The Gift of Death
by Christina Sng
“I’ll trade you my life for a quick death,” the woman says. She pulls back her hood slightly and tilts her head toward my torchlight to identify herself. I see her sunken bruised face and crooked nose, clearly broken many times.
She looks 50 or 60 but I can’t quite tell these days, especially not in this dank, dark alley between two crumbling apartment blocks. There is only a single flickering lamp post to ensure you’re not tripping over the cluster of trash cans huddled up in the corner, stirring the ire of rabid cat-sized rats rummaging inside.
by Elana Gomel
The man stumbled and collapsed, his matted dreadlocks covering his face. He lay across the pavement, his head sticking out into the gap between two parked cars. I had to step over him to go on.
There was a strange mix of smells in the air. Fog rolling in damp pearly waves off the Bay. Diesel from an empty delivery truck. Urine. But something else too: an orchid-sweet aroma as if rotting flowers were strewn on the pavement. I looked around, trying to locate the source of the smell, and for a moment I was almost beguiled by my own imagination into seeing disheveled bunches of fleshy pink instead of sodden newspapers and flattened plastic bottles. I blinked and they were gone. Weird how the mind is capable of deceiving itself!