XXIII | Will Be

Aren’t these people
supposed to be recovering already?

What am I supposed to say?
Why am I even here?

This situation
doesn’t make any sense.

I look at Rowan.

You handle this.

I pick at my Scrabble tiles
and form a word.


Rowan watches me
and says,

‘God kept you alive.
‘There are still things you need to do.’

Did she really

say that to him?

He looks down at the Scrabble board.
I give him two new tiles.

His eyes

are fixed on Rowan.

They stare at each other without talking.

He forms a word on the board.

‘I’m old.

‘There’s nothing I can do.’

I agree.

There’s also nothing I can do for him.

Why am I here?

Clearly society has abandoned him
because he’s grown senile.

What can he do

except take up space?
Be an extra mouth to feed?

Even I don’t visit my grandparents at their nursing home.

No time.
Don’t need them.
It’s boring.


‘How many times did you—’
Rowan pinches my arm when I speak.

Don’t ask.

The wrinkles on his face

crease a little more.

‘Enough to be dead by now.’

Rowan forms this word
on the Scrabble board:


The old man looks at it

and laughs
and laughs
and laughs
and laughs.

The other patients and volunteers

turn to look at us.

I wonder if he’ll have a heart attack
and die of hysteria.

A nurse is bringing
a blood pressure machine

He stops laughing.

His face is hard,
his expression cold.

The nurse wraps his arm with the cuff,
the old man looks at the words on the board.


His blood pressure is fine
but the nurse wants to take him back to his room.

He turns to us.
To me.

‘You should be dead too.’

He willingly lets the nurse guide him to a wheelchair.
Then, he’s wheeled away.




In the silence,
I can hear the nurse

telling him

‘The doctor told you to stop talking like that.

‘You don’t want to keep staying here…’


On the way home,
we’re sombre.


Rowan is looking down at her hands,
clenching them into fists
like her hands aren’t working properly.


I don’t really think much about death,

not since

that day.

And that was eight years ago.

Since then,
I’ve tried to be comfortable.




He’s right, I think.

Watching trees and street lamps rush by.
We stop abruptly

at yet another red light.

I should be dead too.

This life I have.
I’m not really living.

What is living anyway?

An old, ancient thought
suddenly comes to me: 

Is life just being happy until that cold, empty and absolute nothingness?

Is that all there is
to this cruel, selfish world?


I look at Rowan.

At her curtain of black hair,
obscuring her expressionless eyes,
her resting-bitch face.

A world where the golden city is real…

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I touch the feather
under my t-shirt.

For a moment,

I think maybe
it might be important

to find out for sure.


we get off the bus.

Rowan says,
‘let’s finish the report by today.’

The thought


in the hot




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