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Friday, Feb. 18, 2005 - 2:29 a.m.

All the students stood sleeping except her. They were lined up in their classes for morning assembly, silent stick figures who were supposed to sing along to the primitive karaoke of the national anthem. The girl, because she was the shortest in the class, was assigned to stand at the front of the line of secondary 2G, CHIJTP. She was the only one awake in that assembly of five hundred girls, because she liked watching the back of the prefect who stood in front of her. The prefect was two years older, and had a small sweat spot at the exact same position on her body every morning; it was on the small of her back, a barely visible patch of dark blue on her pinafore caused by the light of the morning sun. The longer assembly lasted, the larger the dark circle would grow.

Before the teacher came in, there was a group of girls in the back corner of the classroom, crowded around a women's magazine someone had brought. There was laughter as they read the articles: "Eeee-yer, are you a lesbian?" The girl was not part of this group, but she heard it and felt its unmistakable accusatory tone, even though she did not know what the word lesbian meant then. During recess, she went to the school library, and surreptitiously looked it up in the dictionary. She was shocked at the meaning, and began to understand the disgust visited on women described as lesbians. But she was also comforted as well, inferring correctly that there must be many other females like her, for the word to have arrived in the dictionary.

After school, she waited at the school porch for her mother to come pick her up. Then she saw that prefect walking towards her with two other girls in PE attire. Quickly, the girl removed the school badge from her pinafore and threw it into a nearby bush. Then she stood almost brazenly as the three girls walked past her. But they did not even look at her, and continued talking as they disappeared into the canteen.

She had wanted to get caught for not wearing the school badge, for the prefect to take out her little notepad and record down her name and her class. Then she would know that the girl exists. The prefect was the arbiter of what was allowed and what was not allowed, an enforcer of rules, a catcher of mistakes. Perhaps all of this was a mistake, but the girl felt no remorse as she retrieved her badge from the bush. She thinks, if we stood under the sun for long enough, we would sweat so much that all our bodies would turn to water. Then all these words - boy, girl, girl, lesbians, forbidden, would all wash away, and we could happily drown in the liquid state of each other.


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