Your real name is Rinko, a cold child. Whenever you were down with flu, a strand they had no number for, you father could announce your exact temperature using the back of his hand. It was the same hand he used to make you laugh, shadow plays across the wall, impressions of spiders or Gummi Bears coming to life. You lived off his sweetness, until he jumped from himself. A bamboo bridge. A winter’s day. The body never found. Your mother lived the life of another ghost. You kept thinking about that story, a woman crushed by a train, now without a bottom half, staring vehemently into the eyes of strangers, wanting to take their full rich lives.
You jump across the years. Autumns, amnesia, broken twigs. In her solitude, your mother speaks a different language but you understand her, half-empty-- all broken love and smiles. On Cat Street, the graffiti boys bore you with imported gruel running from their lips; on Takesthita, boys in leather taunt you with their heavy metal posturing. Your best friend is a Ganguro girl, trying hard to look like Brittney Spears. But her thighs are too fat. Next to her, you look so pale.
And one day, you wake up and are in love. An older man in tweed, he twitters you daily. He accepts you in steam gear and puffed sleeve shrug, your mint cotton dress in the stretched rubber of the night. He’s married, awkward at sex, but in his eyes there’s something cracked and primal and sad. He musters the courage to show you a photo of his son.
You imagine the boy much older, deprived of his Pokémon heroes. He will be crushed by a train. He will go through life without legs.
One day, you whisper in your married lover’s ear: It’s over. You want to make babies with a boy from HaraJuku, a no-punk, clumsy with zippers and in plaid; his kindness is slightly mute. Days pass without a breeze. You learn that your married ex-lover has thrown himself from a bridge.
Each day, you visit that river. Like your father's, his body is never found. You slip your hand into the river, hoping that some day, his hand will reach yours. His head will emerge over the tea-colored water. His lips are blue. “Your hand feels so warm, “ he says. It must hurt him to breathe. You tell him how your father once named you Cold Child. How you tried to steal the warmth from anyone who came too close.
Kyle Hemmings has work pubbed in Atticus Review, Smokelong, Wigleaf, Pear Noir, and elsewhere. His latest ebooks are Tokyo Girls in Science Fiction (NAP), You Never Die in Wholes (GoodStory Press), and The Truth About Onions (Good Samaritan Press.) Kyle is a devoted fan of 60s garage bands. He believes truth is the ultimate spinach.
Street artist unknown.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
"Slip Time" is the second track from the debut album of Australia's Young Magic. The album was released last month through Carpark Records.