This beautiful piece includes suicidal ideation
some kind of codependency
sorry-not-sorry for that joke i told about how your mother likes me more than you. if i stop to think about it, maybe it’ll turn out that i’ve hurt you more than the reverse, but let’s be honest: neither of us are keeping track of the debt anymore. it’s a balancing act but we’re well versed in figuring it out as we go along, practiced in puzzles done without looking at the box, practiced in games puzzled out without instructions in languages we can read.
we know by now that if today i wake up at the time we planned to meet, tomorrow i’ll be the one receiving the text that says oh my god, my alarm didn’t go off, i’m so sorry. and either way we’ll wait — in our own rooms, halfway between, at each other’s doors — because everything becomes okay between us, given time. and we’ve had time. enough that i’ve lost count of how many ways you can phrase the question i wonder where the nearest bridge is and i keep an eye on you every time i hear the subway rushing up the tunnel, even though i know i don’t need to. enough that you’ve stopped rolling your eyes every time i step off the sidewalk into some stranger’s garden and every text i send that mentions a family member receives the response do you want to come over.
today you’ll buy the movie tickets and tomorrow i’ll pay for dinner: pizza, whatever’s the daily special, delivered to the door. i add pineapple out of practiced spite and you remove it for the same reason. we’ve got the same bubble tea order balanced in the pockets of our winter coats, or maybe a different one, but even if we have it memorized, we both check to confirm it every time. today you’ll tell me how your ex asked you out again and i’ll wax poetic about the girl who i probably shouldn’t still be in love with, but you told me once that you understood why, so we keep on our ways, separate and same. i’ll be wearing your high-heeled boots, because i’ll always be taller but i like pushing that gap wider, and you’ll be wearing my blazer, because we didn’t think it would fit but somehow it does. somehow it always works out.
you used to bargain for hugs and i never told you why that was how it needed to happen. these days you let my secrets slide, let me stick pins into the taped-up sides of the balloon-skinned ones you carry. your mother asks you what exactly is your relationship with each other and mine asks me if by i like girls i meant that i like you and we both, unknowing, give a laugh as an answer. i’m not sorry that no one will ever understand this or us. i’ve stopped needing them to. i’ve stopping needing to. we’re holding five conversations at least, at once: two monologues and three back-and-forths, one out loud, one on our laptops, one on our phones. it’s the best kind of multitasking. we pay enough attention just enough that we say shut up in the same moment.
and we laugh.
Quinn Lui is a Chinese-Canadian student whose work has appeared in Occulum, Synaesthesia Magazine, Half Mystic, and elsewhere. They are the author of the micro-chapbook teething season for new skin (L’Éphémère Review, 2018). You can find them @flowercryptid on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram, or wherever the moon is brightest.
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