XX | Someone Who Dreams

Do you understand
my dream
or are you also making that face of fear?


don’t lie to me.

I know
you don’t get it either.


A doctor told me
it’s okay if they
don’t understand so long as
you try to understand them.


But then who
will understand me?


It’s better if I die.




My eyelids are heavy

so my sight returns
very slowly.

A white room, familiar by now.
thousands and thousands of white lights

put together
like honeycomb.

I writhe violently

but my body doesn’t react.

I scream
but my voice can’t be heard.

I ate all those pills at once.

I should

          be dead.

          But I have this
          awful feeling

that I’m not.

I want to close
my eyes again.

The lights sting my eyes

and they water when I try.

something wet
is falling from my face
and it doesn’t





Before I drew the sandwich,

they tried to make me dream.

‘When you want something,
‘you’ve dreamed,’

the therapist said
when I hesitated to draw.

There’s a faceless man
behind her.

He hadn’t introduced himself the whole time—
I didn’t know his name.

He had no eyes—
I didn’t know where to look.

He had no mouth—
I didn’t know if he’s mocking me.

He tilted his faceless head.


‘Mrs. Seah is waiting for you.’

My mum
who was beside me,


Mrs. Seah smiled at her.
She had the same lipstick

as my barbie doll.

Did she think
I didn’t know there’s a difference

between “wanting something” and a “dream”.

‘Isn’t there something you want right now?
‘Draw it for me, Fiona.’

Did she think I wouldn’t notice,

the lie they tell to kids

too lazy to read the dictionary?

‘I want many things,’ I said.

She nodded.
My mum relaxed.

‘That’s good.
‘Draw one of them.’

Behind the therapist,

the faceless man was doing the chicken dance.

I laughed
and laughed
and laughed

and they changed my medicine.


The faceless man

stopped dancing.

His mouth
became visible.

Only his mouth.

He came up to my bed
that night

after the nurses were gone.


Happy birthday.


I was alone.

My mum went home.
(She had work tomorrow.)

The other kids were quiet.
(We were supposed to sleep.)

I didn’t

want to talk to them anyway.

They were crazy.

‘It’s not time for therapy,’
I said to him.

The mouth smiled.

He took a candle out
from behind his back

and held it out to me.

‘Leave after this, okay?’
I say.

He nodded.

I closed my eyes
and dreamt of a sandwich

made out of

When I opened my eyes

to blow out
the candle,

it was morning.


The faceless man was gone.




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