She sits just two metres away from me as we share the table in the living room for work. My tap-tapping on the computer keyboard rhythmically punctures the silence in the air that we’re sharing. She punctuates each sector of this mind-map she’s making with glances at her phone accompanied by short gasps of laughter. Must be something funny she’s looking at. This is just another evening at home: me at work, her at exam revision, but it’s a rare delight that tonight we’re sharing the living room space.
Usually I’m home from work so late that she’s in bed by the time I settle down. On a typical night, the six-inch brick in her hand would miraculously form a wall the same time it transports her through a window to the rest of the world. She’d be listening to Coldplay and The Royal Concept on iTunes, traveling to many places on Instagram and chatting with her boyfriend and classmates on WhatsApp, totally contemporaneously. I’d be checking my YouTube subscriptions to see if anybody has posted new content, reading random online articles and scrolling through Pinterest for recipes, fashion trends and pin images of cute, fluffy baby animals. I’m lying down but traveling the world too.
We’re time-benders and teleporters with our magic bricks.
I must have missed the day they announced that teleportation had already been invented.
I recall this equation from math class:
Distance = Speed x Time
Logically it never made sense to me, but the math teacher said memorise and so I did. Just plug the numbers in and numerically, it works. Jerry runs away from Tom at a speed of 4kmph for 2.5h. How far did he run? I’m too lazy to do the math, but I know that just as long as Jerry runs, he’ll save himself from becoming cat nom. It doesn’t make sense just looking at the equation. I could stare at the daft equation for hours and the corner of my brain that’s supposed to have number sense is just not lighting up. But talk abstract and you’re speaking my language. Metaphysically, it makes perfect sense. As the years pass, the faster (our pace of life goes), the further we get. These magic bricks fling us into psychedelic, cosmic-flying speed and our hearts are so anti-gravity we can no longer feel the ground.
When my sister was thirteen, she’d ask me about anything and everything. Then she discovered google and now she’s stopped asking anyone questions. Perhaps she stopped asking questions altogether. I wouldn’t be surprised – the same thing happened to me too, and I blame google for my depleting memory function. Just yesterday I googled the scientific name for a fear of holes for the third time and today I still cannot remember. Brb googling now. Ah, trypophobia, it’s called. Do yourself a favour and don’t google it, the images always appear first and they’re horrendous.
The faster we go, the further we get.
Like the distance between my present state of mind and memories of times gone by, both happy and sad. Details have become blur, completely against my will and yet at the same time completely to my relief. That green car I used to own, what was its number on the plate? Did I actually visit that old mock Tang Dynasty themed park in Jurong, or was it a dream I had as a young child? Did we break up in McDonald’s or did we break up in the park? Was his hair parted on the left or on the right, and who said I love you first? I don’t remember, and it no longer matters.
Like the distance between my sister and I. Here in the living room, in between the two metres of technology and textbooks, my work and her mind-maps, we occasionally utter short sentences to each other, casually, easily, sisterly, affectionately, gossipy, silly, seriously. I’ve just sent her photos I saved today from an old FaceBook album on my profile. It’s pictures of her drawings that I proudly posted some years ago. She used to draw so well, we both mused. Most recently she’s moved on to doing art on her face. Makeup, it’s called. She’s turning eighteen next month, which reminds me I’m turning thirty this year. I don’t like the word makeup. People make up lies to cover for undesirable truth. The word “makeup” exposes us ladies too obtrusively on the function we’d like it to play in our lives. Makeup our face to cover for whatever’s undesirable. A recent euphemism I’ve heard from a YouTuber: “Makeup is to accentuate your best features, not to hide your flaws.” You can imagine I promptly unsubscribed from her channel. What a load of baloney. I’m a makeup user myself, I call her bluff.
We’re twelve years apart, so similar and so different. Our clothes get mixed up in the family laundry. We both like to sleep late and sleep in. I play the piano while she plays DOTA. Her abdomen is concave while mine is convex. I like to sleep in pitch darkness while she must always leave a light on. She dances, I sing.
But today we’re distance-benders too. With the ease of ghosts we’re floating in and out of screens, conversations on the magic bricks and conversations with each other. Sometimes we stop talking and resume doing our own thing, with the silence saying more than our unspoken words communicate: “I like spending this time with you and so I’m going to sit here with you and do my thing as long as we’re both not sleepy yet.”
1.12am, and I yawn. She starts packing her notes into her backpack. The time is late into the night, our bodies slowing down for bedtime and we must walk away to our separate bedrooms. Right now:
10 square metres between two bedrooms = No motion while asleep x 1.15am
Actually numerically, the equation doesn’t even make sense.