XI | Feather

‘Are you okay?’

Eeyore’s voice
is loud
even though
the class

is noisy.

The flying donkey sees me first.

I point at Rowan.
‘She’s over there.’

Eeyore folds its wings.
‘Rowan is right.’

Its eyes gleam
with a hard light.

‘You are trouble.’

Mrs. Lim steps in front of me,
before I can reply,
her arms folded.

‘Excuse me,
‘we’re in the middle of class.
‘Please leave.’

Does she know she’s talking to a donkey?

Eeyore dips its head.

‘Excuse me, Mrs. Lim.
‘I need to speak to Clyde.’

‘Wait until after class.’
She turns to me.

‘Clyde, finish up.’

The flying donkey
retreats to the door

and I snigger.

This is too hilarious.

Rowan notices Eeyore
but she hides behind Julie

staring at her fingers.

The mountain of ice cubes
grows bigger.

By the time
our group
is done presenting, 

the class is entirely enveloped
in cold fog.

I can’t see Mrs. Lim
or my other classmates.

I turn
but even my teammates
are replaced with

cold water vapour.

My chest tightens uncomfortably.

Am I daydreaming again?

‘#%*& you, Rowan.
‘You’re the troublemaker.’

My life
was definitely better
before I met her.

I make my way
in the direction of the door
where I know

the donkey is waiting.

Mist is stirred up like cigarette smoke in my face.

There’s a foul smell.

the stupid donkey greets.

‘What do you want?’

Why does this weird #%*&
keep happening?

‘I told you to keep the feather with you.’

Rowan’s voice.

She’s standing next to Eeyore,
one hand buried in its mane.

Me: #%*& you.
She: This has nothing to do with you.
Me: Then make all this #%*& disappear.
She: You’re the one making it happen.

I clench my fist
and take a deep breath.

Psychos cannot be reasoned with.
Psychos cannot be reasoned with.

Eeyore turns to Rowan.

They converse without words.

But Rowan’s coal black eyes
are expressionless.

They just stand there

staring at each other.

Finally, she breaks away,
her hand in its mane moving to its wing.

Eeyore flinches.

And I feel her hand on mine.

Soft fingers.

It’s cold.

Something soft
is pressed into my palm.

I look down

and realise

the thick cold fog has faded.

Up close,
her (cold) eyes look like black holes.

There’s a depth in there
I will never understand.

For a brief second, I see it.

The other world.
That golden city.

The rowan tree.

She pulls her hand away from mine.

(Why am I holding tight?)

I uncurl my fingers.

She’s given me another feather.

I stare at it numbly.

Then, I look around.

The fog is gone.
Another group is presenting their photos.

The class is laughing

at something on the screen.

Rowan leans forward,

A chill runs down my spine.

I smell her shampoo.
(It’s like grapes.)

It’s different from Nora’s.

The world in her eyes burn mine.

She ties a thread around my neck
and attaches the feather

to the end of it.

‘Don’t take it off.
‘Don’t throw it away.’

I hold my breath.

Forget to think.

          Is time still passing by?

Rowan turns away,
about to leave with Eeyore.

All these incomprehensible things…

She walks away.

How many times
has she done what she wants
and left

without explaining

I reach out and stop her
(take her hand).

Don’t be mistaken.

I just want this to make sense.

‘Why me?
‘Just… leave me alone.’

Expressionless coal black eyes

look at her hand
—the one I grabbed.

‘You came to me first.’

I’m back in the classroom.

but not really.

More flying donkeys appeared
outside the classroom.

They surround

the mountain of ice cubes,

wrapping thin white threads

around each block,
carrying them away.

Rowan glances outside
every now and then,

searching for Eeyore amongst them.

The fog of cold vapour
shifts reluctantly,

wanting to leave,
wanting to spread.

They don’t even reach the door of the classroom

before the donkeys pull at the ice cubes
and they’re dragged away.

‘You kissed me.’

Her voice is accusing.

‘You helped me out.’

‘You used me.’

I shrug,
lean back in my chair.
Same difference.

‘I’m a christian.’

I raise my eyebrows.

‘My christian friends also smoke and drink.’

Her coal black eyes
are unflinching.
Her gaze swallows me up.

‘Do you?’

‘No money.’

She turns away.
I curl my lip.




The bell rings.

I watch Rowan gather her things.
Walk out of the classroom.


But I saw,

watching her go,

that her shoes have no soles.
(Did they have soles before?)

I don’t remember.


A familiar voice behind me:
‘So that’s Rowan.’

I glance at Nora.

When did she come in?

‘I was wondering why you came outside
‘in the middle of class.’

‘Did you see her donkey?’

There’s confusion
on Nora’s forehead.

‘Yeah. Why?’

I jam my hands into my pockets
more confused than ever.




the mountain of ice cubes

have vanished.

The last of the flying donkeys
into the hot afternoon sky.

Everything went back to normal
like nothing happened.


But when I feel around my collarbone,

I find the feather
Rowan hung round my neck earlier,
attached to a loose thread

          from her school uniform.




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