“I’m not sure,” she said. Her eyes passed over the grey day outside. The fall had run roughshod over the city, and the rains had been unceasing. Her breath fogged the window as she looked out, as if searching for something in particular, searching for Waldo in the window she’d looked out of every day for eight months.
“I’m not sure,” she continued after a sigh. “I really want to think that this whole quarantine isn’t getting to me, isn’t bothering me. I feel,” she paused again searching the street scene for answers, “I feel spoiled to complain. I have a home, a job that is still paying, I have food.”
“You have me to go get you said food.”
She turned, clearly not vibing my humor, “Yes that too. I have company, useful company too. But,” she paused to watch a truck trundle down the street, “I just feel something. Something I can’t really explain, or I could but it wouldn’t be right.”
“Well it’s something in me, I guess you need a back story. You know Orchids?”
“Yeah, when I was a kid we used to go to this park near my house and they had orchids. I think it was something like ‘native flowers of Hong Kong’ or something like that. I was always fascinated by them- something beautiful, they captivated me, I would stand in my rollerblades and pads just watching them be. People thought I was too scared to skate, but I really just couldn’t get over the flowers. But the blooms would quickly fade and I’d return to skating with my buddies.”
“Typical day in the like of a Hong Konger circa 1998.”
“Something like that. But years later I went to the same park when I was an angsty teenager. I’d take the shitty pot I’d bought and see if I could get a 7/11 to sell me a beer.”
“Mixed results, but one day I was sitting reading a collection of Bukowski poems.”
“Na, English. One of his poems was about how he has a bluebird in his heart. Something special he hides away from the world, only for him to see, only for him to take out on lonely nights. When I read it, I couldn’t really imagine it, cause I’d never seen a bluebird. I looked it up later, they don’t live in Asia, and they would never survive in Hong Kong even if they did. Our Birds never really held that spirit of delicate beauty, no one is ever going to write a poem about having a seagull in their heart. That orchid, though, did. I decided then I’d have an orchid in my heart, delicate, beautiful”.
“But wilts easily.”
“Exactly, something for my eyes and heart only. And, well, during this quarantine I keep thinking of that orchid and wondering if being cooped up is causing it to wilt. If some of the petals are starting to brown at the edges. I guess that makes me worried. As selfish as worrying about a pretend flower sounds coming from I who am fed and housed and employed.”
“Na, I think a lot of us are feeling that.”
“I guess I’m just looking. Looking how to water it, give it life and sunshine. And I’m not sure how.” Her voice trailed off as she watched another truck passby, splashing the empty sidewalks as it went past.