- Vol. 03
- Chapter 12
The boy can feel us in the room. He feels our silent laughter, perhaps. He does his best to ignore us, though.
He knocked several times before we heard the key turn. Time enough for us to jump up from the bed and to run across the expanse of carpet and into the cupboard. We watched him through the wardrobe slats as he pushed the door open, first a crack and then all the way, pulling behind him the trolley.
He must be new. None of the swagger of the ones who have been here for years. He stood on the threshold just a second too long, as though entering someone else’s room is not yet second nature to him, as though he does not yet feel he owns the place. We liked that.
He did what they all do. That instinctive appraisal of the room. What clues have they left? What crumbs? A glance towards the bathroom, though the door is open and the room clearly empty. He left the trolley at the foot of the bed. Pulled the covers back on and smoothed them down. Arranged the pillows. He did not check the drawers of the bedside tables as some of them do, though. We noticed.
He stands between the trolley and the regency writing desk now. I can feel her naked and feline in the enclosed dark and we slip for a moment out of the hotel altogether to where the river outside is all ice; white thick in patches and glassy in others, black water beneath. It has fallen below minus twenty this morning. She presses closer to me and holds her eye steady to a gap in the slats and we watch as he lifts from the trolley the teapot, the cups, the saucers, the covered platters of food and places them on the desk. As he does, his eyes flick from wall to wall, trying to find the source of our silent giggling, perhaps. How old are we?Read more >
Again the boy cries himself hoarse
while we sing these hours just
before dawn. First the alphabet,
then “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,”
then “Lupang Hinirang,” the words
like foxes, like milk teeth. We can’t
hold him quiet yet. His body must,
they say, learn now about hunger,
about being alone. So we
hum and shhh into the yellow-
bruise of Sunday, these songs the shape
of our mouths in the dark, open
seas, and a brightness we have no