My first story was inspired by an encounter with the unseen.
My first night in Hong Kong I slept alone in the 400 square feet apartment on the only apartment on the 18th floor of the building on Hollywood Road. Thud-thud-thud, my heart thumped in my ears as it pumped blood into my veins. I could hear it. Like it was outside of me, in me, all around me. The sound so loud it permeated my every pore, filled my senses, till all I could hear was my heart. I had become my heart. And yet I wasn’t, for it was separate from me. It was scared, my heart.
Of being alone in a strange city, this tiny island of seven million in the middle of the South China Seas. I was for the first time in my life at the age of thirty alone.
No-one to answer to except my heart.
And my heart wasn’t letting me off alone. It screamed, groaned, ached with so much I didn’t understand. Not my rational mind that is. But, something deep inside me knew. That part of me, that was me all these years and yet which wasn’t; the part I had hidden from the world, from myself, had decided now was the time to show itself after all these years. That it could not be held down, not anymore.
Now when there was no-one but me, my heart wanted to be heard. To acknowledge that five year old girl I was when I had first put pen to paper, when I had written the first words, the first poem, my first…breath.
Yes, my heart wanted to be heard.
I woke up from the short burst of sleep I had fallen into at dawn, to the sound of my heart drumming in my ear. Thud-thud, the walls of the building were shaking.
Thud-thud, I ran out of the bedroom into the tiny living room, that looked straight into the apartment of my neighbour in the next building.
Some sign of life, there was someone there. I wasn’t alone. Yet, I was. As I leaned against the window—thud, thud—the sound vibrated up from the very core of the earth that this tiny sliver of a building sat on.
No, it wasn’t my heart.
The building really was trembling, with every thump of the construction equipment from the site next door.
Yet my heart fluttered, sweat broke out on my brow. Swallowing down a hot cup of tea, down a throat gone dry, I knew I needed help. Not a doctor, no…who could help?
Walking down the winding street, that passed the little Chinese temple next door, the scent of incense thick in the air teased my nostrils, drawing me towards a little shop at the end of the slope. A new-age herbalist. Drawn by the scent of smoke, of sage and oleandars, I walked into the smoke filled little space. A kineseologist, ah! Could she help me?
She saw me, that lady right away. Took my pulse, felt the beat of my nerves. She told me I wasn’t unwell. No, it was my surroundings that were eliciting that reaction in me. For I had landed in HongKong the base chakra of the universe. The root of evil, the fountainhead of commerce. I had come to the mothership of all things money could buy unprepared. For someone like me so in touch with my soul—I was?—it was a shock.
My heart just needed to be told it wasn’t stuck. Not here. Not in this dark, damp, muddy fragrant harbour. It was free to board the ships, the ferry that drew away from the pier to the islands beyond this city of trapped souls.
My heart was free to do as it pleased, she told me.
So, I did.
That’s when I wrote my first short story.
I never looked back.