XX | Torn

Rowan stares at me
without saying anything.

We don’t speak
but everything I have to say
is clearly visible

in my eyes.


She pulls her arm from my grip.

‘You don’t want to see her,’
she says.

I don’t reply.

I search her gaze,
to find out how her expressionless black eyes

can see the parts of me I hide.

Why did I go to her?
Why did I ask her?

I could have looked for Ria on my own.

‘You regretted
‘because you were sure she was gone.’

‘Who saved her?’
I say too loudly.

A couple in matching sunglasses
turns to look at us.


I leave Rowan there.

I run,

and faster

until I’m out of the zoo.

Until I’m somewhere rowan trees can’t grow.

Sweat flows

like tears

down my back.

I bend over,
staring at my shadow,

I look back.

I’m alone.





I start.
Spin around.

And got cigarette smoke in my face.


She’s wearing lipstick,
          blue mascara
          yellow contacts.

Her cropped hair curls over one eye,
shaved close to her scalp behind.

What the heck?

Just the other day,
she has a normal short hair.

she tied her fringe into a weird ponytail
on bad hair days.

But, ‘What happened to your hair?’

She mashes the burnt end of the cigarette
into the dustbin’s no smoking sign.

‘This is my normal hair.
‘#*%& school.

‘What are you doing here?’


We’re in an office building.

I ran all the way here
from the zoo.

Just to get away from Rowan.

But I’m not going to say that.

Shuhui’s wearing a leather jacket,
formal mustard shorts,
black knee socks,
large mustard sneakers.

Her clothes emphasise her slender legs
(and bizarre fashion sense).

‘Went to the zoo.’

Shuhui bursts out laughing.

‘The zoo?
‘For what?

‘To look at lions?’

‘so stupid.’

She leads me to a cafe at the basement.

‘What about you?’

She reaches to her lips for her cigarette
and sighs when there’s nothing there.

‘I’m ponning school.’

I make a face.
‘It’s Saturday.’


is waiting for me to ask this.

There’s a complicated look in her eyes
but her yellow contacts are in the way—

I could be wrong.




The cafe is empty
—like rowan’s chicken rice shop.

The difference is
there’s aircon.

We order the cheapest drink
and sit in the carpark

because Shuhui wants to smoke.

It’s okay though
there’s no cars here.


The whole basement is empty.

So many lights
reflecting off the slick floor.

What a waste of electricity.

CCTV cameras stare at us
from many angles.

There’s a mirror showing us our reflection.

It’s a bit creepy.

But Shuhui sits on the curb,
against the glass door.


‘Life sucks,’ she says.

‘This is an interesting place,’
I reply.

A puff of smoke fills the air.


‘It gets a bit dull
‘when you see it everyday.’

Her smile is wry.

I have nothing to say.

I met Shuhui at orientation.

She came up to me
when I was surrounded by all the other girls.
Shoved her way forward.

Not to get my number.

‘Oi pretty boy,’
she said,

‘I’m supposed to go to some science lab,
‘the senior said to ask you.’

We exchanged numbers anyway.

Hung out
even though we were in
different classes.

I would have dated her
if she confessed first.


She grins now,
looking like a cheshire cat.

‘You’re thinking about that parasite,
‘aren’t you?’


She made a face.

‘Even when she’s gone,
‘she still refuses to #*%& leave you alone.’

I sip my coffee.
It’s too bitter

even for a bad Americano.

I put the cup down.

Should have got a latte.

‘Well, you’re free now.’

Shuhui puffs cigarette smoke
through her barely parted

dark red lips.

It unfolds and floats up
into the sky.

Her yellow contacts fix themselves on me.

‘Who’s next?’

‘Nobody,’ I reply,
‘Need to look like I’m mourning for a while.’

Her blue lashes flutter hauntingly.

I think

she looks most beautiful
surrounded by wafts of smoke
like this.

‘Good idea.’




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