XIII | Rain

‘Eat dinner with me.’


Rowan stares at me
with her expressionless

black eyes.




But the tips of her ears

are angry red.


She continues reading her Bible.


She’s sitting under the
rowan tree

          like the first day we met,

reading her book

          like the first day we met.

I crouch
so our eyes touch.

She holds the book up like a shield.


‘Hey Clyde!’

A female voice.
There’s some giggling.

‘Come on,’ I urge Rowan.

The rowan leaves above us laugh.

‘Are you scared of me?’



Nora and two other girls
wave at me from the corridor.

I hold out a finger.

‘Let’s talk later?
‘Project work stuff.’
An eye-roll.

Shuhui and Pretti.
They know me from somewhere

          didn’t know they know Nora.

Nora smiles.
‘We’ll be at the canteen.’

I sit next to Rowan under
the rowan tree.

I watch students leaving
as Rowan reads her book
and call out

when I recognise someone.

‘Go away,’ Rowan says,
‘there’s no project work to discuss.’

‘Why liddat? I’m trying to apologise.’

She looks up at me then,
and sighs.

‘You’re not sorry.’

I grit my teeth.

She’s just pretending to be holy.
I know you’re not.

‘How do you know?
‘You won’t even look at me.’

The tips of her ears
turn red.


She looks up.
I see my reflection in her eyes.

There’s a faint touch
of raindrops on her skin

like powder.

I want to kiss her again.

Make her properly mad.
Make her regret messing with me.

Fire and brimstone.

Let’s see
fall first.

I blink. ‘I’m sorry.’

The mask on her face shifts.

I see the raindrops
clearly now.

She closes her book,
looking up darkening

Her voice is quiet.
‘If you’re really sorry,
‘then don’t throw away the feather again.’

‘I’m really sorry, so let’s go out for dinner.’

She stands up.

Doesn’t glance at me.
‘We’ll eat dinner when we have a project work meeting.’

There’s a rowan leaf
that got tangled in her hair.

She starts to walk away.

My hand

reaches out



the leaf,

brushing the tip
of her ponytail.

Rowan turns around,

fixes her expressionless doll face
on me,
tilted a few degrees
to the right.

‘Thank you.’

For what?
The apology?
The invitation to dinner?

I don’t get it.

The leaf in her hair

flutters down,

and the rain

joins the rowan tree
in laughing at the world.

She hugs the book
to her chest,

shielding it

against the rain.

When she reaches the corridor,
it starts pouring.

She stops running,
turns to me.

‘If you like your life as it is now,’
(I can hear her clearly through the rain)
‘Don’t approach me again.’

What the heck?

I watch her run away




‘Why are you wet?’ Pretti asks.
I shake water from my hair.

‘It’s raining.’

Kumar glances at the bright sky.
‘Is it?’

I shrug.
‘Maybe it just stopped.’

Kumar sighs.
‘Can’t play with y’all today.
‘There’s a test tomorrow.’

Ming sits up suddenly.

‘What test?’

‘Third lang.
‘you don’t take it.’

I turn to Pretti and Shuhui
who are giggling to each other.

‘What’s up?’

Shuhui shrugs,
bites a cigarette between her teeth.

‘I ponning school next week.
‘Want join?’

Kumar grabs the joint from her.
Stuffs it into his pants.

‘Oi, don’t get us in trouble leh.’

He looks around.
No one’s looking.

He puts it in his own mouth.

Shuhui offers him a lighter
and pulls it
out of reach
when he stretches out his hand to take it.





The rest of the boys arrive,
a few other girls.

There’s a lot of us today.

Will Tom and Jerry turn up again?

I am about to ask Ming
but he’s talking to Celine.

We head for the park.

Kumar comes along.
We convince him ‘language cannot mug one.’


The sun casts
orange shadows on the ground.

The rowan tree is alone.

The school gate creaks.




Shuhui lights her cigarette.
The girls sit by a stone table to talk,
leaning their arms on it.

Ming kicks the ball
into the middle of the field.
It’s warm
from the afternoon sun.

I push Noah out of the way
and run after it.


And then I realise
it couldn’t have been raining just now.


The ground is absolutely dry.




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