VII | Intruder

‘What’s wrong with him?’
A female voice.

‘Dunno. He’s been like that since two days ago.’
A male voice.

I scowl. ‘What do you mean like that?’

Ming jabs his finger at thin air:
‘See, see, see!’

‘You’re so irritable,’ Kumar explains.

Nobody asked.
(Fine, i did.)

‘It’s been a year since I’ve seen you,’
the female voice says again.


I look up.

She looks familiar.
Lots of girls are familiar.

She elbows Ming out of the way and sits opposite me.

‘Why are you so mad?’

She has hazelnut eyes and milk chocolate skin,
lips shiny with gloss.

She flicks her head (a tic, i guess).
Her ponytail sweeps the air
like some kind of dance.

I remember.


I smile and sit upright.
‘Haven’t seen you since last day of school.’

‘Are you surprised i’m here?’
She rests her chin on her upturned palms,
looking right at me.

‘People keep saying I look like a polytechnic kid.’

Her fingers are slender,
highlighted by clear polish.


Why do girls like their fingers sparkly?

I recall Rowan’s hand in my mind,

the back of her hand
wiping her mouth,
glaring at me.


‘That’s a trick question right?’ I say with a snort.

Nora tilts her head and lifts one eyebrow.

‘If i say yes, then you’ll say “is it I don’t think you’re smart enough?”.
‘If i say no, then you’ll say “how come I never react when you come over?”‘

‘You’re thinking too much.
‘What’s bothering you, Clyde?’

She’s sharp.

Ming snorts.

Jerome leans over and says,
‘he broke up with his girlfriend.’

Nora looks unconvinced.

‘Then she’d be the one upset, right?’

Kumar burst out laughing
like a balloon that just popped.

‘She knows you so well, Clyde!
‘you heartbreaker!’

To Nora: Aeh, did he break up with you before?

She shakes her head.

‘Nah, we don’t have that kind of relationship.’

although she’s talking to Kumar,
she’s looking at me,

a message in her eyes.

I smile back and ask for her number.
Said I lost it when I changed phone.

The school bell rings.




I don’t bring girls home.

Even if, like today, my parents are at work.
I hate being at home.

Nora looks around my room
like it’s some kind of antique shop.

There’s nothing much to see.

          ‘You have so much stuff.’

That’s my incomplete collection of Marvel comics.
That’s my sports stuff from secondary school.
Those are my figurines and collectibles—I forgot they existed.

She sits down in front of the

electric piano

jammed in the space between my wardrobe and desk.

‘So? What’s up?’

I point out that ‘you’re the one who wanted to come over.’
and she replies, ‘you won’t tell me honestly what’s

‘bothering you

‘in front of



She flips the scores propped on the stand.

Dust flies
from papers untouched for years.

I sit on the bed.

She climbs in to join me.

‘You’re good.’ I smile.

‘I’ve been watching you.’
She lifts her chin.

‘”We don’t have that kind of relationship” you said.’

She folds
her slim legs
under her.

Hands spread on the bed.
Leaning forward slightly.

‘Shut up.’
But she’s smiling.

I grin.

‘This is haram,’ I warn her.

she’s close enough for me to guess
the flavour of her shampoo.

Her toothpaste brand.

No, the Eclipse flavour.

‘Don’t care.’

Her voice is muffled.
Her breath is warm.

‘Let me comfort you,’ she says.


I don’t bring girls home.





When I wake up, Nora’s still sleeping.

There’s a stuffy feeling,
a frustration
in my chest.

I push myself up into a sitting position,
looking for my pants.

‘I thought you’d sleep till morning.’

Hands turn cold.
They go numb.

A familiar voice.


A parrot, entirely white,

on the keys of the piano.

Not Brient.

Its eyes are red.

Am I still asleep?

I rub my eyes.
The parrot is still there.

Its head surveys the room

(like stop-motion).

It stops on Nora.

‘Oi,’ I say so it turns back to me.

‘Who are you?’ the parrot asks in Brient’s voice.
‘Why do annoying things keep happening?’ it continues.
‘Get out.’

Nora stirs.

‘Crap. Now I have to deal with Nora as well,’ the parrot says.
‘My parents will be back soon.’
A pause.
‘Shut up. Stop repeating my thoughts.’

I lunge forward to catch the bird.

It flutters
out of reach.

It sits on a shelf.

The parrot swears.
The parrot curses.
The parrot shouts.

It’s funny because it has Brient’s voice.

Nora wakes up.
‘What’s going on?’


‘I shouldn’t have messed with Rowan,’ the parrot says.




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