It’s one of those nights when it feels like Christmas is close, and yet the disappointing morning follows: enveloping you in an almost oven-like heat that reminds you once more why you dread the Philippine weather. You stuff your green cardigan in your bag, close the zipper and head off, walking as briskly as you can towards the dark corner in between the dingy Chinese restaurant and the ukay-ukay shop where you first found her.

There she is again: this time, sitting on a trash can in the dark corner, her hair disheveled and her eyes down. You tap her shoulder and the girl looks up at you, her plain expression changing from dismay to delight in a mere instant.

“You ready?” she asks, taking out two cigarette-shaped tubes from the pocket of her brown cutoffs. You nod, despite the feeling of reluctance in your throat. You take the tube from her and sit on the trash can next to her.

“On the count of three–” she says. “One–two–…”

‘A Day In the Life’ suddenly plays in your mind, as if by magic. You hear the lyrics and forget the smell of the dark corner and the dumpster. You forget the whore that fed you the drug, and find yourself drifting off into a reality you’ve only read about in books. A reality that you’ve began to embrace, ever since you acquainted yourself with this dark, foreboding world. The same world that welcomed you with open arms and cared for you.

What could be more beautiful?

Nothing.

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