If, Black

Ma Yu

Translated by: Liu Qing

Original text: "如果,⿊黑⾊色 "

Artwork by Liu Qing

If Black goes onto the street, and sees Red through the window.

If Red is trying on a pair of high-heel shoes, and through the window, Black peeks at the smile underneath her flying skirt.

After if, Red walks out of the window.

Black stands there, Red’s shadow steps onto the tip of his toe.

The shadow apologizes.

Hence a kiss is formed and crunches between Black’s teeth.

If Black’s mouth cannot cover Red’s immediately, then he would have the urge to die.

People would say that this is love at first sight.

From then on, Black spies on Red.

One day.

Two days.

Black sees Red’s dog, her husband, and other high-heel shoes.

As for that crunching kiss, it has already been chewed out of shape, like, well, a piece of chewing gum.

But from Black's point of view, Black has all the reason to think that kisses do not have functions such as refreshing breath and helping one to quit smoking, therefore chewing gum cannot be used as a metaphor for a kiss, thus Black will contend to the bitter end.

Black shall spread the evidence on a spotless oak table, and if possible, let it be an almost perfect surface, let it carry the radiance of Black’s intelligence in the sunset.

Black firmly believes that everyone is equal before the law, he shall arrange the arguments in the order of Arabic numerals and litigate. Someone actually absurdly uses chewing gum, as a metaphor for a kiss—this—is intolerable, both by logic, and from a romantic point of view.

As a fictional character or a type of colour, will Black waste his entire life on a non-existent litigation, will the sharply dressed Black spend one, or thousands of nights in front of the door of the law, will the wind there blow up the corner of his clothes, if his clothes are light enough, or the wind strong enough.



In fact, Red knows of the existence of Black, Red even knows that Black knows Red knows of his existence.

However, Green, Green does not know of Black's existence.

If Green, even if Green nonchalantly passes by Red’s rear door,[1] he would see a shadow clinging onto the branches of a Chinese parasol tree next to the rear door. The shadow is clinging on extremely tightly, in order not to fall, and in order for Green to think that they are just a bunch of shadows, despite being black.

Through the Chinese parasol tree's leaves, Black sees Red hanging from one of White’s elbows.

As for White’s other arm, it is continuously fiddling with an artificial limb—a mobile, or otherwise a pair of glasses.

Everything through the binoculars is a distortion, therefore Black is almost no longer sure of anything.

But Black swears that he must imprint the kiss onto Red’s lips before it has been chewed to pieces, if by that time her mouth is still intact after being kissed by White.

White has a big mouth with an unshaven beard, it opens and closes rapidly, sentences up to one metre, or even three metres are spat out from his mouth one after another. Via the artificial limb—the mobile, White controls a bunch of ears who are adept at sycophancy.

The ears are remarkably busy, they indulge in drinking and gambling.

The ears are transparent, as they need to change colours frequently.

When people look at themselves in the mirror, they may well find that ears are winking at them—at that moment, ears are yellow.

Black never controls ears, neither is he anyone else’s ear.

Black is a pair of eyes, a pair of desperate eyes stuck on a pair of binoculars. Of course, Black also has an unsent kiss, which is, from time to time, being polished by food, water and sleep talk.



If it rains, Black would take off all his clothes, every Chinese parasol tree leaf would then become his shower-head.

Gradually, Black learns to control the speed, the amount, and even the temperature of the water flow of the Chinese parasol tree leaf shower-heads.

Black wishes that one day, before the kiss has been chewed to pieces, he can have a perfect shower underneath them.

After the rain, Black—who is not being admired by the gaze—is adorned in a clean shirt that had been preserved in waterproof fabric, he leaves the collar open, his chest is gently caressed by the wind, the way Red’s hand would caress it.

Red is always really beautiful, since she knows that a pair of binoculars only exist because of her, she has no reason not to powder beauty onto her face. If she is not beautiful, she will disguise herself with a hat, glasses and a coat.

Since a pair of binoculars exist due to the presence of Red, she removes the curtain in front of the lens, then Black knows that White would only ride on Red during the nights of full moon when more than five female cats are howling at the same time, and Red would not disappoint Black, she has even exceeded Black’s expectations. To this, Black’s right hand can testify.

The only time when Red is not pretty is when she takes her child to school in the morning, she will then hide herself behind Black.

Hence, two Blacks came into being on two sides of the binoculars, one male and one female, one tall and one short, one that watches, and one that acts.

Red hands over her child to the school bus, at the third second after the child put down his waving right hand, Red starts turning, the turn lasts for one second, Red dedicates it to the children on the school bus.

If our story happened in Shanghai after September 2013, then the school bus would have a unique nine-digit number plate, it would also have added features such as laminated glass to further improve safety.

It is believed that the selection criteria for school bus drivers are also extremely stringent, the driver must be above 25 and under 60 years old, and must have over 3 years of experience in driving school buses, as well as a good driving record, with no criminal or drug-use record.

Owing to these facts, will Red shorten her turn in front of the school bus to 0.1 seconds?



Red dumps the bulging red rubbish bag in the bin, Black’s black binoculars are hanging on his neck.

Now, Black knows that Red lives on Green’s sperm, even though it is all stuck inside the condom and flushed down the drain, a condom that used to move to and fro in Red, Black cannot bear the thought that it was never covered on top of his erect desire. He cuts this thought, using a comb with missing teeth.

The comb is in the pocket, the pocket is sewn onto the coat, the coat is hung on the tree.

The wind did not blow it off.

Right now, Red is acting as a housewife in front of the camera, she cleans up the mess and arranges everything in perfect order, with the company of the ECM No.1921 record, music dances along with Red, Red is beautiful in such a way, that the binoculars did not even turn away.

If Back continues to look, he will find out about Purple, she is one of White’s ears, at times, White ejects into this ear. There is also Orange, Blue, Brown, they are all the same as Red, they are all Green’s channels.

In terms of how many channels Green has, he would say, how many colours there are, he would have that many channels.

But Black only has Red.



Red is calculating, as soon as she gets the anticipated number, it will be the date when she invites Black to come down from the Chinese parasol tree, that is, if Black is still in the tree then, if that kiss has not yet been chewed to pieces.

Needless to say, Black, who had been immobilized by some kind of insanity did not leave the Chinese parasol tree.

The Chinese parasol tree withstands everything with grace.

The Chinese parasol tree stands there in the wind, withstanding everything with grace.

The wind can be seen everywhere, like death.

But Black hopes that Red would not act in haste, that she would at least let him slowly put on a nice shirt after an almost perfect shower, and afterwards, lightly, or softly, put on that kiss.

Red is calculating with black fingernails, she records the collected numbers in a dark red notebook, the notebook is hidden in the toilet cistern.

White comes home later and later, so much so that it has been a couple of days since he has passed by Red’s rear door, returning to this box that is the so-called home.

For White, Red’s box has become a cage.

White is building other boxes, with concrete, oak, children and menstruation.

Red prolongs the turn in front of the school bus that is dedicated to the children to three seconds.

The ECM No.1921 record is no longer played.

Red no longer needs jazz.

Red no longer needs to dance herself.

Green, too, no longer needs Red, Green mixes Magenta and Yellow into Red. Or, Magenta, Yellow, and Red.

Green is content, since he has separately or even simultaneously possessed this many channels, there is no need to be depressed or go insane for the loss of one channel.

Green no longer listens to jazz.

Black does not have music, because there is no electricity on the Chinese parasol tree.



In front of White, Red uses a pair of scissors to make incisions, White does not impede, White turns away coldly and leaves, an insipid kiss is thrown into the rubbish bin.

Red stares blankly at the red on the blade.

Black smiles, Black thinks at this moment Red is even more attractive, the bleeding wounds on her arm has no doubt illuminated her.

Black is sincerely willing to manoeuvre his tongue and lick the flowing red into his own blood vessels.

Red does not succeed in finding that dark red notebook in the toilet cistern, there is a note, a white note, with black writing.

Red tears up the white note with black writing and swallows her tears.

Red places a bulging rubbish bag in the rubbish bin under the Chinese parasol tree.

Inside that red rubbish bag, White’s insipid kiss is curled up, as well as that white note which had been torn up, perhaps there is also a child, a child so small that it cannot even be called a child, a child that has just left Red’s body, who will never be able to see Spring.

Red knocks on the Chinese parasol tree branch with her wedding ring, there seems to be a door, a revolving door that leads directly to Black’s house.

Next, the binoculars are being hung on the neck, the glasses stood on the bridge of the nose.

Before Black had time to take a perfect shower, the tongue is rapidly steered by that crunching kiss via the lips, and afterwards, the tongue is hung upside down in each other's mouths.

The two twisting tongues will never tie a dead knot the way a hemp rope would.

They slide, toss and turn, but they’re so short, and will easily make the lizard laugh its head off.



If Black came onto the street, and saw Red through the windows, and if Red was trying on a pair of high-heel shoes, and through the window, Black peeked at the smile underneath her flying skirt, after if, Black would store a kiss that only existed for Red.

Unfortunately, or luckily, Black did not come onto the street, neither did Red try on any high heels in a storefront window.

Black is in his apartment, Red is turning endlessly at the school bus stop, she collects all these moments, and dedicates them to her children who are on longer on the school bus.

They did not meet, that crunching kiss therefore did not exist. Hence, the tongue can only hang in one's own mouth like a dead fish, and since there is no wind to blow it dry inside the mouth, as a dead fish, the tongue would not be unvexed at losing the possibility of becoming a salted fish, perhaps, the tongue would also lose the ability to hang upside down inside another's mouth.

The tongue shuts its eyes, it says, if only everything is an only if.

[1]   The original text is “metal door”, as “metal door” in Chinese has the same phonetics as “anus”, however “rear door” is used as a substitute for a closer translation and wordplay.

Ma Yu

Male, currently residing in Shanghai, born in May 1986, date of death unknown. He has a wide range of interests, such as mopping the floor, following stray cats, and standing underneath ginkgo trees waiting for ginkgo nuts to fall.

Liu Qing

Female, born in China (May 1987) and having left at the age of 8, has since lived in Auckland, Melbourne, and Sydney. With a background in architecture, she dabbles in photography, translation, filmmaking, and making leather goods.