CVI | Someone Visits

Moonlight Sonata begins
to play.

The walls

wake up

to this mournful

Ibrahim arrives first
but disappears

into the bathroom.

Haryati and Callum descend the stairs
like ghosts with uncombed hair.

The plain nurse says something
to the pretty nurse.

The pretty nurse replies.

They forget about me
for a while.

Pei Xuan is next,

stumbling down the stairs
like a drunkard,

eyes not quite open.

Her eyes widen
at the new patient.

A glimmer

of recognition.

Her laughter
in her throat.


They talk.
It’s a tense conversation.

The plain nurse
taps my shoulder.


Let’s go.


I want to find Tammie,

I won’t get distracted like this.

I glance up
the stairs


I’ll run for it.

There’s still the greenhouse to check.

But the smell of vomit
overwhelms me.

I think of thin bony arms
wrap around my waist.
A chin on my shoulder.


I’m here.
I’m not going anywhere.


Just like that,

my anxieties,
my panic,
my reality

clears up.

I think of her clear grey eyes
and apologetic smile

and how I’ll find what I’m looking for.

So when the plain nurse

leads me to the medicine room
instead of the angmoh nurse,

I don’t think anything’s wrong.


I’m wrong,
of course.


I eat my medicine—
still oblivious.

Then stand up
to return
to the main hall.

But the plain nurse leads me
          in another direction.

The corridor of rooms.

I resist her.

She takes my hand.
It’s warm.


You have a visitor, Fiona.
Don’t be scared.


I blink at her.

She opens
one of the doors.

(They all look the same to me.)

We don’t get visitors,
I respond.

She nods.

I’m pulled into
an unfamiliar room.

It’s empty
with white walls.

Couches gather around
a coffee table.

Everything is bolted to the linoleum.


That’s right.
This is a special visit.


She leads me to the couch
farthest from the door,

facing it,

and sits me down.

Special visit?

I’m still reeling

from everything
that happened


I’ve forgotten so much.
I’ve remembered so much.

She tells me
to wait quietly

and disappears.

I’m alone
          in the room.


Time passes,
I think.

I’m not sure.


I hear voices.



The door opens.

My visitor walks in.

Closes the door
behind her.

I stare into
her dark eyes.

Her name is on the tip of my tongue.

(But I must be wrong.)


She smiles.

It’s a familiar

(But wrong.)

She greets me first.

Wary. Shy. Hesitant.

(All wrong.)


Hello, Fifi.
Long time no see.




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