Working has been something I’m doing to distract myself.
Lately, just before I go back home at five, I let myself stay a couple hours longer at work just to make sure I’m exhausted enough that all I’m gonna do once I’m home is sleep. I don’t know why I’m doing this. But I think this habit has been built since the day that blue envelope arrived in my house few days ago.
It was a fancy envelope wrapped in perfect shape of bow with my name on top of it. I thought it was a friend’s wedding invitation or maybe one of my relatives’, I don’t know. But never once have I ever thought it’d be yours. Yours with your name and that one girl’s I barely know engraved with golden ink on it. I needed a few moment to proceed it, that time. I needed a few moments to swallow the reality.
After all these years, I never thought it’d be you first. I thought it’d be me. Or maybe it’d be our friends first. But I know for sure you’re never the type of person who chase girls seriously. I mean, even after all these years, our love has never collided because you never once chased me seriously. Because all you did was sitting around hoping I’d be the one to come to you that easy. You thought things will only come to you eventually. But no, I was wrong. It was you first.
Lately, working has been something I’m doing to distract myself. That’s why when my colleagues start to leave their cubicles one by one, I decide to stay a moment longer in mine.
“You seem to work overtime lately, Grace.” Someone tapped my back, and it was my friend, Dayu. “You okay, Grace?”
I let out a small smile crept onto my face. “I’m fine, Yu. Just in need of some time alone.”
Dayu is one of my friends who has been there since day one. She was this sweet Balinese friend I have in here. Ah, Bali… sometimes when I think about those people I met through those years I spent away from home, I will instantly remember the first time I met you here. Don’t you remember that time, though? Well, maybe you don’t. And I guess is fine, since it has always been me feeling deeper than others all along, right? You were never really having me deep in your bones. Never for once.
“Grace, my friend, I know something’s bothering your mind. And I don’t know what that is but we all know beach at night is always the best place to let out that bothering mind. You want me to accompany you tonight?” Dayu seems to always know when something’s bothering me, that’s why I said that she’s a sweet girl.
“It’s fine, Dayu. I’ll be out of here by seven, I promise. I just need a two hour time alone here.” I convinced her to leave me with my thought, although I don’t really mean to shoo her in any way. But she seems to understand me so she leaves me be.
And with that, I’m alone again.
Years have passed since the day you decided to just walk away. You told you wanted to aim higher for your dream. That’s why you were the first to leave this place once we graduated college. And indeed, I’m the very last to leave Bali. I think maybe it’s because you were never really feeling whole when you were here with us—your friends—or maybe it’s because you were just a coward.
But those memories of our youth are still lingering in my mind each time I remember you. Like this very moment I’m sitting on my cubicle, I remember those nights we spent at so many beaches just to seek that true meaning of living. I remember those nights we spent at our friend’s rooftop just to talk about anything but us. I remember those nights we spent at your place just to live that very moment before it’s too late.
“If you had a day when you could be anything you want, who do you want to be?” I remember one night you said that to me, sipping on that plain black coffee that was getting colder that night.
And I thought for a moment. Who do I want to be? And I smiled, because I knew exactly who I wanted to be.
“Who?” You got more curious because I smiled. And I shook my head in gesture that I did not want to tell.
It was that I wanted to be the girl you love most dear that you’d never want to let go of. It was that I wanted to be the girl you’d end up waking up to in few years down the road. It was that I wanted to be the girl you’d have your first born child with. I wanted to be that girl. But I knew it was cliché to tell you that because it was just a day and a day won’t cover the whole moment I want to feel as that girl.
“If you had a day when you could be anything you want, who do you want to be?” I asked you back in return, hoping you’d just drop off my unanswered question you gave.
You breathed out the smoke away and said, “I want to be the happiest version of me.”
“Aren’t you happy now?”
You shrugged, eyes wandering elsewhere but here. “I guess I am happy now, with you guys surrounding me. I know my people back home were those I love most dear before you guys. But… I don’t know, some days I feel like I’m happy enough with me being here with you guys. But some other days I just feel like I’m never really feeling whole. Like there’s something I’m missing and I don’t know what.”
Maybe it’s me. Tell me it’s me.
“And if I had a day when I could be anything I want, I just want to be the happiest version of me. Just so then I could know what it was that I’ve been missing all along. And by tomorrow I turn back to the same old me, I’d remember still what it was I’ve been missing. And by then, I’d search for it until I could be the happiest version of me I was yesterday again.”
I let out a small smile crept onto my face, letting you know that the slightest part deep in my heart wants to be that thing you feel like you’ve been missing all this time. But you know what? I guess you won’t understand. You’d just be the person who you were until you’ve grown enough into the person you are today. And I’d also just be the person I was that moment until I feel like I’ve grown enough into the person I am today.
After all, we were just these people seeking for the true meaning of living. And while you already found that for you as you are getting married in just a couple of days, I’m still gonna be here stumbling upon my expectations in life. I was once wishing upon the shooting stars that you might fulfill my expectations in life—for that I have found the one in you yet never have you ever once found that in me, for that memories of youth you have given me through those years of college I spent away from home, and also for that you’d be the wishful story of growing up I’d tell my kids about one day.
Working has been something I’m doing to distract myself lately. But the realization hits me hard that in the very moment I quickly get my phone and text you with;
To: Daniel You’re getting married, man. You must have found that missing part you’ve been missing. Have you turned to be that happiest version of you? I hope you have. I really do.
And not just a moment later, very fast after, a reply came;
From: Daniel I have. And I hope you’ll find it soon, too. Can’t wait to meet you guys again. Take care of yourself there, Grace. I’m hoping you the best. Xx
We never really talk very light, but when we do, we just talk like two old lovers and friends who have been separated by oceans and years. And indeed, adulthood has separated us from our youth. From the love I once had very deep for you. From those moments I live by to make one’s heart feel whole. From you.
Sometimes I think about the possibility that might happen through those years if I ever had the courage to let out those feelings to you. Maybe you’d understand by then. Maybe you’d find that missing piece in me. Maybe I’d be the one you’d get married to in a couple of days. But things happened and those what ifs won’t make any difference by then. We were just these people seeking for the true meaning of living. We are just these people seeking for the hope of a happy life.
I’ll keep praying for every step you take.
So take care.
Jimbaran, 12th February 2017.
Originally written for a submission for The Murmur House. But this story was three pages length and my submission won’t be qualified even if I sent it anyway. So here I am posting a short story that was inspired by the same man who has given me the same strength of writing the past few months. I’m still hoping you the best.