“What’s your name, Sweetheart?”
I turned off the light and pulled him to me, “Just call me Honey, will you?”
And then I kissed him.
It’s already past midnight when we finally caught our breath. The only sound I could hear was his harsh breathing and the tick-tock sound of my digital watch. I turned my back to him, trying to sleep, but I couldn’t. After what we did, I felt nothing—oh, he was good at it—it was just… me. I felt my throat constricted and my chest heavy, and I didn’t know how but he must had noticed because he shifted behind me and asked, “What’s wrong, Honey?”
I closed my eyes. Honey. I could literally hear that word in someone else’s voice—his voice.
“Do you want to hear a story?” I asked.
He chuckled sleepily. “Honey, I’m not the Shahryar.” And somehow I found it funny because I then laughed heartily.
“You don’t have to listen to me. I’m just killing time anyway.”
“Once upon a time,” I began, “there was a girl who was stumbled upon a guy on an online chatting site. It was nothing special; it was just a random chat with a random stranger, but somehow she enjoyed the chat with the guy because it’s just that easy to talk openly with someone you don’t know, because you both know nothing about each other and that makes it safe. So when the guy asked for her contacts, she agreed.”
He said nothing, so I continued. “And so the story goes. As time went by, they started to chat more frequently, and she grew to like him more and more. She was getting used to him; she began to wait for his messages every day, even though she didn’t know what the guy looked like or his real name. She only knew his voice, and she liked it, especially when she could make him laugh. She liked the sound of his laughter, and he laughed a lot when he talked to her. They chatted about everything, anything, and even though she didn’t want to, it seemed that he managed to dig a hole into her heart.”
My voice started to shake, and I could feel him rubbing circles on my back, trying to soothe me. He wasn’t supposed to care—he was only supposed to pretend to listen to my story, he was only supposed to be my one night stand, and no feelings should be involved.
“Did she like him?”
I thought about the question for a moment. Did she like him? “She liked him a little more than she should have. He made her feel precious; he made her feel wanted, because he also liked her for who she was, even though they have never met yet.”
“Honey was his endearment to her, wasn’t it?” I stayed silent, and he knew that I knew that he already knew the answer.
I closed my eyes and I recalled the first time he called me ‘honey’… “Honey… I will just call you ‘honey’ then.” And she didn’t mind.
She thought they could be something, but it appeared that they were nothing. She fell for him, even though she didn’t want to, because how could you not fall for someone who made you finally able to love yourself? Every time she told him that she wanted to see his face, to know what he looked like, or to know him further, he always told her that it wasn’t a good idea because he was sure she would be disappointed. She said it didn’t matter, but he said it was better if they kept being incognito to each other. Did you think something fishy was going on? He said that he was unworthy, but how could he be unworthy when he’s the one who made her feel worthy of herself?
“What happened next?”
“You’re still listening?”
“Uh-huh…” but his voice sounded sleepy.
“It’s not like I have to finish this story today anyway. I’m enjoying being the Scheherazade.” I couldn’t help but smile. But then I remember, this was just a one night stand. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. So what was the harm in telling him a story? Anyway, this was how it was started… with him.
“She… fell for him. She didn’t even care that she didn’t know the real him. She felt happy being in that complicated relationship, because she wasn’t that happy before. Perhaps she was just a psychological masochist.”
I heard him chuckle. “Did she love him?”
Did she love him?
“I don’t know. All I know is, she liked him more than she intended to. She thought he was safe, because he was so far away and she feared commitment. She was just looking for a friend, and he fun. Do you think she loved him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe—if she hasn’t moved on from him by now, there must be a strong feeling she still feels for him.”
I thought about that for a moment. “Did it really matter if she had loved him? The story didn’t end well anyway.”
There was silence in the room. “Why?”
Longer silence. “I don’t know. She didn’t know.”
I felt him move closer. I closed my eyes. I didn’t want his touch. I didn’t want anyone’s touch. I didn’t need the pity.
“He didn’t even say goodbye. He just… disappeared, like Harry Houdini. Like Amelia Earhart.” I let out a bitter laugh.
I felt him reach for me. “Don’t. Please.”
“I just want to make her feel better,” he paused for a moment, “about herself.”
“Well, she is fine.”
“Do you think so?”
She was fine. She didn’t need anyone to tell her otherwise. She had spent a lot of time asking herself: what did she do wrong? What had she done wrong that made him run and leave her? What had she done wrong to be unworthy of a goodbye? She didn’t find the answer, and she hated herself for it, because someone wouldn’t leave without any reason; so being the logical person that she was, she concluded that she was the reason.
“Had I been the guy, I wouldn’t have left her. At least until I meet her in person.”
“I like taking risks, and it seemed that she was worth it.”
“Just a feeling.”
“Then you’re wrong. She’s not worth it—at least that was what he thought.”
“I am not him.”
“No, you are not.”
No, he was not. And because he was not, she couldn’t look into his eyes when they had a sexual intercourse earlier. Because she felt like betraying him. And him. Both of them.
“It’s getting late. We should sleep. I shouldn’t have told you the story; we could’ve slept earlier.”
“I don’t mind,” he said, snuggled closer to me. “Can I hold you? It’s a cold night.”
I laughed. He was such a sweet man. “Okay.”
There we laid, him holding me because ‘it was a cold night’, and to my surprise, I enjoyed his company, even though I knew we would not see each other anymore after tonight.
I felt my eyes become heavy and my breath deeper.
As I switched into a blissful sleep, I faintly heard him mumble sleepily behind me, “I don’t mind being the Shahryar, as long as you’re the Scheherazade.” And then I fell into unconsciousness.