Marriage

It’s when the booze invades the father’s
sober wisdom, when
the clashing of

carpentered tables and chairs,
ceramic bowls and plates
on the cement floor,
and the ruthless palm
on mom’s face

wrenches his heart.

Peeking past the hibiscus hedge that’s even
taller than him, which
turns dark green,

the corrugated tin roof and
the wooden walls and
the blood-paint-coated windows frame

go shivering.

A drop of tear drips into
the shattered void,

he finds he’s only
five years old.

-F.B-

Kuala Lumpur, 16 January 2020

500 Word Short Story #2

I jerk myself up abruptly from last night insomnia of dreams and unfathomable images. A little ray sunlight sneaks through the slit between the blood-red curtain. Tropical morning heat does not get any cooler when filtered through such colour. It is seven o’clock in the morning. I grunt to myself: “Urgh, forgot to set the alarm.”

Kicking off the blanket, I reach my hand out to the nearby desk, foraging for the air-con remote control – “Urgh, where the heck are you?” My neck muscles are aching, as if they were retracted whole night through thanks to the tension of all the events in my dream, intertwined, but which were from different time and space. Taking a deep breath in and then out, I pull myself up and sit still for a few minutes, hoping to regain the energy that has been wholly consumed by the chase and run between me and memories.

Finally, I see the remote control, which is tugged under the pillow rather than on the desk.  In fact, instead of changing the world by making my bed, finding the remote control every morning is the right thing for me start off the day. The peep when pressing the on/off button still always disturbs me: whether that sound comes from the device or the air-con itself? well, who cares.

Throwing both legs down, hands leaning on the bed, I close my eyes just to feel how much sleepiness can actually weigh me down. One more deep breath so I could feel ready to get off bed. I press both hands on the mattress to give a little push while spring myself up using my body core. Trudging towards the windows, I pull open one side of the curtains, which produces a rattling sound of the trolleys sliding against the hanging rack. In an instance, all I can see but a glaring white shed of light and a black shadow dashing by the windows. “A crow! You boy are earlier than me, heh?”

It is still a weekday. Is it?

The chilling floor turns warmer as long as feet are in touch with it. The distance from bed to the windows then to the bathroom feels pretty much longer in a weekday’s morning. There are obviously some chatter of the senior citizens doing morning exercises, the pounding of the basketball against the cemented floor and onto the backboard—which sometimes go down through the hoop, at other time just bounces off and hits the floor again.

Everything is just happening right there in the playground that can be seen clearly from my room windows.

But the morning heat, the series of commotion, the black bird’s figures seems coming from a far-fetched sphere of existence. Not until I turn the water heater lever to hear the rumbling of the motor inside, and feel the warm water rolling from my head to the back of my neck, then down my spines and all the way to my feet does the worldly consciousness come back to life.

Kuala Lumpur, 27 October 2019

500-word short story #1

(A personal attempt at making the raining evening a little more worthy)

“[…] And I must tell you this is not a love story.

This is the story of someone who is, innately, yearning for being loved, and yet at the same time, unabashedly –I would rather say hypocritically– denies all love that is offered to him, through his pretentious attitudes and what he proclaims “necessary rationality.”” (Unknown author)

He halts for a second, lifting his eyes to look through the glass wall of the café, after which is a neatly-trimmed row of shrubs that acts to provide certain privacy for its customers. This point of view always allows him to see passers-by with a holistic perspective, which he calls his personal vantage point, while they can only catch a glimpse of his strongly-built upper body. His well-groomed hair are what stand out, a style to which he has been loyal since he had his heart broken –well again he proclaims– “for the last time.”

Despite the youthfulness that shines from his complexion, his eyes –he always fails to admit that everyone else except himself can recognise without second thought– contain the sadness of the stagnant water from a no-where-to-be-found sea. “A ridiculous recognition,” he spits out half-jokingly to his friend when he tells him that, “I can see that you have read enough rubbished romance, so go and rub off those cheesy thoughts out of your mind and do something more rational, please!”

“Gruhhh, yeah, this is how I define rational to you, dickhead.” Unhesitantly his friend dashes towards him and mercilessly squeeze his head by both hands, leaving a messy pile of black hair and a pair of flaming eyes, “You are the one who needs to, well, rub off whatever fucking past thoughts and move on, my boy!” 

He throws down his shoulders defenselessly and starts to tidy up the dishevelled wisp of hair, hiding the tiny white streak underneath, while launching his ‘civilised’ counter-attack to his friend, “I forgive you since you never understand the difference between memories and remnants. And such ‘coup d’etat’ should be stopped, or else I will have to employ strict measures towards you!”

Every single time like this, his friend would do nothing but smirk and raise his chin with an even more teasing and challenging face. He knows he has been seen through by his friend.

And both know it would be easier to say than do.

A ding of the call-bell at the order counter pulls him back from the brooding thought. A couple has just entered and is waiting to order their drinks.

He has been looking out to the glass wall all the while, left hand holding the book resting on his left thigh, thumb in between the last pages. He eyes down on his right hand on the chair arm that has been forming a tight fist, opening it up to see the four red marks left by the fingernails inside his palm.

The privacy granted by the well-trimmed row of shrubs gives him the impression that passers-by could never spy on what is happening inside the café at his table. “Such another way average author and an insulting ending,” he whispers to himself. Gently shaking his body, slotting the bookmark back into the finished book, he gathers his stuff while calling out for the waitress to bring the bill. 

He has just enough time to dog-ear the ending page, half of which is blank, before dropping the book into his brown-leathered sling bag when the bill arrives.

Petaling Jaya, 7 September 2019.