XCIII | Suicide

I emerge
from supplementary lesson

Rowan doesn’t attend this class
so she’s sitting
under the rowan tree

as usual.

No, I’m wrong.

I walk out of the class

—the new normal these days—

and see her there
in the corridor,
sitting against the wall,

holding her school bag.

I stare her.
She looks at me.

‘I’m waiting for you,’ she explains.

‘I see,’ I reply.

I give her my hand,
pull her up.


‘Where are we going?’
I ask.

She tilts her head to the side,
pondering that question.

It’s become a habit
for me

to ask this.

Today, she smiles.

‘I don’t know.
‘Where would you like to go?’

someone interrupts us.

It’s someone
I don’t expect.


He walks over to us,
acknowledging Rowan with a nod.

‘Let me borrow Clyde for today.’

Rowan stares
into his eyes.

It makes me uncomfortable.
I’m about to complain.

‘No,’ she says.
‘You can’t.’

Ming looks startled
for a moment—

he never expected

Rowan would say something like that.

Then he puts his arm
around my neck,
and pulls me away.

‘Just for today.’

‘Oi! Ming!’
Rowan calls,

so loud that everyone in the corridor
turns to look at her.

‘I’ll be back,’
I yell at her shrinking figure.

Her reply is

in the sea of boisterous
corridor conversation.

I follow Ming
almost holding my breath.

Afraid that
if I so much as sneeze,

he’ll erupt
and stop talking to me

We take the bus
to our house
but he doesn’t press

the 13th floor.


24th floor.
The highest floor.




We’ve only been up here

—no one visits the other levels
they don’t live on.

Back then,
it was
the three of us.

‘We made tissue parachutes
‘and launched them from here,’
Ming says,

looking over
the parapet.

He remembers.

I remember too.

He sets his school bag down
and takes out
two tissue parachutes.

Strings tied to the tissue
in the exact way

Brient taught us.

I take one.

‘So nostalgic,’ I tell him.

He doesn’t smile.
I take it that he’s still

angry with me.

‘Let’s go back
‘to a time when things
‘were simpler?’

He hasn’t been sleeping,
I realise now.

There are grey shadows
below his eyes.

His lips are parched
like he hasn’t drunk
any water all day.

Our fight

hurt him

just as much

as it

hurt me.

‘Okay,’ I tell him,
because I also

want us to be friends again.

We hold the parachutes
over the parapet.

It’s easy now
that we’re so much taller.

‘Hey Ming.’
I suddenly think of it.

He looks over at me.

‘I’m sorry
‘for what I said that day.’

He nods.

We drop
the parachutes

and watch
them fall.

There’s no wind
so they don’t get blown
into one of the corridors.

They land

on the grass patch below.

‘Go get them so we can play again?’
Ming asks.

I grin at him,
give him a clap on the shoulder.

‘Of course!’

And I rush
as quickly as I can.




I burst out of the lift
and run into Rowan.

She’s panting

when I see her.

Her coal-black eyes
are wild.

‘Where’s Ming?’
she asks.

‘What’s wrong? Why are you here?’

‘Where’s Ming?’

She’s yelling now.
‘Did you leave him alone?
‘where is he?’

I tell her.

‘We were at the top floor together.’

She runs into the lift
but I don’t follow

because I see her eyes,

the cold,

in that black void.

A bitter taste
fills my mouth.

I pick up our tissue parachutes
like I said I would

and look up.

Ming is clearly visible,

he’s climbed onto the parapet,
swung his legs over it,
staring down at me.

Ming, no.

But the words
don’t quite make it out.


I’m helpless.

I hold on to the parachutes tightly
as if by doing so



He’s too far away,
too high up.

I can’t see what expression he has

on his face.

But he doesn’t say a word,

doesn’t give me time
to say anything to him,

before he plunges


like a


His face is already


It’s redder
any red
I’ve seen.

I can’t move,
I can’t look away,
I can’t think,

so I must be dreaming again.




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