XL | Entry

keeps glancing
at Rowan

as we’re sprawled
around the bar

where Tom works.

His workplace
looks similar
to the nameless chicken rice shop
in decor.

But it has a name:

It’s crowded tonight.

‘Why did you ask her to come?’
she asks me.

I gulp down
a can of real beer.

‘To see her reaction.’

Nora stares at me,

Rowan sits a distance away
from the rest of us—

where I left her
after we started drinking.

She’s the only one
with a glass of water.

I don’t know what she’s looking at,
staring into space like that,
but she doesn’t even try

to start a conversation with my friends.

maybe I should have

introduced her?

‘She looks uncomfortable,’
Nora says.

‘It’s hurting my eyes.’

‘Ignore her. She’s sulking.’

Nora is quiet for a while.

Then she asks

if I like her.
If I really intend to date her.


To be honest,
despite what I said to Jerry,

I agree with him:

Both of us
are (really) very similar.

I don’t know.

Nora doesn’t give her opinion after that.

That’s what
I like
about her.

She’s honest.

Unlike someone.

It’s complicated.

Nora sighs.
Even playing around is hard.




When Jerry arrives,
there’s a commotion.

Welcoming bear hugs,
back slaps,
fist bumps,
toasts and one shots.

We ask Tom to play darts with us.


Then, Jerry sees Rowan.

His expression

He’s silent.

Rowan doesn’t recognise him.

Tom distracts him
with a drinking game.

We play.
We laugh.
We drink.

Rowan watches us.

Shaking her head
with a faint smile

when Angie asks if she wants to play.

She sips
her cup
of water.


I’m a bit tipsy
when I think it’s a good idea

to explain

Jerry’s hostile glares.

Pull him away from Tom,
push him towards

the only out-of-place person here.

‘You don’t remember him?’
I ask.

She looks at Jerry.

An imperceptible
shake of her head.

This seems to infuriate Jerry.

He smiles.
Swears at her.

Asks, ‘Is it fun to hate people?’

There’s no expression
in her coal-black eyes.

Why isn’t she frightened?
Why isn’t she nervous?

Why doesn’t she respond?

is she

‘Is it fun to step on
‘someone’s important things?’

A flicker of pain in her eyes.

I might be imagining it.

All I remember
of that night

is Rowan avoiding my friends

like they’re contagious.

So it’s probably
my imagination

when her hand

(wrapped around her glass of water)


Jerry tells her
what she’s done.

‘Remember now?’

She’s quiet.

The laughter,
the boisterous commotion
of the rest

makes it hard
for me to concentrate on her.

Jerry’s voice is low now.

‘Do you think
‘I wanted this?

‘I hated myself.

‘I was ashamed everyday.

‘Everything I felt
‘was wrong to society.

‘Do you know how lonely that is?

‘Being looked at
‘like that
‘by people?

‘Scared of being disowned everyday.

‘And now that I’m comfortable
‘being who I am,

‘there’s people like you,
‘judging me without knowing anything.

‘Who are you, huh?’

I point at Jerry.

‘He confessed to me before.’

Jerry grins at me.
‘I did.
‘You thought
‘about it
‘for a long time.’

I laugh.

I think he laughs too.

Maybe Rowan
also smiled.

We laugh for a while

I’m out of breath.

Rowan’s cup is empty.

She’s saying something
to Jerry.

Her voice is shaky.
Not with remorse.

I may be wrong—
the winged donkey behind her

spreads its wings.

‘The truth doesn’t change
‘even if you don’t like it.

‘You have a choice.

‘You chose to reject the truth.

‘There’s no need
‘for you
‘to get offended at me.

Jerry lunges forward.

Chair falls with a loud crash.

Rowan is dragged
from her seat.

Gripped by her long black hair.

But what I’m disturbed by
is how close
their faces are
to each other.

I stand.

The world tilts.

Jerry’s swearing.

He shoves her.


Jerry doesn’t get angry

I’ve never seen him

get angry


He shoves her.

She grabs his wrist,
twists it.

He yells.

Kicks her.

Tom’s walking over.

Separates the two of them.

Jerry’s shouting.
Rowan’s crying.

She falls to the ground,

red eyes fixed on Jerry.

Tom tugs him into his arms.
Kisses him
in front of Rowan.

The bar is quiet again.

Jazz music whines,
a romantic BGM.

Jerry kisses back.

Arms wrapping around
his lover’s neck.

My friends holler and clap.

Strangers also cheer.

Rowan watches this
from the ground,

the look in her eyes

impossible to read.


her eyes shift to look at me.

I smile at her.

She wipes her face,
stands up,

and runs out into the darkness.




error: Content is protected!!