Jumat, 10 Desember 2010

Short Story: Budi's Back

[ed - This entry is one of the Top 12 Popular Vote Finalists for English Language Entries & The Grand Prize Winner for the English Language Entries]

This story will end in separation. Tara felt this, as she stared at her husband’s back that night. Budi always slept with his back facing her. After he turned the light off. After they made love. Or after he finished reading. Budi said his left ribcage would hurt whenever he slept on his left, facing Tara. Two of his left ribs were broken during a basketball game when he was in high-school. They’re surely healed by now, but Budi said they still hurt whenever he slept facing left.

Tara didn’t like it, not having to look at Budi’s face every night. Once she asked Budi to switch sides. That way, Budi could still sleep facing right, while she could watch her husband’s sleepy face each night. But Budi rejected her idea. He said, no, ah. My current side is closer to the bathroom. You know kan, Tara, that I have to go pee two or three times every night. And moreover, Budi continued, you have the window side, ‘kan. You can look at the view outside more freely.

Thus, things stayed the same. Every night Tara had to stare at Budi’s flat back. In the darkness, it looked like a sloping hill, or the back of a whale, or a submarine about to go underwater.

Tara didn’t want to give his husband her back in return. She imagined, if God would see them from above, He would think that they just had a big fight. But on the other hand, The-All-Knowing-God would surely understand lah, that they didn’t have a fight. Even small talks beyond their household or work didn’t happen very often. So how could they have an argument? Tara let out a long silent sigh before closing her eyes.

“Tara,” Budi’s voice was faint. He didn’t turn over, but he surely did call for her.

“Tar, massage my back. It’s very stiff…”

This story might end in separation. But not tonight. Tara reached out. She kneaded his back’s tense points softly. Budi moaned a bit, following the movements of Tara’s fingers across his back.

By neldendj, on September 16th, 2010
This posting is published on Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2010

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