• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 05


We were inside an average-sized museum, concave ceiling, white walls, flashy floor. I was one of the few people who were scarcely scattered. I saw a woman in her 20's, dressed in all black with medium length beach waves hair. She's got vampire lips as if she drank blood, and that makes it easy for her to be noticed –– probably even when in a crowd, I thought. Her lips were like a magnet that drew me closer to where she stood. She was lost in a painting of two women with angel wings, holding each other's hand, faces skyward –– just like us, when I stood next to her, same level with her shoulder blades. She suddenly spoke and told me how striking the painting was for her, without detaching her look on the masterpiece like trying to memorize every inch of it. She's a working-class artist, who sells pieces of herself. She said something that I've never heard of and made me stare quickly at her the entire time. She told me that each of us has a unique pair of lips—the curves, the lines, texture, moisture, and taste. The way she spoke was magical, as if she's performing a spoken poetry. She paused, looked at me, and said that hers were full of sordid and cruel fingerprints, so she wore a deep dark shade. Hers were bitter and wounded, covered in scabs, bite-shaped scars—for all the time she had to stop her moist voice and words from leaking. And then she gave me a stale smile as the sun rays melted on her face. She said her name was 'Ichi' before she turned her back and started to walk away. For a moment it was all I could ever see. The rest went into a blur, and I was dazed when I saw her eyes. They were full of forbidden stories, full of sorrow and pain, but it felt home. I felt at home. I was left stunned with the painting by my side. As I turned back to the painting, I tried to recover as if I were punched in the chest. And I saw that one woman in the masterpiece she's been staring at looks like her but has washed-out lips, and the other woman looks so pale and is wearing a rope choker necklace. The painting's label was: "A rainbow's freedom is expensive, it could cost even a life." I guess we could never be as free as the women in the painting...