You tie a knot you can unravel. You never know — this could be last Friday again.

Carefully you lower the rope, down, to where the bristled edges of headlights trail after each other like the souls of sedans scampering through rain for warmth.

Minutes ago, you had rolled away from each other. Laughed.

Envy? You had asked.

Apathy, he answered.

You had shut out his snores, , pulled the door and your forever ended there. His peace bought with exertion and that snide remark

The shuffling downstairs is steady, a stream of men with rounded bellies and sweat, well past midnight. But this corridor, up to the ghost tree, is dark and silent, the girls in strangers’ arms, caged in illusions, with wrong numbers and endless promises.

The knot is weak against the iron grille of the balcony railing, carved with metal peonies and doves The house belonged to a landlord  with servants and women receptive to attention. They, you’re sure, were rewarded.

The knot was discovered on your last attempt, you remember this as you duck into the shadows of the ghost-tree and witness an owl, many hanging bats.

Your father hunted bats, you hadn’t known what game marking was then. Now, you do.


The sound of your name travels up the stairs like it knows more than you. But you’re over the railing, noiselessly, and standing awkwardly on the sunshade of the window below, hidden from view, holding the rope with one hand, while the other chokes the grille.

A foot dangles over the edge, licking the shame-street sins busying the horrendous world underneath like a barbed hook.


It’s still your name, but different, more accusation than identity.

Sliding lower, the fabric of your dress tears up to the navel, but the nail misses the banded-krait tattoo Dockley had put there for free. The one Lamchan thinks of as a betrayal, as if he’d been convinced by his own intentions to own your skin.

But it’s now. You must leap. Now.


The girl from the next room, her head is just above yours, coming closer as she bends over the railing, contorted, confused.

Holding the rope taut against your neck, you move it back and forth like a toothless chainsaw.


The word snaps, thrashes about the walls, and self-destructs right along with you.


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