All He Ever Really Wanted

He asked her out one night, after they met at a book club. She innocently said yes. So they went out on a date one Saturday night. A long talk over coffee, a long walk side by side. It had felt like an old movie, a typically old-fashioned first date.
Until he started with his pick-up lines…and moves. The way he kept holding her tiny hands on the table, kissing them lightly. How he was calling her with ‘sweet-nothings’: “lovely, tiny, precious…so innocent…”
Until he gave her the first kiss…and more kisses after that…
How did she feel…and react to all that? She was aware that they’d grown up from two very different worlds. To him, sex was just how two bodies communicate with each other. She was the typical big city girl, growing up in a more stable, sheltered world. Family, friends, religious community, and all that jazz.
That’s why she was taken aback when he invited her into his room that very night. For him, that meant nothing. He’d just wanted to see how far the two of them could’ve – and would’ve – gone.
She’d heard plenty of stories about ‘date rapes’. She had to be really careful, though. If she’d rejected his advances too harshly, he might have hurt her. She barely knew him, which was very understandable. She had every right in the world to be that cautious, just like all sensible girls should. She always does. This world has been heavily infested – and infected – by rape culture. Whatever happens in the end, society still tends to blame women for “inviting the men” – starting from how she dresses, talks, and interacts with others. Why did she let him do that? She should’ve known better. She led him on, didn’t she? What kind of a ‘good girl’ who would put herself in such a situation?
Thankfully, when she gently told him that she was tired and in need of real sleep (it was already past 2:00 a.m. anyway), he finally let her go. Once she was on a cab ride home that night, she felt relieved.

— // —

A couple of days after that night, he texted her. Apparently, he still wanted to see her again. She could’ve just said no and let him disappear out of her life for good, but deep down…she was mightily intrigued. She was interested in him too, but at the same time…she was worried. What if he asked her the same thing again? Not only that, he’d also come up with this idea of her travelling alone with him, either out of town or abroad. Just the two of them together, nobody else. Somehow, that idea had made her skin crawl.
Thankfully, this time they met on a broad daylight and in the crowd. This time, she felt much safer. He didn’t try more than a hug and kisses on her cheek and hands. She was still okay with all of that. People were staring. That wasn’t the culture he’d grown up in.
As she’d suspected earlier, he wanted her to visit his room again that night. Luckily, this time she had somewhere else to go, something to do. He had to let her go again.
Friends had reacted differently. Some were more encouraging, since she’d been single for so long. Her closest ones were worried, though. She barely knew him. There was something really odd about him anyway. His facial expression was barely readable – which was kind of eerie and disturbing to some.
Especially from the way he held her hand right in front of her friends that night at the same book club they met. She didn’t mind, though, but he acted as if they were an item already – even no confirmation had ever been exchanged nor agreed upon. Besides, why didn’t he seem to bother make friends with the others at all?
Again, he’d asked for the same things again that night. Come visit him in his room. Travel together with him. This time, she’d had it. She’d already told him it was all way too soon; she wasn’t ready. Why wasn’t he even listening to her? ‘No’ means ‘no’. Why was it so hard for him to understand?
He left, expressing an obvious disappointment towards her rejection. She shrugged it off, thinking: “If he doesn’t respect my choices, then he doesn’t deserve me at all!”
— // —
Two months passed. She’d moved on with her life, until he suddenly texted her with a “Happy New Year” as the fireworks exploded in the night sky outside the window. She replied with the same greeting, then curiously asked him about where he was. It turned out that he’d already returned to the same city she was in. She didn’t think much of him until…
…the day they unexpectedly crossed each other’s paths.
Of course, she had mixed feelings – especially since this time, her friends said differently. Give him a second chance. He’s still interested in you. Maybe it’ll be different this time.
So she did. They’d hung out again for a while. It felt good at first. He still kissed her like before. However, she soon realised that he’d never change – not for her, not for anybody else. He still wanted her to go all the way with him. He’d even thought she was being rather hypocritical for having second thoughts about the idea of sleeping with him. His most hurtful accusation was: “If you’re so afraid of getting raped, then why are you with me anyway?”
Clearly, he’d never understand. They both wanted too different things. He wouldn’t stay long anyway, since his job mostly involved travelling. Why would she risk her entire self – body, soul, heart, and mind – out anyway? It wasn’t like that he’d ever promised her anything in return.
In the end, he walked her home…for one last time. There were that last kiss and sad smile on his face. She knew it was over, even before it had even started. He walked off as she trudged upstairs to her room.
That night, she cried herself to sleep, while at the same time cursing why she’d even bothered in the first place. She’d never felt that stupid and more humiliated in her life…

— // —

To make this awful story short, he’d been ignoring her since then. She remembered offering friendship if he’d rather be with another girl who would give him all he wanted. He’d responded cruelly: “What’s the point if all we do is talk? Even with ‘just friends’, I expect them to enjoy the same ‘fun’.”

Okay. She wasn’t too surprised when one weekend, she spotted him coming out of his rented room with another girl. None of her business. He was never really hers, never had been in the first place.
Still, she felt rather crushed when one morning, she found his room completely empty. He’d left. He didn’t say goodbye. Again, he ignored her last text message:
“You left? Saw your room empty.”
So that was it. He’d dismissed her existence, as if she’d never meant a thing in his life. All because she’d refused to give him what he wanted from her. All he ever – and only – really wanted.
Should she feel sad? Not really. Other women like her may not be this lucky.
He can always think of her as hypocritical and paranoid. Whatever. She knows what she really wants – and no one has any rights to make her feel guilty about her personal choices. Her body is hers. It’s just that simple and logical, really.

About Ruby Astari

Penulis, penerjemah, dan pengajar bahasa Inggris. Saat ini menjadi kontributor untuk ALB

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