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Manoa 15.2 (2003) 29-39
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The Saddled Deer
Among the black, brown, and gray umbrellas, there appeared one with white flowers against a red background. Carrying the umbrella was a woman with a firm step. The raindrops struck her umbrella, rolled together in streams, ran down the brim, and splattered on the ground.
She seemed to stop for a moment and to look in my direction. I felt a yearning growing inside me not to lose sight of her. Was it because she looked so much like Yang Sui? And she was walking toward my apartment. All I could feel was a tightness in my heart. A moment afterward, two loud knocks sounded on my door.
I awoke with a start, got out of bed, opened the window. As I expected, it was really raining. In the thin curtain of rain, the people in the street held up a confused mass of umbrellas, every one black. I felt a cold shiver.
The narrow path twists, dust piled at its edge, this year this month this very day find him find him. Phrases from Yang Sui's letter ran through my mind. Guts give birth to hunger, a room to emptiness. Trees on the hill, water clear to the bottom, early morning fog drifts...The whole letter read like this: neither rhyme nor reason. At the bottom a date indicated it had been written a year ago.
I walked back to the bed and began to make it, when I noticed a book that had fallen on the floor. How had this old, blue, cloth-bound book found its way here, a book of ancient woodblock illustrations? I picked it up. The page I opened it to seemed a bit familiar. I took a look, then tossed it onto the bed.
I began dressing. Winter was already at my side. I couldn't wear this dark-blue knitted top anymore. I opened my trunk to look for my thick woolen suit. Something cold touched my finger—a necklace with exquisite flowers on it that dazzled my eyes. The birthday present that Yang Sui had given me. She'd inclined her head and placed it around my neck...Had Yang Sui really been here last night? At that thought, I felt sad. My brain had been all mixed up last night. I hadn't drunk an awful lot, but my memory must have slipped.
The ancient mirror reflected a woman in a black skirt and blouse who looked like a ghost. After my husband's death, there wasn't a day when my [End Page 29] mind wasn't filled with this deep, dark color. Now that I'm a widow and everyone sympathizes with me, I returned to my hometown to look for something to fill my empty life.
The day I opened the rusty old lock and walked into the house, I found the letter from Yang Sui; ever since, I'd been so confused I didn't know what to do. Why did she treat me this way? How could she mock me like this?
I decided to find Yang Sui and demand an explanation.
The voice of Taiwanese singer Ai-Ai floated through the street like a sob, like a stupid laugh on her expressionless face. She was a woman whose figure was neither slender nor full—a figure that couldn't compare with her voice. In this broken-down, filthy, noisy town, every voice, no matter how beautiful, becomes part of the dark, gray hubbub of the city. Even the patter of the raindrops was no exception. I'd been away for years, but it seemed as if the place hadn't changed in the least.
I passed through a cluster of stands selling bowls of noodles, soup, and dumplings, and came to the vegetable market. The stink of rotten vegetables forced me to hold my breath. I hurried up a flight of stairs to the bus stop.
Even though Yang Sui had once been my best friend, time had diluted everything. What stuck in my...