LXXXII | Some Kind of Betrayal

You locked me in a cupboard.


‘What? Why?’
I ask her.

The strand of hair

she pulls

breaks off

between her fingers.

She smiles,


If you don’t figure out what you did,
there’s no point

is there?


‘But I don’t remember.’

Tammie shrugs.


You don’t think
you did anything wrong?


Her eyes narrow,


You think someone triggered you?

You think it’s my own fault?


‘It’s not that,’
I say quickly,

‘I just want to know
‘what happened.’

I see the hurt
in her eyes

and know my words

have hurt her.

Frustration hugs my chest
like a new best friend.

Tammie continues

small knots

in my long hair.

I try to recall what happened
on my own.




Lots of blood.

Lots of screaming.

Then, silence.

When I woke up,
I was at the hospital.

She was there too.

The one
in the bed was her.

I stood at her bedside,
my hand cuffed to a tall blue man.

She flinched.

flooded her grey eyes

when she saw me.

Scrambled out of the bed,
her bandaged head

bleeding again.

She screamed.
Said stuff I didn’t understand.

I listened.

She smiled,
her usual apologetic smile.

I cried.

Then, the blue man

pulled me up,
wrenched me from the room.

The linoleum hallway

was shaky and blurry.

The patterns on the ground
were very different

from the wards I’m used to.


I never

saw her again.

The next time
I woke up,

I was also in the hospital.

A different ward.
A different reason.


I’m the worst.

I really…
don’t remember.




I’m alone in my room.

Her grey eyes
have multiplied.

They watch me

from all the portraits
I’ve bluetacked around the room.


Tammie’s right.

My painting sucks.

They’re all

the wrong shades
of grey.

Her eyes
in the story

are a deeper colour—
not just dark,


like they’ve got


inside the grey.

A fancy way of saying black,
I remember this lonely phrase

out of nowhere.

I turn off the light.

The LED bulb 


for a moment in the dark.


I imagine myself
pushing her into the cupboard

so hard
she’s knocked out

from the blow.

I must be
some kind of monster
          to do that

to my first love.

Even if she said something—

what could

justify that?


I press my face
into the pillow

and cry.

I cry

until I can’t breathe.




‘You won’t leave me, right?’
I had asked her.


My eyes
glued to the textbook.

There was a stifling feeling
in my chest.

A fear the struck me
whenever Tammie
closed her eyes.

She’s close now.

But not yesterday.
And not tomorrow.

My skirt rode up my thighs

so her hair
tickled my skin.

Her neck was warm.

‘I might,’ she murmured sleepily.

I stiffened.
Lowered the textbook.


She opened her eyes.

Deep grey,
reflecting all the colours
of the rainbow.

Apologetic smile.

‘I can’t be tied down

‘You won’t be. You said you liked me.’

She sat up.

The sun was still shining
but my lap

felt cold
and empty

without her head there.

I pulled the hem
of my skirt

to my knee,

hoping it warms up.

‘I don’t.’

She stares at me,

hair messed up
from lying down.

I wanted

to hold her.

Her skin would be cold.
She was always

cold to the touch

these days.

Was this change related?

‘We’ll go to different schools
‘after O levels.

‘We have different dreams.’

I closed
my textbook.

‘I’ll go to the same school as you.’

She laughed,
pushed me away

when I tried

to hold her.

Her voice
was harsh.

It was distorted.

I thought it was their voice.

She sat back,
crossed her legs.

‘I want my own future, Fifi.’

And I followed her
from the carpark lot in school

to my house

as she described
the future she wanted.

It was beautiful.

It was exciting.

It was a happy one.

But I wasn’t
in it.

She didn’t mention


at all.

Her face was flushed
with anticipation.

Her eyes reflected more light than usual.

‘That’s nice,’
I said distractedly,

thinking of the times

she hugged me.
The intimate things we shared.

The way her hand

was always so close,
brushing my skin.

We were so close.

the future she painted


It was too real.
In it, we were

too far apart.

Then our friendship—
our whatever?

What did all that mean?

I was about to ask.

But Tammie took my hand,
dragged me to my room

and took a picture of my bewildered face.

‘Today’s the last day,’
she said.

‘Now I’m free.’




Since then,
I was convinced she was the one

who betrayed me.

Thinking about it now,

head swimming,
throat and lungs

hands going numb,

I’m wrong.

I was the one
who betrayed her—

and then I was the one
who forgot

because I couldn’t bear it.


I press my head

into the pillow.

I want to die.

Just let me die.

The smell of vomit
envelops me.

The liquid that fills my nose
is mine.

Long fingernails
scrape hair
out of my face.

Her familiar voice.


Fifi, why aren’t you happy for me?
I’m free now.




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