Readers' Submissions

Mirror, Mirror





He sits at his desk and dreams about the girl with the French braid. It was the elaborate hair that caught his eye in the Safari Bar, but it was hearing her laugh that made him offer her a drink. It was two days in a room that contained nothing but a bed and a small refrigerator that has kept her at the front of his mind for a whole year.

She hangs onto the chrome pole and dreams about the man with the gap between his front teeth. He was more generous than most of the men who paid her for sex, but it was the fact that he was a little more clean, and a little more sober, that made her agree to go with him. It was two days in a room that contained nothing but a bed and a small refrigerator that has kept him at the front of her mind for a whole year.

His job is mundane and he does it without thinking about it. He shuffles the paper from one side of his desk to the other, makes the appropriate comments in meetings. His job is just what he does to pay the bills. His annual trips to Thailand are what he lives for. He’s had many women in Thailand (almost none at home) but when he’s daydreaming at his desk it’s always about the girl with the French braid.

Her job is mundane and she does it without thinking about it. Her job is just what she does to pay the bills. She shuffles her feet to the music and makes the appropriate comments to the men on their stools. Her annual trips home to Saphan Buri are what she lives for. She’s had many men in Bangkok (none at home) but when she’s daydreaming on the catwalk it’s always about the man with the gap between his front teeth.

He doesn’t really know why she stands out from the others in his memory. She was pretty enough, but other women were prettier. She was skilled in bed, but others were more skilled. There was just something about her, about the way she was so worried about messing up her braid. About how she folded her clothes so neatly before she got into bed. About how she actually seemed to mean it when she asked, “Was I good for you?”

She doesn’t really know why he stands out from the others in her memory. He was generous enough, but other men were more generous. His demands in bed were easy enough to satisfy, but other men’s were easier. There was just something about him, about the way he asked if he could do things before he did them. About how he discreetly tucked the money under her purse on the nightstand rather than just hand it to her. It was something about how he actually seemed to mean it when he asked “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

He shuffles his papers and jokes with the other guys in the break room. He pays his bills and does his shopping and watches TV. But he’s counting the days until his next trip to Thailand. He’s going for the whole month of April, when the air fares are cheapest. He’ll go back to the Safari bar and ask for the girl with the French braid. He wishes he could remember her name. She gave it to him once, at the bar when they met, but after that they were “Darling” to each other and he never thought to ask for it again.

She shuffles her feet and jokes with the other girls on the catwalk. She pays her bills and does her shopping and watches TV. But she’s counting the days until her next trip to Saphan Buri. She’s going for the whole month of April, for the Songkran holiday. She’ll sit on the bus and dream of the man with the gap between his teeth. She wishes she could remember his name.