LXXXIII | Something I Misunderstood

‘I can pursue my own dream now.’

I stared at her—

‘Since that first bus ride,
‘I’ve been following you.

‘Now, I have my own dream.
‘When we graduate,

‘I’ll make my dream
‘a reality.

‘I’ll finally be free.’


She was different.

I had believed that.
They fooled me.

She continued to talk,
her eyes looking beyond me.

At someone else,

about a future
I’m not a part of.

At least look at me now.

Her lips moved,
her apologetic smile



Her eyes dance nervously.
Her hand

types a number,

brings the phone
up to her ear.

It’s in my hand now.

She backs away
from me.

It’s dark in the house.

My parents aren’t home.

She turned
into one of them.

I had no choice,
I had to lock her up.



Something wet
splattered onto my face.

I blink

at the darkness
in front of me.

Tammie’s face is serene.

Her grey eyes closed.

Denying me.
Rejecting me.

Saying goodbye.

I closed the door.

Leaned against it.

That’s when my mind blanked.

I called the police
to report them.

I ran away
without taking anything with me.

It was two days
before they found me
on some highway.


I heard the blue man

tell me

she was malnourished,
she was dehydrated.

She would have died

if my mother hadn’t noticed
her blood

dripping from the cupboard.

Tammie was hysterical.

Calling me a monster.
          A murderer.

The blue man
dragged me from the room.

He praised me

for not escaping prison
because of my diagnosis.

I looked up
at him.

His eyes
had widened

with fear.

Hands shielding his face.
He was shouting.

At me?

Voices were calling out.

All of them were loud.

Some had a high-pitch.

Hands were grabbing me.

No matter where I turned,
no matter how fast I ran,

they caught me.

I remember the last face I saw,
the person who finally subdued me.

I remember him.

He was my brother.


That last time

I saw Tammie,

she had black shadows
under her eyes.

Her hair had been shaved,
her head bandaged tight.

Before I came,
she had smiled

her apologetic smile

at the patient
          next to her.


Tammie had been in a coma

for 72 hours.




I open my eyes,

there’s a familiar
face blocking out

half the LED ceiling light,

thin fingers

tying knots in my hair.

Her grey eyes focus on the strands of hair in her hands.

My lungs are burning.
(So is my throat.)

But the vomit smell
isn’t mine—

it’s Tammie’s.

I open my mouth

but the words don’t come out.

She doesn’t
seem to notice.

So I just lie there

and watch her

until my eyes

My face heats up.

streak down

the sides

of my face

and soak
into my ears.


Still not looking at me,


scratches the tears
from my face

with one long fingernail.

Her apologetic smile
is sad.


Now you know.


I bury my face

in her stomach,

unable to look at her,
unable to face her,

that I had

(back then)

not asked.


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




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