LXXI | Tight Rope

‘I’m not leaving, Ming.
‘I’m not going anywhere.’

So can you just
calm down

and tell me what’s going on?

That last part
doesn’t come out

I get angry

at the absurdity of the situation.

‘Using me
‘the whole #%*&ing time,’
Ming continues,

‘is it entertaining?’

I squint at him.

‘What are you talking about?’

A mocking laugh
I’ve never ever heard
from him.

‘Just like all those girls in secondary school.’

He snorts.
‘And I thought I was your friend.’

‘You are!’

‘But in the end,
‘I’m just a stepping stone
‘for the great Clyde Darling.’

‘Ming! What the #%*&?’

‘Is that what people are
‘to you, Clyde?’ he demands.

‘Just things to be used?’

‘Can you just shut up?’ I yell.

‘All I did was say thank you,
‘I don’t know what the #%*&
‘you’re talking about.’

Anger is visible
in the air between us.

It’s become

hard to breathe.

Ming is panting,
tears streaming silently

down one side of his face.

‘You’ve always been like this, haven’t you?
‘I’m the only one
‘who doesn’t know.’

‘I have no idea
‘what you’re talking about.’

‘Ah, pretend lah.
‘Act innocent.
‘Play the victim. Like that lorh.’

‘Forget it, let’s go home.’

‘Yeah, go home.
‘Go, just go!
‘Nothing I’ve ever said,
‘nothing I’ve ever done matters.’

Ming holds his head.

‘Haha, what was I thinking?’

I try to reason with him.

‘Ming, I really
‘don’t know
‘what you’re talking about.’

‘You don’t know?’
His voice is soft.

His eyes alight with fire.

‘Mm, I don’t know.
‘You’re not making sense.’

He nods.

‘Of course.
‘How can I be talking actual sense?

‘If you understand what I’m saying,
‘you’ll have to admit it.’

‘Admit what?’

‘Ha! See, you don’t want to admit it!’

I’ve had enough.
I don’t know
what’s gotten into him.

‘I’ve leaving.’

Ming smirks.

‘Wasn’t so hard,
‘was it, Clyde?’

I pause,

All of a sudden,

I don’t recognise
the person
standing in front of me.

‘You’ve always been good
‘at leading people on.
‘Back then.
‘And now.’

I really don’t know what to say.

I only get a sense
that all his pent-up frustrations

are bursting out at me.

I feel hurt.

I was thanking him.

And it turns out,
he has so many grievances
I know nothing about.

‘Why are you saying all this now?’
I ask.

‘The moment you were unhappy,
‘you should have said so.’

Ming smiles.

‘So that you can
‘walk away and save yourself
‘the time?’


I clench my fists.

‘So that we can resolve our differences.
‘So that today doesn’t happen.’

He laughs.

It’s mocking.
It’s loud.
It’s very sad.

‘You’re good, Clyde.
‘I didn’t notice.
‘Even though I should have known
‘a long time ago.’

‘Why are you
‘picking a fight with me?’

‘Oh, have I finally reached
‘Brient’s level?’

I’m confused.

‘What does
‘have to do with this?’

He sighs.

Runs a hand through his hair.

‘Only Brient has ever been
‘good enough for you.’

He kicks a pebble on the ground.

‘Sorry lorh,
‘I’m not Brient.
‘I will never be.’

he walks away


What just happened?




The last bus has probably come
and gone.

But I’m still
in the park,

Going home
is the least of my problems.

What do I do
about Ming?

We’ve never fought
like this before.

He’s never been this upset with me.

There were disagreements,
but not fights.

Ming likes peace.

Looking back,

it’s kinda strange
that I don’t remember
him getting upset.

Am I the one in the wrong after all?

I slump down
on the park bench,

stretch my arms
along the backrest,

dangle my head
over the side.


‘Are you not going home?’

I lift my head
and stare at the cat

It has hopped onto the park bench

and looks
like a furry lump of wood.

‘You’re still here,’
I say dully.

It wraps its tail
around its paws.

‘I’ll always be here.’

A half-hearted smile
is the only
I can manage.

‘I didn’t betray Ming, did I?’ I ask.

The cat licks its paw.
‘Depends on who you ask.’

I’m too tired
to get angry again.

‘I’m asking you.’

The cat puts its paw down.
‘Then, no. You didn’t.’

It tilts its head,
amused green eyes flashing

in the yellow street light.

‘But that wasn’t very helpful,
‘was it?’

I sigh.

I think
I’ve become an old man
just from the events
of these two days.

‘Do I need to apologise?’
I ask the cat.

I didn’t do anything wrong.

All I did
was thank Ming

for being a good friend.

He just snapped
and accused me of leaving
and using him.

Rowan’s favourite book
probably has answers

but I can’t help thinking

it’s that book’s fault

that I’m in this mess
to begin with.

The cat leaps off the bench.

‘You need to decide
‘what’s important to you.’

I follow the cat
and we begin
the long walk home.

‘My sanity,’ I reply.




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