It began on a warm evening right in the middle of a crowded party on the terrace of Red Bar at 2 IFC, then Hong Kong’s tallest building. I walked away from the group I had been talking to and stood at the edge of the terrace to look towards Kowloon, on the other side of Victoria Harbour. The ICC building was still under construction but it was no secret that it would overtake 2 IFC in height after completion.
My gaze wandered towards the high-rise apartment buildings beyond the ICC. Like most high-rise upscale apartment buildings in Hong Kong, each unit had an open balcony. I remembered how my feet had felt strange tingling sensations when I had stepped out onto the balcony in one of those buildings. They were similar to the ones I had experienced on the Abyss Turbo Drop at Ocean Park, where your seat is dropped through 20 floors in a vertical free fall. I shivered.
In my mind, I watched the figure of a woman on the balcony of a high floor. As if without a care for the world or her safety, she climbed the guardrail and sat down with her feet dangling over the edge. She picked up a glass and drank from it.
As I watched her with growing concern, she swayed to one side and fell.
I ran as fast as I could, past the security desk and into the elevator, which I rode up to the 46th floor. When I arrived at her door, I found it ajar.
Stop! I came back to reality. The idea wouldn’t work. There were some basic points I had to think about.
Where was I? In my apartment, in a neighbouring building.
What was I doing there? I was out in my balcony taking a break.
A break from what? Hmm. A party. A party at my place.
Was I drunk? I was drinking.
If the lady had fallen off the balcony why had I run to her apartment? Er…
It would work only if she fell backwards onto the balcony floor. But then, why was the door ajar? Was she staging it?
No, it wouldn’t work. I discarded that scene. I had to think of another approach. What if I replaced the lady?
I took a sip and set the glass on the wide guardrail. Without another thought, I climbed onto it and swung my feet over the edge. I picked up the glass and drank from it. Vodka took my worries away. It made me feel light. I looked down at the swimming pool on the ground floor, beyond my dangling feet. If I jumped, would I fall into the pool? Did it matter? No. I needed a strong reason to live. I needed a strong reason to turn back.
And then I fell.
I was shaken back to reality. The vodka was gone… OJ was back. The vision had been so strong that I felt weak in my knees. I hobbled to the nearest sofa and plunked down.
Over the following days, I would toy with the vision (call it a scene if you may). I would dissect it, I would recreate it, I would lengthen it and I would shorten it. Unable to accept any particular version, I would stash it away in my memory without an inkling that I would return to it in the future.
– o –