LXXVI | Some Violence

It’s a bit early
for medicine time.

The sky
is still very bright.

Tammie’s grip on one of my hands

turns it white.

I wiggle my fingers
but she doesn’t respond.

So I let her.

Yes, I play favourites.

Asher’s not allowed,
but Tammie can.

They’re different

so I treat them different.


Maybe not so different.

I’ve hurt
both of them.

Asher’s chair is empty.

It’ll remain



Everyone gets their medicine
except me.

Extra pills to forget

what they’ve just seen.

When everyone’s
shuffled off blearily,

they give me

the injection

and untie me
from my armchair.

Tammie lets go
of my hand then.

Steps back.

I let sleep
and the nurses

take me.

I memorise her serene face,
her familiar apologetic smile

before everything

turns black.




I killed Asher.

I need to tell you about it
before I forget.

My notebook disappeared.

And I’m going to forget

as soon as
I open my eyes

It’s my selfish defence mechanism.

When you sin,
you must recall it

so you can pay the price.

But I get away

with these things

because I’m
a lunatic.

Loony people get special pardons

when they do something wrong

because they don’t really mean to do it.
          They don’t really want to do it.

They just can’t help but do it.

So the sensible ones
forgive pityingly.

Build special prisons

for us to languish in
for the rest of our lives.

They show off

to one another

by going to those places,
spending time with us.

The more time they spend,

the more compassionate.

They smile a lot.
We’re encouraged

to do the same.

Not anymore.

Singapore has done away
with that kind of pretence.

We’re secluded.

Separate hospitals,
separate facilities.


is the worst of them.
The most cruel.

But it is because
this place exists

that lunacy is better understood.


They watch us.
The experts—

doctors, psychologists, researchers

—from cameras in the walls.

They see everything.
They don’t interfere.


There’s no way
to predict

when they’ll get involved.

What experiment they’re conducting.

Who’s the specimen.

I can only guess that
it’s Asher.


I thought he was dead
when he fell

so I let go of him.

Coaxing my numb legs
to prop me upright.

the damage.

His hands—both—
grabbed my wrists.

Pulled me onto him.

I yelped
and kneed him

in the balls,

my forehead

cracking his jaw.

I heard the snap
and my ears burned

from the scream.

Then there was a paintbrush in my hand,
and I plunged it

over and over

into the soft part
of his neck.

His eyes watched me,

red paint

until he got bored

and went to sleep.

He took a deep breath
but it spluttered and broke


The nurses converged

on us

after that.

Murmured soothingly,
pulled the others away

until I was alone

with his corpse.

They asked for the red paintbrush
in my hand

but I refused to give it.

They let me be.

Let me stay
kneeled beside him,

as they cleared the wreckage

from under him.

His body flopped
like a doll

with each piece of wood

they pulled
from under him.

He didn’t wake up again.

Some part of me
thought he would.

Then I would
pound the truth

into him

so he’d never forget it.

I waited,



for a confrontation
that never happened.

His blood seeped
into the carpet

now that he was lying flat on it.

they brought a bag,

zipped him up in it,

even though I told them
there was more

I needed to say to him.


One of the nurses
told me to stand up

but my legs were numb.


Black ink


over this moment,

pulling it
into darkness.


They carried me into
my armchair.

White rope from their belts.


Darkness spills

like water from a vase knocked over,

blotting out





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