LVIII | Meaning

After I kissed Rowan
at the cafe,

I feel like I understand her


I notice her


at me

during class
and her eyes

pray for my prelim results to be okay.

Has she always
watched me
like this
without me knowing?

Stop it, Clyde. Focus.

The teacher is giving out
answer booklets now.

I need to pass this exam.




After the exam,
I leave school with ming.

We see Rowan
under the naked rowan tree.

She’s just sitting there,
staring into space.

streaking down her eyes
onto her cheeks

to her chin.

‘Did you make her cry?’
Ming asks.

I shake my head.

He doesn’t see blood.
To him, it’s tears.


The next day,

I catch her after the first paper
to take a closer look.

The area around
her eyes

is red like she’s been

but there’s no blood.

‘Are you okay?’ I ask.

She smiles
instead of giving her usual




We’re behind the classroom.

There are still students
walking by

but Rowan
puts her arms
around me,

buries her head
in my chest.

‘I had a nightmare last night
‘that’s all.’

‘What was it about?’ I ask.

She doesn’t mind
when I touch her

I should be happy.

Triumphant even.

But I’m still discontented.


She looks up at me
with blank eyes

and a smile.

‘I’ve been stressed about prelims.’

‘Wanna study together again?’

She laughs.
(She laughs more often now.)

‘You won’t get any studying done.
‘like last time.’

I pat her head.

She’s wearing
that champagne shampoo

When I first met her,
she wore a shampoo
with no scent.

Why am I suddenly remembering that?

‘It’s okay.’

Her smile


reach her eyes.


‘What’s the meaning of this then?’

Doesn’t matter.




We sit in the same place
we sat at the previous time.

That book is still


We drink the same drinks
we drank the previous time.

Brown foam
forms a moustache

on her upper lip.

I tell her about it.
She licks it off.

(The tip of her ears
turn red.)

We both study this time.

I know I should focus
on my studies

instead of just playing around.

The first few papers
were an annoying

wake-up call.

So even though
I don’t look up,

I feel Rowan’s gaze

on me.

The one time I look up,
sip my cold coffee,

Rowan’s staring
at something behind me,

blood running

from her eyes

down her cheeks.


My dark velvet chair
as I stand suddenly,

shaking her,
wiping blood

from her face.


Her eyes focus on mine.

That dazed smile

What’s wrong with you?

Nothing. I’m alright.

She takes the tissue
I hold out

and goes back to studying.

I drop her off
in front of the nameless chicken rice shop.

She tiptoes
so our faces meet

and says
good night.


There’s something anti-climatic
about this.

I stare at my hands
under the dim bus stop light.

Because the first time
we touched was electrifying,

I thought

it will continue

to be
that way.

Her lips were cold.

I stick my hands
in my pockets

and wait in the stinging silence
for a bus that never comes.

I start thinking

about the stuff I still need to revise
for the remaining

Only when I’m standing
outside my door,

do I think of Rowan again

and the blood
coursing down her cheeks.


The door is locked today.

I use my keys to get in.

So annoying.
So frustrating.

rather than being confused,

that describes
my feelings better.

We’re finally dating

but the dance
is almost over.

I’m disappointed.

The music has stopped.

I step
into the



Only my mother’s shoes are here.

It is quiet

It flashes through my mind

Rowan crying blood
instead of tears.

Expressions rather than

I close the door behind me,
throw my socks in a corner.

This isn’t love either.

How should I

break up

this time?




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