on every line of the piece. The curse words in writing are so cliché now, that I get bored each time they appear.

            As I read the story, Chita informed me of New York’s Tom Lin. He was Chinese, and hopes to be a writer when he finishes college. He was 21. “Ah, you see, there’s the difference between us both.” I replied. “I’m twenty.”

            “Well, that still doesn’t mean anything.” She typed. “Anyway, he doesn’t like anime, so we pretty much have nothing to talk about when we’re together.”

            “Hmm… Maybe he could be me, you know? Maybe he’s me one year from now, who’s captured by the government and brainwashed, and then sent to this time to find something…”

            “You’re kidding, right?”

            “Eh, imagination run amok again.” I typed apologetically. “But it may happen. Anyways, I’m glad that I have a good self roaming around in New York.”

            “I think he’s more of your bad self, Eiji. He does drugs all the time.”

            I didn’t know doing drugs made you badder, considering that I always got weaker after it. “Anyway, we’re breaking up soon.” She typed again.

            That kind of surprised me a little. “Why?” I said. “You guys sounded like a nice couple.”

            “He thinks that I’m too immature for him…” A pause, a little pause. “And, besides, we’re so different, he likes going to bars, and I would never do that. We just have so much not in common.”

            And they said that love and will conquered all. Bullshit. “I guess I liked him when my unconscious connected his name to yours or something.” She typed. 

*   *   *   *   *   * 

                        Shove the sky into my chest, I want to fall deep into the blue color

                        Cloaked In the infinite night sky

                        Let's search for a new world

                        I stagger, dying to see you

                        But the awakened wings can't disappear.

            I saw a kid, of about two or three years old, listening to the beepings of a cell phone. His hair looked like Coolio’s, and he was among four guys, all of them of about thirty years old, African-Americans.

            The kid accidentally dropped the phone, his hands not coordinated enough to hold it well. He looked at it as it clanged down. He was confused.

            His dad told him to pick it up. The kid did. The dad told him to “come over”. The baby obeyed. And just as the kid handed the phone over, the dad slapped the kid on the back of his head. Kid fell, face smacked with the stones and mud of the ground. Cries. I did nothing. The world was just too fucked up for one guy to try to fix it.

            I remembered then to Bolivia, where the age for a kid to start drinking was three. I remembered that I was with my friends in Fax’s (a ‘musical’ friend of mine) house. We were only twelve then, as the September of ’92 passed by without a whisper or song. We searched around the house for stuff hidden by his parents. It wasn’t porn, we could get that from Bolivia’s Sunday newspaper (I’ve heard that Japan has a similar section in their newspapers too), and porn movies came on TV after midnight. We weren’t searching for liquor, the refrigerator wasn’t that hard to find. We were searching for the B-section of the newspapers, the local section, which parents have hidden from children’s view. The truth was just too cruel for us to handle.

            We found it, and read what the fuss was all about, and tried to entertain ourselves considering that porn had gotten boring for us. The article was about a man, with three kids and wife. The wife worked all the time. The man an alcoholic. The man got angry one day, no reasons given as to why, and kicked his youngest son. No, wait, he slapped the kid first, the force throwing the kid across the floor. Then while he was down, Dad kicked him mercilessly. On the face, on the stomach, on where his foot could land.

            Cops said the kid must have blacked out during all this pain-infliction. They assumed. Dad, after tired of kicking kid, slipped out of his pants and raped the kid’s asshole. They said the kid’s kidneys must have gave out by then, and he was dead.

            The truth scared us more than any movie, interested us more than nude porn. Pictures of the kid’s cadaver were pasted on this section, along with the proud face of the Dad. Or was it the mad face? Bruises of dark ovals covered the kid, the violated asshole now surrounded by a dark ring. More bruises. No one spoke. Our world was sick.

            What kind of love allowed kids to be born in this gone world? 

*   *   *   *   *   * 

            It took me awhile to find out Chita’s real name. She had an identity crisis, just like me, and didn’t know which mask of hers to call her own. It’s hard to choose and say that you know your true persona, or even remember it. Her real name was Hana, “meaning flowers in Japanese”.

            “Hana?” I had pondered. “It kind of reminds me of Hannah-Barbara, you know, the company that made ‘Scooby Doo’ and ‘Flintstones’?”

            “Yeah, yeah, I already know all the ways to make fun of Hana Kil. I learned them all in second grade.”

            Chita’s dad was a minister, and she was a graduate from a Catholic school.

                        What's right? There's no answers

                        The forked road that only God knows

                        Unstoppable speed, and faster It goes

                        Every thing is falling but you

                        Don't become an adult.

            “My roommate’s teaching me now of her sexual experiences,” She said that day. “Considering I knew nothing, coming from a Catholic school and a strict family and all.”

            “You mean, she’s teaching you like, how to masturbate in the bathtub and stuff?”

            “Ah!” She quickly responded. “No! Dirty, Eiji, dirty!”

            “Hey, I got that from a non-fic story I was reading for my class, and that’s what the narrator said she learned from her roommate anyways.”

            “Right, Tom Lin number two.” She responded. I hated being called that, I hated thinking that I was just a sidekick in my own story, my own life, and that the other Tom Lin was the real one, the hero of this story. “My roommate also said that a friendship of a girl and a guy is never platonic, that there is always some love interest lingering in it.”

            “She’s wrong, right? Our friendship is platonic.” I pause, and thought for a while, not sure what ‘platonic’ meant yet. “Wait a sec, what does platonic mean again?”

            I can imagine her laughing at this question. “It means pure friendship.” She responded after a long pause.

            “Yep, that’s ours alright.” I typed back. I always thought that platonic had something to do with the earth plates that causes earthquakes or something. Guess I was always wrong.

            I liked this. I’ve never had a long platonic friendship with a girl before. It was always either me loving the girl, or the girl loving me. This friendship with Chita was cool. It was my first on something. 

*   *   *   *   *   * 

            My grandfather died this summer, after drinking and mourning for years about my grandmother’s death. He was lonely. Alcohol was the only medicine for everyone’s soul, even Christ agreed when he gave the wine to his followers and said, “this is my blood”. My grandpa, father of my mother, was a victim of a hit and run, found at least thirty minutes after the accident. His brain was already mush then, the beginning of his torturing hell. If I ever become like him, I want someone to blow my brains out.

            The doctors weren’t kind, him wanting to die, the doctors wanting the money he would have to give if he survived. The doctors refused to let him choose his destiny.

            Despite his pain, the doctors wouldn’t let him die, let him finally get rid of the pain, as they tubed him with life support system. Death was a more merciful treatment to him. Death is not always bad. Watching him in that state of pain was killing everyone in the family. The doctors are cruel, too inhumane.

            The call came in the morning, summoning my mom. It arrived at four AM. Mom did not sleep after that. She looked about to cry.

            I didn’t cry when she died, because to cry would have meant to give up. I cried when I fell down from my bike, because I gave up my belief that I was invincible. I cried when Dad gave my dog away, because I gave up believing that I controlled my own life. And I cried when thieves killed Loba, our old dog, because I gave up thinking that the world was sane, that mankind was good. Her life was worth more than the hundred-dollar water-pump they stole, her companionship and friendship was worth much more than that pump she was tied to protect.

            I had only seen my mom cry once, as she sat naked on the toilet seat, her hands covering her face, her arms resting on her knees. Grandma had died then of Parkinson’s disease, and we were too poor to buy an airplane ticket for her way back home.

            Mom had always been the strongest person I knew, she was always calm and quiet in any situation, unlike my father. She was the last strength I saw that held up the world.

            She gave up her strength when she cried. And I gave up my belief that there was strength in this life. Everyone is weak. We just don’t want to admit it. 

*   *   *   *   *   * 

            “My friend told me that he’d like to die protecting someone he loved, catching a bullet with his body to protect and save his love.”

            I laughed when Chita told me that, not long ago, the exact time escapes my mind. “That sounds more like a bad 50’s movie than a romantic death.” Was what I responded. I was listening to L’arc’s Blurry Eyes then, singing along with my favorite line of the song: “Why do you stare at the skies, with your blurry eyes.”

            “Yeah, I know.” She replied.

            “I would have preferred to jump off a building,” I said. “To feel the wind and freedom as I fall down toward ground, flying before an abrupt crash.”

            “That’s cool, but why would you want to kill yourself?”

            I became quiet then, a silence somehow ran down my spine. “Because even if I died now it wouldn’t matter.” I responded. “For the world would not change, and might benefit better from one less human.”

            “I think that’s cowardly! How about the people you leave behind? They’ll be sadder if you died.”

            “Well, my parents would be able to save the money they’re wasting on me, and be able to give that extra attention to my bro.”

            “That’s not true…”

            But it is, isn’t it? I had no future in my life yet, my destination a blur of dreams. I don’t know where I’m heading, and the crash to truth would only hurt my family more. “Let’s go kill ourselves.” Had been my one-liner for years, mom always frowning when I said that.

            “Why do you always say that?”

            “Why not?” I would always respond, till one day, I don’t remember why, but Eiji let out what’s been in my vault the whole time. “If I died then I wouldn’t have to think of the future, worry more about school.”

            “You don’t have to go to medical school if you don’t want to.” Mom said.

            “I know, I’m just kidding.” Smile mask again, pretend myself to be in the third person, looking in. Lie. “I’ll be a teacher or something if this doesn’t work out.” Lie, just another lie.

            My brother and I were probably the only ones disappointed that the world didn’t end on the beginning of the year 2000. We were ready to stop looking at the future. We were ready to stop trying to survive in this life. We were ready to stop trying. We just wanted to see an end. We just wanted to see any kind of an end.

We had a good family, and parents that belonged in a fiction of a functional family. What was it that drove us to destroy ourselves? I don’t know. I wonder. It just comes out likes this. Just like love itself, you really can’t explain or find the source of the whole desire. It just happens. You don’t ever know why. I wonder if my depression arrived in the same way. I can’t remember. It never spoke of my own change.

The song Blurry Eyes still went on, the lyrics intermixing and playing with the silence of life.

                        Born from a wind, from far away

                        No matter how many times, I say these words

                        They just never seem to reach your heart

                       Your gaze still looked far away and float out from the


            The music went on as Chita typed again, sending me a newer message. “I tried to kill myself once.”

            I was silent. I didn’t type anything else. “I took a lot of pills as I slit my wrists. But, as I recuperated in the hospital, I came to realize that if I was dead, then there would be no one else to take care of my parents, after they had invested so much in me already.”

            “How about your brother?” I typed.

            “He’s kind of a bum. He wouldn’t be able to care for them if I was gone.”

            “My brother would take care of my parents if I was gone,” I typed back, hands dancing alone without pattern. “He is the one with the potentials. My brother will make our family proud.”

            That’s when I looked at the screen in shock, looking curiously at what I had just wrote, not sure if I typed that or not. I stared at it. It was right. My bro would honor my parents. I just never realized yet.

            “Don’t think of that, Eiji.” She said. “I’m sure your family would really miss you if you’re gone.”

            “You’re right.” I slowly answered. “I think I’ll go shower now. Cold water usually wakes me up.”

            “Okay then, go do that.”

            “I’ll see ya later then.”

            “Bye, Tom Lin number one.”

            I stared at that for a while as silence resided on, looking at it longer to confirm its words. Blink, look, it was still the same words.

                        Guided by familiar light

                        You kindly wave your hand

                        Saying good bye to the familiar future

                        Let's draw out a broken fantasy

                        Ripping up the determined fate, let's run away into the sky

                        I remember now the sunrise I saw as a child.




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