A “Socksy” Tale
As they reached the Korean restaurant, he realised he would want to take away his sneakers – and the torn socks he had worn in his hurry to be on time for this date can be a significant embarrassment.
He was determined to impress. In their three earlier conferences, she had been aloof and a perfunctory handshake had been the closest he had been in a position to get.
They had been led to the sunken desk to be seated and his stroll was awkward as he tried to twist his toes to cowl the toes that had been protruding of his socks.
She did not appear to have seen his discomfort and smiled at him as they settled in.
But then he felt a female foot contact his naked toes. A shiver went by him, transmitting itself by his toes to her toes after which to the remainder of her. It was as if a circuit had been accomplished and the present surged by them each. Her smile grew wider and her eyes shone as she appeared hungrily at him.
Years later, these socks are their prized reminiscence and their ever-hopeful teenage son wears torn socks on all his dates.
• A. Sagar, 57, is an entrepreneur within the industrial companies sector
The begin was the silent white-on-red notification in her e-mail, a reply she had by no means anticipated to get for her remark made on a YouTube video on Mass Effect-the stage of a job play, the function play of a alternative chosen out of three others. Her alternative was to reply and, regardless of all the things she had been informed about males on the Internet, she selected to carry on speaking, transferring from remark part to e-mail to Facebook messages written like letters.
She nervous that she was brown. She nervous that she was not skinny and that she was not his color. She nervous that her PhD was taking far too lengthy and that she was by no means going to end. Ever. Also, what was she even considering doing one?
She nervous, above all, that she was far too baggaged, too circumstances-hostaged and too permanent-head-damaged for love. And she went on worrying about all these issues and about all new issues, even with the ring on her finger and the house they had been constructing collectively. Each fear, coming and going, by no means fairly taking maintain, proved to have far much less conviction than the phrases of two folks, just about made.
• Nuraliah Norasid, 32, is a researcher and the writer of the Epigram Books Fiction Prize-winning novel The Gatekeeper (2017).
“A little to the left,” mentioned Kumar as he introduced the digital camera up shut. A bolt of lightning cut up the sky exterior. The woman tilted her head and smiled.
“Neutral expression,” he mentioned. “It’s a passport photo.”
Her eyes misplaced their crinkle and her lips drooped a bit. Kumar stood staring into the digital camera for a very long time. He studied her pale lips and barely upturned nostril. Her hair fell on her shoulders, the best way a stream falls off a faraway mountain. She blinked as soon as and appeared into the digital camera once more.
“How long will it take?”
Kumar cleared his throat. His arms fumbled with the digital camera because the rain made unusual patterns upon the store window. He educated his eye on the digital camera once more however the woman turned to squint on the sky.
He clicked – as soon as, twice, thrice. She turned again and checked out him together with her mouth open. The sound of the digital camera shutter crammed the air as Kumar continued to click on.
Her eyes softened and he or she laughed. The first indicators of candy love stained her pores and skin.
Outside, the Javanese mynah danced as a rainbow arched throughout the milky sky.
• Susheela Menon, 42, teaches inventive writing at a neighborhood centre.
She appeared as if she had stepped out of an Edward Hopper portray. With that hat and coat, she needs to be portray the city pink on a Friday, not sitting right here with pink eyes and a espresso.
His ear ached from making chilly calls all day; all he needed now was a sizzling dinner. He seen the tissue in her hand, white as her telephone. Between mouthfuls, he would elevate his eyes, watching her stare on the display screen, cautious not to meet her eyes for concern of being caught gawking.
Suddenly, she stiffened. A paroxysm of texting.
What occurred, he questioned. If this had been a film, the scene may reduce to the messages between her and her philandering lover. There can be music. Possibly subtitles. He may even supply…
She bought up simply as he was performed consuming. Two ladies had been chatting about collagen injections. One of them shot the waiter a grimy look when he cleared his throat and her plate. The supervisor was knocking down the curler shutters. Too late: she had already walked away, the tissue tight in her fist.
• Loh Guan Liang, 34, is a poet whose collections embody Transparent Strangers (2012) and Bitter Punch (2016).
My father is one of the best father anybody may think about. He is the loving husband of my mom, all the time making her smile.
He has taken me to soccer coaching since I used to be six years previous. I am now 11 and he nonetheless does it.
One morning, I used to be looking for a pair of pliers in my father’s device field however discovered a small, soiled e-book as a substitute. It was an previous diary together with his writing in it.
I flipped to a random web page and seen the date was precisely one month earlier than my start. Written there was the next:
“I am 18 years old, an alcoholic, someone who will not be able to complete school. I used to cut myself and I was sexually abused as a child. I have also been arrested twice for car theft. Next month, I could write: ‘I am a father at 18, still a child myself.’ But I swear I will do everything right for my little daughter. I will be the father I never had.”
I do not understand how he did it, however he achieved his purpose and actually grew to become one of the best father I may ever think about.
• Anna Victoria Yates, 13, is a Secondary 2 pupil at Bedok View Secondary School.
It’s been every week and nonetheless nobody has come to see him. His wrists are black and scabby and his ankles are uncooked with welts. They should itch however he cannot attain down to scratch them.
He shouts frequently in any respect hours with a voice that surprises for his gaunt body. Expletives and cries of frustration for the ache that racks his bones, that his smattering of Hokkien, Malay and Mandarin can’t clarify.
It’ll be V-Day on Thursday and my room has a gradual stream of recent flowers, blooming the drab partitions right into a smile, however each time I wheel down the hall, he is hunched into himself, eyes tightly shut, like a pine tree bent towards unrelenting wind, curled right into a flicker of reminiscence; brittle shelter open to the weather.
I ask my nurse about him. She smiles and says it is dementia, however in a barely extra violent kind. The workers name him Mr Oi! as a result of he would not press the bell, however shouts to get consideration.
Sometimes, when he begins yelling, she takes a stroll. When she’s again, the ward is silent, save for the beep and chatter of machines that monitor all the things however loneliness.
• Marc Nair, 37, is a poet, photographer and National Arts Council Young Artist Award recipient whose works embody poetry collections Spomenik (2016) and Vital Possessions (2018).
My Love Bloomed Through Reading
My love story began with books.
One Saturday in December 1974, after borrowing two novels from the National Library, I finished over on the MPH Bookstore.
I took a e-book and, leaning towards a wall, browsed by it. Soon, I grew to become conscious of a person standing on the shelf from which I had taken the e-book.
I glanced at him. He was gazing me.
He instantly approached me and mentioned: “Sorry to disturb you, but I want the book you are reading. I came here last week but I did not buy it. And if you do not want it, I shall buy it.”
He informed me why he needed the e-book and I grew to become focused on it. He purchased it and prompt having espresso at a restaurant on the Capitol Theatre.
He then lent me the e-book Japan Today. I, too, love Japan.
Two weeks later, we met at this similar cafe and I returned the e-book.
He lent me one other e-book, a novel set in Japan.
Thus, a fortnightly “book club” started and together with it, love bloomed between us.
A 12 months later, we married.
• Khairon Bibi, 69, is a retired tutor.
I mentioned to her: “Binary star systems are born when one star gets close to another. Three things can happen.”
I took our wallets and put one in a distant orbit of the opposite.
“One is the indifferent orbit: two stars orbit each other, however don’t work together. There is no intimacy, simply an orbit out of comfort.
“Then, there’s the semi-detached orbit.”
I took her half-empty cup of Milo Dinosaur and positioned it close to my very own half-full one. I moved mine round hers.
“The stars get close. But one star is usually larger and has a stronger gravitational pull. It sucks up material from the other star.”
I emptied the contents of my cup into hers, which started overflowing.
“Until one becomes a hollow, darkened shell, and the other becomes more massive and closer to implosion and collapse.”
“Finally, there’s the contact orbit.”
I took her hand in mine. “Two stars dance in orbit, each one feeding the other, growing closer and closer until eventually, they become one star: brighter and stronger than they ever were individually.”
Our eyes met. Electric.
Then she mentioned, “No, I meant who’s your favourite star? Like, Lady Gaga or Benedict Cumberbatch?”
• Suffian Hakim, 32, is the writer of the parody Harris Bin Potter And The Stoned Philosopher (2015) and comedian novel The Minorities (2017).
In Sickness And In Health
One day, after not listening to from Daddy for a couple of months, Mommy instantly obtained a telephone name from The Witch.
Mommy didn’t even trouble to greet her. She simply listened silently because the muffled voice went on.
“You can’t just return him as if he is some defective goods,” she lastly answered.
But The Witch did return Daddy. He moved again to the household house eight months after he moved out of it, critically sick with terminal lung most cancers.
Daddy’s situation was so unhealthy he could not get away from bed. Mommy fed him in mattress, sponged him and skim to him, like what she did for me, as if Daddy was now considered one of her kids.
One evening, your complete prolonged household was summoned to Daddy’s bedside. I sat on Daddy’s mattress, holding his palm which felt dry and funky. I did not understand how lengthy we sat, ready, as we listened for Daddy’s wheeze and gasp after each lengthy, nonetheless pause.
Mommy swiped a bit of moist cotton throughout his lips each half hour. I yawned, laid my head on Daddy’s chest and closed my eyes. I may hear his coronary heart beating slowly as I drifted off.
• Vicky Chong, 53, is a latest graduate of Lasalle College Of The Arts with a masters in inventive writing.
Valentine’s Day Message
“Come to my house next Thursday for the stone god’s birthday!”
Valentine’s Day. Great.
My Dad was busy together with his new spouse and my supposed girlfriend was doing tsunami reduction within the Sunda Strait, so why not make my loopy previous grandmother completely satisfied?
After her husband died, Ah Ma labored as a spirit medium, conveying messages from the useless with the spherical marble desk set in a teak base that we now set the Bu Dong Shi incense on.
Then the heavy teak desk tilted, then lifted off the ground and began turning.
“Hey, is this table…”
“Why you so angry with Annie?”
A person’s voice got here out of my grandmother.
“I’m not… who… what…”
“You should be proud. Instead, you get angry, make her sad?”
“It’s not safe there! Anyway I’m not angry. I’m worried. I love her!”
“Then tell her!”
The desk grounded itself and one thing fell off.
“Here…” Ah Ma, talking in her personal voice, held out a tiny, coronary heart formed stone, “from your grandfather.”
“No lah, Goondu… to give your Annie!”
“Chinese spirits do Valentine’s Day?”
“All spirits say the same thing all the time. You people only pay attention some days.”
• Ovidia Yu, 57, is a playwright and novelist whose works embody the Crown Colony homicide thriller trilogy (2017 to current).
A day doesn’t finish younger. I let the street take me out of the park.
Then comes the rustle of rain. A primary miracle: I’m not caught in it.
A second miracle: to meet you, inside minutes, on the bus. You are in your method to work.
At our fifth assembly, I describe your intense look watching rain cascade on the window. You chortle – I’ve not felt that earlier than.
By midday, we’re seeing one another loads. I come to the store the place you’re employed, and we have now lunch.
You point out a baby at our 35th time. I say she have to be pretty if she wears your eyes.
By mid-afternoon, we dwell collectively, the three of us. She loves kites, how they spend their lives ready for the appropriate wind.
The moon peeks in whereas I maintain you. You ask for the 83rd time how we may have met. Do I inform you at this time?
That morning, I went to the park to die. My coronary heart was damaged irreparably. I needed to see the world, darkish because it was, otherwise. I might that the dawn knew I couldn’t afford it.
Then I gave myself one other likelihood.
• Gwee Li Sui, 48, is the writer of books equivalent to poetry assortment Death Wish (2017) and humour e-book Spiaking Singlish (2017).
Dinner For Two
I by no means knew my father to be a passionate man. His flippant angle was the underlying cause for my distancing myself from him in my years of rising up. Lips sealed, arms nonetheless and eyes all the time looking of the window.
Recently, as a part of the Aim For Zero marketing campaign with ladies’s rights group Aware, a video about sexual assault made its method to my father’s feed, with my face and my voice talking a couple of truth unknown to him – a actuality unfamiliar.
Bursts of anger and harsh phrases escaped his lips, his tough arms clenched into fists – directed on the incident however by no means at me.
“Why did you not say anything when it happened?”
“I did not feel like I could.”
Silence adopted, however this quiet was not accompanied by distance, nor blame nor disgrace.
Then we sat on the household desk for dinner. The hand-prepared dishes had been a mere style of the depth of his love for this daughter he was seeing for the very first time.
• Dawn Teo, 24, is a author with a inventive studio. She was among the many 10 sexual assault survivors featured within the Aware video.
Till Death Do Us Part
“I thought that love would last forever. I was wrong.”
He turns to the voice behind him. She’s slight, wispy like a leaf, not more than 20 years previous.
“Such cynicism is unbecoming of one so young,” he says wanly. He traces his spouse’s title on the marble tombstone, simply to really feel her once more:
Jessica Chan: 1985-2015
Loved all the time
He tries to recall the softness of her pores and skin, her scent after bathe and her moonlight smile. But for a second, the reminiscence is elusive.
“Do you still love her?”
“Why do you think I keep coming back?”
“Habit. Like me.”
“Who have you lost?”
“Don’t be. Every love is its own sorrow.”
They meet over the following few weeks, spending time they now not personal with their family members. Against his will, he finds himself drawn to her world-weariness, the cryptic method she sees love.
“My time’s almost up,” she says someday.
He nods. He can really feel his personal spirit waning too.
“So is mine. Marry me before you go. Till death do us part.”
She laughs, taking his hand.
“Of course. We can’t die a second time, can we?”
• Felix Cheong, 53, is the writer of 13 books, together with 5 volumes of poetry, a trilogy of flash fiction and a kids’s image e-book.
It’s The Little Things
“Isn’t it weird to date someone so short? She only comes up to your armpits, which must smell terrible. And don’t you look paedophilic next to her?”
Yet does courting somebody shorter actually change something? You do not make a acutely aware adjustment. The physique strikes itself.
One step decrease on the escalator and also you’re eye to eye, with room for one more to go. Side by aspect strolling, one on the sidewalk and one on the gravel. Or one up on the ledge, hopping parkour-style from bench to berm – the essential factor is that you just’re hand in hand.
In truth, is not it a nightmare to date somebody precisely the identical peak? Where do all of the noses go? It simply looks like a banging entanglement of elbows and knees.
The human physique’s contours are protrusions and hollows, knuckles and notches – the sharp bits weren’t designed to line up! Instead, I love how her neck nocks into the criminal of my arm, how her crown nestles within the curve between my chin and Adam’s apple.
And how do these hypothetical same-heighted folks take care of escalators? An awkward standing queue and likelihood to verify your telephone? A protracted escalator is a date. God, I love escalators.
• Joshua Ip, 36, is a Singapore Literature Prize-winning poet and a National Arts Council Young Artist Award recipient whose collections embody Making Love With Scrabble Tiles (2013) and Footnotes On Falling (2018).
What I do know to be true: after your liver most cancers, elements of you crush the current.
(Dusty shoe cupboard, hairs within the drain gap, slippers in disparate instructions.)
There is nothing that does not carry me again. Time threatens to stand up and float away.
(Floor mat barely askew, unread letters for you within the mailbox, useless cockroaches huddled in forgotten corners of the flat.)
The funeral was over a month in the past, my pals maintain telling me.
(Because you hated cockroaches, I killed them for you, arraying them like a proud cat in your inspection.)
I nonetheless do not throw them away, the cockroaches. Maybe ants will carry them away.
(Crestfallen blanket on the ground, lust-red pillows, water stains on the desk from a weeping cup of ice.)
Maybe ants will carry me away. They inform me I nonetheless have time; there is time for future love.
(Framed footage of your late dad and mom on the wall. Say howdy to them for me.)
“Nobody is too old to meet somebody new,” you mentioned.
(A photograph on my telephone of two of us under a Supertree at Gardens by the Bay, your arm like a bracket over my shoulder.)
There is nonetheless time.
• Cyril Wong, 41, is a Singapore Literature Prize-winning author whose works embody poetry assortment The Lover’s Inventory (2015) and novel The Last Lesson Of Mrs De Souza (2013).
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