XLIX | Movie

I don’t particularly like
romance movies

but I want to see Rowan’s reaction.

I bet she’s never
watched an NC16 show
even though she’s 17.

I close the door.

The curtains.

Turn off the lights.

There’s the faint whir
of the air-con generator.

I open Netflix.

Type ‘The Notebook’.

(It’s NC16 in Singapore, okay?)

Start the film.

Lean back,
my arm

Which R18 film should I pick after this?

She shifts away,
leaning closer

to the screen.

I guessed this before
but now I know for sure

that her eyesight
isn’t very good.

‘Have you heard of this movie before?’
I ask.

It’s a rhetorical question
but she shakes her head.


‘Take notes.
‘It’s a classic.’

She nods her head

She’s already
in the story world.




I get bored really fast.

It’s not really that interesting.

There aren’t even many
sexy moments.

I first watched it
when I was 12

and I was also bored then.

My first girlfriend
(I forgot her name)
wanted to see it,

saying it was

The steamy scenes
were okay,

the romance was alright

but nothing much happens.

We’re watching it today,
not because I

desperately want to see it again.

The plan
is for Rowan to watch it,

and I’ll watch her.


I shift the laptop
closer to her side of the bed,

lie on my side,
head behind the laptop,

so I can see her

coal-black eyes

lit up
by the screen.

Her eyes flicker to me
but she doesn’t say anything.

It’s like watching a stone.

There’s no change
in her expression

no matter what happens in the movie.

we haven’t reached the

‘good’ part

Rowan’s hands clench my bedsheet

when the heavy breathing
and the romantic music begins.

Her eyes meet mine,
watching her.

Body all tense.

And then she turns her head
to stare into the darkness.

‘Come on, Rowan,’
I tease,

‘It’s a good movie.
‘Just watch it.’

Her eyes
go back to the screen
like there’s a magnet there

attracting her to it.

Then, they flicker
back to the darkness again.

Her ear,
illuminated by the bright screen,

is red.

‘You’re adorable,’ I say.

I get a glare
for that comment.

She survives
the first amorous scene

and pulls her knees up to her chest
to watch the rest of it,

heart-shaped pillow raised,
ready to hide.

Her expressionless expression
is back too.

I wonder what she’s
thinking about.

During the second
erotic scene,
her lips part


Eyebrows furrow slightly.

Over the characters
breathing loudly,

I can hear Rowan breathing fast too.

Just from something like this.

She hides her head
behind the pillow.

A mumble,
‘Why are we watching this?’

I smile.

I’m the one
gripping the bedsheet now,

not because of an emotion
like Rowan

but to restrain myself.

I wanted
to make her
but I’m

the one



It’s shiok.

I haven’t held myself back
in a while.

It feels better than I expected.

I sit upright
next to her

not because
I wanted to watch them do it

—there’s sadly no such
    explicit scene

but because I want to
feel Rowan’s warmth

next to me.

I tap her when the scene ends.

She looks up from the pillow,
glares at me.

Does that mean she’s grateful?

I just need an excuse
to touch her.

When the credits roll,
she gets up to switch on
the lights.

This is too slow for me.


‘You did this on purpose,’
she accuses.

I nod.

‘Yeah. How did you find it?’

She climbs
onto the bed

My brain struggles
to listen to her movie review.

I look into
her serious eyes.

‘…so the story was good
‘but the steamy scenes
‘ruined everything.’

A moment of silence.

Just the air-con whining.

‘You?’ she asks.

I shrug.

She hugs her knees again.

Her wrists

are so small.

Have I mentioned that before?

‘You didn’t watch most of it,’
she comments.

‘You seen it before.’

I lean in close.
‘You’re an interesting movie.
‘No, haven’t seen it before.’

She holds up her phone,

the reason why
she’s not nervous at all.

999 is dialled in.

With the lights on,
she’s a bossy bitch again.

‘Let’s order Foodpanda.




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