Episode #59: “Never Alone, Never Unarmed” by Bobby Sun

October 30, 2018

Never Alone, Never Unarmed

by Bobby Sun

 

The fighting spider sat heavily in Kian Boon’s left palm, where he’d knocked it from its leafy abode. It was maybe a centimeter and a half from the tip of its pedipalps to the silky spinnerets of its abdomen, black and silver like one of the sleek Chinese centipedals that increasingly frequented the roads below his building. He could feel the weight of the thing as he cupped his hand around it and it jumped, smacking against the roof of his fingers.

 

 

Oh hi, Rey. Hi. What are you doing? Oh, are you coming over here to smell. I know, Rey. I know. You're a good dog. But, I gotta do this recording. Yeah.

[Intro music plays]

Hello, welcome to GlitterShip Episode 59 for August 27th, 2018. This is your host, Keffy, and I'm super excited to be sharing this story with you. Today, we have a GlitterShip original, "Never Alone, Never Unarmed" by Bobby Sun, and a poem, "Feminine Endlings" by Alison Rumfitt.

Before we get started, I want to let you know that GlitterShip is part of of the Audible Trial Program. This means that just by listening to GlitterShip, you are eligible for a free 30 day membership on Audible, and a free audiobook to keep. One book that I listened to recently is They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. I will warn you, this young adult book is full of feelings. That said, I thought it was a great example of queer tragedy rather than tragic queers. In a near future world, everyone gets a phone call between midnight and 3am of the day that they're going to die. They Both Die at the End follows two teen boys who got that call on the same day. I loved how tender the book was, but here's your warning: have tissues on hand.

To download a free audiobook today, go to www.audibletrial.com/glittership and choose an excellent book to listen to. Whether that's They Both Die at the End or maybe even something that's a little less emotionally strenuous.

 


 

Alison Rumfitt is a transgender writer who studies in Brighton, UK. She loves, amongst other things: forest, folklore, gothic romance, and wild theories about her favorite authors being trans. Her poetry has previously been published in Liminality, Strange Horizons, and Eternal Haunted Summer. Two of her poems were nominated for the Rhysling award in 2018. You can find her on Twitter @gothicgarfield.

 


 

Feminine Endlings

by Alison Rumfitt

 

I’m the last one with a mouth I think the last one
who still has a tongue that can dance the last
to dance or move the last to use her lungs like
lungs were used like they used to be like
a soft ball of feathers being blown by a gale
I am the full stop I think the forest is different for me
now, I can’t see the others, and I cannot think of them,
all the trees have changed shape
they now carry new sub-meanings
deep in their bark new grubs are born
screaming from pods
to chew at my place
this city
which I knew so well
which I knew automatically could navigate as an automaton
turning left and right the moment I sensed it
it’s gone, somewhere, when I had my back turned
drinking away in a clearing
now the people have different colored eyes
it’s far less bursting and different than my old days tell me
the sun left along with
all of the people I was in love with the city the forest
the cave-system the desert the habitat adapts to the
things that dwell in it the things inside it
evolve to be more like their future selves
and I hate the way it makes me feel
because I like knowing where I am—

the last Tasmanian Tiger died in a zoo from neglect
as a storm ripped at her cage she lay in the corner
head tucked under her arm the last
Stephens Island wren was clawed to death
by the first cat she fell to the grass feeling the
teeth around her shallow head
the last Passenger Pigeon was stuffed
she sits in a glass box
telling everyone who visits that everything will change
and you will die eventually
and nothing really matters if you don’t want it to
and there’s so many of us
who died somewhere alone the last of a kind
without a name or a grave-marker or ashes
to be put upon a fireplace or mantel
and I hate that I could end up the same
forgotten under piles of new babies with new ways
of thinking new streets built over my house
as a lightning strike burns down the tree I hid in
the end of a line marks the place where you know what the line
is the end of a species or a group or a life marks the
definition of said species or group or life
so the end of me matters and the end of me
will live on past the rest of me so if I end
the same way all the others do I become
the same as all the others I am not
me I am them but I am me if I end never
or if I end when it becomes thematically
meaningful which is why nothing matters now
but then it will it will really matter everything will matter
the last trans woman on earth
standing on a pile of trans women
the only thing that tells you she is ‘she’ is
she rhymes unstressed which is arbitrary
maybe we won then if the last woman is her
if the last trans woman in a new world
where everyone is nothing
she is this wonderful
thing happy in a house built
on the dead made of the dead maybe eating the dead
on her own making her own fun reading
coding tattooing herself with notes and appendixes
if it's her then perhaps the perfect final note of Us is—

This, old Death slowly walking opening the door to meet her
and he nods and she nods and the world becomes a little darker.

 


 

Bobby Sun is a Chinese-Malaysian author and spoken-word poet who grew up in Singapore and is studying in London. His work has previously been published on Tor.com as well as in the inaugural Singapore Poetry Writing Month ("SingPoWriMo") anthology (as Robert Bivouac), and in Rosarium Publishing's anthology of Southeast Asian steampunk, The SEA is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia as Robert Liow.

 


 

Never Alone, Never Unarmed

by Bobby Sun

 

The fighting spider sat heavily in Kian Boon’s left palm, where he’d knocked it from its leafy abode. It was maybe a centimeter and a half from the tip of its pedipalps to the silky spinnerets of its abdomen, black and silver like one of the sleek Chinese centipedals that increasingly frequented the roads below his building. He could feel the weight of the thing as he cupped his hand around it and it jumped, smacking against the roof of his fingers.

He kept his left hand closed and extracted a jar from a raggedy, home-made satchel. The jar was double-layered; between the inner and outer layers of chitinous plastic shrilk was water, kept reasonably below the ambient temperature with a simple synthorg heat sink he’d Shaped himself. The spring-sealed jar flicked open as Kian Boon visualized and nudged a couple of its Shape-threads. He dropped the spider in, snapped the jar shut and let the cooling take effect. This little thing, all of approximately two grams, was worth about a dollar; iced Coklat for two at the kopitiam near his school. The jar, of course, wasn’t part of the deal. His buyers would need a container of their own.

Kian Boon swatted at a mosquito, then pushed his way deeper into the vegetation. He winced as a twig scratched his cheek. There were still four jars left to fill, though, and it was only nine on a Saturday morning.

The air was thick with mist, and the leaves still hung with dew. White-headed birds hopped through the trees, leaping from branch to branch and snatching red berries off their stems. Somewhere above him a male koel sounded off. The sun filtered through the canopy, dappling the ground in pixel-patterns; Kian Boon made a game of dancing through them. This area was new to him. He’d heard of it only because Aidil, a rival spider-hunter from the neighbouring class, had let it slip to his sister. She’d told her best friend, and it had eventually ended up with Ravi Pillai (who’d, naturally, told Kian Boon).

Ravi was the bright-eyed Indian boy in his class he’d noticed during orientation, on their first day of Form One. He’d been assigned to Kian Boon’s group, and was the very first to get picked for “Whacko”. Kian Boon hadn’t recalled his classmates’ names in time, so Ravi had hit him hard enough with the rolled-up newspaper that he’d sustained a paper cut on his forehead. The horrified facilitator had excluded Ravi from the rest of that game, though Kian Boon hadn’t really minded. The only name Ravi really remembered at the end of that day was his.

It was, well, best friends at first sight. They hung out at recess almost every day, sometimes joined in a game of soccer and occasionally went to the kopitiam or spider-fighting rings after school with their friends. Not alone, though, he thought. Not yet. He’d get there later. There was a plan, and he needed the spiders for it.

Kian Boon exhaled. He picked through the thickest bush he could find, searching for the tell-tale bivouac of a fighting spider. They preferred the densest vegetation, making their home in glued-together leaves. Finding a nest, he gently unzipped it, dissolving the silk into its constituent proteins. The spider hung onto the upper leaf, but with a quick motion of the wrist it was resting in his cupped left palm. He felt its silken trail as it darted about, and he closed his hands to gauge its weight.

A good spider, if a little sluggish. It was well-fed. He peeked through a gap in his fingers. Its silver-banded abdomen iridesced a bottle-green; a rare and valuable variety. Kian Boon slipped it into another jar, watching as the critter paced, then slowed, then eventually fell asleep.

There was a swift rustling. Kian Boon turned around and there, maybe ten meters away from him, was a tiger about three meters in length. Perhaps he could make it turn away? He pulled its Shape-threads up, but they were greyed-out; it was too strong for him to Shape. Kian Boon hissed in frustration. He backed further into the vegetation, praying he hadn’t been spotted.

He hadn’t expected a tiger. Singaporean tigers were rare. The British had set bounties on each head for the century they’d colonized the island, and their subjects had been happy to deliver. The Great War, just under a decade ago, had taken its toll on them too; fierce fighting between the British Malayan Army and the Nanyang Republic’s coalition had driven them across the Straits, setting large tracts of its old growth ablaze. This place, though, had been almost completely untouched. Some of the trees were massive, and looked decades, if not centuries, old.

Of course there’d be tigers here.

What had his mother told him about tigers? They were fast, strong and intelligent. They could climb trees, and there was no point playing dead.

Think, Kian Boon thought to himself. You are never alone, and never unarmed. He’d heard the Combat Shaper Corps’ motto on the thinscreen dozens of times in recruitment advertisements, and his parents had served with them in the war. Anything alive, or once alive, could be useful. Think.

Dead leaves on the ground. Live leaves everywhere else. Wood, if he could tear it away. Several blade-like mushrooms sprouting from a lightning-blackened stump. Bugs of all kinds; swarming midges in the air, nests of kerengga ants streaming down the taller trees, large crickets, caterpillars and butterflies.

Think.

The tiger snuffled. It knew Kian Boon was there, but didn’t want to advance just yet. It would wait for the boy to let his guard down and then strike. Kian Boon could see it pacing, its stripes slipping through gaps in the vegetation. He kept it in front of him. His gaze leapt from tree to tree as he wracked his brain for solutions; his guard was up, and multi-coloured Shape-threads popped in and out of his vision. He blinked sweat out of his eyes, though it was a relatively cool morning, and then he attacked.

Kian Boon realigned the threads near the bottom of two of the nearest trees with a slash of his fingers, loosening their cells, and thrust his hand forward, dislodging them. The trees splintered at the breaks, but didn’t fall; he only wanted to scare the tiger, not hurt it. The tiger leapt back, wary, then stepped around the obstruction. Kian Boon locked eyes with it, just a leap away from him. The sun turned it a dappled gold, its stripes shifting as it padded towards him. It licked its muzzle. Trembling, Kian Boon reached into his satchel for his pocketknife, but instead felt one of his empty spider jars. He pulled back, then looked again.

The synthorg heat sink was a simple construct. Kian Boon could put one together in an hour from kitchen scraps. Powered by a small reservoir of ethanol, it dispersed heat from the water insulating the jar into the external environment, keeping the inside cool. Kian Boon snapped the empty jar open, snatched up a handful of dead leaves and stuffed them in. He Shaped them into a slurry, then sealed the jar. He tore at its Shape-threads roughly, until the outer layer cracked and the water drained out. The heat sink began to glow, and Kian Boon hurled the jar as hard as he could at the tiger’s face. It smashed, the slurry spilled out, and the red-hot heat sink set it ablaze. It was merely a fistful of fire, but the tiger roared and swiped at its face, singed by the improvised weapon.

Kian Boon made a run for it. He sprinted past the temporarily blinded creature, no longer caring to dance through the sunlight. He burst through shrubs, trod on ant trails, snapped every twig in his path as he rushed to the safety of the small capillary road he’d entered by. The spiders he’d caught slept on.

 

The Transit Authority centibus stop was deserted. The factory beside it had closed for the weekend, and only three buses served this stop. Kian Boon flipped through his bus guide and figured out a route. It would cost him a flat ten cents, out of his weekly state school allowance of seven dollars and fifty cents. He sat on one of the fan-shaped seats, which had been painted a bright shade of orange, and kicked the gravelled ground absent-mindedly.

It finally hit him. That was the first tiger he’d seen in the flesh. The captive ones in the Zoo, behind panes of mesh and hardened shrilk, didn’t count. He recalled its eyes, staring into his as he’d reached in panic for his pocket knife, for all the good that would’ve done. The smell of the tiger’s burning fur, acrid like the time he’d accidentally let his hair catch on his elder cousin’s sparkler two New Years ago. He’d panicked and run headlong into her, putting out the fire but also burning a hole in her pretty red qipao. She’d been able to fix the damage, but the fabric had been stretched thin and eventually fell apart in the wash.

He looked into his satchel again. Four remaining jars, half of them empty. He slapped the seat in frustration. The trees could have been knocked down, instead of snapped. He’d been too soft to risk hurting a fucking tiger that was about to eat him alive. He could’ve used the insects to his advantage, sending ants and flies to blind the predator while he fled. He could’ve crumbled the humus beneath his enemy’s feet, trapping it in place, but no. He’d overloaded the fuel cell on the heat sink, instead, because he’d had it in his hand and stopped thinking.

He sighed. Getting the materials for another jar hadn’t been in the plan, and it would set him back a couple of weeks in savings. The state school allowance was alright, but it was hard to save much of it when the Ministry-mandated lunch service deducted a dollar each weekday. That left him with two-fifty a week, of which one dollar went to transport to and from school. Most kids ran errands for extra money or joined a semi-legal enterprise, like the spider-fighting rings. Some, like the ahbengs and ahlians at school, joined up with the secret societies that the Nanyang administration hadn’t managed to stamp out. He mostly stayed away from those, though he did sell spiders and tech to the few he trusted. Ravi didn’t like them at all, but it was business. Perhaps he’d scavenge something, repair some junk, and maybe that’d pay for a few more dates at the kopitiam. The plan would go on; he only had enough for a first date, now, but Ravi would probably forgive iced Coklat.

Kian Boon leaned back, staring at the ceiling of the bus stop. A nest of communal spiders had made their webs between two of the scaffolds. The dense, grey mesh surrounded the lone tube light, a fatal attraction for moths; he presumed this stop was so out of the way that the Transit Authority’s street cleaners didn’t come here. He focused on their Shape-threads and sliced a bit of the web off with a pinch of his fingers. Several spiders emerged, startled. He let go, and they drifted lazily until a gust of wind sent them, and the chunk of web they clung to, into the distance. He knew this species; that bit he’d just cut off would eventually establish its own colony somewhere else, if it found a safe home. The rest of the web would adjust, rebuilding what he’d torn off.

He wondered if it would be the same for him, if he pinched a little bit off himself and someone else let it go.

Would it grow back?

His centibus arrived. The thumping undulations of its rubberised legs slowed as it pulled up to the stop. Kian Boon shrugged his satchel on, hoisted himself off the orange seat and climbed aboard.

 

Kian Boon reached home at eleven, just as his Ma began preparing lunch. She was washing rice while little Siew Gim, all of sixteen months old, played with their Ba in the living room. Ma scowled at him through the kitchen doorway; he shouted, “sorry, Ma,” and hurried to his room.

He looked at himself, covered in scratches and forest grime, and sighed. If Ma had started to cook, she’d have washed up beforehand. The water would be cold for a while before the solar heater managed to warm it up. He exhaled and slumped to the cold, green-grey floor, letting the heat drain out of him.

Rolling onto his stomach, he crawled over to his satchel and removed the spiders he’d caught. They slumbered peacefully in their jars, legs tucked beneath their bellies. He looked into their tiny black eyes, open but unaware, and the streaks upon their shiny bodies. He picked himself up and set them down on his homework-cluttered desk. His cheek stung; the cut he’d sustained had reopened, slightly, and blood began to well in the laceration. Kian Boon sighed, brushed his hair back and opened the door.

Siew Gim was waiting for him, babbling “Gor-gor” excitedly in Ba’s arms. She’d been born with nubby stumps instead of legs. Ba’s transport had been hit by a fungal mine the Brits had left behind during their final retreat. He’d been evacuated back to Pontianak and put out of action for the rest of the war. Kian Boon recalled sitting by Ba’s bed in the base hospital while the doctors purged the disease from his father’s body. They hadn’t discovered the mutations until they’d had Siew Gim.

Kian Boon reached for his little sister, but Ba pulled her back at the last moment, laughing. Siew Gim squealed and shook her head to get her fringe out of her face. She pouted at Ba, and he rubbed her nose with his finger. He gently chided Kian Boon in Hokkien.

“Boon, go shower, then can play with Gim. Water warm already.”

Kian Boon nodded and headed for the master bedroom, where their shared bathroom was. He stripped his dirt-covered clothes off and shook them to make sure nothing had come back home with him. He spotted and ripped the legs off a biting bug that had attached itself to his collar; his spiders would need the food, but he couldn’t afford to have the thing loose in the house. Thankfully, nothing else had hitched a ride out of the forest. He stepped into the bathroom and hit the showers, relaxing as the sun-warmed water rolled over his body.

 

The smell of fried fish filled the house as Kian Boon sat on the living room floor. Siew Gim bounced on his lap, giggling as she tried to headbutt him on the chin. He threw her favourite toy, a synthorg turtle plushie named “Turtle”, across the room, where it landed on its back and started to scrabble in the air. Siew Gim took off after it, crawling on her rubberized elbow and wrist pads. Kian Boon watched her; she wiggled her butt and stumps in sync with the movements of her arms. It looked as if she was swimming on the ground, almost effortlessly; they’d put her in a pool once, and she’d taken off like a fish.

He wondered, not for the first time, what he’d looked like at that age.

Ma and Ba hadn’t seen Kian Boon often. Ma had fallen pregnant just before the war, given birth and been called back to duty once he’d turned three months old, leaving him in a military childcare facility on the outskirts of Pontianak. Ma was a combat-Shaping instructor, and Ba was a maintenance specialist with a mechanized infantry company; they’d been assigned to separate units as a result. Kian Boon had one official picture of himself for each of the four years he’d been a ward of the state. Still, he knew he’d had it good. At least they were alive, and they treated him well.

Ba sat at the workbench in the living room, tinkering with one of his latest creations. Ba had service injury compensation in addition to the social dividend which the Nanyang government had implemented several years ago. It was more than enough to live on, but he insisted on working full-time with the Reconstruction Trust. He maintained residential buildings with his team, and built things in his spare time.

Ba was currently working on a lifelike in the shape of a pigeon. There were scraps of gore wedged under his fingernails as he carved up a pig brain with a scalpel and threaded the grey matter into the pigeonlike’s soft, shrilk body, weaving neural circuits that would link his creation’s brain to the rest of its body and allow it to move and respond to stimuli once he’d given it a circulatory system, sensory organs and muscles. A pile of animal hair and feathers, bought from the local butcher, remained by the side of the table as raw material for its feathers and beak.

Kian Boon picked Siew Gim up and walked over. She loved to see her father working on things, even though she was years away from getting her Shaping, and often crudely mimicked his hand movements as he flicked at threads, waving her hands as if to help him in his work. Upon seeing the greyish pig brain she squealed with delight, babbling “hooi, foo!” when she recognized  the colour. Ba smiled at her, then motioned to Kian Boon.

“Boon, put Gim down. Come sit here.” Kian Boon lowered Siew Gim to the floor. She scooted off to the middle of the living room to play with Turtle. He sat down next to Ba, as Ba resumed weaving the pigeonlike’s neural circuits. The fingers of Ba’s right hand traced the grooves he’d etched into its body, pulling the grey matter along with it. Kian Boon watched as he guided them along their paths. He studied the threads, observing how Ba shifted the different, intersecting colours as he bound the circuits to their shrilk housing. Ba hummed a tune while he worked. It was an old marching song based on the Chinese classic, “Man Jiang Hong”. He’d taught Kian Boon that song on one of their weekend outings earlier that year, while they searched the hills of Bukit Timah for rare wildlife. Kian Boon had thought the guy who’d played the Chinese hero Yue Fei on thinscreen a couple of years back had looked good, and Ba had teased him about his “heroic boyfriend” all the way home. Ma had laughed when Kian Boon complained, and told him not to let other boys distract him from his schoolwork.

Ba tapped Kian Boon on the hand with a gory finger.

“Boon, can see the threads on the grey matter?”

“Can see, Ba, can see.”

“Good. You try to move them a bit. Fill in the gap.”

Ba passed the grey matter to Kian Boon. Kian Boon summoned and seized hold of just one strand, manipulating it with his index finger. He could see the etching, and he let the material stretch and fill it up. Where it branched, he picked a path and continued on it, only returning to the original when it ended. He traced the circuits of the pigeonlike precisely, looking back to Ba every now and then for approval. Ba simply nodded and smiled at his son. Kian Boon, for his part, was happy to be working on one of Ba’s projects.

“Ba, this one use for what?”

“This one for singing. See the circuits at the neck, there? For vocal chords.”

“Go market show?”

“Yeah. Let neighbour they all see.”

This was to be a showbird, the kind old folks hung up in cages and let sing to each other in the mornings. On the days the family went out for breakfast, Kian Boon would often sit in the market’s sheltered concourse with Siew Gim, listening to their melodious tweeting. Each showbird was controlled by a single brain, Shaped into accepting musical instructions; the quality of the song then depended on how the Shaper constructed its inner workings.

He wondered if Ravi would like the showbirds. There were orioles living in their school. Their feathers were a brilliant yellow, and their eyes and wings were ringed in black. He’d pointed one out to Ravi, who’d immediately picked a brilliant feather off to use as a bookmark. Ravi loved their calls, which reminded him of mornings, waking up and walking to school in the cool half-light. The sweet, clear chirps even evoked the smell, he’d said, of damp leaves and dewy air.

Kian Boon had asked him then, “I smell like what?”

Ravi had thought for a bit before shrugging. “School, I guess. Just like school.”

Ba gently tapped Kian Boon’s hand.

Kian Boon’s finger had gone off course. Grey matter had now forced itself into a crevice it had no right to be in, awkwardly bulging the shrilk surface of a wing. Kian Boon grimaced. It was a minor accident, but if not corrected, it would affect the pigeonlike’s function. Ba was still smiling, though.

“Can fix one, Boon. Don’t worry. Just think.”

Kian Boon focused. He pulled the grey matter back, slowly; it grudgingly slid back out of the crevice, leaving a crack behind. He summoned the Shape-threads around the crack and the bulge on the pigeonlike’s wing and obligingly, they rose. A firm prodding applied directly to the bulge shifted the material inwards, and a pinch closed the crack entirely. He gave the thing a once-over. It looked fine now, like it had before, and he breathed a sigh of relief. Ba patted him on the shoulder and took the unfinished pigeonlike from him.

The sound of plates caused them to turn their heads. Ma was setting the table for lunch, with fried fish, a pot of rice and some bok choy. Ba and Kian Boon got up, then headed to the toilet to wash their hands.

 

It was four in the afternoon, and Kian Boon lay on his bed. A completed sheaf of Math worksheets lay on his desk. Kian Boon was more interested in science and Shaping than totting up numbers and letters, and often found himself asking Ravi for help with the tougher questions. The other boy had a knack for logic and rhetoric and dreamt of being an architect. His mother had been one before the war, he’d told Kian Boon, and now worked in the Reconstruction Trust as a restoration engineer, supervising the restoration of historic buildings. Kian Boon had asked Ba if he knew her, but Ba didn’t know much about her except that she had her own team and a reputation for efficiency.

As he turned the cordless phone over in his hands, Kian Boon wondered what meeting Ms Pillai would be like. It would have to happen someday, he reasoned. She sometimes picked up when he called Ravi over the weekend, and her voice had a sunny warmth that Ravi had inherited. He turned the dial three times, and then stopped.

This was part of the plan, he reminded himself. He’d prepared something for this, folded it up in an old exercise book and kept it away just for this moment. It was a love letter, at first, until he realized he couldn’t do it in person; it then became a script, memorized over the past week so he wouldn’t sound like he was reading off it. He’d thoroughly grilled Ravi on his plans for the weekend. Ravi had said he’d be back from soccer practice and lunch at three, and Kian Boon had done his homework in double-time so he’d be free to call at four. This was all part of the plan.

He redialled the eight digits of Ravi’s phone number, forcing himself to drag his finger clockwise. He could already feel the resistance building up. His heart rate rose each time he released the dial, and the muscles in his neck and jaw tensed up. He exhaled slowly as the dial returned to its original position for the eighth time, and somewhere in Singapore, a phone began to ring.

 

On the fourth ring, Ravi picked up. Kian Boon’s mouth went dry at the lilt of his voice. Everything seemed to snap into focus, and Shape-threads began to encroach on his vision. He forced them away, breathing deeply. He struggled to get the words out.

“Hi, Ravi, Kian Boon here. You free?”

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“Uh, I actually been thinking. You know we been friends for a while now, right? We, uh, got to know each other quite well over the past few months. We become kind of close.”

“Yeah, got that. What’s this about?”

Think.

“Um, actually, I want ask you something. You’re, uh, not like other guys. Like, more mature, more smart, more handsome. Uh. Um. Uh. You want to go out? With me. Like. Date.”

Ravi was quiet for a while. Kian Boon could hear him breathing through clenched teeth, the slightly wet sound of air coming up against wet enamel, before he finally said something.

“Boon, you’re a good friend, but that’s it. I’m really flattered, but I don’t think I like you like that.”

Kian Boon felt his stomach giving way and a pressure in his nose. He lowered the phone, so if he began to cry Ravi wouldn’t hear it. The Shape-threads returned, and this time he couldn’t force them down. He wanted to scream at Ravi, hang up on the insensitive, undeserving boy, but he stopped himself.

Think.

There were other people out there. Plus, Ravi hadn’t sounded weird, or creeped out. It wasn’t like this was the end.

Can fix one. Don’t worry, Boon. Just think.

Kian Boon exhaled through his nose and brought the phone back up.

“Hey Ravi, you there or not?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“It’s alright. I, uh, don’t mind. Heh. You still want hang out, though? Like, not in that way. Friend friend only. I got two good spiders today, we can get iced Coklat after school tomorrow.”

Ravi laughed and said, “Yeah, sure.”

The pressure dissipated. Kian Boon sighed, smiled, and responded.

“Alright, set.”

He chuckled.

“Eh, Ravi, by the way. You seen a tiger before?”

END

 


 

“Feminine Endlings” is copyright Alison Rumfitt 2018.

“Never Alone, Never Unarmed” is copyright Bobby Sun 2018.

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Thanks for listening, and we’ll be back soon with another GlitterShip original.

 

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