LXXXI | Placate

I waited for the
string of expletives

to reach an end

before asking her if she’s eaten.

that’s the wrong question
to ask

because it led to another
string of expletives.

Right now,
she’s calmed down a bit

and I take her

to a nearby coffee shop
for a meal.

Shuhui picks at her caifan
and mutters about

the shop’s stupid no smoking rules.

I lean back in my seat,

put one leg
over the other.

‘Why so grouchy?’ I ask.

Her spoon clangs
against her plate.

I tell her not to swear

She gives me a weird look.

She complains
that I’ve changed.

I repeat my question.

‘My mother lorh.’

She crosses her arms,
rolling her yellow eyes.

‘She found my mid-year results
‘and started screaming like a–’

She pauses.

‘–#*%&ing lunatic.
‘My sister’s so perfect but I’m a disgrace.
‘She’s feminine and pretty
‘and has a high-profile sugar daddy,’
‘but someone weird and ugly like me
‘will never amount to anything.’

I’m dumbfounded.

My jaw falls open
without my knowing it

because I have to close it.

‘So I told her
‘”I hope you die faster”

‘and she locked me out of the house.’

‘Obviously,’ I tell her.

She slams her palm onto the table and
deflates with a frustrated hiss.

Shuhui went
last night
after the fight with her mother

and went home
this morning to find
the locks
had been changed

and her phone-line
is cut off.

She scrapes her chair back

It makes an ear-splitting screech.

A few uncles
look in our direction.

‘I need to scream,’
she warns.

I eye her warily
as she storms off to the coffee shop toilet

and a loud #*%& erupts
from within.

I don’t know her.
I swear I don’t know her.




Some time later…

Shuhui finally finishes
her plate of caifan.

Her yellow eyes
are calmer than before.

We sit at the void deck
of my block

and I listen to her

rant some more.


there’s silence.

I sit up.

She’s thinking.

Curly cropped fringe hanging over one eye,
mouth in a pout,

sucking a lollipop I just bought her
because cigarettes are expensive.

‘By the way, Clyde,’
she mumbles,

‘what are you gonna do
‘about Ming?’

I shrug.

‘I don’t know.
‘I can’t figure out why
‘he’s so angry with me.’

She points at me
with her lollipop.

‘He told me you used him.’

‘I did not.’

The lime green orb
disappears into her mouth.

‘He said you betrayed him.’

‘I didn’t.’

‘You were only friends with him
‘because of that Brient guy
‘or something.’

‘He said that?’

I feel myself getting angry.

Is that what this is?

she raises an eyebrow.
‘Did you?’

‘What the #*%&?!’

‘You said no swearing.’
There’s a malicious smile
on Shuhui’s face.

There’s no one around.

Doesn’t matter then.

‘So whatcha gonna do?’ she asks.

Punch him.
Yell at him.
Fight it out.


The lollipop clatters out of her mouth
onto the floor.

She makes a face.

Her cheeks are flushed.
‘Sorry. That was gross.’

Shuhui embarrassed
—I haven’t seen this before.

She wraps the candy
in a tissue
and wipes saliva from the table.

‘You surprised me,’ she says.

I smile insincerely.
‘Why? I didn’t do anything.’

She shrugs.

‘You’re an alpha male.
‘You don’t tolerate false accusations.
‘Ruins your reputation.’

I laugh.

That’s the least of my problems right now.

She leans forward.

I smell sugar,

‘Or maybe…it’s true?’

I shake my head.
‘It’s not.’

She tilts her head.

‘Then you’ve really

Shuhui is even prettier at this angle.

Her lips are glossy with sugar.

Her mother is wrong.

‘I have,’ I breathe.

Her eyelashes flicker.
‘I’ll help you out.’

She leans back,
slender fingers unwrapping
a second lollipop.

She holds it out to me.

‘So come back to us.’




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