stop—don’t say it—i see
that look on your face. you’re perturbed, aren’t
you? displeased? your eyes bore holes through my jittery foot
but i won’t apologize for dancing to music only i can
hear: your disruptive is my coping mechanism. your
abnormal is my life.
so what if i refuse to capitalize the words i should
because lowercase letters taste like citrus and chocolate
on my tongue? so what if i can’t stand the smell
of papaya or peppermint or gasoline? stop—don’t say it—don’t
walk behind me, or pat my back, or turn the volume on my earphones
to anything more than one bar; you asked me to
respect you. respect me.
yes, i order the same meal every time i come here. yes, i’m biting
the insides of my cheeks. yes, i like the scent of your hair and your
laundry. the lights are too bright. i’m playacting at existing. i’m trying
not to snap. stop—don’t say it—be calm. be polite. be
what is normal anyway?
maybe it’s an absence of the pressure on my chest, a
lack of the tears stinging at my eyes. or is it
an ability to tell what someone is thinking without imagining
going through the same thing? can you get angry
without exploding? can you get hurt
without shutting down? don’t stop—say it—tell me what it means
to be like you. tell me what it means to be human.
you can’t, can you? you have only ever been
yourself. but i don’t mind. i, too,
have only ever been
Alina Y. Liu is a Prose and Poetry Contributor at The Incandescent Review.
Aldwin is a wannabe artist from Hong Kong about to be dumped in the deep end of his first-year English literature course. On his quest to become a writer-artist he unfortunately has yet to retreat into a mountain hermitage, perfect his craft and forget that everything exists. He has attended programs at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and Iowa Young Writers' Studio, but for the most part he is a self-taught dabbler. (Becoming a mountain hermit will have to wait.) He seeks to express through art and writing and help others do the same, almost as much as he has a slightly unhealthy addiction to self-deprecating dry humour. In his free time he does anything, from performance martial arts to creating fictional languages to playing jazz piano. He probably needs to drink less coffee.