Follow the Suns with the Yellow Horse, May Chen
Winner Energheia Israel Award 2023
Sitting in bed while rain falls sharply. It’s a wet night, wet everywhere and I can’t sleep. Red neon light shines through my window from the new Chinese restaurant downstairs.
I remember dancing when the light turned red and holding her hands when it turned green. She was so beautiful; coal, long, wavy hair, green eyes, dripping sweat and tears. Watching us, he saw I was hypnotized. At first, he seemed to me as if he was a guard dog then I realized he was a guardian angel.
I have to move out of here, I thought as a drop fell from the wet ceiling onto my forehead. I can’t sleep. I’m staring at the light touching the floor while trying to recall last night, and I notice a yellow spot growing. A horse started running towards a sun as a door opened.
“I wish this place was open, it’s so pretty.” Lu said, trying to look behind the window, “There’s a light in the back.” She knocked.
Din and I looked at each other “She’s a troublemaker,” he said. The door opened, and a bright yellow light shone on us. It seemed as if a ray of sun burst out of the place, almost blinding us. Lu walked in, Din walked after her. Hesitating, I walked behind them into the light. Then everything went dark. I was blindfolded, hearing nothing but footsteps. It’s weird to think how we were all silent as if we knew we should just follow; slow footsteps of what seemed like six people walking in a tunnel. The air was cold and moist, allowing me to breathe deep. White flickering light hit us every few meters, my heart beat slowly, though painfully hard. We stopped walking as a loud, piercing scream broke the silence.
“Fuck!” I yelled, waking up again. It was just a dream I told myself, disbelieving. It felt so real… “WTF happened last night?” I thought, shaking my head.
Looking at my phone I saw it was only one AM. I decided I should work tonight–I really need the money. I put on the same bra with the secret pocket for my stash and the only beautiful dress I own. I saw some bruises on my right wrist as if someone had been holding me too tight. Trying to not think about it, I focused on drawing my signature red heart tattoo next to my left eye.
I started walking down the streets, no real Parisian would walkthrough and noticed my left knee was sore. The pain was too much so I stopped in a dark alley, took a bump and kept walking. “Much better!”
After an hour, two more bumps, I arrived at the club. The perfect time to arrive – when the hard clubbers are jonesing for more substances to stay on the dance floor.
“Sam, you bitch!” I heard a familiar voice. “Where are your hot friends?”
“Fuck off T.K. What friends?! You know I have no friends!” I yelled back at him.
“Those two sexy chicas you fell in love with last night, did you fuck them both?”
“Girls, what girls?” I said, confused.
“Did y’all like my Swiss candies?” he asked, when a tall guy stood between us and looked at me.
“You’re Sam, right? How much for 2g?”
“What? Oh yeah, it’s 80.” I replied with a fake smile.
The tall guy handed me the money.
“Okay come with me,” I said, “T.K. man, please wait, I’m coming back!”
We walked downstairs to the toilet and I took out my stash– a bump for taste and 2g so he wouldn’t regret it. I took one too and ran back up, but I couldn’t find T.K. anywhere “Son of a bitch!” I screamed, my head spinning. Again, I tried to think but I only remember a guy and a girl. Where did I meet another girl?
The light turned green “Sam! Din! Help me, please! Come back!”
“Don’t leave us here!”
“The angle is running after you, don’t look back!”
“I promise to come back,” I said, “I promise.”
“Yo, Powerpuff girls! You okay?” Asked Jo, the bartender.
“Why’d you call me that?”
“Last night, the girls…” he said, “I even got a picture of you guys.” He took his phone out.
“Fuck bro, I can’t remember shit,” I said, staring at the picture. It’s me with two beautiful girls, a black-haired girl on my right and a redhead on my left.
“What you all looking at?” asked T.K. who had snuck behind us, “Oh, my sexy chicas.”
I turned around and smashed him on the wall a few steps behind us, “What the fuck did you give us last night? I can’t remember shit!” I screamed and held him by the collar.
“Sam, chill man…” He said as one of the club guards caught my wrists on the same spot I had my bruises, pulling me off of T.K.
A horse started running towards a sun, my hands were tied and in my mouth the taste of iron. I followed the yellow horse, hypnotized. He was so bright, I was blinded by the sight. Though his warmth was addictive, behind me was nothing but cold darkness. The horse turned his head and stared deep into my eyes, as if he wanted me to see something. I came close and reached my hand out to touch him, it was hot, almost burning but I needed to see what he wanted to show me.
“It burns!” I screamed. And saw it all.
I recall the first time I noticed her. She passed me as I was coming up the stairs. I was smiling big after a successful deal. She smiled back at me with her perfectly shaped lips painted red. Her green cat eyes shone in the dim light, dark wavy hair rested on her braless teardrop shape breasts. She wore a tiny black dress that revealed her long legs. I turned my head as she passed and I knew I had to get to know her.
Dancing in the center of the dancefloor my body moved to each note as if it was the only one. It felt as if everyone was looking. For me, it’s part of the job. They all need to know I’m there.
The only one that didn’t watch was her, she was busy talking to T.K. and a redheaded girl in the smoking room. I walked over.
T.K. gave me his I’m busy doing business look.
“May I borrow your lighter?” I asked the redheaded girl.
“Sam…” T.K. said.
“Don’t worry mate, I just came here to flirt.
“Lu,” said the black-haired girl, and took my cigarette, “Merci.”
“I’m Din,” said the redheaded girl as she gave me a suspicious stare and took out some bills and a lighter.
We danced, I felt light as a feather as I floated to the sound. I saw mermaids and water lilies swimming in the air, and cupids shooting arrows into rainbows. Everything was colorful and shiny.
Lu looked at me, caressed my face and said, “I love your heart tattoo.” I smiled.
“Let’s go somewhere else,” said Din and pulled us to the exit.
Roaming around the streets of Paris, the lights were glowing and the Seine River seemed like an endless sea.
“Over here,” said Lu as we walked next to a garden where the flowers were silky and the grass was greener than I’d ever seen.
“I have to pee!” Said Din.
“Seriously, Diana, again?” Said Lu “We’ll wait there,” she pointed at an Asian restaurant that looked the same as the one under my apartment. The lights shone with different colors.
Lu leaned against the glass door, the green light touched her sweaty face and seemed like a mask. I stood in front of her, took her hands in mine as a tear ran down her face.
“I have a feeling you’re gonna be my best friend,” she said and kissed me. I felt her love, I had never felt something like that before.
“What the fuck Lu?!” Din said, walking in our direction.
“I wish this place was open, it’s so pretty.” Lu said, turned around, trying to act as if she was looking behind the window, “I see light in the back.” She knocked.
Din and I looked at each other, I was embarrassed and she was mad “I’m watching you bitch,” Din whispered with a smile, “I don’t know about this place… Lu, why d’you wanna go in?”
“I heard it’s a private party.” She said,
“Who told you that?” I asked.
“A gorgeous guy at the club, just before we left.” She answered, “Open the door!” she knocked again, this time harder.
“Lu stop!” Din yelled.
Abruptly, the door opened, and bright yellow light shone on us. It seemed as if rays of sun were bursting out of the place. Lu walked in, Din walked after her. Hesitating, I walked behind them into the light.
“Welcome to Diyu” said a silhouette with devil horns.
“Does it cost money?” I asked.
The light turned off and the floor started moving as if we were going down in an elevator. Suddenly, someone was touching my back but before I could see who it was, I was blindfolded.
“What the fuck?” Din screamed.
“Girls don’t worry, it’s just part of the show.” said the devil.
Fear. Instead of mermaids and cupids, I saw skeletons of horses around me running amok. We were all walking in silence, hearing nothing but footsteps and we knew we should just follow. Slow footsteps of what seemed like six people walking in a tunnel. The air was cold and moist allowing me to breathe deep. White flickering light hit us every few meters, my heart was beating slowly though painfully hard. I started hearing music, it got louder and louder with every step we took. We stopped walking and heard a loud piercing scream in the distance. I took off the blindfold as a cloud of smoke covered us with a purple club light.
Then people with no expression were dancing between us as if they were zombies.
“Lu? Where is Lu?” Din held my shoulder and looked at me, terrified.
The people kept pushing, tearing us apart.
“Sam don’t leave me, we have to find her!” She took my hand and paved the way between the dancers, pushing them and pulling me.
We heard her screaming our names as two men, big as sumo fighters planted themselves in front of us. They grabbed our wrists. One pulled me to the right and the other pulled Din to the left. I felt as if he was going to rip my arm out. We screamed and held onto each other. After fighting for a while, the men gave up on breaking us apart. They dragged us both to a dark room and locked us behind a rusty metal door with a small window. We could still hear the club music loudly.
Shaking, I said “Thank you for not letting go!”
“That’s what friends are for.”
A long time passed, Din started to lose it “What is this place? Where is Lu? What is going on?” She was walking in circles around the room as I looked out the small window. I saw her, my heart stopped and I couldn’t say a thing.
They were four; An Asian-looking man and woman wearing black walked in front, two other Russian-looking men in suits walked behind them. They dragged Lu by the hair through the blue tunnel; she was naked and bruised.
I stayed there frozen, watching the girl I fell for with tears in my eyes as the window started breathing. At that moment I came back to my senses.
Motivated by love, I shouted “Let me out! Let us out!” and started violently kicking the door. Banging it with fisted hands.
“I will kill you! Let us out or I’ll burn you all!” I couldn’t stop screaming.
Suddenly, the woman turned in our direction, she came closer and closer, her face touched the window, her eyes turned white as she hissed with her snake tongue.
Panicked, I jumped back. The door lock opened but Miss Snake stood there with her face still against the window. Din took my hand, “Let’s go out.”
“No, no…” I shook my head as a projector turned on.
It was Lu standing under a spotlight, slowly taking off her dress. Din started running towards the door, I caught her hand and pulled her back.
“It’s not live!”
“How…?” Din started tearing up.
“I saw her, we have to think of a plan.”
Still projected in front of us was Lu, camera flashes on her naked body. She did as they said as they pulled her hair, dropped her to the floor, and inserted themselves from three directions at the same time. I couldn’t watch it, I felt like I was being stabbed in my heart.
“Let’s run!” Din said.
“Are you sure?” I asked, we stood in front of the door.
“3…2…1…” we whispered and started running in tunnels full of smoke, the light turned blue then red, Miss Snake was after us. I was so confused and lost. I saw the yellow horse, it ran towards the sun, split itself and turned into a family of suns, we ran together; the horse Din and I.
The horse stopped as the suns disappeared. There was an entrance to a purple room. She was there tied up to a wall, almost crucified. We knew they were watching but we had to save her. Silently we walked over to her and immediately started releasing the knots. I was on my knees untying her ankles, and Din released her hands.
She could barely walk so we carried her on our backs, crying and sweating. When I turned my head and looked into her eyes I saw the yellow horse, just as the snake lady and her friends were coming after us.
“She’s too heavy,” Din said as the yellow horse started running next to me as if it was leading me somewhere.
“Sam, wait.” Lu fell on the floor as the light turned green.
“Sam! Din! Help me, please! Come back!”
“Sam, run!” Din commanded as the devil caught her.
I wanted to help them up but Miss Snake was after me. She bit my knee and I couldn’t see a thing, everything was covered with thick smoke. The horse neighed.
Her venom made him disappear.
“Don’t leave us here!”
They screamed as I followed an angel who appeared in front of me in the direction of the light.
“The angel is running after you, don’t look back!” said Din.
I stopped and looked around me, the angel was leading me the wrong way and far from my friends, he was flying after me, I felt his breath on my back.
Suddenly I felt a stab, he injected me with something, then he was gone. It hurt, I felt sadness going through my veins, the urge to freeze and cry but I couldn’t.
I was lost for long minutes, blinded by a yellow light I heard them screaming my name.
“I promise to come back,” I screamed to the darkness behind me.
I kept running, couldn’t look back, the yellow horse appeared again and started running next to me as if he was leading me somewhere. We stopped at the edge of a river as the full moon glowed above our heads like a big white crown and the wind blew glittery dust as if it was snow. I looked at the small waves hitting my feet while the horse stepped slowly into the water. “I knew I should never have made any friends!” I said as tears started running down my cheeks as I followed the horse as the river got deeper.
My head was almost underwater when I heard them again.
“Sam! Save us!”
“I can only save you if I save myself.” I said as the sun rose, I turned back.
“I promise to come back, I promise!”