LXXXI | Something From The Past

has secrets, Fifi.

You’re not

the only one.


is sick in some way.

You’re not

the only one.




We were bathed in sunlight.

It shone down
like a spotlight

and reflected off
colourful concrete bricks

in a decorative pattern.


I sat.


Tammie, her scruffy hair
shorter than it is now,

rested her head in my lap—

like I am
in hers now.

She squinted her eyes

the sun

but they didn’t close all the way.

‘I want to look at you,’
she said.

I told her
there was nothing to see.

‘I’m studying.
‘you should too.’

She giggled.

She smiled.

That apologetic smile.

I told her
her school uniform

would get dirty

if she lay down
like that.

Her irises were dark,
her lashes long.

Even washed out by the sun,

I thought she was beautiful.

I never thought
of people

as attractive or ugly

before I knew her.

was part of the conspiracy.

Their appearances

Unlike them,
who looked the same

so you could tell which faction
they belonged to—

who they were—

reality was more confusing.

Everyone could

People switched sides,

changed voices,
changed motives.


The concept
of beauty

didn’t exist
in that kind of world.


But Tammie was different.

She was the same
no matter what I thought.

Her apologetic smile.

Her clumsiness.

Her compassion.

None of the
strange things I did

that caused the others
to stay away

fazed her.


She told me
a secret

so I wouldn’t feel alone.

After that,
I clung to her

like a parasite.

She didn’t mind.

She let me follow her


That particular day,
we skipped class

because I thought
the walls were closing in.

She was tired too.

Stayed up the whole night

an eight-hour
arthouse film.

I asked her

she couldn’t wait
till the weekend.

She shrugged,
showed me that apologetic smile.

‘I want to be with you.’

I felt something warm
fill up my chest.

While she rested,
I read my textbook.

I worried about my grades.

Being able to go to a normal school
was special

for people like me.

If I wanted
to take my O levels
and graduate

with Tammie,

I’d have to work harder.

She giggled.
Said I didn’t have to.

People got suspicious
when we wandered around
during class time

and I didn’t want to hole up
in the counsellor’s office again,

so we’re hiding here,
behind the school,
in an empty carpark lot,

baking in the sun.




‘Why did you skip class with me too?’

Tammie smiles
her apologetic smile.

She was pale
back then too,

got cold easily.

I brace myself
to hear the rest of the story.

She plays with my hair,

tying smaller knots
because the big ones

keep coming undone.

I don’t want knots
in my hair

but I’m at her mercy

until she’s

telling the whole story.




error: Content is protected!!