VI | Some Night

After medicine time,

I still hear Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
repeating in my mind.

The patients
have scattered now,

some have gone to eat,
others to bathe,

two continue to sit in their armchairs

staring into space.


With the two nurses trailing behind me,
I wander into other rooms

that I didn’t get to see earlier.

There’s what looks like a study

with bookshelves,
a computer
and a television with no sound.

In another room,
I find stacks of black canvases,

paints and brushes,
and easels with
(half-completed?) abstract art.

Art supplies
are stacked in messy cubbyholes
with no order to it.

I wonder if there’s a

in the mess.

What would the nurses do
if I pick it up?

The third room
must be a studio.

One wall is all mirror

and there are CD players
scattered around.

I open the cupboard
in the corner
of the room

and a pile of leotards
with the scent of sweat

tumble out.

I’m just gonna leave them lying there.


Fifi, aren’t you going to bathe?


I see Tammie’s reflection
in the studio mirror.

Her short hair is damp,

matted onto her head.


a dress shirt too big

for her.

She looks

like this.

Tammie rakes her fingers
through her hair.

‘I don’t know
‘where’s the bath,’

I say.

She smiles

and pulls me

back to the hall
through the kitchen

into the bathroom
marked for females.

There are shelves
with different kinds of clothes

to choose from.

I pick a dress shirt
that looks like Tammie’s.

The girl who keeps giggling
brushes past me,

her hair

dripping water

behind her.

She’s still wearing
that same flowy dress

that billows every time she moves.


After I bathe,
I find Tammie


just outside my cubicle,

an apologetic smile
on her face.

Her grey eyes are glazed,

her movements
more languid

than before.

‘What medicine are you on?’ I ask.

She thinks
as we go upstairs together,

the two nurses
following after.


The same ones as you.


I’m not happy with her reply

but the knob gives way
when I turn it

so I forget it
when I step into my bedroom.

and the nurses

follow me in

and I don’t ask why

because I’m staring

at the wrought-iron bed
and grey pillows,

the peeling white wallpaper
and the gothic window.

It’s not

the size of a coffin
but the
lack of stuff

makes it seem

like a


Once you settle in,
it’ll look better,


Tammie says with a yawn.

I sit on the bed.

The nurses find two chairs
from somewhere
and sit on them.

Watching me.

‘You gonna watch me sleep?’
I ask

in disbelief.

Tammie smiles at me


Sorry. Just put up with it
for a week.


I pull back the thin grey blanket
and pull it up over my legs.

The pretty nurse
types something
on her phone.

‘I’m not
‘scared of the dark, you know?’

She nods her head

without even
looking at me.

The plain nurse turns the light off,
plunging the room

in blackness.

‘Good night,’
she says in a voice

that’s supposed to be soothing.

‘You’ve had a long day.’

I squint at them
in the dark,

silvers of light

still come through the window.

But there’s
not much of that

because we’re in some
ulu forest
in some ulu part

of Singapore.

I snort.

‘Are you going to sing a lullaby too?’

The phone’s glow
lights up the chin of the pretty nurse

and makes her eyes


‘Do you want me
‘to sing one?’

I lie down
and keep my eyes open,

staring at the

blank ceiling,

and the outline of
the LED lamp,


to stay awake
until morning.




I blink
and suddenly

I’m blinded

by bright rays of light.

I smell her rancid breath
before I hear her.


Wake up!




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