朝顏睜開眼, 自己仍窩在沙發上, 窗外雪已停, 藍色的月光照著一室清冷, 酒保不知哪去了? 茶几上多了一個掌心般大小的白色信封, 她拆開信封, 掉出一把黑鑰匙, 匙上掛著一塊木牌: ６０２, 朝顏拎起一只皮箱, 厚實的真皮散發古舊風采, 她甚至不記得自己何時擁有這只皮箱? 然在異地的陌生旅館中, 有行李勝過沒行李吧!
開啟了６０２號房, 房間小而整潔, 床靠窗, 窗大的出奇, 共有三扇窗, 牆的盡頭擺著一具核桃木的梳妝檯, 橢圓的長鏡鑲著朝顏身影, 烏木色的濃密長髮, 雪白的鵝蛋臉, 嫣紅的菱形櫻唇, 雙眸明澄得似乎盛滿了水, 裹在修身黑衣下的身子像一座雕像, 她舉起右手放在左肩上, 忍不住微微一笑... 打開皮箱, 箱內衣物雖似曾相識, 卻井然有序的不像自己所為, 她想換睡衣, 但翻出一襲寶藍色軟緞的吊帶襯裙... 偏頭細看, 她實在累了, 反正房內暖氣很強, 就拿這件當睡衣吧! 半裸的她忙鑽入溫暖的被窩.
睡至中夜, 傳來一陣敲門聲, 朝顏披上大衣將門半開, 門外立著一位年輕的男人, 濃濃的黑髮, 明亮的褐色眼珠, 面容十分熟悉, 尤其是俊俏的臉上那熱烈的笑容...
她還是忍不住懷疑著皺了眉頭. 「愛, 應該是平等的!」, 男人深情款款道, 說著握住了她手, 朝顏並不驚惶, 反而是困惑兼不耐, 她回道:「真正愛人不會計較誰多誰少」, 他放開她手, 轉為捧住她臉, 痛苦的呻吟:「妳在等我嗎?」, 他微溫的掌心和低沈的語調, 幾乎讓朝顏相信自已是在等他, 然他那誠摯傷神的表情太熟練, 像在排戲, 朝顏淡淡道:「如果我等的是你, 你剛才說的不應該是問句, 我想,你不知道誰在等你吧!」, 男人臉上閃過的一絲絕望, 馬上教他多情燦爛的笑容掩蓋過去, 他柔聲道:「也許是二樓的短髮女郎, 我和她一見如故呢!」, 「那麼, 祝你好運!」朝顏笑了, 打了個呵欠.
接連數日, 暴風雪朝夕的下, 天色昏暗得白晝黑夜都難分別, 朝顏餓了就到旅館的餐廳, 坐那鋪著紅巾的小圓桌, 單點蔬菜熬的清湯和迷迭香小羊排, 桌與桌之間距離甚遠, 空蕩蕩的餐廳重覆撥著 Ｗｉｎｄｆ１ｏｗｅｒｓ.
Windflowers, my father told me not to go near them.
He said he feared them always... Their sweet
bouquet disappears like the vapor...
她飯後習慣到圖書室閱讀, 圖書室亦有一扇大的出奇的落地長窗, 核桃木的茶几上擺了盞琉璃綠的燈, 書架上只有兩本書, Robinson Crusoe 和 Moby Dick. 偶爾她會在長廊或樓梯間撞見那夜的男人, 男人臂彎中總挽著不同的女人... 有一頭紅髮、碧青眼睛, 壯碩如西臘神話地母似的白種女人, 緩緩打量朝顏的眼光像是纏了蔓刺的放大鏡... 有細瓷般, 往彿一碰便會發出嬰兒嗲聲的東洋少女, 半走半跑的跟在男人身後... 有一回朝顏經過二樓, 213號房半掩的門傳出咯咯笑聲, 朝顏好奇, 湊前向房內望去: 一位月白膚色的女孩身穿低胸上衫, 俯身塗蔻丹, 男人由後抱住了她豐腴的腰低聲道:「多美的顏色啊!」, 女孩嬌嗔:「把手給我!」, 男人伸出淺棕色, 骨節突顯的雙手, 女孩握住那手, 輕輕將銀藍色的蔻丹塗在男人尾指上... 朝顏忙悄身離去, 臉紅心跳不已. 男人和她, 倒底誰更孤獨? 男人看似不愁寂寞, 每每有不同佳人共渡良宵... 是過盡千帆尋覓等他的人? 還是根本耐不住一夜獨處? 朝顏單身旅行慣了, 頗享受這份孤獨, 雖然, 她知道自己也在找一個人, 一位風雪中歸來的故人.
「朝顏!」 來了許久, 第一次有人呼喚自己的名字, 朝顏連忙放下書, 眼前人比她年長數歲, 雪白豎翻的大衣領, 鮮紅唇色, 水滴似的金耳環, 名貴行頭和可親面容殊不相襯, 女人在朝顏身邊的古董沙發上坐下, 緩緩道:「妳來找他!」, 朝顏心頭一悸, 女人口中的「他」和自己心中的「他」頓時合而為一, 朝顏點了點頭, 女人接著道:「這一陣子, 所有人都忙, 雪不停的下... 他, 知道妳來了嗎?」, 多日來的憂傷剎時解凍, 朝顏酸楚, 淚水泊泊而下, 她哽咽:「他不知道, 我沒有他的地址, 沒有他的電話, 我祇知道他在這個城市, 所以我就來了.」
女人若有所感, 從懷中掏出一方雪白紙片, 正在此時, 長窗前走過一群身穿深色大衣的紳仕們. 人群湧進旅館, 紛紛向櫃臺索取鑰匙, 朝顏向人群望去, 赫然發現了「他」: 髮際額間沾滿飛雪, 鏡片後的眼睛依然寧靜溫柔, 朝顏想開口呼喚, 喉頭卻滿溢無奈, 「他」視若不見, 逕自取了鑰匙向樓梯間走去, 背影漸漸沒入盡頭, 朝顏全身血液一寸一寸凍結, 讓她保存一絲意識的是面頰微溫的淚水, 她姍姍步回窗前, 女人不知何時離去, 剩下自己和窗外白茫茫無止境的雪地, 她站了一會兒, 想著是時候啟程了, 轉回櫃臺取鑰匙, 服務員一翻名冊, 道:「Room 602, 鑰匙先生拿走啦! 他應該在房間等您.」
朝顏忍不住哭了, 也笑了. 或者, 您偏愛悲劇?
冬戀 - 完
A Heart of Winter
Setting: A small hotel in winter
The man from that night
His female companions
The girl in Room 213
The woman who called out her name
A Heart of Winter
It was a snow storm. Morning Glory stared at the picture window - snow flakes were shooting at 45 degree angle. She had no idea how she arrived at this small, cozy hotel nor did she know why she was here. She just stared at the window, had not even taken off her long black winter coat. She nestled in the sofa facing the fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa firmly grabbed between her hands. The blonde bartender gave her the cocoa. He did not speak to her, carrying out his duty in silence. She felt her eyelids getting heavy…
Opening her eyes again, Morning Glory found herself nestling on the same sofa. The snow had stopped. Blue moon filled the room with chilling mercury. She rose from the sofa and reached out to her luggage, a fine piece made of genuine leather, the antique style. She forgot when she acquired this property… yet at a strange hotel in a foreign town, it's better to have something than nothing. She went up to the front desk and asked the receptionist for a room. "Here's the key, Mademoiselle. Room 602." replied the receptionist.
Morning Glory unlocked the door; a small, tidy room came to her sight. The windows were exceptionally large. Total were three of them. The bed stood next to the windows and against the corner, there was a walnut wood dresser with an oval mirror. Gazing into the elongated mirror, she was delighted at the image: her long black tress and the long well-fitted black coat framed her pale face and glimmering eyes like a statue. Slowly she raised her right hand and rested on her left shoulder. She smiled. She opened the leather suitcase. The contents looked familiar, although their extreme orderliness felt foreign to her. She searched for a pajama and found a blue silk slip instead. "Whatever, I'm too tired. The heater is quite strong anyway." mumbling to herself while she changed into the slip. She was almost half-naked. Then she sneaked under the blankets right the way.
Around one o'clock in the middle of the night, someone knocked on the door. She wrapped herself in the heavy black coat and came to the door. A well groom young man stood in front of her and watched her with passionate eyes. She felt she knew him from somewhere, reminded by his bright smile. He reached out to hold her hand and whispered: "Lovers should love each other equally." "If one really loves the other, he or she cares not who loves more." said Morning Glory with a smirk. He let go of her hand and closed his palms on her face with a theatrical momentum. "Are you waiting for me?" There was a touch of agony in his voice. The ardor in his eyes almost convinced Morning Glory that indeed she was waiting for him. However, a certain veteran quality from his expression indicated a not-so-successful performance to her taste. Calmly she stated, "If you're the one I'm waiting for, what you have just said shouldn't end with a question mark!" Disappointment fled from his face and instantly he recovered with a smile that was brighter than ever. "Oh, it must be the girl from second floor then. She and I were kind of love at first sight as if we knew each other for our whole life!" His tone was sweeter than honey. "Well, then good luck and goodnight!" She closed the door on him. The guilt following her usual honesty was overcome by a twist.
The storm continued. Morning Glory often dined at the delicate restaurant with other guests each on his or her own table along the music of Windflowers… Windflowers, my father told me not to go near them, he feared them, he said they always carried him away… The sweet bouquet, disappeared like a vapor in the desert, so take the warning, son… After meals, she then went to read in the library. Strangely the only books there were Robinson Crusoe and Moby Dick. She could not possibly imagine herself as Friday to Robinson nor as Moby Dick to Captain Ahab. Her heart ached. Sometimes she ran into the man from that night and his companions on the hallway. Each time, he had a different woman in his arms. They ranged from big Mother Earth to Madame Butterfly.
One afternoon when Morning Glory passed by the second floor, she heard a familiar laughter coming out from Room 213. Out of curiosity she peeped into the door slit… A smiling young girl in white tank top was bending over to do her pedicure. Her legs were bare and smooth. A pair of pale brown arms wrapped under her chest from behind. A southern breeze like male voice exclaimed, 'What a beautiful color!" The girl giggled, "Give me your hand." He laid his palm on her lap, she painted the nail of his little finger blue… she painted his lips pink with hers. Morning Glory tiptoed away for a glass of water. She could not help but to wonder. Between herself and the man, who is lonelier? The man seemed popular, having different women to spend nights with. Was it his way of finding out who waits for him? Or was he just too weak to be by himself even for one night? Morning Glory enjoyed solitude, like the mystical unicorn that roams in the woods.
"Morning Glory!" This was the first time she heard someone calling her name here. She looked up and saw a well-dressed lady staring at her. The amiable lady smiled, "You came looking for him?" The last word struck Morning Glory, and remotely she remembered the reason for being here. She nodded. The lady sat down next to Morning Glory and looked out the window at the storm. She sighed, "What a crazy winter… so, does he know that you're here?" A sudden sadness came upon Morning Glory; she bursts in tears. "I don't have his address, nor his number… I only know that he is somewhere near, so I came." She sobbed. The lady kept her eyes fixed on the snow and pulled out a white card from the pocket. At the moment, a group of people in long black coats walked pass the windows and rushed into the hotel. The crowd went up to the front desk and each individual started asking the receptionist for rooms. Morning Glory glimpsed at the crowd. She found him, A heart of Winter. His hair and eyebrows were covered by snow. Behind the silver frame, there were his deep, gentle eyes like the way she remembered. He did not see her. As he disappeared from the stairway, she froze… for a long time. Her burning tears brought her back to consciousness. She dragged her half-paralyzed body back to the reading room. The lady left, leaving Morning Glory by herself and a room full of chilling moonlight. She looked out the window. Storm paused in a dead silence. What else could she add to the silence? It is time to pack up and go. She returned to the front desk and asked for her keys. Flipping through the guest book, the receptionist smiled. "Room 602… A while ago I gave Monsieur the keys already. He should be waiting for you, Madame."
Would you prefer a tragedy?