LXXII | Whispers

‘Where’s Jasper and Angie?’
I ask,

head on the canteen table.

Prelims are officially over
but I’m not happy at all.

Shuhui offers me
a cigarette and a lollipop.

I take the lollipop.

‘Loser,’ she sneers.
‘Mother Tongue Oral exam,’ Kumar says.

All of us are still meeting
after school
to play soccer

even though

Ming and I
are having a cold war.

No one seems to
notice though.

They talk to both of us

We leave school
for the nearby park.

I wave to Rowan
as we pass
the rowan tree.

Pretti whispers something to Mike.

It might not mean
but Pretti and Mike

aren’t close at all

So i think about it.

Tom and Jerry are already there
when we reach the grass field.

‘You were right,’
Tom says to Shuhui suddenly.

She nods.
Her face passive.

Kumar kicks the ball
into the air.

The game starts.

The girls crowd around Shuhui’s phone,
discussing something serious.

‘What’s going on?’
I ask Kumar.

He’s panting,
eyes fixed on the ball.

He doesn’t seem
to hear me at all.




We’re tired now,
crowded around the vending machine,
discussing the game.

The street lamps flicker on.
It’s 7pm.

I stand to the other side
to avoid having to

awkwardly face Ming,

so I see Nora handing a paper bag
to Jerry.

He grins at her,
tells her she did well.

She smiles
and giggles.

Hands in my pockets, I ask Jerry

‘What’s that?’

He gives me a mischievous smirk,
makes a hand gesture
I don’t understand.

Tom hands him a Red Bull right then,
the topic changes
and I leave it.

We sprawl about
in the empty carpark.

Mike points at me
with his can of Red Bull.

‘Did you use the hashtag?’

‘What hashtag?’ I ask.

Everyone turns to stare.

The crickets

Ming smirks to himself,
not looking at me.

A few girls look shocked
that I don’t know

what Mike’s

talking about.

Nora breaks the silence
with a nervous laugh.

‘Ah, it must have been Jasper’s turn.’

Mike, matter-of-factly,
without hesitation, says,

‘It’s not.
‘It’s definitely Clyde’s turn.’

‘What’s this about?’
I ask Kumar.

He’s flustered
by that question

and makes
a nonsense comment
on my behalf.

I excuse myself

to get another drink

even though
the iced tea
in my hand
is still

half full.

Shuhui approaches me
as I stare back
at the group from the vending machine.

As always,
there’s a cigarette

between her lips.

‘Are you pretending not to know?’

Her tone is casual
but it feels sharper
than usual.

‘No. I really don’t know.’

She crosses her arms
and blows
a cloud of smoke
in my face.

‘Is this because
‘you’re close to Rowan now?’

I frown.

Ming brought Brient up.

Now it’s Rowan.

‘What does Rowan
‘have to do with this?’

She mashes the smoking end
of her cigarette
into the no smoking sign
on top of the bin.

Her dark eyes are fixed on me.

I remember
the day she wore yellow contacts.

‘Since you started dating Rowan,
‘you seem to have forgotten
‘that we’re supposed to be important to you.’

She leaves
I can

what she means.

I dunno what to ask anyway.

What’s going on?
What did I forget?

I try my best
to think of what we used to do,
what we’ve always done.

Isn’t everything

still the same as before?

Why is it
          that I don’t know
what’s going on?

‘Why can’t I understand?’

I throw away
my half-full can.

The chameleon cat
waves its tail leisurely.

‘Is this something worth
‘getting upset over?’

I stick my hands in my pockets
to keep from punching

the innocent vending machine.

‘They’re my friends.
‘We’ve always understood
‘one another.’

The cat stretches.

‘Are you friends?
‘What do you understand
‘about them?’

I’m about to reply
but I can’t think

of anything I understand.

We go to school together.
We have fun afterwards.
We talk and hang out together.

We’re friends.

We support one another.
We care about each other.

Then I think of Kumar
and what happened to him.

‘I didn’t understand them,’
I murmur.

‘The one I understood
‘was only myself.’

The cat’s nose twitches.

We watch them,


in the middle of the empty carpark.

‘They’re the same as you.’

My absence is forgotten.

I hear my name being mentioned,
but no one notices
I’m already gone.

‘You can’t understand

‘If you try,
‘you’ll never be able
‘to understand
‘anything else.’




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