It is 10.30 on a humid summer evening in Hong Kong.  A woman in her mid thirties is alone on the large balcony 29 floors up, watching and listening to the bustling, noisy streets below.

Her best dress fits loosely upon her.  She can smell her own perfume, taken from a bottle hardly used and bought some time ago.

Unaware of the movement behind her, it is the touch she notices first.  A hand gently brushes her long black hair to one side and lightly holds her left shoulder.  The hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. The nape of her neck is kissed.  She inhales sharply, prepared but not prepared, for this light caress of her skin.

Above her right hip, a second hand is placed, sure and firm.

The same hand that lifted her hair, slides down her left arm and grips her wrist. Kisses, slow and sensual, cross their way to her left shoulder and move down the back of her arm.  It is electrifying. Her body is shaking involuntarily, her heart racing. She hears her own heavy inhales and exhales of breath but the sounds of anything and everything else are muted.

The right hand above her hip slides across to her stomach and pulls her sharply backwards to press up against his body.  She hears his breathing now, just as quick and just as heavy.  His left hand moves from her wrist to her left hand, intertwines its fingers with hers and grips it so tight it is painful.

She wants to turn round.  She wants to see the man she has not seen for two years.  The man she is married to. The man who promised her he would return but was not permitted to tell her where he was going.

His face would heal.  The scars would be minimal.  All this she has heard before, from others who have been told the same thing.  She is not ready to believe it.  She will see for herself.

But not this second.  Not right now.  Savour the moment.  Revel in his caress, a touch she had nearly forgotten.

She moves her right hand on top of his.  The polished wedding band on her right ring finger glitters with the lights of the city.


Like, nailing it

In the soft comfortable chairs in the corner of the Juniper Cafe a woman in her early twenties is seated, leaning forward and animated as she gushes out recent events to the man in front of her.

‘I’m real over it; like, I so don’t need to worry about it right now. I mean like, that was the weird thing. Like you know, he was always ready to…Like do that as well, like we were on the same page, right?

Her companion, about the same age, sips his steaming matcha latte.  He shakes and nods his head  in the perfect amount of measured empathy, agreement and concern. Waiting for his moment to speak.

She moves the conversation to her work.  ‘And I didn’t like the job anyway so like, its a good thing.  I mean like, I think it gives me time to do other stuff, you know.  I’m not like, too worried about it.  So I’m like, yeah. Like its really happening.  Right?  I mean like, sooo many people have told me how amazing I was at running that department, I…’

Her phone beeps which cuts off her train of thought mid-sentence.  ‘Um, one sec.’ The woman leans back in her chair to check her phone and steals a bite from the slice in front of her.

He sees this brief pause as his turn to talk about his business venture: opening a wine bar.  ‘And inside, it’s going to be like, quiet, you know, like real intimate but not in a dumb way.  But not too quiet.  But like, classy quiet.  And like, its going…’

She murmurs her agreement without looking up from her phone, ‘Wow, that’s so awesome. It will be crazy good.’

‘I know, I know.  I’m sort of worried about finance and like how to get people in but like, I think once like, they see how cool it will be, it will be just like, boom!’ He illustrates his point with his hands miming an explosion.

While he is explaining this, she manages to nibble at her slice plus scroll through and like twelve Instagram posts, before looking up again.

‘Oh totally. I will definitely be bringing all my friends there.  When will you open?  I mean like, how far along are you?  Have you found the place already?’

‘In like six months from now, we’ll be like, finished and open and like, I mean the vibe will be awesome you know?  I mean, this is so what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, you know?’

‘I know. I know! Oh, you know what? I’m going to Facebook your new bar.  But like right now.  Let’s get it out there that there will be this like, this a-MAY-zing wine bar opening up in six months….Oh shit!’

‘What’s wrong?’ he asks.

‘This banana nutmeg slice is like, insanely good. But I meant to snapchat it before I started eating it.  Anyway, you are so onto it, I envy you.’

‘Thanks.  But you see it, yeah?  You see how amazing the bar – but you too, yeah?  We’re both nailing it.’

She nods furiously at this fact and reflects that oddly, not many others can see it. ‘I know, right?

‘You know what else? And like, it’s so important these days.’

‘What’s that?’

‘We both have focus.’