XLIII | Chance

Rowan drags me to school.

No reason, really.

(We’re not wearing school uniform.)

It’s late.
The back gate’s going to close.

But Rowan wanted
to see this rowan tree.

I followed along
because I

don’t have anything to do right now.

There’s pink and orange clouds in the sky.

The moon has risen
even though the sun hasn’t set.

It’s round and red.

Ominous looking.

My heart’s beating faster
for some reason.

She’s facing the rowan tree

staring up
at the leaves
that are still
on the tree.

The smell of over-ripe fruit
surrounds us.

There’s faint sounds
of the softball team
playing in the school field.

We’re alone.

It’s still the holidays.

Rowan steps up
to the trunk of the rowan tree

until she’s almost
face to face with it.

she turns
to me,
hands behind her back.

‘I like you, Clyde,’ she says.

The tip of her ears
are red.

I smile.

I know.

I won.

So I say, ‘Then, go out with me leh?’

I know her answer.
I need to hear her say no.

I want her to be normal again.

That irritating
self-righteous girl

whose ears
are the only part of her i like.

She smiles.

Her eyes are sad.

‘Okay,’ she replies.

I pinch my cheek. It hurts.
Not a dream.


She nods her head.

Her eyes are still sad.

Don’t girls

feel happy

when they

go out
with the boy
they like?

‘I’m not a christian,’ I say.

‘I know.’

‘I don’t date with the intention of marriage.’

‘I know.’

‘I can’t change who I am.’

‘I know.’

‘Did you drink alcohol?’



She smiles at me.

The sadness is gone.
But she looks wrong somehow.

‘Let’s compromise,’ she says.

Let’s respect each other’s differences.

‘Let’s do our best to understand one another.’

Why did you change your mind?

‘Because I can’t help it either.’

Am I supposed
to be insulted by that
or happy?

She tilts her head
to watch my reaction.

We get kicked

out of the school

before I find
a suitable answer.




I invite her
to my house.

Since she sent the parrot,
I’m sure she knows where my house is.

‘Are your parents in?’ she asks.

‘Of course not lah!
‘Why would I invite you over
‘if they were?’

One glance
down at her
tells me

that’s the wrong answer.

But the tips
of her ears
tell me

that’s the right answer.

‘Then, I’m not going!’


She runs home
saying goodbye.




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