1. Early in the morning and a girl in a red puffa jacket lights a cigarette outside a standalone convenience store in the bitter cold middle of nowhere. She presses herself close against the pale yellow wall and her dyed ashy blonde hair rises with the wind. As cars go by she exhales upwards and her smoky breath drifts into a sky so blue, I swear it was borrowed from the movies.
2. Around ten at night I am following my family down a city street, still filled with people walking from one restaurant or bar to another. We pass a tapas hole-in-the-wall with a little window into the kitchen, where the hot hipster chef is slapping a thick ribeye slice down on the plancha. He smashes a few potatoes on the side, then looks up and sees me staring. Reaches over, flicks the window open and leans out to smile and point invitingly at the searing meat. Its garlicky aroma reaches me where I am standing and through the door I see one empty seat at the bar where people are knocking back glasses of sangria. But from a distance, my mother calls to me to hurry up. I smile regretfully at the chef, take one last look at the most perfect piece of ribeye I have ever laid eyes on, and then I walk away.
3. Later that same night there is a rumpled and flushed salaryman perusing the titty magazine section of the convenience store. He makes his unnaturally-large selection and pays for it along with a can of Asahi, which he chugs while flipping rapidly through the magazine as if searching for something or someone. When he is done with his beer he carefully disposes of it in the recycling bin and staggers a little at the exit, reeling from the cold wind once outside the artificial warmth of the convenience store. Once sure of his balance he starts to walk, sweaty left hand curled around the magazine - forefinger inserted to keep his page - and the other hand deep inside his right pants pocket, performing obscure adjustments all the way down the sidewalk.