Smoke Two

On the platform at Aramis Underground I’m hit by a blast of hot air and steam as an intercity maglev lumbers out, bound for Avalon and the western Metropoles. I notice more platform hawkers here than on my first visit, the day I signed the lease. Airport interconnections, the tourist drill, okay. The raised concourse roof harbours passengers, mostly refugees from smoking rain and toxic headlines. Down in the neat squares of the shopping centre I find solace in a momentary cup of miso, and then a stand containing newspapers in Chinese and English. By the smoking compartment, an amber light and an animated cigarette. My PCB goes off and I’m just reaching to answer when it stops, the missed call from a private number, no message, no story. When my connecting street metro arrives, I’m handing over dollars to a small woman selling Vietnamese mint, asking her not to cut off the roots.

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