“I wonder,” she took a drag from her smoke, “I wonder if it’s too late for me.”

 I wanted to say something, something encouraging, some overused idiom or trite saying that would make her feel better, but in the moment, I was tongue tied. 

“I know,” she went on, “I know you don’t know my life. How could you? We are from two different worlds. Not that people from your world don’t know my life, fuck I heard there are more hookers in New York than here, but just you, specifically you, don’t.”

“I know, no idea.” 

She shook her head and ashed her smoke on the pigeon poop covered window ledge. We sat listening in the drone of the countless ac units looking down into the warren that forms this building complex.

I was down and out, living in a weird bed sized apartment in the sketchiest place in Hong Kong- ChungKing mansions. This highrise complex is the only real sketchy place in the city, full of illegal doctors, money changers, pimps, whores, cheap accommodations, drug dealers, sketchy people of every stripe imaginable, crammed together in a highrise complex. My room was one windowed room of what was once one apartment- now 8 rooms that share 2 bathrooms, and a 9th, with its own tiny bathroom, mine, the master suite I called it. My whole place was roughly the side of a double bed, which took up the entire space, and which you had to climb over to get to the bathroom, which itself was the size of a toilet and about a foot extra with a faucet facing the toilet halfway up the wall with a shower head attached. A few of the rooms were for people like me, the rest were for hookers. I spent every night listening to them fake orgasms for the minutes long comfort of cheap men. 

I befriended her when she heard me speaking English. She was from the Philippines and seemed to not have come here of her own accord. She didn’t have a passport anymore, someone had taken it long ago, and she’d overstayed her visa by years. I offered to help, but she just shrugged it off. She sent money to her family, and claimed there were worse fates, though I’d disagree. 

She sat on my bed in blue running shorts and a white tank top smoking cigarettes out my window. Her room was a windowless cell, so she was happy I was cool with sharing. I also let her shower in my bathroom too, I wasn’t paying for the water so I didn’t care. She’d just got out and we were aring the steam out of the ever humid room. The lack of ac meant that all I had was a small oscillating fan to try to beat the heat and suck in something fresh from the center of the building complex, which in practice meant breathing in the warm air from those lucky enough to have an ac unit. 

She combed her hair and lit a smoke in relative silence, just a subtle ASMR of her movements. She posed her existential question then fell silent. When she finished the smoke, one of my parliament 100s which she loved, she turned to me. She looked me up and down. “Wanna fuck?”

I looked at her stunned, I stuttered, confused. “You don’t have to, I know, I didn’t expect anything for the shower and the smokes, I just, I” 

She smiled at my confusion. “No, I know you’re just being nice, or you’re lonely, probably a mix of both.” 

I laughed, she had me pegged. 

“No,” she changed her posture to sit more upright, “I fuck every day, guys I don’t like, guys that are disgusing, and,” she laughed, “I haven’t had sex with anyone cute in a really long time. I always hoped I’d get at least one cute customer, every once and awhile maybe. Never though, not even once. I don’t know if you’re good in bed, but you’re cute in your own way.” She laughed, “Not my normal type, but definitely cute. And”, she paused and thought, “When I was in your shower I felt horny. I haven’t felt horny in forever. I was worried I’d never feel it again. I thought about masturbating, I used to do it in the shower when I was younger, but I remembered I had a more fun option.” 

I was stunned, I looked at her, I couldn’t tell if she was fucking with me or not.

“I know its hot in here, so maybe you don’t want to get all sweaty, and maybe you don’t want to fuck a hooker, but I never let the guys kiss me and I always use a condom. I’m on the pill  so you can go without one if you want, maybe to set you apart. But I’d understand if you don’t want to fuck a chungking mansions girl raw. But, maybe if you’re down. We both have the rest of the evening free.” She grinned, “We can even go to dinner after.” 

“Are you kidding or serious?”

“What do you think?”

“I’m asking cause I’m not sure.”

She took a deep breath and pierced me with her eyes, “100% serious.” 

“Oh, ok.” I bobbed my head pretending to think, but unable to hide my smile. She laughed when she saw I was pretending to even consider rejecting her offer. 

“If you don’t want to, we don’t have to,” I posed.

“I  can see you’re already getting hard.

“Shit.” I laughed. “But I can, you know, back down.” 

“Take off your clothes.”

There are moments when life the tides of life wash you out deep into the sea of the unknown. Fighting the currents gets you spun- sometimes it’s best to relax and see where the eddies and currents take you. 

She laughed as my shirt, then her tank top hit the same spot on the wall. 

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