By Natalie Chin
(Illustrated by Ben Townsend)

there's lightning outside your window, somewhere above the parts of the ocean we cannot see a typhoon begins to stir. someone on the radio says it could bring up to 1,000 mm of rain. someone on the radio says that everyone should stay indoors. i take the radio off the table and bring it with me to the floor, then i take my shirt off and curl around the radio on the floor. there's no one else in this part of the house, and i hear cats screeching with the wind. the hall is empty in a way that makes me think about the time we first walked through your front door and you said this was not a place to be alone. what kind of alone do you mean, is what i should have said, because i know now that there are different kinds of alone and the one that you meant did not refer to the alone i feel now. i could hold your skin and feel like there were marshlands between us. the room lights up with the storm and look, the bedroom is too far away. from this angle all i can see of you are the parts that i can already imagine leaving. bony knees,angel face, hands pulling the blanket close. once i said that all distances were good distances as long as they were with you, like waiting for you to pee or watching you wake up or lying hip to hip with your breath close enough to merge with mine. each time felt equally near. that was before this city, before i realized the reverse could also be true, and maybe now this is the furthest away that i have felt from any person. it is another night where you have fallen asleep without me and i am lying here on the floor and there is a radio in my hands. i think that i must have been lying here for a long time now because it is completely dark outside and the trees are wailing out a siren's call and i can no longer tell if i am watching the typhoon's beginning or its end. i stand up and put my shirt back on, leave the radio next to the umbrella, thinking that if what i am most afraid of is of everything and nothing changing at the same time, there's a storm outside waiting for me


when you say we're moving to the moon, i laugh for a long time before realizing that you're serious. you don't say anything else, and i finish the rest of my breakfast in silence. i put the bowl in the sink and walk back up the stairs. the room on the left has been our bedroom for the past six years. remember when all of this felt new. i watch you from the window, loading boxes into the spaceship. there's a thing you do, which happens when you're concentrating hard, absorbed by a single motion, and you look the way you would if you were the only person alive. once, that bubble would have included me. when i think about the way relationships end, with one person walking away from the other, i always imagine myself as the one who would do the leaving. these things have a way of signaling their arrival, and anyway i would have already been left. i think i would rather spend nights alone than to stay with a person who no longer looks at me the way he once did. goodbye, i would say, i am done with all this needing, this body wants these hands back. this body wants to belong to only itself again. but then it is august, and i am strapped into a seat, and i can feel my eardrums splintering with the sound. eyes rolling back involuntarily. this is the last image of the earth i have to hold onto: blueness of the sky and sea. then the ship was silent. and the darkness was beautiful. i look at you, concentrating hard on the shape of the moon, which is closer than it has ever been. did you know, if you bite your tongue hard enough it bleeds. the blood spills, forming a pool of metal in your mouth. i thought i knew how to leave, yes, but my first instinct is also always to swallow.

natalie chin lives in london



ben townsend lives in taipei