One Small Step

It’s been a while since my last Creative Writing Ink post, hasn’t it? So many things have happened since then, many ups and downs. But we’re not gonna focus on that, are we? No. We’re gonna focus on what’s really important, which is Writing. Writing, creating, and healing. Yes, healing. Because writing soothes me and it takes away all the awful things in (my) life.

Let’s get right to it. I’m getting so rusty here, so bear with me, people. I was in a romantic mood when I wrote this. Just a tiny warning for those who can’t deal with excessive romance 😉

OK. Without further ado, I give you:

One Small Step

Two days ago, I was staring at my computer screen, browsing through plane tickets. As I ignored the tiny voice in my head that tried to warn me, I entered my credit card number and all other stupid information that were necessary. The next thing I knew, I had booked a flight to London.

Ten hours ago, I was standing a few meters outside Heathrow airport, figuring out the state of my mental health. I knew I was crazy. I must have been. Because I could have just easily turned around and bought the next flight back to Chicago. But instead, I pulled out the National Express Coach ticket from my pocket and went straight inside that giant bus. The next thing I knew, I was on a two-hour trip to Bath.

****

“Just a few more minutes, I promise.”

Your voice pulls me back. You are a few steps ahead, smiling at me with guilt. The warm autumn sunlight falls perfectly on your freckled face. “Sorry?” I smile back as I shift my backpack from the left to my right shoulder.

“I know you’re exhausted, but we’re almost there. I’m going to make you a nice cup of tea, I promise.” You touch your right palm on your left chest, as if making a pledge.

“I’m not tired.”

You stop walking and raise your eyebrow at me. “James, we’ve been exploring every historical sites that ever existed in Central Bath for almost seven hours.”

“Yes, and as soon as we recharge out batteries, we’ll go straight to Wiltshire so I can finally see the Fox Talbot Museum.”

“You’re insane, you know that?” You shake your head as you adjust your pace so we are walking side by side once again. “We can go there tomorrow. It’s not like you’re only staying in Bath for a day.”

I swallow my words and pretend I didn’t hear that last sentence. I know that if you saw my face, you would realize in a heartbeat that I’m hiding something, so I look to my left instead and stare at the small lake on my left as if a fish monster would jump out and eat me alive. You must not know the truth. Not yet.

Your arm is linked around mine as we walk along the lake. The crackling twigs under our shoes are the only sound that penetrates the comfortable silence between us. I can stay like this forever.

****

Eight hours ago, I was stepping out of the express coach with my cell phone in my right hand.The coach took off a few minutes later and there I was, stranded alone in Bath with an empty stomach. My heart was pounding as I stare at my phone screen and went through all the names in the Address Book. This was it. There was no turning back. I felt like I wanted to throw up, and that was not because of my screaming gastric. I took a deep breath.The next thing I knew, I was talking to you on the phone and inviting you to brunch because I just ‘happened to be in the city’.

Seven hours ago, I was having the time of my life with you. We went through all the nooks and crannies of the city, observing and taking pictures like a proper tourist. You were smiling and laughing. I was bewitched by your beauty.

Seven hours ago, we were back to where we were a year ago.

****

“Right. Should I go first,then?”

Your voice pulls me back again. I blink and stare at you. “Go where?”

“Across.” You point at the stone footpath stretched in front of us. It’s long, winding, and –to tell you the truth – rather scary. Sensing my fear, you touch my arm gently. “I know it’s a bit tricky, but it’s the fastest way to get to my house.”

“Than what, swimming?” I respond sarcastically.

“Don’t worry, it’s not as dangerous as it looks. Here, I’ll go first.” And just like that, you’re standing on the first step. A second later you jump to the second one. Then the third. You move so quickly and lightly as if you were the fairy of the golden forest. I can’t take my eyes off of you.

Halfway down the winding steps, you stop and turn around to find me still standing on the ground and staring at you. From where I stand, I can see you carving a wide smile across your radiant face. With the yellow trees in the background and the clear water under your feet, you are the picture of the perfect autumn. The next thing I know, I’m taking a leap of faith. Then another leap. And another one. Every leap I take brings me closer to you. Then you start to jump again. “Wait up, Sarah!” I pick up the pace, trying to catch up. I can hear you chuckle and I can’t help but smile. Your chuckle turns to laughter, and my smile turns to a wide grin. Like a couple of eight year olds, we race to the other side of the lake. I want to beat you at your own game, but you’re way up ahead. By the time I’ve reached half of the footpath, you are already on the other side of the lake, standing safely on the ground.

“Come on, James! A nice cup of tea is waiting for you!” You cry, cheering me on. Seeing you there, waiting for me, my heart skips a beat and my blood rushes in my veins. I lose my breath in every leap, my chest tightens as I get closer to you. And closer. Your face is beaming. Your auburn hair is tangled because of the autumn breeze. Your smile is enchanting. Your laughter is contagious. I want you. Forever. Can I?

Five more steps. The words are clogged in my throat like a giant fist.

Three more steps. My heart is about to explode into million little pieces. I look down, to the water. They’re clear as day. I want to drown myself. Drown with you.

“Almost there!” Your voice pierce through my inner thoughts.

Two more steps. I look up to find your green eyes looking into mine.

One more step. We’re face to face. You brandish your hand. I take a deep breath and spill the truth.

“I’m getting married.”

For a millisecond, it’s as if I have never uttered a word. You’re still smiling. Genuinely so.

Then the colours drain from your face. And my heart plummets to the deep, dark water. Your eyes are still fixed on mine, but they’re no longer alive and bright. Your brandished hand is now stiff instead of warm and inviting like it has been all day in mine. I can feel your heart shattering, just like mine. I bit my lip and gulp what’s left in the air. “I’m getting married. In a month.” I repeat, as if that would make things a tiny bit better.

Your jaw tensed as you look away. Your hands are on your sides, awkward and idle. You stare at the leaves, the water, then back to me. “Why did you come here?”

“I wanted to see you.”

“Then what?”

“I…I don’t know.” I falter. “I haven’t thought this through.”

“You’re bloody right you haven’t!” Your face redden, anger boiling on the surface. A single tear runs down your cheek, but you quickly wipe it away. My fingers twitch. They ache to touch you.  I’m suffocating, trying hard to fight the urge to pull you into my arms. You look away again, arms folded in front of your chest to protect your heart from me. You shake your head and let out a bitter chuckle. “Of course you’re getting married. I’m such an idiot.”

“No, I am.”

“I didn’t say you’re not. You definitely are.” You retort with a quick glance. Despite myself, I smile. For a millisecond, you return the favor. We faintly smile at each other, before you look away again. An uncomfortable silence stands between us like a barricade. You look up to the sky, close your eyes, inhale deeply, then turns to me. No matter how many times I’ve seen those green eyes, they will always make me weak at the knees. The next thing I know, I blurt out that single question that’s been ringing in my head ever since I laid my eyes on you this morning:

“Did I make the right choice?”

I don’t know to what extend the question goes. Did I make the right choice by coming to Batch? By seeing you? By getting married? The voices in my head are throwing me off course. I hold my breath as I wait for your answer.

Your arms are still folded in front of your chest, but they’re no longer tense. You let down your guard, even just for a fraction. I can feel your glance slowly soften. You crack a weak smile as your eyes glimmer with tiny tears.

“Congratulations, James.”

You didn’t answer anything, but you told me everything.

And just like that, with just two little words, I’ve fallen in love with you all over again.

Maybe all this time, I’ve never really fallen out of love with you.

I look over my shoulder, to the winding footpath that will lead me back to Chicago. Then I look down to my feet, to that one small step that separates me from you.

“James?”

I look up. Your arms are on your sides now, letting go all your defenses. I take a deep breath.

***********************************************

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dannie Hill
    Sep 22, 2012 @ 07:31:09

    You haven’t lost a thing, Wulan. Beautiful story and so creative! Is there such a thing as excessive romance, lol?

    Reply

  2. Novroz
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 10:42:16

    Hahaha excessive romance? you are borrowing my blog categories 😉

    The writing is very creative…but..yeah you know what I am going to say 😉

    anyway, your story made me realized that I haven’t written for creative writing in ages. I love to write a new short but my mind have gone blank lately 😦

    Reply

    • wulanastari
      Oct 03, 2012 @ 12:46:53

      I know that feeling, Miss. And you know what? Excessive romance is a nice term. I think I’m going to use it as a warning every time I write something romantic, just for you! hahaha…
      Thank you for the comment, Miss. We should collaborate sometimes! 😛

      Reply

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