XLIV | Human

[Special Rowan Chapter]

Kumar’s gone back home,
Aspen’s at camp until tomorrow.

I’m alone in the room

Head under the pillow,
I let myself smile.

There’s a restless

in my heart.

I’m fine.

I feel more alive now
than these past few days

when I only cried.

I know what Nya-Nya will say
about Clyde,

so i’m glad
she’s not back yet.

Why is she taking so long,

I need to think
of how to explain it to her.

But what can I say

the truth?

The only rule
I’m willing to break

is the one that doesn’t allow me
to have a future with Clyde.

Why him?

There are so many
better guys out there.

I can already hear Nya-Nya nagging at me.

But I’m giving up on Clyde.

Not when
he’s finally looking at me.

Just for a while.

Just let me have him,
for a while.

God put Clyde
in my life,
so I have to be a good witness,


Other than butting heads

isn’t this the best way?

This is a good reason,


What else do you want from me?

I think of his eyes,
that amused expression—

he always has that face,

even when he’s
annoyed with me.

He sees the world
as a joke.

An amusement park
full of rides to enjoy.

That’s something

I’ve never

been able to do.

There’s always something
at stake.

There’s always someone
who’ll get hurt.

If I let my guard down,
the world will crumble

and it’ll be

my fault.

In the grander
scheme of things,
it’s only right

to sacrifice a little.

It must feel good,
I find myself thinking occasionally—

to be unneeded.

It must be




When did I fall for him?
When he kissed me?

Is this really love?

I’ve never felt
anything like this before.

Clyde is like a spinning fan
that cannot be controlled.

There’s no way of stopping him,

only of
with the flow.

He’s spinning too fast,

I’m lost
in the currents of wind.

What is he thinking?

How did his prejudice of me form?

I want to prove him wrong.

That time at the Blue Abyss,
I saw a glimpse of human nature
that I thought I already knew.

The real world

is hopeless.

People build happiness with their own hands.

They put in a lot of effort
into these dreams.
There’s so many things
I don’t know.

I don’t have

enough compassion.

He has.

He understands them.

He lives with them.

I am
the prejudiced one.

I recall
his friend’s



You don’t know anything.

He was hurt.

He put a plaster
over his wound,
but I ripped it off

without knowing how to treat it.

I tried my best.

But my best is not enough.

Is this the right way?

How will I know?

Thinking in circles like this,

the sun fades from the sky.




Pa calls me downstairs
to help with the cleaning.

The shop’s crowded

he’s cheery.

I go downstairs
but I don’t see anyone.

The fans squeak as usual,
I hear the voices of people.

Pa’s flying
around the kitchen,

putting out
plates of chicken rice
that just

Is this
what Clyde


Your shop’s always empty.

‘Rowan,’ Pa calls.

I turn back to the dishes
piled in the sink.

I don’t tell him.

The next day,
I don’t tell Aspen either.

And when Nya-Nya comes back,
I won’t tell her either.

They’ll be furious
with me
for crossing back
into Clyde’s world.


‘Where’s nyanya?’
Pa asks as he says goodnight.


It’s an easy question
to answer.

She told me.
She’s part of me.

I know it.

But somehow,
my mind seems to have

gone blank.

‘Eh, taking care of Kumar.
‘He’s gone back home.’

He says goodnight again.

Reminds me to pray.

Shuts the door to the room.

Under my pillow,
my phone vibrates.

A text from Clyde.

Why am  I so happy?

The whirlwind dies,
light fills the room.

The light
is made up

of clyde’s various expressions.


It’s not a date.
It’s not a date.
It’s not a date.

I go to sleep
chanting that
so that I’ll remember it

in the morning.




It’s 9am.

I’m supposed to
wait for Clyde

at the bus stop.

Aspen comes in.

‘Aren’t you only supposed to get back in the afternoon?’

He dumps his things
in a corner,

sprawls on the floor with a groan.

‘Department meeting cancelled.’

I search for my phone.

Aspen stops me
at the door.

‘Where are you going?’

My mind goes blank.

I give him a reassuring smile.


I run
before he can ask questions.




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