When I was little, I remember running with a line in my hand, pulling a kite behind me. I fell, scraped my knees and elbows, and from then on I never tried again.

Tonight I’m thinking, “Maybe that’s why I’m so bad at relationships.”


You see, once upon a time, I thought relationships were only about falling in love. You’d find someone to fall in love with, they’d fall in love with you, and poof: relationship.

Then I grew older, though I can’t say that I quite grew up, and discovered that relationship comes with its own set of rules. It’s like a game, with happily-ever-after as the ultimate jackpot prize. And one of these rules: the push-and-pull.

A friend kindly explained it to me. He said, “Micha, the thing about guys is that you have to draw them in. You can’t just do what you do and show them and give them everything from the get-go. You must know when to pull the strings and when to loosen them.”

Which got me thinking, maybe that’s why my relationships don’t work. I don’t play the game, much less care about or follow the rules. When I pull, I pull tight and don’t let go. It can get too much. Restrictive. Suffocating.


Maybe one day I’ll find the one who’s done with the games, who’d pull me tight and won’t let go as well.


There are times in your life, when you suddenly see yourself for how you are. When someone holds up a mirror, catching you unaware, and for a split second you don’t recognise the person in there. What do you do, when you don’t like what you see?

Yesterday, that happened to me: a moment when the choices I made, and their consequences, were brightly lit in stark relief, blasting away the smoke and mirrors. And I found myself standing at a crossroad, once again having to decide which path I would go.

I have been in love with someone who belongs to another, and I’ve been doing all I can to justify. Convincing myself to forget the words I’ve written, the promises I made to myself, all in the name of loving him. Yesterday, though, I had that thrown back in my face.

“So you have this idea of monogamy and being faithful when it’s your partner but it’s okay to break someone else’s need for monogamy when it suits you?” That was unexpected, and hurt way more than I thought. “But you have this holier-than-thou view of monogamy in relationships at the same time. That’s either simplistic, naïve, or self-serving?” The derision in those words and their tone at the bending of my principles, the compromise I made, when it was all done for him, that was too much to take.

This isn’t something a simple apology can fix, because all that’s forgiven can’t always be forgotten. As long as I go down this road, I’ll have to live with the echoing contempt in his words, to constantly go against my conscience. “Maybe it’s true what they say, you do lose yourself when you’re in love.” So I have no other choice but to find myself again and come back to me. And to do that, I have to let the love I feel for him go. Otherwise I’m nothing but a hypocrite, and I refuse to ever live that way.

Once, you said we’re only dreaming, Thank you for waking me up.

* * *

So pick up your backpack from yet another hall, reminding yourself all that you have is your soul and you’ve simply got to learn. Smoke your cigarette, down another glass of wine. Curtain’s closing. Don’t look back. You’re done. Lost in the misty grey of a story that never was, the pallor of a heartsick face. “I love you. Maybe that’s the problem”. And maybe you’d rather never receive love than forever live with the knowledge that you’re imperfect and flawed. The tint of an ending, the drying husk of abandoned promises. The finality of a door closing, that snick you hear when the latch clicks, the tremors you feel when the bolt slides into place. The long silence following one last note of a song. That breathless pause after a goodbye kiss.

No man will ever make me cry again.


The Grey and Blue, and Auburn, Too

Tonight I saw the moon. For a split second the rush of cars became sounds of crashing waves, the asphalt underneath my feet wet, coarse sand, and all the smells of the city the scent of sea air blowing against my face. It all reminded me of you.

And in that moment I felt your slight, discreet touches ghosting up my back, running over my shorn hair, and disappearing into the place where memories splice into reality, like fragmented scenes from a movie: the adorable face you make when you’re doing your hair, the way your eyes flutter when you’re falling asleep and you gently start snoring, how you looked at me and held me and we kissed in that darkened club. “I’m a fucking goddess. So you’d better be a god.” And I’d remember the laughter, the good morning snuggles, your voice, sweetness of strawberries and Japanese desserts and pineapple juice, the shared looks and smiles, misunderstandings and moodswings and a ball of snow melting under the harsh sun, the graze of your fingers on mine, my salty sweat and tears. Bitter gold sparkling white and blue, “Oh it’s pronounced rosé?” The paintings on the walls, words on your lips, kites in the sky, the sleight of hand, and dancers in the pouring rain. Some pains we can’t numb even if we try.

Maybe all we wish is to feel special inside. And maybe all we do is wait our whole lives for that one person who reflects the way we see ourselves back to us. “I’d always stay with the one who loves me best.” I never thought I would, but I found my North East in you.

“Man, I can understand how it might be
Kinda hard to love a boy like me
I don’t blame you much for wanting to be free
I just wanted you to know
I’ve loved you better that your own kin did
From the very start it’s my own fault
What happens to my heart
You see I’ve always known you’d go”

I’m no longer holding the brakes on this downhill ride.

The Never Was

As the walls rippled in my peripheral vision, I thought to myself, “This is not real. Nothing ever is.” As the thump of beats and the heat of bodies jostled me, I pondered, “I could die right now. I could die right now and it’ll be alright.” As you said you missed me and I recalled the planes of your face in shadows, I wondered about love and the lies that it tells.

I’ll mend my heart after each promise is broken.

The slapping of my feet against the pavement echoes in the night. I keep running though I know I’ll end up where I started. Each falling tear is a memory, splashing and evaporating. Please don’t let me remember anymore. Take away your sad songs, your wild rhythm and fervent words. Burn away your tragedies and elegies and lamentations. If ever it becomes a choice between you and me, I’d always choose me.

You should know that I don’t miss you. I cried in bed on Sunday. But I don’t miss you. Tuesday, I waited for the call that never came. But I don’t miss you. On Friday, I wrote words that were never sent. But I don’t miss you.

I can’t miss someone who can never be mine.

Once upon a time there was a boy who believed. Once upon a time there was a boy who hoped. He sparkled, this boy, blazing bright in the midst of joy and the absence of fear. But now the boy only flickers, occasional bursts of light quickly replaced by a misty presence, barely here anymore.

Of Beasts and Sinners

He held his mobile phone in his left hand while his other gripped the overhead railing, swaying with the motion of the commuter line train. Concentrating on the words on the screen, he tried blocking the sounds and smells and the heat of bodies around him. Devoutly reciting the words, he scrolled through the prayers, each uttered syllable like the building blocks of a shield between him and the seething, sweating, corrupt masses.

As half-garbled announcements came through the speakers, the train lurched to a stop at a station. He made the mistake of looking up as the door opened and a man or was it a boy pushed his way onto the car. His recitation stuttered. The man boy? was dark haired, tattooed, wearing all black, with piercings up and down his ears and even some in his nostril and lips. His lips. He stared at the lush lower lip decorated with a black ring then at the metallic ball glittering above the pouty upper one.

He yanked his attention back onto his mobile phone screen when he felt the beast sniffing, threatening to wake from his slumber. No. Not happening. Not today. He took a deep breath and steeled himself, centering his focus on the words of the prayers. The prayers that will keep him clean, keep him pure, keep him resisting the… Shit. The boy chose a spot right in front of him, a bit to the side. He can see tattoos of stars starting from behind his ear down the right side of his neck, can count them from this angle, the back of the ear studs he was wearing, the scent oh God the scent of spicy, gingery perfume that softly wafted up. Men don’t wear perfume. Only whores are scented like this, with designs to entice and tempt. He sneaked a look and saw the title of the book at the top of the page. Against Nature. He frowned at the title. Sinner boy. With his undoubtedly perverse book and piercings and tattoos and his delicious perfume.

He tried stifling a gasp when he felt the beast growl. Yet something must’ve gotten through, enough to make the boy look away from the book he was reading and glance at him, just for a moment, before turning back. In that moment, though, he got a look at those big round eyes and for a moment, couldn’t help imagining what they would look like with tears in them, with pain, wide in fear and lost in helplessness, blank as life winked out of them. The beast gave a low growl, more persistently this time. He gritted his teeth in response and again tried to gather his crumbling focus. The prayers, right. Hear the words of your humble servant, God. Help me to…

The train staggered to another stop over yet another broken announcement and the boy the foolish, sinner boy who was holding his book and not the railing like any normal person would, lost in the pages, stumbled back into him. “Oh hells, sorry.” The boy the sinful, tempter devil boy looked up at him again, the eyebrows raised, the pierced lips those cocksucking, dirty, lying lips slightly agape. The beast broke loose on contact, his ears rushing as the proximity bought to awareness the body heat of the boy, the blood rich, hot, red blood flowing in his veins, the wicked oh so wicked slithering of naked skin and slick sweat and thick blood thoughts and feelings that must be coursing through the boy because no clean and pure boy would look like this, smell like this, feel like this against his body. He could hear that voice screaming yes scream for my mercy, shrieking no one would ever hear you now, begging none was spared, none ever would. He would see that face contorted in suffering as he hammered the respect and awe for the God that had blessed him with the beast within him into the boy. He would taunt the boy the little slut whose very existence went against everything he believed, worshipped, and held dear, making him think he had a chance to survive, but he wouldn’t ashes to ashes, grind your bones to dust. And as he cut the boy’s flesh that tender, tainted flesh so vile and evil, cleansed it with licks and kisses of his knives, one sliver at a time, one wail at a time, blood and tears will be spilled and God would be appeased.

He let slip a smile, and he saw and smelled the boy’s mixed reaction of trepidation and desire to the heat you’re mine and you know that you’re mine and you want it in his eyes. The beast inside howled in response.

It would dine and drink tonight.

When It Was All Over, I Said to Myself

Having coffee with your friends, then watching while one of them scrolled and messaged through Grindr, then waiting while he sat at a different table to meet and chat with a guy from the app, then more waiting while said friend went and fucked yet a different guy in the fire exit on the 21st floor of one of the apartment towers in your compound. As I sat there, sipping icy Thai coffee with a straw, I wondered: Is this all there is?

I glanced at Tara and smirked, “You know, you’re kind of judging him right now but he’s basically what most people expect us to be just because we’re gay.”

Tara just huffed, “Isn’t it exhausting? Just imagining having to do it makes me tired.”

“Different priorities. Different values. Some people just have their libidos more closely intertwined with their identities and sense of self.” I raised my eyebrows with an inhale, sighed, and smiled ruefully.

Tara thought about it for a moment. “But until when are you going to do that?”

I laughed. “Forever. Or at least for as long as they can pull it off.” I took a cigarette out of the pack and lit it. “We know there are gay guys out there in their 40s, 50s, 60s still thirsty for dick.”

“Oh my God.” Tara leaned back in his seat and crossed his legs. “But isn’t it a bit silly?”

I blew cigarette smoke. “To you, yes. And perhaps to me. Then again we may be wired differently. And so it’s an ‘us or them’ situation, and both sides don’t really get each other.”

We moved on to other topics until the friend came back. After we settled the bill, he regaled us with details of his conquest while I walked them to the taxi queue.

“He had a great body,” he started. Tara and I absently hummed our appreciation of the fact. “He was acting all affectionate, though, wiping my sweat and kissing me all over. I was like, “This is just a hookup.” Then the guy asked, “You want to do this again sometime?” so I gave him my number.”

I looked at him, “And what about your boyfriend?”

“What about him?” He was silent for a bit then shrugged. “I don’t know. Things aren’t good at the moment. He might dump me. I sort of fooled around with his friend who was sleeping over at our place while he was out for a jog.”

We kept on walking, and I continued to wonder: Is this really all there is?

Or in the wise words of Tatianna…



I went outside after the rain the other day and looked up at the sky and it made me wonder: 

Some people search far and wide for beauty, travelling great distances and visiting exotic destinations. Perhaps, though, it’s not so much about finding as it is about recognising beauty when it crosses our path.

How do we get so caught up in grandeur that we disregard and dismiss simplicity?

Why are we obssessed with the novel, the new and exciting, that we take for granted the everyday?

When will we learn to stop, take a breath, look around and try to see that beauty isn’t just what’s there but what we choose to make of it.

Through the Eyes of You

I picked up my bag from the back of the car and walked away. I promised myself I wouldn’t look back, and I didn’t. Right then it was too much, it felt too soon. But we’ve always known that it couldn’t last. It was always going to be temporary. And by now it’s all just a memory.

“You know what I just realised?”


Looking into your blue-grey eyes, I may not have found the answer, but I found an answer. “This is the longest non-relationship I’ve ever been in.”

We laughed about it and kissed. Seemed like we kissed a lot, and yet we didn’t kiss enough.

“You know?”


“This helps if I ever end up with a crotchety old man.”

“I’m a crotchety old man?”

“No. Well, yes sometimes. But you’re my crotchety old man and I love you for it.” We laughed and kissed some more. Yet again, never quite enough.

I tiptoed back into the room, laid back down next to you. For a moment I wasn’t sure I could go back to sleep. Tentatively I put my hand against your back, needing to feel that you were there, touching your skin, breathing in your warmth as I drifted off.

“You are truly beautiful in many, many ways. You are indeed a unique, beautiful, and lovable person. How you can’t see that is beyond me. Whoever may get you as his partner will be a lucky man indeed.”

I never could see myself the way you see me. But maybe I don’t have to, because your blue-grey eyes see just what I can be.

Lifting the Veil

Thinking about religion reminds me of my ex-boyfriends and my past relationships. It’s always been a complicated affair; demanding commitment, taking loyalty, requiring devotion and at least one date per week. My relationship with religion, though, predated all my exes, which means that we’ve had a very long history together. Looking back on my life or reading my previous blog posts, I see a definite shift in my paradigm about religion and the place it has in my life as well as the hold it has over me.

I started off being a devout Christian. Born in a Christian Batak family, one that would ostracise family members for leaving the faith or converting to another, there wasn’t really a choice. Loving the words of the preachers and the church and the Bible, I remember being asked in junior high who my idol was, and without hesitation answering, “Jesus.” I adored Sunday school, was on the way to being a Sunday school teacher myself, attended church service several times a day and multiple times a week. As far as a relationship goes, it was pretty perfect. Like all my relationships, though, it ended.

The turning point was in high school when my sexual identity, one I’ve never had an issue with, one I’ve always accepted as simply and naturally as my being right-handed or brown-eyed, became a subject of contention and ridicule, all in a priest’s one sermon. In hindsight, at that point I was already changing, restless in my faith in the dogma of something unquestionable. It was the time when I would step back within myself during sermons and, instead of raptly listening to them and, in the words of the faithful, ‘let the words of the Good Lord and grace of the Holy Spirit wash over me and fill me to overflowing’, I started thinking instead. I’d look around at the congregation, wondering at the expressions on their faces, studying their body language, pondering their reasons for being there. And I remember thinking, So many people need something to believe in, to hold on to. Something they consider bigger than themselves; because in their minds, only something bigger can possibly be an answer to the unanswerable questions in life. 

So the process happened gradually. I began thinking, and started questioning, and on it went. I experimented with Wicca, delved into Buddhism and mysticism, tried spirituality apart from any particular religion and settling down with agnosticism for a while, ending up an atheist and right now considering myself an apatheist, which in essence is more of a state of mind than a belief. At this point, I don’t care whether or not god (or God) exists and care even less about debating or defending each perspective. It’s just irrelevant to my life.

It does help that my mother comes from a multi-religion family, with a whole lot of open-mindedness and without fanaticism excepting one or two extended family members. My maternal grandfather was Buddhist and my beloved grandmother still is. My uncles and aunts and nephews are either Moslem, Christian, Catholic, a combination of several, or anything they wish to categorise themselves. It is in this environment that I learn tolerance and acceptance of other faiths. That it is alright to differ and that the difference doesn’t matter.

The world outside, however, is a different thing entirely. With organised religion separating one group from another, used as political weapons and for financial gain, with each claiming not only Truth with a capital T, but Holy Truth. Sacred Truth. Unquestionable and God-given Truth. Where everything else that doesn’t agree and everyone else who doesn’t obey branded as heretics, sinners, and destined for the fire, brimstone, and eternal damnation of hell and fit to be oppressed, destroyed, killed.

Despite, or maybe because of, knowing how this place is, now that I’ve made my choice, I can honestly say that I’m happier. The world feels like it makes more sense. Life feels easier to understand when the veils that have been clouding my vision have been lifted or brushed aside. And isn’t that all we ever want? To be happy?

I don’t wish to ‘convert’ anyone. The journey I decided to take has led me here and if there’s anything I know about life, it’s that we all take our own, make our choices and decisions, answer our own questions. And that’s alright. What I wish, though, is for people to just leave well enough alone. The beliefs of others – or lack thereof, how they live their lives, so long as it doesn’t harm you and yours, why be bothered?

Whether or not I’ll believe in religion again, whether I’ll believe in a god or God, remains to be seen. I’m not so arrogant as to be absolutely certain of the future. I do hope that whichever I decide, I won’t ever choose ignorance, no matter how much bliss it may offer, over seeing things clearly.

Invertia – Fin

We sat by the lake, staring into the inky darkness of the water under the light of the half-hidden moon. Your hand grazed mine and I started. You looked at me, a wry smile on your face before you stood up and walked to the edge. The crickets stopped chirping, the frogs paused their croaking, the wind ceased blowing as the water lapped at your feet, tasting and testing your resolve.

“Do it,” I whispered into the night air, staring at your naked silhouette.

I know you heard me but you didn’t turn around. “Don’t you love me enough to make me stay?”

“Not enough.” I breathed.

“Am I not enough?” You asked again.

And for a moment I thought back to all the memories, felt back to all the kisses, heard back to all the laughters. I shut my eyes tight. “You’ll never be.”

You turned around then, though I still couldn’t see your face. I didn’t need to. I never did. “I thought we were happy.”

I wanted to come to you, to comfort you, to ease the pain in your voice. I didn’t. Instead I opened my eyes and smiled the wan smile we once shared, “How can we? We don’t know what it is.”

The crickets chirped again, the frogs croaked, the water shied away from your feet. I closed in on myself, feeling the cold wind returning. You walked back and sat down next to me, purposefully grazing my hand as you did. I didn’t start. It was just the end.

Invertia – Part II

“So are you happy?”

You fell silent, looking away from me and heaved a sigh.

I laughed a little. “Well, that was a pretty dramatic response.”

You looked back at me, really looked at me, and my smile slowly faded. “I don’t know,” you said. “I’m not sure what happiness is anymore.”

Then we just looked at each other for a while, smiled our own wan smiles, and sighed together.


“Will you still love me in the morning?” Your broken voice pierced the silence and with that sentence charged the air, question heavy as gravity. I tried to not move in the dampness, our mingled sweat refusing to dry in the humidity, seeping through the sheets into the mattress. I heard you inhaling the oxygen and exhaling your frustration, gusting to blanket the battlefield with disappointment. And I willed my eyes to not blink, tried to not breathe, tried to not make my heartbeat betray the knowledge that even as we lay there side by side, I was starting to forget your name.

Crash and Burn: A Reconnaissance

“So will I ever be on your blog?” You asked jokingly.

I took a moment and thought about it. “Maybe. If we don’t end well.” I shot back with a grin.

And now here we are. I don’t know whether it ended badly or not; but for all intents and purposes, we had to end. That was years ago. And this is yet another blog entry which I typed, pondered on, and promptly forgot about.


It all began innocently enough. Well, as innocent as an invitation of a three-way with a (male/male) married couple can be: a clean-fun, uncomplicated, no-muss no-fuss wham-bam-this-pierced-and-tattooed-man/boy-is-sweet-as-strawberry-jam, easy peasy KY jelly arrangement. And it was supposed to stay that way. However, we all know that ‘supposed to’ don’t ever really mean much, does it? We like to think that all – or at least most – of the time we have a handle on situations, that things are under our control.

But they’re not.

So it got complicated, as it always does when feelings come into the equation, when attraction grows into infatuation then identified as love, while undercurrents pushing and pulling underneath the surface rise and create waves and things that went unsaid bubble up and what at first seemed to be a calm and idyllic scenery becomes a malevolent storm.

“I love you.” You said.

“I love you, too.” I said. Then I thought about it. “I don’t want you to leave him.”

“I don’t want to leave him. I can’t. I love him, too.” You said.

And that was that. We couldn’t, or wouldn’t, lie about it and we told him and for a while it was the three of us, an incomplete triangle

“I just want you.” You said.

“But…” I said, hesitant.

I didn’t mean for it to happen, or at least for things to go the way they did, but in the end what does that matter anyway? The result always trumps the intent.


It devolved and dissolved into tears, into screams, tension, pain, and mind games and heart games followed by more tears and more screams. Was it all worth it? Yes. At least for me. Despite the cost, I learned about myself in those few yet interminably long weeks. I know more about my boundaries, about relationships, about the weakness of others and my own damn vulnerability. I learned about the lies we’re all capable of telling ourselves simply to just keep going another day because otherwise we’d close our eyes at night and wish that we’d never wake. I learned that dreams, no matter how beautiful they may be, end eventually in the light of day. I learned that I can love, unconditionally if need be, but I also know when and how to stop, turn around, and walk away.


Last I heard, they were still together and doing fine. Last I checked, I’m still single and, though I do have my moments, very happy about it.

Scenting Blue

There it is again, that scent of you. The one that makes me lift my head and sniff around like a hound, like a fool that somehow thought you’d be there when I turn around. You’ll always smell like my first kiss, like my first puppy love, like surrendered virginity, and the sweat and tears of running across an old quiet town.

I miss you, you know, or maybe I just think that I do. Maybe by missing you, I’m really missing the me that I was. The me that’s gone and the me I’ve lost. And when I cry for you, it’s really me that I’m crying for, fragments of me that I’m remembering, too.

They say we’d always have memories but they often lie. Because even those will be swept away one day, burned in fire and scattered by wind, drowning in the river and swallowed by the din. Gone forever, replaced by others. Not a mark, not a trace. Yet somehow in this moment I’m still haunted by that smile on your face. And recall that moment in time when we kissed and said goodbye.

Nail prints on my palms, scissor marks on your wrists. Public fights and private tears. Betrayals and forgiveness. Moving on, breaking free, you have your life now, and what I’m left with is this:

Whenever I’m smelling blue, I’m really scenting you. The white and blue-grey of years gone by when love, and I, though maybe not fully true, were at least innocent and new.

In the Dark

“Why do I have to love you?” he whispered.

I blinked and tried to make out the outline of his features, failed and traced it with my fingers instead. “I don’t know,” I whispered back. “Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re just lonely and tired of being alone and I come along and…”

“Don’t say that.” He grabbed my wrist and nipped it.

I shifted, laced our fingers together. “What do you want me to say then?”

He was silent. The room was silent. For a moment I thought I could hear his heart beat but then realised that it was my own, thumping in the anxiety of hearing what I didn’t want to.

“Just stay,” he said softly. “With me. Here. Just don’t go away.”

And there it is. The request that I knew I couldn’t fulfil. The promise, once made, I knew I’d break. So I did what I had to, what I could.

“I love you.” I said, with surprisingly sincere certainty and finality. “I’d never leave. I’d hold you forever and be here for always.”

He laughed then pouted, “Why are you lying?”

“Because that’s what you want to hear.” I whispered as I kissed his lips.

He’d slept in my arms as I stayed awake, staring out into the darkness. Praying for it to hide my lies and hoping, as I do sometimes, that I can somehow delay the coming of dawn.

Because maybe if I believe it hard enough and stay long enough in the safety of the dark, I might remember how to love again.

K Thx Bai

“You know, it would be so much easier if I could hate you,” he remarks casually over a plastic cup of Grande Green Tea Frappucino. “At the very least it would be much less complicated.”

“But you don’t.” I reply.

He takes his time taking a sip of his drink, toying with the straw with his lips and tongue as I sit there watching. Deliberately? I don’t know. Could be. Every other word that comes out of his mouth sound scripted anyway, it’s only natural if his moves are choreographed.

“Got somewhere to be tonight?” he asks.

I play with the piercings on my tongue, clicking the titanium studs over my teeth, stalling for time, making sure he’s watching me as he made me watch him. Two can play at that game.

And it is a game, inasmuch we’re both keeping score.



I laugh in lieu of answering. It’s tempting to keep on playing, to stretch out the drama until it snaps on its own accord.

But perhaps for once, it would be wiser to quit while I’m ahead.


Alex stepped off the train and onto the platform of the station. As he walked briskly among the crowd towards the exit, he hummed a tune to himself, feeling a little giddy. He probably shouldn’t be cutting work like this. Yet when he got up this morning and looked out at the brightening sky outside his window, he felt an odd tingle and the idea of having to go to the office and sit in his cubicle and stare at endless pages of files suddenly seemed unbearable. So he showered, pulled on a light t-shirt and jeans and put on a pair of sneakers. No starched shirt and stuffy tie and pressed pants and shiny oxfords today. The tingle in his chest promised him that something was going to happen today and he meant to find out what it was. After a quick breakfast, he went straight to the train station on a whim, bought a ticket for the first train leaving and several hours later, here he was.

He kept on humming as he strolled down the pavement with no specific destination in mind, just enjoying the fresh air and warm morning sun. But as he walked and started to sweat, he felt his steps beginning to falter and his humming stopped. What exactly am I doing here, he wondered. He eyed other people on their way to work in their suits and with their briefcases and all of a sudden his casual outfit didn’t feel so light anymore. His mind flashed to the pile of documents waiting to be read and inspected and his mood slipped even further. What the hell am I doing, acting like some hormonal teenager following a goddamn tingle? He felt ridiculous and his springy steps became slow and pensive.

Reaching the end of the street, the flapping wings of a pair of birds distracted his darkening thoughts. They flew overhead and perched on the branch of a nearby tree. He stopped and watched them for a while, listening to them cooing to each other. He thought they were turtle doves but he wasn’t sure. Turtle doves mate for life, his memory supplied, unrelated though it was to the proper identification of the species. Huh, he mused, wonder where that bit of information came from. He absently shook his head and continued walking, seriously contemplating catching a train back and going to the office to salvage the rest of his day. As he turned the corner, he took a glance back at the birds and crashed right into someone.

“Oh shit.” He blurted. “I mean, sorry.” Then he looked at the guy and just stared, feeling a second tingle in his chest that morning. Huh, his mind said, cute.

“Um… Are you okay?” the guy asked.

Alex blinked at that. “Huh? Oh, yeah I’m okay.”

The guy crouched down and started collecting the books that fell and scattered on the pavement. “Oh hey, let me help you with that.” Alex followed suit and started picking up books as well, handing them to the guy when they stood back up.

“Thanks.” He said, throwing Alex a grin. Again, Alex just stared at him, feeling foolish but couldn’t help himself.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” the guy queried. “I didn’t hit you that hard, no?” he laughed.

Alex gave himself a mental whop upside the head. Speak, stupid. “I am. Really.” He managed to stammer.

“Well alright, then. Thanks.” The guy said as he walked away, giving Alex another toothy grin. Before he turned the corner, he glanced back and said, “Oh by the way, happy Valentine’s day.”

Alex stood there, processing what just happened. Getting tongue tied and flustered didn’t happen to him. Well, aside from the times he got called in to see his boss but that’s for a totally different reason. This was new. It was weird, but a good kind of weird, if that makes any sense. He contemplated the feeling. Might as well, he decided. Maybe he can invite the guy for coffee or something. He took a breath and jogged around the corner, determined to catch up to him. As it turned out he didn’t have far to go.

The guy was standing pretty much where Alex had stood before, looking up at the birds still cooing to each other in the tree. As Alex slowed his steps and approached, the guy looked his way. “Hey.” The guy hesitated before smiling. “You’re not here because you changed your mind and decided to sue for damages, no?”

“Uh… No.” Alex stuttered. For some reason he found that lilting ‘no’ at the end of the guy’s sentences cute, and that thought didn’t help calm his nerves down any. “Um… I didn’t reply when you said happy Valentine’s day, so… um…” The guy cocked his head and stared at him like he was trying not to laugh. He supposed he looked pretty silly spluttering about like an idiot. “Um… Happy Valentine’s day. And again, sorry.” Alex turned away and was about to go, cringing inside at the impression he was making.

“Do you know that turtle doves mate for life?” the guy suddenly uttered.

Tingle, Alex’s chest went again. “Uh what?” Alex managed to get out.

“Those birds. Turtle doves.” The guy pointed at the pair. “I think I read somewhere that they stay together until one of them dies.” Then he looked at Alex expectantly, like he was waiting for a response.

“You want to get coffee?” Alex blurted out. Fully aware that it wasn’t the appropriate response or one the guy was expecting, judging from the way he was silently raising his eyebrows.

“Uh…” He took a long breath to compose himself. “Look, I swear I’m not some psycho or anything. Please let me start over. My name’s Alex. I’m guessing I probably should’ve started with that.”

The guy shifted his books and grasped his extended hand. “Gabriel.” He had a warm hand, Alex noted. “And that’s okay.” He shot Alex an amused look. “You have an interesting approach.”

“So, now that we’ve been properly introduced, how about that coffee?” Alex continued with a smile, finally feeling more comfortable and confident. At least the guy’s not running away screaming.

Gabriel guffawed. “You’re not only interesting but persistent.” At the sound, the doves flapped away and they both looked up to follow the progress of their flight. “Sure. That sounds great.” Gabriel said, drawing Alex’s attention back to him. “I should probably get a cup of tea instead, though. Been feeling this odd tingle in my chest all morning.”

Alex’s smile brightened. Well, he conceded privately, maybe following tingles is not such a bad idea after all.

Coffee, Tea, and Empathy

“I’ve thought about it,” she said. “And from all the relationships I’ve had since RP, I never felt the way it was with him.” She stopped for a bit, contemplating. “You know, the earlier stuff. How easy it was.”

And at that moment a slow realisation hit me: Is that how people feel? No wonder they sometimes can’t let go of a person they loved in the past. And no wonder I couldn’t really understand it.

“Well,” I started haltingly, trying to formulate my thoughts into words. “For me, every time I meet someone new, it’s a different feeling.”

I lit another cigarette, took another sip of my drink, and realised that it was true.

“So I can never compare whether I love this guy or that guy more. In my memory, and when I’m experiencing it, it’s just different. I suppose there were different levels of ease and comfort but the ‘feelings of love’ were unique for each one.”

I felt as if I understood something then. Something fundamental about love, and something personal about how I love. And as soon as I tried to grasp it, it slipped through my fingers.

Another night, another lost epiphany over coffee, tea, and empathy.


He blinked once.

His breath hitched and panic seductively lapped at the edge of his consciousness like gentle waves on a sandy beach, inviting him in. He blinked and drew another deep breath though it couldn’t quite fill his lungs, scrambling for a grip of time and space, desperately pulling away from the grey, seemingly endless expanse between sleep and waking.

Blink again. Breathe again. Focus. Why was he trembling? He gingerly tried moving his fingers, failed, breathed, tried again. When they finally decided to obey, he lifted his hand to his face, pressing the palm to his eyes, rubbing the sleep away and willing himself to inhale and exhale more steadily.

Then he remembered.

It was a dream, wasn’t it? Yes, that’s what it was. He was standing on the broad, crowded sidewalk with motorcycles and cars and people passing by. In the midst of all the traffic and the sounds and the smells he was talking to a faceless, nameless somebody, telling a story when a conscious thought intruded; a voice of reason slipping in where it didn’t belong. He was telling the story, elaborating details when…

“But that’s another dream. It isn’t real. What you’re saying isn’t real.”

And that voice jarred him awake, staring at the grey wall as his breath caught in his chest. And for a heartbeat he was stuck in the dream and back in his room and reliving the dream-story all at the same time.

“Can’t you tell which is real and which is not anymore?”

And then the trembling had started.

He tried sitting up, failed, breathed, tried again, couldn’t and settled with turning slightly and lying on his back instead, furrowing his brows and squinting at the ceiling, torn between wanting to dwell on his thoughts and pushing them out of his mind. It felt like he was breaking out of his skin, tearing apart at the seams. The threads holding his existence together worn thin and frayed, barely containing the psychosis within.

Lips quirking at his dramatic thoughts, he contemplated the approach of early morning hysteria. How bad is it, insanity? How much of you is left after you step over that boundary and let yourself fall over the edge?

“Someday I’m not going to be here anymore, and you might not be able to turn back or you might not want to. Someday you might just find out.”

Glancing at the window, he tried figuring out what time it was from how the light made the yellow curtain glow and sighed. The blue-grey tinge told him it was early, and yet he couldn’t shake the feeling he’d woken up too late though he hadn’t the faintest idea for what exactly.

Another morning, another shot at sanity.

“My life is like, so mundane. The days come, the days go. I keep waiting, waiting, waiting, but for what? I go to work, I eat, I work out, I watch television. I’m not really depressed. Well, yes I guess I am depressed. I’m lonely. I’m easily irritated. But it’s not the kind of overwhelming depression that feels like it’s ripping me apart. It’s more of a blandness, an overall numbness, like every fiber of my being is sucked dry of any coherent reason to exist.”

Your Mother’s Butt – a one act play by Alan Ball