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秋光乍洩 Leaf peeping

再一次遇上他,是在十一月的一個下午。

他穿一件軍綠色的開襟毛衣,吊腳的靛藍色牛仔褲,一頭長及面頰、染著淺啡的頭髮,依舊架著一金屬的圓框眼鏡⋯⋯

雖然我們在交友程式中認識,我對他並沒有特別的好感,至少並沒有想和他發展任何關係的意思。唯獨有一件事讓我耿耿於懷 —— 上次約會後翌日,我收到餐廳的來電,店員說我遺下了一本記事簿。我想了想,餐廳是我訂位的,餐廳只有我的電話號碼吧。

我把從餐廳拿回來的記事簿放在書桌上,在午夜十二時的檯燈的照射下,記事簿有一條草繩繫緊,封面是那種手作的木質硬皮紙;有點像一部古老的神聖經書,我對自己說:這真的是他遺下的嗎?還是他故意留下給我的?交友程式裡和他的對話框沒有任何新訊息,我那一句訊息「你好像在餐廳留下記事簿了。」像在燈柱貼上一張招租貼紙廣告,無人問津。

我被心中的小魔怪慫恿,克制不了自己的好奇心,把草繩的蝴蝶結輕輕解開,鬆開一剎,有一絲打開潘朵拉盒子般的罪惡感。悄悄打開了第一頁,只見四個大字「何謂幸福?」。

第二頁,有人寫上類似是社交媒體短句,又像是文青斷續的散文詩的文字,用工工整整的字體寫上:「幸福是在對的時候遇上了對的人,我每天在尋找,卻遍尋不獲,難道我已經把對的人誤認為是錯的人?」

之後數頁,是同一個命題的延伸,像一棵主幹,開枝散葉,生出無數副題的意義樹一樣。

「幸福是失散了的一雙鞋子,要在青春衰竭、日落之前,要結成一雙去浪跡天涯。」

「浪跡天涯不一定要和最終伴侶同行,也可以是倦極歸來,再去找另一位白頭到老。」

「相信如鬼魅一樣的遠距效應嗎?就像一對天生連成一體的量子,和你靈魂相連的那一位,在另一個時空,和你做著相似又相反的東西。他在燙裇衫,你把裙子往行李喼裡塞;他得了Covid-19,你扭蛋中了隱藏版的貓咪午睡公仔;他看到窗外的螢火蟲一閃一閃的飛過,你剛被牆角掠過眼前的簷蛇嚇個半死;他往左走,你向右轉。世間的萬物,總是以千差萬別形態出現在不同人的面前。你有的,剛巧是其他人沒有的;你想要的,人人都有偏偏就是你得不到。幸運,永未公平,不會給人人擁有;唯有幸福,卻是人人可以追求得到,因為幸福,不在物理的世界裡。」

我把每一篇文字都自言自語呢喃了一遍,不知不覺已躺在睡床上。當我翻到最後一頁的時候,有一片樹葉從書頁裡跌下來,剛好落在我的手臂上。那是一片香港楓香樹的葉子,只有三裂,紅中帶黃,也還有一些綠,可能是從大棠或大潭的地上拾回來的;絕對不是顏色均衡,出現在電影中或是卡通裡,很完美的五裂楓葉。但在一個微涼秋夜,讀過有情有理的文字的氛圍下,這片紅葉是剛好,是在對的時候⋯⋯

記事簿的最後一頁,相信出自那位男生的手筆:

幸福


像沙吸引浪潮

像風輕吻樹苗


像燈映照大橋

像詩寫滿字條

下一頁可應該是他按著我交友程式的 Profile Pic,模擬出來的插畫。我頭上染了啡紅的短髮,偷偷用美圖 App 修過的大眼睛,繫著一條粗冷的大白色頸巾。那照片是前度男友幾年前給我拍的,正好用來給陌生男生一副純情無邪的錯覺,現在有點演變成一副法國詩人印象下的東方神秘少女模樣。我扁了一下咀,覺得畫中人不像我,但又一定是我。帶着這奇妙感受,蓋上了記事簿⋯⋯

這一次再遇,他和我同一間咖啡店,隔開了三張桌子。他發現了我,有些訝異但又瞬間微笑點頭,坐在他對面的少女也像是剛認識的,濃濃的妝容、略帶性感的入肩的毛衣,和我完全是截然不同的類型。我在等待另一位在交友程式認識的男生,這位男生雖然眉清目秀,帶一點時尚感,他也不是我心目中的理想對象。我只是選中了他。

現在我手袋裡正藏著那一本記事簿。我先要男生給我訂今晚吃飯的地方,然後會依樣葫蘆把記事簿留在餐廳裡,讓店員打電話叫他領回。我從此銷聲匿迹。希望把這本關於幸福的小天書,繼續在人海中流傳下去。

One afternoon in November, I met him again.

He was wearing a military green cardigan, a pair of jeans with a cheek-length light brown hair and round, metal frame glasses…

Though we met on a dating app, I didn’t really have any feelings for him, at least not in a romantic way. But there was one thing that was bothering me – the day after our previous date, I received a call from the restaurant saying that I’ve left behind a notebook. I thought about it, since I booked the restaurant, they only had my number, right?

I brought back the notebook from the restaurant and put it on my desk. Under the lamp at midnight, the notebook was fastened with a rope, it had a handmade wood cover; something like the one you see on an old bible. I asked myself: Did he leave this behind? Or did he leave it on purpose for me? There were no new messages from him on the dating app. “You seem to have left a notebook in the restaurant.” This text bubble was like a flyer on a lamppost, nobody cared about it. 

I couldn’t ignore this little devil in my mind, I was curious, and untied the bow of the rope. The moment it opened, I felt guilty as if I was opening a Pandora’s box. Quietly turning over the first page, it said:” What is happiness?”.

On the second page, it’s like one of those social media feeds, but at the same time verses of poems written by some artistic teens. “Happiness is meeting the right person at the right time. I’ve been searching every day, but to no avail. Have I mistaken the right person for the wrong one?” 

The pages following were just supplements to the same question, like a tree branching out to countless subtopics.

“Happiness is like a lost shoe. Before the youth fades and the sun sets, we shall travel across the world, together.”

“The one who travels across the world with you may not be your partner for life, you could also start all over again and find someone who would grow old with you.”

“Do you believe in the spooky quantum entanglement theory? It’s like a pair of quanta that were born as one, the one connected to your soul is doing something similar but also opposite in another dimension. While he’s ironing his clothes, you’re packing your skirt into the luggage; while he’s sick with Covid-19, you got a hidden version of a napping cat toy from the gachapon; while he saw fireflies flashing past his windows, you were scared to death by the snake slithering past the wall; while he’s turning left, you were turning right. Everything in the world appears in different forms to different people. What you have, is like something others don’t; what you want, is something everyone has but you. Luck has never been fair, not everyone has it; but everyone can pursue happiness, because happiness is not tangible.”

After muttering every word in the notebook to myself, I found myself on my bed. When I turned to the last page, a leaf fell out of the page and onto my arms. That was a leaf from a Hong Kong sweet gum tree. There were three veins, it was red and yellow in colour, with a little green. It might be from Tai Tong or Tai Tam; it was definitely not a perfectly colour, perfectly veined leaf you see in movies or cartoons. But on a cool autumn night, after reading some touching words, this leaf was just nice, at the right time….

These were written on the last page of the notebook, probably by him:

Happiness is

Like sand attracting tides

Like the wind gently kissing the sapling

Like a light shining on the bridge

Like a note full of poems

The next page was a drawing of me from the profile picture of my dating app. I had brown, short hair, with a little Photoshop on my eyes, wearing a thick, white scarf. That photo was taken by my ex-boyfriend a few years back, and it just had the pure and innocent vibe that many guys fall for. Now it’s more of “what a French poet would imagine an eastern girl looks like”. I pouted, thinking that the drawing didn’t look like me, but I knew for sure it’s me. I closed the notebook along with these thoughts…

This time, we were in  the same cafe, 3 tables apart. He saw me. Taken by surprise, but smiled and nodded instantly. The girl opposite him seemed like someone he just met. The heavy makeup, and a little sexy off-shoulder sweater. She was the total opposite of me. I was waiting for the guy I met on the dating app. He was attractive and stylish. Though he was not my type, I picked him.

I brought the notebook along and had him book the restaurant for tonight. Later, I’ll leave the notebook behind, and have the restaurant call him to get it back. Then, I’ll disappear forever, hoping this little book about happiness would be passed on in this sea of people.

Storyteller:Saville Chan 陳心遙

Artist:Kaki So

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