don’t go running around your grandmother’s house

one year old,
two years old.

three years old. i am a runner.
destined to be one. at least, i thought i was.
in a house located in the cul-de-sac with four children,
you’ll always get a handful of laughter. then a handful of mud prints.
then a handful of broken artefacts. as i sped through the main door,
the wind was in my hair and adrenaline fuelled my body,
my foot landed on one of those hot wheel cars that belonged to one of my cousins.
i slipped, lost control and knocked my head face forward on the glass table
where the cookie jars lined up, and got my eyebrow cut.
i have no recollection of the bleeding or crying my mom claims to have happened,
but i thought my brow cut was something.

four years old, i was running through the house again.
first i was here, then i was there. i was like the flash.
so when my grandfather returned home on his motorbike,
i was in the middle of a lap,
not noticing how the engine was still revving,
hot puffs of steam being released from behind.
i got closer, and closer, and closer, and closer, and burned my shin.
the scar is still there, and i like to think of it as my moment of bravery.
sure, i cried; but i spent the next eight years of my life, glorifying,
showing it off to my friends at school. i thought it was cool.

five years old,
six years old.

seven years old, i thought i was smart. i raced up the stairs
after p.e. to avoid the soon-to-be crammed hallways. we all know
how it’s like when the lunch bell rings and you have a swarm of hungry primary schoolers.
i needed to quench my thirst so bad that i didn’t wait for ms. i-can-blow-the-whistle’s instructions.
my friends trailed behind me and we went up to the empty classroom.
we sat and drank the pure water like there was nothing better, just indulging in that coolness.
and when the teacher came back, my left palm was greeted with a very friendly cane.

eight years old,
nine years old.

ten years old, i was taller than most girls in my class, thank you mother,
for enrolling me into swim class. this was when i first heard and understood
the term ‘plastic surgery’.

eleven years old, i started wearing glasses.
i thought it made me more mature.

twelve years old.

age thirteen, high school, new people. everybody is so self-aware.
we were butterflies in a spring day, just minding our own business.
this was the year curiosity peaked; it was a race of who can obtain the
most information about every other person in their year.
this is when i realized giving away your name can be risky,
because you’ll never know if it follows behind the words “that bitch”.

age fourteen, i don’t know how to do makeup,
loathe the feeling of lipstick on my cracked lips,
and only function best when my hair is in a ponytail.
i feel absolutely fine in an oversized t-shirt.
after all, i never leave the house,
and maybe that’s the problem.
i only stay indoors, and write, sing, eat, sleep, study
and scroll on instagram… a selection of models—my friends.
they are out there, mainstream places with mainstream poses.
crop tops, skinny jeans, heels, lipstick, earrings, designer handbags!
i put my phone away and tell myself it’s not a problem… right?

age fifteen, my complexion is not perfect,
my skin is not flawless, my hair isn’t straight,
my jawline isn’t sharp, my neck is too short,
my shoulders are unbalanced, my stomach is not flat enough,
you can’t see my ribs, my thighs are not skinny,
my calves are too thick and my feet are too large.
i dump all the junk food packets in the bin and i walk away from the kitchen.
now i always drink half a cup of water before eating anything.
i eat loads of greens and cut down on the asian staple food—rice.
i hit the gym and then swim laps,
i play basketball and then i go running,
i roller-skate and then i dive straight into bed.

at age sixteen, relatives say that i look pretty and tall
and take after my parents during chinese new year
and ask if i have a boyfriend. i laughed it off.
that should’ve made me feel good but
i started falling in love with the way
that my stomach is empty and constantly growling.
it was the feeling of dinner riding up my oesophagus on a
rollercoaster, then washing my white pearls with a little
fluorine to balance things out.
i go to the gym every day for consecutive months
because i want to feel my own ribs and bones.
because when people can literally see through your skin and bones,
that’s when you’re finally pretty, right?

i’m seventeen now.
and when i look at the brow cut and shin scar that i have,
i remember when i used to feel pretty in my own skin.