Issue 6, Semester 1, 2019
TAH AH JIA
The room was blurry. A certain type of mischief splashed onto an empty canvas. Maybe it was the tears in my eyes that discarded my view, or just my mind playing tricks on me because I barely remember what happened to begin with—I don’t know. All I did know was that I was leaning against my wardrobe mirror, scrolling through my phone for no apparent reason, as my roommate sat across from me, crossed legged and weary on the top bunk of the bed.
She was tired. I was tired. Why were we awake again? We weren’t even talking. Just breathing in the same vicinity, close enough to notice each other’s existence but too far to properly talk. I guess it was because of the eerie atmosphere surrounding us. You see, we just had dinner beforehand, my treat. I rarely cook but this time I wanted to make something special, it was her birthday after all. And so I concocted the best midnight omelette I could muster and cooked the softest rice I could find at the supermarket, and served it to her fresh. She didn’t question me when I told her I wasn’t hungry, but it was fine. I didn’t want to explain myself and say something unnecessary anyway. I call the atmosphere eerie mostly because we barely talked to begin with, let alone cook each other meals. But my therapist told me to bond more with the people around me, so I took the chance and decided to be nice. She didn’t say thank you though. She just quietly ate, much like how she was just quietly on her phone in the room. I think I cleared my throat at some point. It was suffocating to be in that room alone with her without saying anything to fill the air. I wanted to talk but I couldn’t—I didn’t want her to see me like that. My eyes were tearing and drooping in the corners from my lack of sleep, and I didn’t want to burden her with my unenthusiastic attitude, not on a day like this. And so, I scrolled on my phone and said nothing. I just stood there as my eyesight blurred. You know when you don’t focus on anything in particular and everything blends into one? Yeah, something like that. But this time it was different. It was as if someone cracked eggshells on my eyelids and let the yolk drip into my iris; as if everything was forced into a smoothie blender, before the power turned on. At some point she started coughing. I think. I don’t really remember all the details. My eyes stopped blurring in an instant, and I peered over my screen to watch what she was doing. Casually, I echo what was probably running through both our minds that night: “you okay?” She coughed in response. And then another, and another. I just kind of left the room at that point, I didn’t want to get sick. Plus she never answered my question, so what was the point. I walked into the living room and sat on our couch. I laid back and closed my eyes, snuggling closer to the blanket I placed on the make-shift bed I prepared before dinner; humming to the silent snores coming out the door of our other housemate. I was tired. I think I fell asleep at around two in the morning. The night was quiet in the living room despite the noise, so it wasn’t that difficult. I don’t really know what happened next, just that in my room, my roommate continued coughing. To the point where our housemate woke up and called the ambulance? I don’t know. I was asleep at that point. And I’m not too sure if this is what happened, but I think the tear resting on my eyelid finally gave in and fell onto my cheek when I finally fell asleep. Because when I woke up, my cheeks were stained and the lights outside were blaring and everything was too far gone for me to know what was happening. I think she was dead at that point. Oh, she survived? That’s nice.
But yeah. I don’t know what happened, officer. I was asleep.
Tah Ah Jia is a First Year Student.
Other articles in this issue: