LXXXII | Desire

We walk
at the neighbourhood park
near my place

to go home.

‘I don’t want to see that old woman (her mother)
‘ever again,’
she says.

‘Your stuff for school is at home,’
I point out.

She lights a cigarette.

‘I can borrow Pretti’s uniform.’

‘Textbook? Notes?
‘Food? Panties?’

She blows a cloud of smoke
into my face.

It’s unexpected
so I end up coughing.

Shuhui glares.

‘I’ll help you with Ming and the rest,
‘so help me out a little, yeah?’

It should be okay, right?

Rowan let Kumar stay over
when he was in trouble too.

Same same.

‘Fine,’ I say.

She drapes an arm
around my shoulder in an

of a side hug.




‘You can have the bed,’ I tell her.

She stares
at my bed
in bewilderment.

It’s not dirty.

I still take care of my bed really well.

My room
has gotten
that time Rowan

helped to tidy it.

‘What’s wrong?
‘You want to sleep with my mother instead?’

A glare.

‘What about you?’ she asks.

I point at the leather couch
in the living room.

She sits
on the edge of the bed,
stretches her hands.

‘There’s enough space
‘for both of us.’

I cross my arms.

‘I have a girlfriend right now.’

She flops down
onto the bed,
breathes into my blanket.

‘Didn’t bother you last time.’

‘How do you know?’ I joke.

She rolls over,
her skirt shifting higher
than it should.

‘Oh, I know people like her, Clyde.’

With her hands stretched like this,
her stomach is bare.

‘People like Rowan
‘are predictable and boring.’

I find a shirt and a pair of pants I’ve never worn
and throw it onto her.

‘Go bathe.
‘Everything else is in the toilet.’

I start to leave the room.

‘Let me know when you’re done.’

Shuffling on the bed.
Shuhui’s sitting upright,
hair ruffled,
her face looking like a little kid’s.

‘Why do you want me to bathe so early,
‘huh, Clyde? Huh, Clyde?’

I lie down on the couch
and close my eyes.




What’s going on?

A heartbeat
that’s not mine.

Warmth on my cheek.

Not a mosquito.
Slightly wet.

I open my eyes,
looking directly
into bright yellow irises.

When did I fall asleep?

Her breath
tastes of ashes.

I push her back
and sit upright.

She’s wearing the clothes I gave her.

But no underwear.
I don’t have girl’s underwear.

‘You slept so long,’
she says,
sitting at the edge of the couch.

It’s dark
beyond the window.

Shuhui’s switched on the lights.

‘I woke up super early today.
‘Is my mum home yet?’

She shakes her head
and points at a box of fried chicken.

‘I ordered Foodpanda.’

I think of Rowan.

I shake my head.

She hands me a piece,
helps herself to another.

‘You’ve really
‘made yourself at home,’ I comment.

She shrugs.

Wet hair,
without makeup,

she looks gentler,

‘Thanks for letting me in.
‘I really, honestly,

‘didn’t know what to do.’

I knock her drumstick
with mine.

‘We’re friends.
‘That means you can depend on me.’

She’s a bit closer
than I remember.

Doesn’t matter
whose chicken
I end up eating.



the same,





To save myself the trouble
of having to explain,

I hide Shuhui in my room

when my mother starts to unlock the door.

‘She’s gonna find out eventually,’
I tell her.

‘Since you’re staying for
‘a few days.’

We’re pressed against the back of my door,
she’s hugging my arm,
face close to mine.

A not-so-innocent smile.

‘You said she’s out working most of the time.’

I feel things
I’m not supposed to feel.

I remember telling Rowan
that I can be
a loyal boyfriend.

Her heart is beating
in sync with mine.

I carry her
over to the bed
and lean over.

‘Guess I’ll have to
‘sleep here too, then.’

Shuhui smiles,
smoothing down
her shirt.

My shirt.

I see things
I’m not supposed to see.

‘I won’t tell Rowan,’
she whispers.

‘Who ask her
‘never give you what you need…’

Warmth spreads
from my mouth

to my toes,

and so does
the taste of ash.




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