This afternoon in the Philippines, I climb a Mango tree, having just drank my father's banana wine and my sister's blood. The students inside can see me through the window. I wink because I want to be alluring, yet I know I am ugly with or without the delirium of poison and sweet fruit. If I ever come down, I will smother my skinny shadow and feed it my decomposing heart.
I was smacked twice today by all my family members and four times by the branches. Maybe I liked the sting of demonic affection and the burning of merciless spiritual ache.
The teacher lets the kids out for recess at 2:00. When she sees me rocking in the tree, she grabs her head in rage and screeches for me to get down. "It's not just math I hate," I say. "I resent the person trying to comprehend the numbers." She understands my grief and lets me make my own decision, which was to haunt the tree until someone haunted me.
Itsuya, I'd like it if you talked more. I feel sad a lot and need the thrill of your feminine voice. Though you are a male, you look like geisha. I used to comb your hair when we were tiny. In those days, you were so shy, crying when you had to communicate. Nowadays, depression is why there is so much silence between us.
I was never happy either, always recoiling in the presence of others, never making eye contact with smiling faces. At night I whimper in despair, haunted by the memories of our bashful smiles, our terrified eyes. Nothing is calm now. Itsuya, please comfort me. I am suicidal. I am exhausted. I am in love. Just saying hello would be enough to keep my lungs fat with oxygen.
Ashlie Allen writes fiction and poetry. She is also a photographer. Her work has appeared in Buringword, Clementine, Juked and others. She enjoys talking about the supernatural and being in dim places.