XXXII | Someone's Face

I decide

I’m going to

ignore Tammie

for the rest of today.
For the whole week.

I don’t need her around.


She’s toxic.

She’s a bully.

She’s a liar.


Even if I knew her before,
there’s no reason

why that should matter now.

I go to the study.

I’ll play some games on the computer.

(The others are fools
to give up on the 
only device with Internet,

the best invention ever.)

But I step into the room

and immediately think of us playing


with pages torn from books, pens
with giant nibs meant for kids.





I want to slam a door

(but this room has no door).

So I visit
the room opposite.

The storage

for all things artsy:
brushes, canvases, paints.

I bend down
and examine the nearest bottle of paint.

I recognise the brand,
the colour too—

an ambiguous shade
of blue or green—

that I once used

to paint over
someone’s face.


You’re a good artist.


The smell of paint

from the eroding stench of stomach acids.

I don’t turn around
to look at her.

I don’t

need to.

I can picture her
in my mind,

leaning against the door frame,

smiling apologetically

yet with no intention
to apologise.

So I ignore her.


You painted my face with this.


She’s closer now,
I feel her foul breath
stirring the hair behind my ear.

The face I painted
was a real face?

I thought

it had been a picture
on the wall of the art room.

I thought

I was alone
when I painted over it angrily

because its eyes
were hiding cameras
used for

spying on me.


That was the first time
I witnessed you

going berserk.

I didn’t know what to do—

I was terrified.
So I stayed still

until you were done,
until you were stopped

shouting at me.


I remember shouting.

Shouting’s probably
an understatement.

I threw paintbrushes at the painting.

I found sharp tools too,
to dig out the cameras.

But the teacher stopped me,
sent me

to the school counsellor.


They can’t hurt you in school.

That’s what
my therapist said.

Mrs. Kwong will make sure you’re safe.


so that’s her name.

Mrs. Kwong

was my school counsellor.

She wore the world’s smallest

It’s my grandmother’s,
she told me once.

I had perfect eyesight before
but since

I always wear them,
I can’t see
without them


My therapist told me to talk to Mrs. Kwong
if I have any worries or suspicions

but I end up

being told
about her grandmother’s love life. 


I was taken to her office
with a chisel-like object

in my hand.

Apparently I refused
to let go of it.

Later, Mrs. Kwong took me

to the art room to see

that there was no trace

of a painting on the wall,
of a face with cameras,
of the ambiguous blue-green paint.

I had
to go to the hospital

that day.

They increased
          my dosage of anti-psychotics.


My knuckles turn white
clutching the bottle of paint now.

I aim it at Tammie.

I remove the cap.

‘So it’s your fault.’

A sour taste fills my mouth—
it’s a taste

I’m familiar with.

The taste of rage.

But she’s
still smiling.

Pitying me.


Are you going to kill me
like you killed

Mason and Elliot?




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