We met in 2003 at the Wickham Hotel in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, while he was on holiday. Tall, handsome, studying English and Korean at university. Dimples fixed in place on his cheeks as he danced and sweated in the humid air of the club.
When I flew to Shanghai to visit him, just a few months later, it was like a ghost plane. The few passengers, mostly Chinese businessmen returning home, sat as far from each other as possible, like gas molecules spread out to occupy a closed container. Face–masks secured firmly over their mouths. His university enacted a lock–in policy during the Labour Day holidays, Láodòng jié, to limit the spread of SARS. He had to sneak out to see me.
His Mum cooked us Shanghai river crab for dinner. He introduced me to his ‘girlfriend.’ We went to his Dad’s restaurant and ate wagon–wheels of sweet, sticky lotus root for dessert.
It was twelve years later that I wrote a short story about a gay man whose ex-boyfriend appears on the Chinese dating show, If You Are The One, never really expecting that the strange fancies of fiction might come to haunt me as fact.
Then, in October 2015, with the short story already accepted for publication by Antithesis Journal, a lazy Saturday night at home sitting on the couch, sipping wine, picking at my dinner. I glanced at the subtitles as his Chinese name flashed on the screen in SBS subtitle's yellow. Not a big deal – it’s a common name – but could it be him? Emerging from the light as the audience cheered, he appeared. More buff, he’d clearly found the gym in the years that stood between us, but with that same face. Those dimples. It was him.
He went home with his favourite girl. I dreamt of the sticky lotus root dessert and the taste of his kiss.
By putting aspects of real life into my fiction, had I opened the door for fiction to hit back and place itself into my real life? The short story, now published, laughs at me whenever I open it.
On that plane to Shanghai, naïve and young, I never wore a face–mask.
Daniel Young is a reader, writer, editor and MA (Writing) student. He has had short stories and flash fiction published by Mascara Literary Review, Seizure, The Suburban Review, and many others. He is the founder and editor of Tincture Journal and is reviewing all the novellas at allthenovellas.com.
My earliest memory is an aunt of no relation teaching me the birds and the bees. I can recall that lesson with remarkable lucidity.
The way it feels, sitting in the library courtyard, and seeing a baby sparrow at your feet, scavenging the crumbs from your crusty roll.
He used to pick me up in his car, a beat up Honda Civic.
‘You talk funny.’
We’re on the hillside. It’s recess. We’re playing with little toy dinosaurs. I am the orange one, my favourite, and you’re the blue.
There used to be a takeaway pizza restaurant on Waverley Road, where the tram ended. You weren’t really supposed to eat there, but the owner had put a little vinyl table by the window and there were four chairs and a holder in the middle for the serviettes.
We decide to go looking for the troll while fuelling ourselves with petrol-station hotdogs and strong kaffi and, in our excitement, forget to fill the car.
At night, if you’re sleeping on the top floor, floor fourteen, you might hear someone walking on the roof, over its gravel sheet.
There were three eulogies at my father’s funeral . . .
The trees here are white and skeletal – near Marysville where fire ripped through . . .
We met in 2003 at the Wickham Hotel in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, while he was on holiday. Tall, handsome, studying English and Korean at university.
We were waiting at Salerno station for the train to Sicily when a woman on the opposite platform collapsed.
We watched television while he bled out on the bed beside me. ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ – that rhetorical question that so many people still seem to get wrong.
Elijah is taken on a Monday.
See his kidnappers on the freeway. Holden Kingswood, old and brown. Two men with ponytails and tense expressions. It’s half past three. The road is teeming with cars. The cars are absolutely gleaming.
Enjoying Flashers mouth-sized bites of fiction? Now we are making something new.