I don't know who I am now. Wayan's fists against my ribs. His hard, hurried fingers bunching up my shirt. That's how it begins. In an alley, a stench of rotting food, sweet and sickening enveloping us.

It's that exact moment the sun dips into the sea, bloody oranges and violent purples. When the world is gaudy and lurid. When the sizzling air and salty breeze can lead you astray.

And it does.

He's a beautiful serpent, made up of contradictions. He slithers right in, all shimmering sun-kissed skin and sibilating temptation. Coaxing me into the steep shadows of the back alley, behind the beach restaurant where we both work. Away from throngs of tourists, away from the beach. Away from prying eyes.

"Ever kissed a boy?"

I swallow what seems to be all the air on the beach walk, sea-gulls and all. My back shoved up against rough cement wall. Rats the size of dogs scurrying by, but I hardly notice them. Not with his hands on my skin, warm, insistent, ruthless.

"Just... Once. Accidentally... I didn't mean to."

Wayan leering as if he's always known it'd come to this. His lips a hair's breadth away from my temple, balmy and dulcet as they round the curve of my cheekbone. No. The hue and cry of an alarm deafening in my ears.

I can't. Won't.

"An accident huh…? Imagine that..." The words, murmured, feathery breath painting a determined route across my face. No. Don't.

The kiss.

I don't know why I kiss him back. A lapse of judgment, all cream and vanilla. Innocent, like my first, at the corner of my mouth. Finding me in a pendulum between fiery and sweet. The basso rilievo of the bottom lip, like a mandarin cleft. Humid, honeyed and heated.

And then, as if a decision has been taken, his kiss turns scorching hard and demanding. I can't. I shouldn't be here. Still, I don't move. My back chafing against the wall behind me. Fettered by his tangy sweetness and inflamed peppery fervor. Staggeringly, knock-your-socks-off tender.

Don't stop. Don't.


My fists grabbing onto the sheet beneath me. We lie sticky and slick with perspiration under the humming ceiling fan, murmuring, whispering, mumbling.

His skin, all smooth caramel, like something drenched in honey. Mouthwatering. Little pearls of sweat across his upper lip. My tongue reacting to the sight of him as if preparing itself for a delicious meal, the tip brushing those little droplets off his cupid's bow.

No. This isn't right.

I never wanted this. It's all him. The way he'd slipped by, slithering in to tiny hollows, finding his way around rejections and reasoning.

Wayan's slippery snake-oil beauty, and how easily he sold it to me.

He'd found that single stray thread in my imperfectly woven cloth, and he had yanked at it. Had tugged, pulled and meddled, winding that loose end around his long fingers until I had began to unravel. Teasing and testing limits until nothing remained but a pile of jumbled up threads. Nothing, just a big old mess. And like a cruel thoughtless kitten he had lunged into the heap, tearing at loose threads with razor sharp claws and cute little teeth.

Our co-workers at the restaurant warned me about him.

"Stay away from Wayan. You've got nothing to gather there," they said. But I'm like a duckling freshly hatched, fragile and gullible. In no time he has me in a dizzying disbelief, limbs entwined trying to catch my breath under his crude kisses and his wandering hands. My own skin stretched taut, the sins piling up. Like a condom filled with rocks. Just add another one, maybe this time it'll break.

Release me. Sate me. Save me.

Afterwards I get up shakily while he watches from the bed, a contented grin plastered on. Like a fat serpent after a meal. My hand is quickly on the door handle. I must leave.

Need air.

I'm sick on his doorstep. Wiping my mouth with the back of my hand as he saunters on out behind me, his sheet held around his hips like a Roman toga surrendering to gravity.

"Hey, what's the great hurry? Stay a while..." An unlit cigarette held between fingers, a nonchalant flick of the wrist at the pathetic sight of me crouching over. "So I suppose you're not much for cuddling, huh?"

"This was a mistake," I say, unable to meet his eyes. "An accident..."

"Sure. If you say so." His snake-like wide-toothed smile blinding me in the sunlight, competing with the slick shimmer of tiny dewy hairs over his torso. Those elegant long fingers carelessly holding on to the sheet around his hips. And I envy him then. Envy him with an intensity that makes my hands twitching to strike. Wanting to hurt him.

So easy for him. Nothing can save me now. I can't be this.


His fist clenched hard around the foot of his glass. Sipping some stupid, Barbie-pink umbrella drink he's got no qualms about ordering.

The sun low, the light hitting the open beach bar sideways, casting long jittery shadows across him where he leans an elbow on the counter. His neck, long and curved, taut like bamboo bent by water. Misleadingly innocent, how it grapples upwards, the rounded back of his skull. Like a child's, begging for fingers to touch, crying out for my arm beneath it.

"I'm to be married," I say.

"How quaint." His eyes, the inky black lashes and the golden brown almost orange in the anguished rays of the dying sun. "How delightfully conventional."

"Well, it's what I want." What I really want is him. With his orange eyes half closed, lapping at the sun like a cat. "What you wrinkle your nose at, I want. I want children, a family. I want peace of mind."

He scoffs. His scorn like vinegar on a sweet bean-cake. It's as it should be, I tell myself. I will be married, and I'll be cured from whatever is ailing me. Which truth be told is only him.

"Well," he says, aping after me, mimicking my exact tone of voice. A prissy, snide smirk on his lips. " Isn't that just swell? Domestic bliss, peace of mind, imagine that."

"You don't understand... my father. I have to..."

He clucks like an old hen. It's all a big joke to him. But I must swallow this. There is no other way.

"Hey..." he shouts after me as I try to leave the bar. "Aren't you going to invite me to the festivities?"

A warning there. He might very well show up. He'll have no scruples about crashing my wedding ceremony, shaming me in front of my entire family. I turn on my heels, my fists balled into tight clams, nails piercing the skin of my palms.

"Stay away. I only came here to -"

"To what? For a long, tearful goodbye? Or for some good old-fashioned break-up sex?" A hand over his hair, smoothening it down almost coyly. As if trying to steal back some dignity. Eyes amber colored and intense. Cat eyes. Makes me want to look away but I'm unable to break the contact. I can't help shushing him, looking around for eavesdroppers.

"Don't –"

"How long do you think you're going to be able to hide it?"

"I have nothing to hide."

"Yeah, right." He snorts in his drink, his glossy brown hair falling across his face. The tone mocking me lightly but his glare bone-hard. "You forget that I've had you in my bed. I know who you are... I wonder what they'd all say if they knew what a little disgusting freak you are."


Fists, and not the kind that wrinkle up sheets or tug at hair to bring you in for a kiss.

No, sledgehammers. Viciously precise. Tiny red droplets sprayed across the white-washed wall. The nauseating stench of blood and fear, like overripe papaya and ammoniac. It's too late.

To save him. Save me.

All sense and reason drowning in the sound of flesh and bone colliding. And I don't want to hear this, the wet crunching of capillaries. I can't. The knuckles crushing down, over and over and over again. The elbow catapulted back only to spring forward, again and again.

Stop. Don't.

Wayan doesn't cry where he lies. Doesn't whimper, doesn't beg, doesn't cower. Just lies there, back flat against the ground, face a bloody mush and arms stretched out like Jesus on his cross. His one eye swollen shut, the other, fixated on me.

I didn't ask for this. Never wanted this.

The obscene rhythm of fists against flawless skin. Mangling, maiming, stealing what was once beautiful. Reducing a shimmering boy to garbage. The smears of his blood gummy and foul across another man's knuckles.

The fist rammed down, yet another time. Knuckles aimed at teeth and this time I expect to see teeth flying. Instead he puts his hand up. Softly, gently, so abruptly out of place it diverts the fist's path.

His fingers digging between split lips, oozing red like a poisonous fruit. And out comes a full set of teeth.

"Here," he wheezes. "Will spare you the trouble."


Hanging over a toothless nineteen year old boy, my fist suspended inches away from his face. Muscles twitching with exhaustion finally making the connection. God. Oh God. Bone and sinew, muscles and nerves. How it all leads back to me in a vile trail from heart to hate. The fists clobbering his face into a meaty sauce.


"You think you're the first...?" He struggles to breathe, bubbles of burgundy red from his nose, slime and froth on his upper lip. "Trying to beat the gay out of me?"

I will him to hit me back but he just lies there, his plump, succulent lips sinking into the orifice of his mouth like on an old man.

"Just deal with it... you little shit." His voice hoarse, the words warbled by the lack of teeth and his broken lips. "You're a fag, a fruitcake, a fucking fairy..."

I don't know what I am. I just know I'm not a good man. But come tomorrow I'll marry a sweet girl with dumb cow-eyes and skin like fresh turmeric. I must.

Wayan raises himself up, wobbling on elbows as if he's planning to head-butt me. I close my eyes and wait for him to even the score, measure out the guilt. But instead of the expected pain, he has me head-locked, his fingertips meeting at the nape, thumbs against my ears. Not letting go. Saying, you could have just loved me, your stupid fuck.

Using his chin, his nose and his lips to nudge at my face. I'm nerves and impulses, detached from logic. A kiss between reprisal and desperation. Lemongrass and blood, sticky lips etching me like acid. There will be marks in their trails. I won't ever be able to wash them off. My skin memorizing every puff of air, every humid stroke.

And then inexplicably he starts laughing. Hysterically, mouth wide-open, head slumping back. Without warning, the laughter turns into crying. Just like that. An acute heartache when he falls apart, face crumpling giving in to the sorrow.


I cleanse myself, watching pink miniature rivers snaking down the drain. My fist pressed against my mouth, knuckles crammed between my teeth to stifle the growing desperation. I'm to be married tomorrow.

I close my eyes and I still see him as the water washes over my face. The beautiful boy. His golden eyes and that flawless profile, all ruined. I did that. I broke perfection. The grisly ugliness within me.

This - is who I am.


Written for the September WCC. Vote for your favorites before 14 September.