Dark, Dangerous... Sensual
I'm Jasmine Huang. Five years ago, I was murdered in Beijing when I was twenty. I gave birth eight months later. I was haunted by not knowing who the real killer was and stalked my ex for years, finally winding up in Vancouver’s Chinatown when I discovered the truth. That allowed me comfort in leaving the natural world and I was en route to the Next Place when I heard my daughter Mei-Mei call me back to earth. She’s all that’s important to me and I will not leave unless she is with me.
In the first place I look is this old Chinaman ghost. This horny lech tells me I’m beautiful and wants me to help him. Ugh! I keep looking for Mei-Mei but find nothing but a fourteen-year-old hooker and her demon pimp. Surly, obnoxious, evil.
But I need these sick, twisted creatures to help me find Mei-Mei in this dangerous spiritual netherworld. I hate it.
Intense bright light engulfs me as I flounder in a swirling vortex of sights and sounds. I have no idea where I am. I reach out to clutch at the iridescent haze of images, but my fingers pass through like mist. Even though I have traveled this extrasensory journey before, it’s still awesome, amazing, tranquil, and most of all, healing.
Healing because I know I am en route back to the security of Heaven, back to my four-year-old daughter.
My father holds me close. This is something he never did in life, but when you die you discover some of the things you did wrong and try to compensate if you have another chance. Like many parents, particularly those that are Asian fathers, tenderness and love were rarely offered. A tough, stern attitude was the norm, and my father was no exception.
I only discovered how much he cared for me after I died, in what he thought was murder by my old boyfriend, Chris Mathers. He was sure that Chris killed me under the pretext of helping me rehearse for an audition of the part of a battered woman. You see, I am an actress, or was an actress. That part was to be the biggest of my life, and I insisted that Chris had to make my pain real, in order for me to really feel the role.
I was so caught up in the situation that I didn’t know that the incredible kaleidoscope of light, images and color that I was sensing was obliterating my sense of judgment. Next thing I knew I was dead.
However, during that bewildering time before I died, I didn’t realize that Chris had run off to try and get help for me and that it was my stepsister, Angela, and my supposed best friend, Vicky, that were the ones who really sped my journey to the Next Place. But it gets more confusing. It turns out that the reason for my death was that I had a massive heart attack, brought on by all that excitement and stress.
Right now my body — so thin, so light — moves at what feels like the speed of light. Glimpses of my past float by: I see myself crying as a little girl as my mother sneaks out of the house with a man who is not my father. I hate her... That’s me at nineteen performing on a Beijing stage as Blanche from Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. I worked for two hundred hours trying to get a Southern belle accent down. That was so hard, especially because my English was so bad, but Chris was there to coach me... There I am making love on top of a grand piano with Chris. It was my first time...
And then there are fleeting images of places I visited just briefly: Paris’ Eiffel Tower; New York’s Times Square; Singapore’s Night Market.
“Oh!” I sigh in delight as washes of shimmering blue flood the once-engulfing, snow-white background. I see shapes of buildings, shapes of electric mauve outlined by long thin lines of white – it’s the ice lantern festival of lights in Beijing.
And then, the horror comes back again.
“Stop! Stop!” I see myself onstage being bludgeoned with a metronome by Chris.
I hate it.
A sudden disequilibrium brings me back. The universe is capsizing, and I’ve lost any bearing. Disoriented, I discover that my father is no longer holding onto me and that I am no longer in the comfortable kaleidoscope of color.
“Baba, Baba! Where are you? Where am I?” I scream. I flounder, but there is nothing to grab onto, and I feel sucked into directionless, cacophonous confusion.
“Papa!” I cry again, but there is no answer. Suddenly, old, withered hands attached to old withered arms grab out at me. I keep trying to push them away, “Please, no! Don’t do this.”
The hands keep clutching, and I keep resisting.
Finally, the voice of strength. “Jasmine, what’s wrong?” yells my father. I can’t see him, but I feel his presence close by. “I’m getting pulled away. I don’t know by who.”
“I will get you!”
Father might get sucked in too, but I know that it is pointless to object. He would do anything to save his family. Then a voice from the void that scares me more than death or life.
“Mama! Where are you? I went to find you, but you were gone.”
That’s my four-year-old daughter, Mei-Mei.
“Where are you Mei-Mei?”
“I don’t know. I went back to the apartment, but it’s changed. I can’t find Daddy, I can’t find you…”
Suddenly her voice stops. “Mei-Mei,” I scream, but the only response is silence.
And now there are two sets of incessant grabbing hands: the aged hands from the unknown and the familiar hands of my father.
My emotions and being are yanked like the prize for the tug-of-war of existence.
My father is strong, and his firm grip pulls me toward the Next Place.
“Mommy, come back for me!” calls Mei-Mei faintly from the opposite direction.
And then I understand. The unknown hands are not pulling me away from the Next Place. They are pulling me to my daughter.
I know what I must do. I know my father would never agree so I say not a word.
Without warning, I break free of my father’s hold and allow the unseen, unknown interloper to hold me. I catch a glimpse of his face - he is an old Chinese man who looks a hundred years old. He covers my eyes and squeezes my temples.
“Jasmine, what are you doing?” shouts my father.
I say not a word. I must remain in the shadows, or my father will follow me. I’m going to faint. As much as I try to stay awake, it’s a losing battle as light changes to darkness.
“Mommy, Mommy!” Mei-Mei’s voice is more distant.
I gurgle the words, “I’m coming,"but I’m so weak that I don’t think anyone can hear me.
Just before I lose consciousness, there is one thing I decide for sure. I will not go to the Next Place without Mei-Mei. I’m Jasmine Huang. I was twenty when I was killed. I gave birth eight months after I died. That was five years ago.