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Posted on June 29, 2015

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On my sofa, I slouched, cigarette smoke streaming upwards from my hand in a straight line. The CityNews channel was on. The reporter was talking, her mouth moving, but in my Vicodin haze, her words were meaningless to my ears, like the meanderings of a two year old. The moving pictures on the screen seemed fictional, like a movie. There was an image of a car accident -- a minivan parked inside the shattered frame of a bus shelter.

Dating was supposed to help me – connect me to the world where things happen. But with Jenn, there was no connection. I had no idea who she was. We were two strangers disconnected from each other and the world itself.

I tried to shake the sleepiness from my head. The pills have killed my appetite, and left my mouth dry and pasty. My condo apartment was an extension of my mind – a cell for my spirit. I rubbed my eyes and tried to focus – focus hard at the stories – the real stories on the TV. Perhaps what little hope I had left of becoming someone would be there, in the real stories from the outside world.

On TV, an East Indian man in a suit spoke into a microphone. My eye lids drooped, pulled down by grogginess, and then the image on TV cut to a female newscaster sitting behind the CityNews desk. I sparked my Zippo and hung my hand inches over its flame, indulging in the pain that reminded me I was still here.

And then, the image on TV cut to a house lined with yellow crime scene tape, surrounded by police, firefighters, and the flashing red and blue lights of their vehicles. I heard the newscaster's voice more clearly.

I made out a sentence.

"A Toronto woman's burnt remains were found in her backyard tool shed," she said.

My eyes widened and the sleepiness dissipated. I watched the TV screen over the orange Zippo flame, my body straightening.

"The victim was identified as Mindy Luu-Wei," said the newscaster, and they showed a photo of her with the caption "Photo from Facebook". She looked happy in the photo, smiling wide, her eyes rainbow-shaped slits. I closed the Zippo and leaned forward – drawn to her image.

The newscaster talked over video footage of investigators at the murder scene. I couldn't believe the CityNews showed it, but they did -- the coal-black skeletal legs of Mindy's burnt corpse outstretched through the doorway of the charred tool shed.

Hastily, I flipped open my laptop and searched "Mindy Luu-Wei Toronto" on Facebook. And then I found it – her Facebook page, her privacy settings on public.

People had already left comments on her timeline, like:

Joanne Morales

8 hours ago near Toronto

You will always be remembered. RIP Mindy


Ian Tuason

7 hours ago near Oakville

Rest in peace, Mindy. We miss you already.

Just two days earlier, she had posted a filtered photo of a shimmering river. I scrolled down her timeline to May. One of her status updates read:

Mindy Luu-Wei

May 17 near Toronto

long weekend, you can't come soon enough!

Her friend Roland and two other people liked the status. A guy named Augustine commented:

Augustine Chua

May 21 at 4:55pm via mobile

Happy Victoria Day!

Lighting a cigarette, I took a long drag and my mouth filled with sweetness. I noticed the shaking of my leg. I scrolled further down her timeline to April where she posted:

Mindy Luu-Wei

April 2 near Toronto

back from a wonderful tour of asia. thank you to all the new friends i met along the way. a special thank you to one new friend in particular. you know who you are :)

I clicked on her photo albums. There were six, and I opened the one titled "boracay '15".

There was a photo of her on the beach in a pink bikini. She's voluptuous in the photo, her caramel skin glistening in the sun.

In each photo in the album, she is beaming, her forehead gleaming from suntan oil. In one photo, she jumps suspended in the air over the sand. In another photo she's laughing.

What would happen if I messaged her, I thought. It would be lost forever -- eternally unread. Using one of my fake Facebook profiles, I clicked the "Message" button on Mindy's page. I wrote: "Hi Mindy" and clicked send.

There was no fear of rejection there – no fear of the unknown. Everything I could know or could ever know about Mindy was here.

I browsed through more photos -- her profile pics -- her cover photos -- her tagged album. I focused on her curves, her black silky hair, and I was consumed by a strange but potent attraction. I was compelled by the fullness of her breasts and the narrowness of her hips in her tight turtle neck sweater. I was drawn to her – seduced by her beauty captured for all eternity.

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