Fiction

How to Make Friends at the End of the World

The Quarantine Diaries, Part Two

Hengtee Lim (Snippets)
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readDec 17, 2020

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Orange and white cat sitting comfortably on a giant dark grey bean bag.

This is part of a series of short stories. To read them all, head here.

When the virus put the city into lockdown, my cat started talking to me.

“You’re so lazy,” she said.

“What?”

“All you do is sit there and watch TV.”

“Nobody’s allowed outside,” I said. “What do you expect me to do?”

“For starters, you could learn to play that song you’re always humming in the morning. But for now, how about lunch?”

I got off the sofa and poured some cat food into Maguro’s bowl. She gave a quiet nod and began nibbling at it. I glanced at the guitar in the corner and the thin layer of dust that coated it.

“Yeah, I’m probably too lazy for that,” I said.

Maguro had always been kind of talkative in her own way. She cried if I slept past seven in the morning. If I forgot to fill her auto-feeder. If I forgot her afternoon snack. If she wanted to play. If she wanted to sit in my lap but I was using my laptop. If she woke up from her afternoon nap and she didn’t know where I was even though I was just on the sofa. If she was sleepy but I wasn’t in bed yet. If she just wanted me to look at her.

She had always been talkative, she just never had a vocabulary for it. No words to give shape to her thoughts. But now that she did, she had a whole bunch of other things she wanted to cry about.

“What is that? Is that a guitar?”

The voice came from the window upstairs. The apartment above me. It sounded like a girl, but I wasn’t completely sure at the time. I couldn’t see her.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ll close the window. I didn’t mean to bother you.”

“No,” the girl said, “I mean, what is it? What are you playing?”

“It’s called ‘No Name Number 5.’”

“It sounds lonely.”

I nodded.

“It is lonely.”

“Does it have words?”

“It does.”

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Hengtee Lim (Snippets)
Human Parts

Fragments of the everyday in Tokyo, as written by Hengtee Lim.