A Faux-Symmetrina by Sean Chua

Photo by Henry & Co. on Unsplash
  1. We kissed once, during first year. I spat afterwards, laughing.

  2. She mixed tea leaves in her dorm room for friends. Dried, packed with tiny bows. Mine always tasted rather tart.

  3. After that year of classes, I lost the time to go outside. Instead, I wrote. Letters flowed easier than texts, and were cheaper than candlelit meals. I never sent them to anyone, though. Years later she’d call that charming.

  4. Back then, I’d thought little about directionality. She turned her math degree into risk prediction and data modelling, while I spun inwards towards my postgrad. Most times she’d pay for our drinks. No shame in hiding it, really: I saw a photo of us, once, forwarded from one friend via another. In it, we were leaning over the skating rink below the Marina Bay Sands, elbows inches apart. “Make of it what you will,” I told him in person.

  5. The work paid off. I had a degree, and some savings; she had ten days of unpaid leave. From our bucket list, we picked Taiwan. The weather was fine and she had family there. We visited them before our round trip down the coast, and I kept her between me and her relatives at all times. One of her uncles thought I was too short. We cracked jokes, sang, ate homemade fried chicken. At Shihlin I nearly took her eye out with a skewer of fried choudoufu. We laughed it off in the hotel room, our hair wet, the nine o’clock news buzzing in the back. She was reaching for the beer that we’d bought at the 7-Eleven. I reached over the dressing table between us and switched off the TV. I said: “I want to tell you something I haven’t told you before.” That night, we slept soundly, waking at dawn with the birds.

  6. An exponential function has no constant rate of change. Increasing bewilderingly, it remains differentiable, never tending towards infinity. The multiplicities of a relationship increase in proportion to the rate of change of a relationship. Together they form a foreseeable whole. We scorned clichés and their comfortable foreseeability; she laughed when she saw the collection of letters under my desk. When I got the job offer, she was in a plane flying over the Atlantic. I never once saw her cry.

  7. One night we had drinks at a gin bar that overlooked the mall where we nearly touched elbows. Backlit by the city, I watched breathlessly as she charted our possible futures on the condensate of her glass. Water, dripping down.

  8. Ten was the number of times her phone rang before her voicemail would pick up –  a lesson, humbly, in patience.

  9. A function is differentiable everywhere except where it is discontinuous.

About The Author

Since 2019, the entirety of Sean Chua’s writing has been controlled by a swarm of tiny amoebas, which have taken residence in his brain. He cannot write for very long because the amoebas are very small. His interests are urban affects, strange bodies and tap water.

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