LXXVIII | Outcast

There’s this deja vu feeling
I get

from watching my friends
talk loudly

then go quiet 
when I appear.

‘Yo,’ I say.

Kumar waves hey.

Angie whispers something to Nora.
Nora avoids my eyes.

It’s like I’ve gone back
to being the shy primary school boy
hiding behind Brient

all over again.

Even though
this time,

I’m the one
who befriended all of them
by myself.

Is it conceited to think like that?

‘Let’s go,’ I say.

But for some reason,
nobody moves.

Well, this is awkward.

Do they not hear me?

Am I speaking a different language
without knowing it?

‘Sorry I’m late,’
Ming says behind me.

‘We can go now.’

They start to move.

I feel
a prickle
of frustration.

I trail behind them
on the way there,

but no one gives a damn.

I’d sulk
but the only one who’d listen
is Mr. Ahmad.

I’m sure if I say
one word
to him right now,

I’d have no friends left.

(But maybe a ward space in IMH.)




When we reach the park,
I sit out of the game,

on a bench of my own
away from the girls
who are giggling amongst themselves.

I hear ‘Clyde’ somewhere
within their conversation.

I want to throw my canned tea
at them.

There’s a shadow
at the periphery of my vision

and the smell
of cigarette smoke.

‘Why you never join them?’
Shuhui asks.

Mr. Ahmad,
grey as the stone bench,

leaps off as she sits down
and turns into the colour of grass.

‘Everyone’s ignoring me.’

She snorts.

‘You’ve never asked permission
‘to do anything before.

‘Why suddenly so sensitive?’

Narrowed eyes.

‘I’m not being sensitive.
‘I just realised
‘the world doesn’t revolve around me.’

Shuhui’s cigarette
drops onto the grass.

I pick it up,

stick it into my mouth.

She laughs
really loud.

‘You’ve become a complete loser
‘ever since you started dating Rowan.’

A pause.

‘Are you still dating her?’

I say yes
and she laughs again.

‘That’s so funny!
‘The playboy became a good kid.’

I blow a foul cloud of smoke
into her face
and return the cigarette to her.

‘If you’re gonna be like that,
‘just ignore me like everyone else.’

Shuhui snatches my can of tea
just as
I’m about

to put it
to my lips.

She takes a swig.

Lipstick is left behind on the rim.

‘I’m a busy-body.
‘Don’t get worked up over nothing.

‘If your new philosophy
‘can’t handle this much
‘then it’s probably all lies,

‘don’t you think?’

I drink from the can,
but it tastes like

ashes and crayon now

so I throw it away
and buy another one.

When I get back
to my bench,

Shuhui has gone back
to join the rest of the girls.

I sigh.

The cat jumps back
onto the bench
beside me.

‘You don’t like Shuhui?’ I ask.

The cat licks its paw.

‘I don’t like many things
‘in this world.’

There’s a shout
on the field.

‘What she said sound legit,’
I say,

eyes on the game.

‘That this is a philosophy?’


My eyes follow the trajectory
of Tom’s super kick.

Kumar is in the right position
to receive it.

‘About the truth
‘being true in every situation.’

‘Is that what she meant?’

The cat curls up,
looking exactly like a stone,

ready to sleep.

I’m not being taken seriously.

One glassy green eye
stares up at me.

‘You’re putting too much thought
‘into somebody’s careless statement.’

‘I don’t think it’s careless.’

‘It is.’


‘The truth is indeed
‘something that can be applied to every situation

‘but it doesn’t mean
‘you’ll like the result
‘all the time.

‘Isn’t that a better way to think about it?’

The tail goes over its eyes.

‘Don’t doubt
‘your new reality so easily.’




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