XLIII | Someone Like Her

Tammie’s still dancing

when I peek
into the studio.

Music’s playing

from a few CD players
at once.

The melodies

of the songs
jumbled up

sounds vaguely familiar.

I don’t go inside though,
I’m not welcome

during practices.

I stand outside, leaning against the wall,
listening to her breathe.

The lyrics
of multiple songs


like the orchestral version
of something epic.

Or just bad vaporwave.

Someone I loved

had once been obsessed
over vaporwave music.


hated it.

The familiar unfamiliarity—

I’m smiling.

Why am I smiling?

sighs in frustration

on the other side of the wall.

A deep breath.
The sound of flesh and metal.

My smile
grows bigger.

So does
my fear of losing her.

I can’t help it.


On the way
to the greenhouse,

I pass by

the storage room.

Stacks of black canvases,
paints and brushes,

an easel with (half-completed?) abstract art.

Art supplies
are haphazardly

into messy cubbyholes.

I recognise
the half-completed painting,

and the strokes of paint
came later.

A white blankness
comes to mind.

Along with a name
that’s beginning to fade:



It’s a Malay name.


Something happened here
in this storage room.

I was watching
when it happened.

I stare
at the blank linoleum floor,
concrete grey walls,

I smell the wood and paint.

Tammie told me
I painted pictures for her

Nothing else
comes to mind.

It’s just…

a storage room

that many patients
would have taken things out of.

The important thing now,
is to make sure

Tammie’s not the one

getting removed.




The greenhouse door
is open

when I reach it.

I wanted
to be alone.

But Krishna’s

probably gardening


She’s noisy.

I don’t want to talk to her.

I turn
to go back


And I see the flash of white.

Two of them.

Not Krishna then.

I step forward
and close the door
behind me.


The new patient

is staring up
at the two rowan trees

through her curtain

of hair.

She doesn’t

even a finger
for a long time.

What are you looking at?
I ask.

It’s like talking to stone.

I think she doesn’t hear me
but I wait for an answer.

It doesn’t come

I’m about to leave.


Rowan trees can’t grow
in Singapore.


She turns her head.

I see one eye
through her veil of hair.

It’s green—

like a cat’s.

You wear contacts?

She shakes her head.

Her hair shudders
like tree leaves in the wind.


Are you hallucinating me?
Or am I hallucinating you?


I blink.


She looks down
at her bare feet.

Her eye retreats into her hair.

‘I’m Fiona,’ I tell her.

I lean forward
and whisper into her ear,

‘If you talk about hallucinations,
‘they’ll make you take more medicine.’

I hear her giggle
inside her hair.

Her laugh sounds like Tammie’s.


My favourite colour is green.
I like trees.


Even the way
she introduces herself

is like Tammie.

She’s more relaxed
than yesterday

if she’s saying this much.

The greenhouse
with its controlled temperature

and bright sunlight

is probably
(like Tammie)

her favourite place

in the asylum.


Tired by our conversation,
she turns

and walks towards the nurses.

She hesitates,
glancing at me

with one green eye.

Like someone just told her
ending a conversation like this

is rude.

I just wave

we can talk later.

I’m okay.

The nurses follow her out
and I notice

her legs
have splotches of bruises.

She walks
with a slight limp,

exactly like Tammie.

The door clicks shut

but she stays there,
outside the greenhouse,

through the glass

at me.

What’s up with her?

The door swings open again

and she’s walking
this way.

I take a deep breath,


it’s not Zuraida

coming this way.

I blink
to make sure.

Tammie smiles

and picks up her pace.


Only now
do I notice the stench of vomit

that always accompanies her.




error: Content is protected!!