LXVI | Some Consolation

The plain nurse comes to fetch me
during medicine time.

I keep my head

the whole time

so it’s only afterwards that I notice

is alone.

The armchairs

are no longer in a straight line
but defiantly

disordered again,

like they were


Oman looks like a new patient
sitting alone,

knees up to his chest,
head buried between,

hands locking everything in.

Trying to look like
a cushion

on the armchair.

A male nurse
stands beside him

in place of Nina.

An uncomfortable contrast—

he must have been forced
to come out
just like me.

I also pull my knees

up to my chest.

But I balance my chin
on my knees,

thinking about Nina.

Maybe Oman’s not dragged out

for medicine time,

she’s in a coma because of him.

You never know,

People aren’t always

what they seem.

Tammie puts up a cheerful front all the time
but she’s extremely insecure.

Tammie looks boyish and simple
but she’s into pole dancing and sex.


I cover my face
with my hands.


is everything

about her?




I don’t feel like painting today.

The other patients

after medicine time ends

but I mirror Oman’s actions—
curling into a ball,
becoming a cushion.

A hand touches my shoulder.

My head shoots up
like a rocket.


Asher holds his hand up in the air.
Eyes wary.

‘Are you okay?’

His eyes are big.
Were they always

this big?

Is it because
his head
is shaved?

Behind him,

I notice Tammie
walking towards the studio,

a spring in her step.

Like nothing’s wrong.

It’s okay.
It’s okay.
It’s okay.

I blink.

What does Asher want?

He sits
on the arm

of my chair.

The same place
Tammie is usually sits

but farther,

at the very edge,
leaning away.

His big eyes
smile at me

like I’m someone he recognises as a friend.

I’m sure

he didn’t look at me
like that


What changed?

We don’t speak.

I’m too upset about Tammie
to say anything without crying.

He doesn’t ask.

He doesn’t speak.

Even when my stomach growls,
he doesn’t ask if I want food.

Of course,
when his stomach growls,

I don’t ask either.

I didn’t ask him
to sit vigil with me

but he does

until it’s evening,
until it’s medicine time.

I’m not mourning,

I’m waiting.

For Tammie to come out of the studio
          to come out to me,

to tell me I’m forgiven.

That we’re friends again.

That the past doesn’t matter
because it’s over.

But Moonlight Sonata fills the hall
with white floating figures
and the smell of sanitiser

and the only difference

is Asher’s

sitting closer to me

then before.

His hands aren’t crossed anymore,
his torso isn’t leaning away either.

he’s draped one hand
over the back of the chair,

His body



against my shoulder.


And he doesn’t move
until the nurse

tells him it’s his turn.




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