Chennai

It was the day before that I
Was sat atop a bus in wry.
I did feel the swaying of thighs
And of birds that only high-fly
Atop that one bus in Chennai.

A move to Chennai to find my
Beloved magpie has lost eye
Of a pretense that blew bone-dry.
As I try, I could not deny
The Frost and Poe in my hair-dye.

To think that despite Chennai, I
Still could not bid proper goodbye
To the Rushmore of poets, why,
It does frustrate me so. I cry
Only for the love gone awry.

-rachel

p.s. 8 syllables per line and AAAAA rhyme scheme yeboi!!

p.p.s. the magpie is a metaphor for the unique trait that defines me as an author/poet.

p.p.p.s. Rushmore is just Mount Rushmore for US Presidents, which I like to think of as a hall of fame.

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Oh no

I stared at the empty glass in front of me. It’s just like my soul. Void of everything. My eyes connect with the dazzling bartender and asked the silent question for a refill. He smiled, fulfilling my request straight away. 

“Hey there beautiful,” someone purred. You have got to be kidding me. 

“I’m engaged,” I lied, hoping he’d take the hint. Boys never do though. 

“I don’t see a ring on that finger.” He moved closer, now mere inches away from me.

“That isn’t your problem. I took it off.” The handsome bartender had returned with my drink and I take a sip out of it.

“Hey beautiful, how bout me, ” he gestured to himself, “and you,” he gestured to me, “get out of here, and head over to my place. What do you think? I’ll even order pizza!” He was laughing now, though I failed to see what exactly was so funny. 

“No thanks.” I hurried to finish my drink. I was ready to call a cab and get the hell out of there. 

“Why not? You don’t like pizza?” 

“I love pizza, I just hate you.”

“Awh man, and to think I love you. You already have a pizza my heart y’know,” he winked and I cringed. 

“Find someone else dude, I’m leaving.” I pushed him away, smiled at the gorgeous bartender, and walked away. I’m going home to order some pizza.

“No. You. Are. Not.” He wraps his slender fingers around my arm. In the process, he spills some of his drink all over himself. Gross. 

My heart beat speeds up. I yank my arm away and ran- I mean speed walk- to the door. God please help me.

“I don’t get it. I’m gorgeous. You’re gorgeous. C’mon, let’s make some gorgeous babies.” His fingers had returned my arm. 

At this point, I don’t know what to do. I glance around, desperately praying that some kind soul would rescue me. 

“Did you just call yourself gorgeous? I mean, have you actually looked in the mirror recently? Because gorgeous is definitely not you.” I pull my arm away once more. 

“Oh, baby you’re gonna regret saying that,” he smiles, showing his teeth…or what’s left of it. He has two hands on me now. I try to wriggle free but he has such a strong grip. 

[End of Part 1]

~Ana

serendipity.

The lights around them rose as the Sun and the Moon began their routine. The crowd went wild as the catchy music starts up. They launched into the dance routine with practiced ease. Uniformed gestures, fluid movements with smooth vocals and clean rap all rolled into one stunning performance, leaving them all gasping by the end of it. Both shone in the presence of each other, neither overshadowing the other, bodies complementing one another in seamless harmony. Fireworks marked the climax, hyping up the already electric vibe through the concert hall. At end of it, they stood with arms linked, and bow, giving thanks to their ever-growing fan base.

 

When the crowd finally cleared, and they changed out of their glittery costumes and removed their makeup, it is then they felt the exhaustion set in. The adrenaline wore off, dimming their shine. The pair climbed into the car, sliding the door shut as the engine started and they set off for the hotel.

 

As usual, they ordered a bottle of red wine before settling for the night, confiding in each other about the mistakes they made during the concert. They sat, huddled in the same blankets and same bed as they laughed over ridiculous moments, especially the ones of fans bringing in handmade signs with messages of varying degrees of hilarity. However, the more they drank, the more sober and aware they became of the pressing issues they had. The discussion gradually turned towards their insecurities, hopelessness, and the fact that no one knows what tomorrow will bring. The Sun raised his glass in a toast to their future, attempting to lighten up the atmosphere, because reddened cheeks and sad smiles don’t really match. Who drinks to think more? The Moon reluctantly did the same, and the glasses clink. With sorrow swirling in their eyes, they downed the wine quickly, the sweet liquid leaving behind a bitter aftertaste on their tongues. But no matter how much they drank, the alcohol was never able to chase away the chilly sense of foreboding flowing through their heated skin.

 

Although the alcohol did not clear their minds, they decided to rest for the night. Eventually, the last of their hushed whispers faded away, replaced with sounds of soft breathing.

 

The Sun rose first, as he always did. The filtered sunlight fell on the pair, and just for a moment, he closed his eyes, allowing himself to bask in the warmth and glow. He turned towards the Moon who was still fast asleep, curled up in a fetal position with hands tucked between his knees. Deep and relaxed breathing were the only signs of life of the other, coupled with the slight rising and falling of his chest. The dim rays fell across his face, and the Moon scrunched up his nose. Fingers reached out to smoothen the crease between the Moon’s eyebrows as he dreamt.

 

The Sun’s touch was always warm and gentle, the Moon thought as he was gently roused from his slumber. Unlike his hands that were cold and rough, always starting fights or breaking things. And even during moments like these, he wondered if one day, he would even break the one who mends him.

 

“Morning,” the Sun beamed, brimming with radiance as the hand was retracted, used instead to prop up his head. The Moon let out a small smile and muttered that it is too early, dragging the blanket over his head while the other tried to tug it from him. The last visages of his dream were only chased away by the bitter scent of coffee that reached beneath the comfortable covers.

-☼☾-

The longing glances, the prolonged skin contact, double meanings in spoken words. It was not long after they debuted that the fans and paparazzi caught on to them. It was their fault for letting their guard down, so it was expected that the Internet would blow up with pictures of them doing daily activities together. Theories and rumors circulated and spread like wildfire. Nobody could have stopped the onslaught of hate, in the form of messages, boycotting, and harassment. How ironic, seeing that they were heavily shipped together before all of this news. The days continued with overhanging clouds, heavy downpour, and leaden thoughts.

 

Until their company finally released a statement to deny the rumors. By then, the damage had been done. Any public shows of affection were banned, and they understood it was necessary. It was the truth that as easily as the crowd can raise them, it can break them as well, pulling them down further from where they have started. At least, they managed to climb back up to where they were before. Up in the sky together with the stars, they shone brighter and stronger.

 

The tightrope rose higher together with them. It was too easy for the dread to creep into their hearts again when the same speculations started up over and over, and they both wondered if destiny was just a cruel and jealous being.

 

Or were they just not fated after all?

 

The Moon knew that behind the dazzling smiles of the Sun, there was hurt and anxiety, trepidation and worries. Behind the blinding stage lights and flashes of cameras were tear-soaked sleeves and pillows accompanied with puffy faces. He knew, that he had to be the mature one. For the younger and more delicate Sun, no matter how brightly it shone, on and off stage. For his selfish desires, because he couldn’t bear to see the Sun being engulfed by the black hole, losing its passionate radiance. And even though he knew that in the end, they would all be consumed by it, all he wants is for the Sun to shine just a little bit longer. The Sun and the Moon are not meant to meet in the sky after all.

 

So he made a decision.

 

All the Sun could remember that night at the private hotel bar, was the anguish and heartache during their first heated argument about parting ways. The chair scraped against the floor, a harsh sound to his ears as the Moon stood up to leave. “No don’t leave me,” the Sun silently pleads, drunk off moonshine, as he grasped tightly onto the other’s arm. The Moon gently peeled the hand off, shaking his head wordlessly as he walked away from the bar.

 

He had no idea how long he laid there, tears streaking down his face. Chuckling, he muttered about how he most probably cried enough for this lifetime. Then cool hands and a familiar husky voice stirred him, and he was hoisted onto a broad back. On instinct, he wrapped his arms around the neck of the Moon and buried his nose into the comforting pinewood-scented leather jacket. When he felt the Moon take in a long shuddering breath, the Sun instantly moved to hug him tighter to provide some reassurance. His legs dangled in the air as the strong arms that supported his knees and thighs unconsciously held him closer to the Moon’s waist.

 

“You know, right?”

A hidden message that they created after the scandals, a promise that they would be there for each other through and through.

“I know, I always know.”

 

After being swathed with the soft blankets, the Sun vaguely heard the beep of the electronic lock before he blacked out.

 

The Sun rose, as he always did, but this time to the urgent vibrations of his phone. The filtered sunlight fell on him, and just for a moment, he closed his eyes, allowing himself to bask in the warmth and glow. And his head snapped towards the right side of the bed, eyes open, only to see a folded note. The memories from the night before rushed back to him. Hands grasped at the paper fervently, only to let it fall onto the bed after he read the gentle handwriting that he became well acquainted with. His phone continued to buzz from the calls of the managers demanding to know where he is, the texts asking if he is okay, and the news blowing up once more, about how the Moon had seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving behind no mark, other than the word about his unknown length of hiatus.

 

And the Sun wailed at the loss of the Moon.

 

The Moon did promise that he would be back the day when people would accept them as who they are, and they would not fizz out from the ever-growing black hole haunting them both day and night. And that would be the day when the Moon would obscure the light of the Sun, and the Earth would be plunged into darkness from what they have become. And it doesn’t affect them.

 

From then on, without the Moon illuminating the night sky, it turned jet-black, and the stars did not shine as bright, as if knowing they were missing a piece. A new moon, waiting for its time to show itself again.

 

All the Sun could do was wait for the eclipse, where he and the Moon would unite as one again. Until then, they would chase each other across the sky. And when the day comes, he won’t let go of him.

 

“Just let me love you.”

 

 

~̴̡̢̺͎̹͕͎͍̦͎̼̹͙ͯ̽ͣͯͥ͌̇̈ͨ̽͋ͩ̀̚ō̴͑́ͧ̃̽̈̆̿͆͐ͫ̓̇́̅҉̢̼̝̜̪̯̹̣͈̞̕n̴̛̪͖̺̺̘̜̗͔̘̰̟͕̜̱͔ͦͬ͛̌̂͑ͭ̃ͪ͗̀͘͟ͅͅc̨͕̗͉̰̗̥̹̗̝̯̗ͪ̎ͩ͛ͨͯ̓̓̀͡e͎̰̯̗̟̤̺̝͕̪̭̻̼̦̪̿̄ͮ̈́͑ͬͮͦ͌͂ͧ͐̿͠ ̷̭͕͙̝̪͓͈̬͈̣ͥ̈́͗͛̒́ͮͣͫ̍̆͊̌́͜aͪͧͪ̊̀͏̸̵̫̺̙̳̠̹͚̥͖̭̜͎̼͕̜̩͘ͅň̡̙̜͉͎͕̥̺͍̮̳͖͇̠̋͛ͦͫ̏͑͆̃͌ͬ̃ͬ̾́̓̚͢ͅͅd̴͇̪̣̹̂̓ͮͬͧ͜͜ ̵̡͖̟̼̼͚̣̬̩̺̱̗͖͗ͣ̋͑̾ͬ̐̐͑̀̉͂̕ą̲̞̝͉̼̙ͪ̌̀̈ͮͪ̈̐͜͟l̢̟̹̘̰̯̤͕̆̈́̔͊̉ͦw̴̵̹̭̪͉͔͈̥͙̫͍̋ͮ̌̏̄̎́̑̑̑̐́̏̉͘ͅa̶͔̞̲͓̤̺̫ͥ̑̒̃ͯͣ̂ͤ̀͆ͥ̄̆̌̈́͗͂̊̀͜͡y̥̤̞̖͈̯͇̰̬͉̲̩͋̆ͬ̈́͘͢͞͞s̴̸̷̨̳̣̩̼͒̂̋̏̊̎ͬ̄̐͡ͅ ̵̛̯̫͎̟̺͈͚̃ͥ̀̂̎̍͂̉̏̆̈̓̾͊ͥ̆̔̽t̴͎͓̥̩̮̿ͨͭ͂̉̆͆͌̋̀̀̽͡h̯̠̺̺͎̦̣͎͙̼̹̹̪͛̃̑̈́̅ͪ̿ͤͧ̀͊͜͡ȩ̷̜͚͚̰̟̤̱͚̖̤͔̱̺͓ͪ͒ͩ̍̂̈́ͦ̅̐ͨ̉̅̔ͣ͊̈͂ͤ́͢͢ ̶̻̹̻͔̠̻̠͚̗̒ͫͦͫ̑̽͗̽̂ͭͩ̎̈̈́̽̋̇̚ͅͅ1̷̛̛̞̮̱͙̗̰̘̹͍̱͙͙̝̱́̉͌̑̌͆̐̽̄ͨ̓͘3͛ͭ̂̑̏ͮ͒̃ͬ̽̾͏̨̻̟̜̫̰̕͠t̉͌̃̄̃ͧ͗ͫ͋̅̓̐͑͒̎͏̜͎̤͚̺̠͔̤̼͇̘̠͙͖̲̥̰̯́́̕ͅḥ̢̢̠̞̠͕̞̥̥̪̭̽̏̋̓̉͐̑́͢͝ͅ ̡̖̣̳̞̤̼͛́̎̓ͭͬͦ́̀̓ͯ̚͝m̸̜̝̲͚̭͇̠̗̹͔̜ͫ͋̔̇́͘ę̢̡̪̞̫̗͉̙̱̏ͨ̋̑͋̂̃̔͂ͪ̿ͤ̄͆̽̊͢͝m̈̽ͦͧͭ̃͒̂ͬ́͜҉̫͖̮̱̼͚̺̺͉̺̜͓̟͟b̢͚͙̩̳͕̥͐̾ͭ͋͐͒͛̏͠e̷̯͙̳̯͇̣̙̺̜̝͍̟̰̱ͯ͂ͪ̍̑̽̀r̵̝̱̺͍͍̩͍͈͓͚̭̭̱͑͛̏̓̐̽͋̕͝ͅ

The Murder, The Crew, and the Revolution

“Quite the tragedy, too.” Detective Candles aimed the torchlight up at the ceiling, pawing at the splinters and dislodged floorboards above just waiting to come hurling down at some unsuspecting victim. “The wedding was just two and a half days away.”

“Still upset about the light?” The Detective wasn’t allowed to bring his favorite candles as they posed a significant fire hazard to the mahogany foundation of the mansion.

“Of course not. I’m just thinking.” The Detective was still upset about the light.

As the Detective continued scavenging the ceiling for Heaven knows what, Agents Tabby and Freckles picked their way around the messy floor, trying their best not to break anything on their way to the doors. Agent Bleach was in the living room with the victim’s sister and one of the witnesses. The Agents were all experienced fielders from the Crew who dealt with information recovery quite frequently. The three immediately volunteered for the case after hearing the Commissioner discuss it with one of the victim’s relatives.

Continue reading The Murder, The Crew, and the Revolution

Americano

Remember?

When we sat there in a Starbucks (I can’t remember which) with a couple of chocolate and caramel frappes in hand, talking and laughing about which drink represents which person in our lives? When the soft, lambent glow of the lamp above brought out the rich, mocha brown in your eyes? It was about 10 at night, and we’re both a little high off the caffeine. But I still remember the tenderness in your laugh, and the warmth of your body against mine as we sat there on the sofa, one slightly cracked from age but framing a moment that still seems timeless to me.

Continue reading Americano

i’m going crazy

Finally, the day arrives.

 

After a good 12 years of education, everyone’s milling around Raffles Junior College, emanating nerves and excitement. The graduation ceremony starts in 15 minutes, and while no one is particularly looking forward to the principal’s droning speech and the woefully out-of-place school cheers (and some guy in a Griffles costume), everyone knows what comes after that: The moment your hopes and dreams for the future is made or broken, when your prospects are confirmed and you’re given your lifelong vocation.

 

And I am really not looking forward to it at all.

 

Every year, the graduating batch of RJC files out of the hall and into the field after graduation to face their fate. Known simply as the Ritual, students toss their mortarboards into the air and pray for their lives as they come back down, having morphed into a hat representing each students’ future profession.

 

The mortarboards are really weird, honestly; no one knows how their professions are decided, but the process always seems to get it right in the end. I’ve known students that studied their whole lives to become doctors or lawyers, hoping against hope that their effort could change their fate, only to get police hats or soldiers’ helmets instead. They always end up happy in their professions. Last year the school went wild because the council president threw up her mortarboard and got a really weird-looking, pinstriped saggy thing in return. Everyone was really confused until someone searched it up and found out it was a prisoner’s hat. People were wondering if for once, the mortarboards were wrong, if there was some sort of glitch in the matrix. Until in a fit of terrified rage she blamed her parents for her fate and tried to kill her mother.

 

The graduation hats are never wrong.

 

Which is why I’ve never tried particularly hard at anything.

 

In its 195 years of history, every student from RJC has entered into their given profession and excelled in their fields. It’s kind of hard to motivate a kid like me when you know your future is already set. Of course, this means I also have no idea what I’m going to end up doing; I’ve never really tried enough to know what I’d be good at. Which is why I’m not exactly thrilled at the idea of getting a job and actually having to try at it.

 

Anyway. The Institution Anthem fizzles out and students stream out into the sad patch of grass we call a field. Our cohort’s president starts a countdown. 10 seconds and 1200 people’s fate will be decided.

 

9 seconds.

 

Maybe I should have worked harder. You know, there are rumours that effort really does affect your assigned profession.

 

7 seconds.

 

Then again, it’s a bit too late now.

 

4 seconds.

 

But what’s the worst that could happen?

 

Three seconds.

 

Two.

 

One.

 

Everyone throws their mortarboards in the air. Blinded by the sunlight, no one sees the transition as the black, uniform caps change into an array of multi-coloured headgear. People squeal in excitement as they catch surgical masks and powdered wigs. I hear people breaking down and know fast food hats and construction helmets have landed at their feet. I throw mine up, squint at the sun, and catch…

 

A beanie.

 

Oh, shit.

 

I cringe, hoping to put away the beanie before anyone notices. But it’s too late; the people around me fall silent. I clutch the beanie behind my back as more and more people notice it, my face flushing red.

 

The silence is deafening, and spreading through the crowd like airborne poison.

 

In RJ’s 195 years of existence, not a single person has ever caught a beanie. But everyone knows what it symbolises. Its reputation precedes it.

 

A beanie symbolises unemployment, joblessness, uselessness. Vagabonds catch it and their lives are destroyed. Teachers are heard threatening young children, if they don’t work hard they’ll end up getting a beanie on graduation day. But no one’s actually gotten one until now.

 

1200 pairs of eyes on me. There’s only so much I can do to save my dignity now. Taking a deep breath, I make eye contact with as many people in this faceless crowd as I can. Future surgeons, politicians, movers and shakers. All trying to convey their pity and sympathy to me, but also all glad it wasn’t them.

 

And I smile.

 

“Well, what can I say? A nine-to-five job was always beanie-th me, anyway.”

 

((help))

it’s too early for this

The time between 3 and 5am is a limbo. It’s late enough for clubs to close and drunks to shuffle home, but still too early for the rest of the world to stumble out of bed. The roads are always empty, and there’s never a soul in sight on the streets.

If you ever step out at this time of the night, it feels exactly like you’re catching the moment just as the Earth slows down and stops turning on its axis and is just waiting to be wound up again like an old music box. Everything looks ancient in the shadows and somehow grander still, highlighted by moonlight. City parks become century old forests, undisturbed by man, skyscrapers are cold and empty ruins, a mark of a once great civilization. It’s like stepping into an altered reality, where the world is frozen, and you are the only soul in existence.  You always wish for these moments to last forever, because you know that in two hours you’ll be fully awake, washing down too-dry toast with bitter black coffee, pulling on stifling clothes and uncomfortable shoes and rushing out of your house into the roar of morning traffic. In two hours one god or another would have wound a crank and sent the Earth spinning again, and yet again will you have to run to keep up.

-SL

all the write things