LII | Something More

‘What’s wrong?’

I look up

and then away.

It’s Asher.

I’m so distracted
I think he’s Tammie.

He doesn’t comment

on my reaction.


What’s wrong?


he sits on the bench beside me

even though

I haven’t said he could

at our last
staring contest.

Don’t talk to me,
I tell him now.

‘I’m thinking.’

He looks away.

Doesn’t get up
but doesn’t leave either.


I search for where
the rowan tree
branches are intertwined.

Even if someone
tried to separate

the two trees

by combing their branches

they won’t let go.

I know this
for sure.

Asher’s looking at it too,
thinking the same thing.

Krishna’s not tending

the flowers today—

which is why
I’m here trying to sort out my thoughts.

‘What have you been doing
‘these days?’

I ask him

what she asked me.

He peeks at me
without turning his head,

a frown growing

on his face.




he says at last,

looking me in the eye
so I can be sure

he’s telling the truth.


He doesn’t hesitate
like I did.


Because I can’t do the things
I want to do here.



Is that the correct answer?

‘You’re thinking of leaving?’

He blinks,
tilts his head.


I’m sure
you don’t want to stay here
forever either…


I don’t, but…

‘What about the eight patient rule?
‘Do you know it?’

He nods.


Mn, space constraint.
Singapore mah.
Once you recover and leave

they’ll let another patient in.


He smiles
even though his eyes are clouded

with confusion.


What are you asking?

It’s an expensive
recovery facility, you know.

Of course they’ll need
to keep taking in patients
to earn money.



I forgot there was something like that.

I haven’t thought
about money

in a long time.

He laughs, and his kind facade breaks for a moment.


That’s all I think about


He starts talking
about the building he wants to own
and how he’s been saving up 

to make that happen.

Always wanted to be a property investor

but got side-tracked with her

and so when he gets out of here–


‘But you said
‘you deserve to be here,’
I interrupt.

The trees whisper.

Krishna’s checkerboard flowers
sway to music I can’t hear.

His jaw tightens.


I do.


There’s pain in his eyes.


I do, but
I can’t help wanting

something more…


I don’t know why I’m running.

My feet
colliding with the cold

from the cold stone floor,
the door swings open

but I forget to close it,

running down the landing,
          down the stairs,

leaving cold footprints

as I go.

Urei—in the hall
(as always)—

watches me sprint across

into the studio

where Tammie
is dancing
in a pool of sweat.

She smiles

like she expected my arrival,
hanging from the pole,

fluffy hair
matted to her head,

fingers turning red.



We can get out of here.
We can be normal.

We can have something more.


I’m more out of breath
than I expected.

I have to bend over

until the aching pain stops.

Escaping this place was impossible
from the start—

I realise it now
without feeling despair

the medicine they give makes me


But that doesn’t matter
right now.



for us now.




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