It was a fine, cloudy late afternoon on a loose Friday when we last talked.
We sat across each other at this coffee-shop. He was having his lunch, and ordered a couple of apple strudel pancakes for desert. I had a huge cup of a late, it was nice. Changing my mind, I decided to stay a bit longer because I loved to watch the leaves fall outside the window. I had not intend to stay long before, I had not intend to stay at all. He complimented on those pancakes, but told me after that, “Yours are better, though. I really love that lemon sauce.”
And I decided to tell him the tale of the frog and the scorpion.
“Once there was a frog,” I said. “A sweet green tiny little frog, sitting alone, happily, by a pond in the middle of a rainy evening.”
By this point he sipped his coffee, and interrupted from across the table. “Haven’t you told me that?”
He likes interrupting me in the middle of everything.
“Have I?” I said.
And I never complain.
“Well, I remember you talked about the pond.”
“This is a different pond.”
“I thought you loved the other pond….”
“… you know, the one with the water lily on it, the other day….”
“How is this story relevant to us?”
I still think he finally came quiet not because I told him to, it was more because most of the heads at the coffee-shop turned to us as I whispered that ‘listen’ hard. And he smiled that smile—the quirky, deceitful smile of victory that makes you think he’s got something hidden to hold against you later on—and let me continue.
So I did.
I said, then along came a big red scorpion to this little frog, saying, “Hey, frog, my dear little friend, can you help take me to the other side of the pond?”
Very seldom does somebody approach the frog in such a rainy evening. However, she said, “I could, of course. But I don’t think I will because I know as soon as you’re upon my back you’re just going to sting me and I’m going to drown.”
“Why would I,” said the scorpion. “If you drown, I’ll get drowned too and we’ll both die.”
And so the frog agreed. She let the scorpion climb upon her back and started to swim across the pond. However, just as they almost reached the other side of the pond did the frog feel a sting on her back. She knew it was the scorpion’s, so she started to cry. “Why are you doing this, scorpion? I warned you and you promised me you wouldn’t sting and that’s why I agreed, and now you did, and we’re both going to die.”
Said the scorpion, “What can I say, frog? I can’t help it, it’s my nature.”
That was when they started to drown into the water.
One single leaf fell outside the coffee shop’s window, and he finished his pancakes.
“I still don’t see how it’s relevant,” he said.
I did not want to say much, and he knows I do not talk much most of the times. I turned to look at his face, knowing there was not going to be a lot of chances to look at it anymore from now on.
Not this way, not this close.
Then he shut his eyes and cupped his face with both hands. At a glance I saw that smile disappear, and I heard him.
“Okay. It is. It’s fucking relevant.”
In life, I believe you will come across certain people with whom you will find it hard to be around… without falling for.
This kind of people are rare, but they are easily detectable. They are the ones who, to start with, literally hold the door for you, appreciate your music taste, laugh at your jokes, never complain on what you wear, listen to your weirdest stories. If you get the chance to be with them longer, you will also find them to be the ones who will still love you for being an introvert. They listen to your silence, they never make you talk, they don’t force you to mingle.
In my case, these people are the ones who let me tell the stories of the books that I read…, and he does.
He lets me call him at work on a Monday morning and when I hang up, he’ll simply call back to make sure I get up already. We talk on the phone during lunch, and he will not ask a single question if I come silent. I call him up after my classes once in a while. He’ll say, “What’s up?” and I’ll say, “I don’t know why I’m calling you,” and he’ll laugh and say, “Okay. How is your day?”
He lets me play him some songs on the guitar, he waits for me to finish reading a few parts on the book before we leave anywhere. He holds the doors for me—all the doors to every entrance he could hold in his life. He lets my insecurities show, he says it’s okay.
He loves my pancakes.
It was not long before I found he is one of those rare people.
And it does not take a long time right after that to learn it; these people do not design themselves to be comfortable for you. They don’t need to. They are not the ones who have to make any effort to love. They might never find any difficulties to let all their feelings show, to let you know how much they like to be with you. They do not learn how to have such sweet disposition. They are born that way.
Because there will be one point or another, when you finally have to take the bitter part; they have saved their hearts for another.
And so did I, and that was when I decided to leave.
That was what I told him that Friday at the coffee-shop.
As we left the place, he said in the car, “Why can’t we be friends? Like, best friends. I really like you, M. Your jokes, your cleverness. I found the match to my thoughts in someone now, someone compatible and we seem to complete each other and this very seldom happens to me, so why can’t I keep that person?”
He turned the steering-wheel and the car pulled over by the sidewalk, at a spot where I could find a taxi home. I said, “I want to be in a friendship where none of the two parties is in love with the other and the other party knows it but goes on like not knowing it. You know…, the friendship without a risk I’m going to get hurt while swimming across the pond.”
“You don’t think a boy and a girl can’t have such a friendship? Like Harry and Hermione?” his face suddenly turned bright, a smile rose there. “Look, how about Harry and Hermione? They can. You believe in Harry Potter, right? You believe in Rowling. Don’t you?”
There was a sport hall beside where the car had stopped, and I found it really hard to take my seat-belt off and open the door. The sun was going down by the football yard in front of us. The golden-orange stripes of light blended with the color of the grass, it was beautiful. The smile of hope lingered on his face, as though he knew I would change my mind.
He was beautiful.
But it was getting dark soon, and I knew the traffic was getting worse in a few minutes and that was why I did not ask him to drive me home. I pulled the strap of the seat belt at last, and said to him, “I believe in Rowling. And Rowling said Harry and Hermione should’ve ended up together.”
He let out a sigh. Of regret, or madness… or just somewhere between the two.
“I’m sorry, J.”
“I never have a girl friend. They always leave for the same reason.”
I pushed the car door and took my bag. “You can’t help it, J. You’re too sweet not to fall for—it’s just your nature.”
And because you have already kept one person in a place designed for one person, J. Because you have already had a girlfriend, a word which is written without the space between the ‘girl’ and the ‘friend’.
I did not say that, of course.
As I pushed the door close behind me I knew that I had lost him. That was fine, I was ready for it, as I had noticed from the very start that he belongs to someone else. And I am used to losing people, this was not the first time.
But I could not help wondering how much he had lost.
Why would he want a girl friend with a distant space between the two words when he had already had one which is without. Why would he find someone whose thoughts he thinks are his match. Why would he found someone else compatible.
Reblog from :
probably my fav Indonesian writer, waiting for her upcoming novel.
Don't forget to wait for my first novel,
sssh, 23/40! gogogo!