Anita Wu: Lonely Night

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Lonely Night

Anita Wu

She stood alone.

And she knew it.

It wasn’t the obvious darkness that presently surrounded her. It wasn’t the empty parking lot where she stood, an open space where no souls dared to wander and where no cars parked to shelter her from the oppressing silence and deafening chill. Where only white lines on the ground kept her company — lines that seemed to guide her where she should go yet guaranteed to lead her to a dead end.

No. It was something else.

It was the day when she handed in her art assignment: her lips all smiles as she stared at her masterpiece — the sketch that she spent weeks on — crafting and perfecting until the paint dried on her fingers and her room looked like a crime scene. Her eyes shone like the stars, like the portrait that she dared to attempt.

But the teacher screamed at her, his spit landing on her cheek, mixing with her own tears, as he slammed his fist on her work. “You dare call this art?”


Yet he had told the class to experiment, to take all the techniques they had learned and to blend them into a melody that would represent them. She took the assignment to heart: drawing broken lines that individually meant nothing but together blending into what it meant to be alive — where each incident proved nothing, but a bit of each stayed with her and brought her to where she stood that day.

But her teacher drove home a lesson: it did not matter when someone told her she had freedom. She needed to fit into society’s accepted standards, into the perfected, fine lines that the world wanted to admire. If she dared to crack and show the scratches and mess that lay underneath, she, like her art, was not welcome.

It was also the day that her friends told her that they were going out for drinks but that they did not have an extra space in their car to take her. She knew they were four, and the car could hold five.

She gave them an alternative, believing they simply did not want to drive out of their way to pick her up. Besides, they lived in the same neighbourhood, and she lived 15 minutes away.

“No, don’t find your own way there. We are going far. It will be late.”

“Besides, don’t you have piano lessons tomorrow? You need to be sober for that.”

Those lessons were with one of the same friends who was being driven in the car — the same friend who did not utter a word during the entire conversation, silent, as though he were ashamed to publicly be on her side.

It was, again, the day when she lay in bed under the sheets, alone under the roof of the house. The tears tinged her eyes, and she kept wiping them away before they fell, believing that if it did not fall, she was keeping it together.

Her mother stayed at another man’s house that night, as she did all the other nights. She claimed it was her only way to bring food to the table and demanded that she be grateful.

Her father lived beneath the flashing bright lights of the gambling strip mall. He came home only to ravage the place for cash, throw his soiled days-old clothes onto the couch for her to clean, and shove food down his stomach before he left once more. If she did not know what exactly he did, then he could still be a decent father. Right?

No, it wasn’t the empty night that made her feel alone. It was the people who told her that they would be there by her side at the end of those white lines or the people who promised to cheer loudly on the sidelines as she followed those lines.

It was the people who yelled obscenities at her as she dragged her feet along, determined.

It was the people who wanted to see her fall.

How could she stand amongst so many people yet feel so alone in her heart?

Please visit Anita on her blog:


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