XXV | Someone Tells A Story

I’m scared.

I’m scared
to open my eyes.

What terror

awaits me
when I do?


Hey, hey, hey… Fifi.


I’m scared.

If I open my eyes,
something will have changed.

The world will be different.

I won’t know if it’s real
or not again.


A hand
touches mine.

I can’t move

but the hand
the back of mine.


I’ll tell you a story,


Tammie says.


You used to tell me stories too.

Just listen to my voice

What story should I tell?



My body

like lead.

I try to
open my eyes.

Pinpricks of light poke at me.

The silhouette in front of me
is blurry.

Tammie smiles

at me.

Butterflies dance in her grey eyes
as she pushes me back down

and covers my eyes

with a hand
that reeks of vomit.

I lift my hand

but it can’t

Don’t leave me behind.

The words don’t leave
my mouth.


It’s better like this.


You left me behind…




In the darkness,
I listen to Tammie talking.

A monitor beeps
in the background.

A generator hums.


My parents are not like yours.

I am nothing
like you.

But maybe because of that

we’re exactly

the same.


You didn’t dream until you were eight.

I didn’t dream

because my parents dreamt for me.

An elite secondary school.
The top junior college.

A degree in medicine.
A career as a doctor.

There are no doctors

in my family.

‘You’ll be the first. Isn’t that great?’

I couldn’t object
even if I wanted to

because I wasn’t allowed

to have a dream
of my own.

So their dream,
my dream,

was also my nightmare.


I rebelled.

Not once

did I seriously

whether that dream

could be mine.

I registered for SOTA
instead of that atas girls’ school.

at that arts school,
I danced.

Not because I liked it, no.
Because my parents considered it


‘That’s not dancing. That’s porn.’

When I joined the dance club
in primary school

apparently I had some talent in it.

It’s my dream

to be totally different

from the nightmare
my parents want for me.


I got kicked out of SOTA

Once it became obvious
I had no actual passion or drive

to put in any effort.

It was too much work
for a rebellion.

I went to an average secondary school after that.

Maybe not average.

Because that’s where I met you.
Do you remember?



I can’t remember that, Tammie.


We sat next to each other in class.

Sec three.

We talked very little.
You weren’t good

at conversation.

But you tried so hard.

You were cute.

We talked a lot about dreams too.
You asked for mine

out of nowhere.

I didn’t have one, I told you.

You said I was lying,
that you also tell this lie

because your dream
can’t be understood.

You know, Fifi,
that’s when I decided

to be your friend.

Hahaha…is that weird?


A cold gloved hand
on my cheeks,

a voice telling me,
‘Open your mouth’.

Water trickles down my throat.

at first.

Then it gets easier.

I can speak again.

‘Why don’t I remember you at all?’

Tammie removes her hand
from my eyes.

They focus on her.

The lights above

are turned off
so I see Tammie’s eyes in their true grey colour.

An apologetic smile.


That’s a story for another time.


‘I want to hear it now.’

Her smile flickers
like a glitch.


Fifi, you’re still so impatient.


The nurses

lean over
to check my vitals

crowding Tammie out.

They untie my hands
for a short while.

I tell them there’s no need

to strap them back
because I need to scratch my hair.

‘It’s itchy.’

The pretty nurse tells me

comb my hair for me.

I’d protest more,

I’m distracted

I notice

Tammie’s not in the room anymore.




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