LIII | Some Other Reality

You’re right, Tammie.

‘There’s no conspiracy!
‘Nobody died!”

She smiles,

because she’s tired.

I tell her
what Asher said,

I’m so excited

I don’t give her time
to comment

before I say again,

‘So Tammie,
‘let’s think about our future!’




It’s after medicine time.

Tammie’s squeezed
into my bed,

her smelly breath filling up
the inside of the thin blanket.

It’s not cold

but Tammie likes
the feeling of the blanket

over our heads.

I’ve spent the whole day

thinking of possibilities.

It’s difficult,
because I’ve

never thought of the future


It was never

a possibility.

My life
had already gone down the drain
before I was even 10 years old.

Something like

a new start,
a real future,

things like that…

I’ve never

thought of it.

Even when I was able
to go to school again,
I lived day by day.

Tomorrow is the farthest future I would ever have.


I want to pole dance.


‘Even when we get out of here?’

It’s dark
but I can feel her smile.


Yeah, it’s my dream now.
You have to watch me




I hope
she can’t feel me frown.

Do whatever you want.


Let’s live in a studio.

Then I can
pole dance
all the time.


A future with Tammie.

The thought of it
makes my heart feel


But I don’t like the idea
of her pole dancing 24/7.

She squirms,
excited by this thought.

So I say,

‘A studio will be expensive.’


I’ll earn money from pole dancing.
You can paint and sell your art.

We’ll be rich!


The frown
on my face deepens.

I can only paint you, Tammie.


Let’s live in a warehouse, Fifi!
We’ll be the only ones for miles.

The neighbourhood will be


We can have both our studios
in one big space.


Our hands

under the blanket.

A human’s warmth
is a curious thing.

So different

from the everyday heat
and humidity

that hangs in the air.

My eyes close


as Tammie continues
to describe

the warehouse she’ll design.

She’ll turn it into a barn
with lots of poles for pole dancing.


I fall asleep
as Tammie talks.




I feel

when I wake up.

I feel cold

even when medicine time’s over,
and the sun’s risen to its zenith,
and I’m sitting by the window, painting,

directly under its blazing light.

Human warmth
is a curious thing.

I play back

the future
we’ve created

in my mind,

over and


Asher comes by
to ask what I’m painting.

I can return his smile

with my own

I look down
and meet his eyes

and say,

‘I’m painting my future!’

He watches me

without asking questions.

Even if he asked,
I wouldn’t tell him

why I’ve painted

a barn.

Or why, inside the barn,

there’s a pole dancing studio
and a wardrobe the size of a 4-room flat.

This future

to Tammie and me.

Just the two of us.

I watch his curiosity
turn to bewilderment

and his bewilderment
turn to fear.

He leaves

without a word.

Without looking back.

I try to paint
Tammie again—

Inside our warehouse-barn
this time—

only this time,

I’m sitting there
watching her,

filming with a camera

to capture every moment of her dance
so that I can paint



of it.




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