Ming is counting the bricks, up to three. She looks at their weathered red-orange color and their texture, they fascinate her. She traces several of them with her fingers, they seem real enough. Isolating, limiting, real. There’s nobody here during the high-school recess in the back of the building. The brick wall in front of her separates her school from another one-thing-or-another that she does not remember. The school ground, on the other hand, is all hers, and she knows it well. Right now she just wants to be alone, floating on the edge of something that is one of her confines.
She can hear the echoes of her school-mates running, shouting, playing somewhere not that far away. Just pass the building facing the wall is the soccer field. It is rather big and Ming likes it better when it’s vacant. She sees these images of people passing along going about their lives on that field before it’s covered with sand and gravel. Right now, there’re simply too many people taking advantage of that space. It loses its magical appeal.
The space sandwiched by the wall and the building is straight and narrow, it’s very sterile too, just dirt and bricks. And Ming considers this a safe place. She lets herself fill the empty space and feel the stillness reaches back to her. She needs it. More than her need to run about with her classmates. She becomes not social again. For a while, she had a little group, but now, now she needs to sort some stuff out, or rather not having any stuff to sort out with. She comes here to not think, just feel.
She’s not a bad student, in fact, she’s top ten of her year, but there’re just too many things that she can’t seem to grasp, herself most of all. She’s still cutting school sometimes, lying to the teachers that she will be studying on her own instead of in the classroom. And because she’s such a good student, the teachers let her. So she would take her bike out of the impossibly entangled bike-pile and go for a ride. Sometimes by the neighborhood (carefully avoiding the places where she might encounter the parents of course), but most of the times she would ride along the river and stop by the park alongside it. There’s a tree there with silvery leaves. She thinks it has all the magic in the world.
Sometimes she would seek adventure on the school ground. There’s this new science building that’s still not fully functional yet, but the doors are open even though no one’s supposed to be there. Ming likes to walk in the white corridors and on the winding staircases, all by herself. She feels like a ghost, she wants to see if she can scare somebody. But rather she’s the one that gets scared when on the rare occasions she does see someone there. She’s not sure if she’s more scared of people or ghost.
Sometimes she would venture on the narrow, bare-steel fire-escape up to the roof of one of the lower sprawling buildings just because it’s something to do. Ming had one companion once in this endeavor, but they don’t know each other very well, so it’s just this one time. She remembers feeling like there’s magic in that too. They looked out onto the soccer field and saw different things. It’s kinda scary for Ming to be in high places. She always has this urge to fall down.
To say Ming is lonely is not an accurate assessment, she simply doesn’t know how else to be. Even when she’s among her best friends, she has this insolation around her. She doesn’t talk loudly, or fast, or much. It just feels like there’s not much to say. Information holds no value nor meaning for her. She has been in school most of her life at this point and her worldview has not altered from the first time she glimpsed it. So there’s theirs and there’s hers, and there’s time for one or the other. But mostly, she needs her time. She’s like still in the womb, or rather she’d like to go back to the womb and be born again just in case she missed anything. So you see she has no time for the other stuff. It’s not like she’s hiding from it or anything.
She tries to climb the wall now, thinking that her tender fingers can latch themselves onto the tiny crevices between two bricks to hoist herself up, then use the tips of her shoes to gain purchases on the wall’s rough surface. She does not go far. But she keeps trying. There’s no real goal involved, only exertion for fun. She looks at her raw dirty fingers and smiles. Time to go back to the classroom. The wall knows she will be back.