“I was born with only one option: yes. I did not choose where, when, how, or from whom I was born. When I was an infant I did not choose which clothes I wore, which food I ate, what time I went to sleep, or which way I went. My mother would carry me around, my father would feed me the tastiest food he could find, and my brother would dress me up nicely everyday. When I was an infant, that was what I learned the most.
“Later in life, I learned that they hate it when I cried my lungs out. Whenever I had to go where I don’t want to go, I would cry. Whenever I had to eat what I don’t want to eat, I would cry. Whenever I had to wear what I don’t want to wear, I would cry. I did not just learn how to cry, but I learned that crying means more than just crying. When I was a child, I learned the second option: no.”
“I’m pretty sure you learned about maybe soon after that. Everybody uses maybe, so that’s your third one.”
“It wasn’t my third one just yet. I did learn maybe soon after I began to be able to speak, though. It was a blessing; a delayed yes or no. I could think about the options longer, but I always made up my mind. After all, don’t we live in a binary world, where even all the data in the world is made up of a series of ones and zeros?”
She climbed up to the bed and hid her ceramic white feet under the blanket. Her jet black hair resting on her shoulder, flowing down over her chest. I sighed, and gazed at her eyes.
“You know that I really want you to be happy, don’t you? I ignore the nos, it was always yes for you.”
“Exactly. Then why does this happen?”
“The thing is, between you and me, we were both lying when we said we wanted the other person to feel happy. You only cared about your own happiness.”
“I really like how we use the term ‘stages’ to explain life. You learn yes at the first stage of your life, and no at the next one. It almost feels like you are only pretending.”
I sat on the bed, beside her. She turned her head over to me, before using her hand to rotate her body to face me.
“We could have been the yes. We could have not had the conversation over at that yellow coffee shop. You could have not said anything about going. We could have gone up to the top floor that day. We could have laughed all night long and still wake up on time to cook breakfast the next morning. I could have taken you wherever you wanted to go. You could have hugged me one more time and made my life less miserable after that conversation.
“And we could have been the no. You could have left me waiting. You could have said it to my face. I could have screamed at you. We could have thought of a scheme to hurt the other. We could have badmouthed each other in front of our friends. You could have thrown bricks at my window. I could have taken you apart.
“We could have been something, instead of this mess. Which is what we are, let’s face it.”
“Funny,” she said, “The only way to win this game with you, for us to get the most out of this, is to not play at all.”
“Maybe,” I said.
We paused for a brief moment. “Cover me” she said, “I can’t sleep openly like this. I need something to shield me.” I mistook her words for an invitation and I wrapped my arms around her. She laughed. Her cheekbones rose up and her eyes formed crescents. I blushed a little, ashamed of how we were positioned. But none of us moved an inch. She sat up and reached for a blanket at the end of the bed. It grazed my right foot as she dragged it over to submerge us fully. My left foot was safely tucked between her legs.
Finally, in this familiar mental theatre, we decided to step off the stage and sit side by side in the front row.
Yudistira Dilianzia is a jack of all trades, master of none. He studied fine arts and is a writer. He can be contacted at @dilianzia and dilianzia.wordpress.com, where he writes short stories, proses, and poetry.