THE SECOND WIND

By nurimroatun - October 12, 2020

source: kera.org

Sat in a restaurant with low voices of people conversed in the back, I scrolled through her Instagram only to find that she was still the same—so was my heart. The way she never holds back her smile, awkwardly poses whenever a photo is taken—nothing changed from the old days. It bothered me that she didn’t text me even when it was almost the appointment time so I put my phone down. I needed to do something, which ended up was, washed my hand, to calm my frantic heart down. I was afraid that nervousness is all over my face. Would she come? She wasn’t the type of person who comes late so here I was half regretting myself not only for asked her to meet me, for the lame reason “hey I will be in your town how about a meetup?”, but also for being confident that she would certainly show herself up. It started because I jumped at the opportunity when I stumbled upon her Instagram 2 weeks ago. Now realizing that she had all the choices and canceling the meeting last minute was also an option for her knocked down my optimism.

 

Looked at the white table in front of me, I haven’t even ordered anything yet since my mind was too occupied. I stared down at the floor in such a doom-and-gloom. My mind was so loud questioning many things when someone’s tiny steps were slowly approaching. I couldn’t believe myself for still remembering the way she walks so I knew this was not another guest in this restaurant but her. I lifted my head as the apricot shoes finally were just 3 steps away from me. Ah, I was afraid of exchanging unfamiliar greeting with her yet now thinking that familiarity is scary. Seeing her in the flesh with all the familiarity was daunting as all the past feelings I had now reemerged with no mercy.

 

“You look the same.” The very first words I said. Her smile instantly faded away. The sudden change in her expression told me that I've said something unnecessary.  I need to hit my head that went dumb for eventually saw her in person after years. And also instead of wandering, why didn’t your mind prepare some nice words to welcome her? But hey looked the same could mean you looked as young as before, as cheerful and any other good qualities as the last time I saw you, right?


I woke up from my inner conversation only to see she still stood there frozen as ice. Since I could remember, I have a lot of words in my head but not in real life. I speak so little that people thought I’m so reserved while my head secretly has many discussions inside.


It’s a compliment. I tried to deliver this unsaid message through my eyes but she didn’t even bother to look at me. All the experience was so new to me that I couldn’t even act properly. And also since I'm a newbie, which one is better for me: act as a friend who asks her to make her way to the chair or should I help her like what I saw from gentlemen out there? Wouldn’t the second choice seem too much after years of absence in each other’s life though?


“Is it a bad thing?” She began to sit in front of me after I asked her to do so. The curiosity is all over her face. Now I realized that staying the same as you are years ago could mean bad as it implied that you didn't make progress at all. On contrary, what I tried to say is she is still sunshine-y after such a long span of time while I know a lot of people losing their cheerfulness over time.


“It’s a good thing.” I looked away. I’m afraid my eyes would tell more than what they should. To kill the predicament, I buttoned up my sleeves buttons. I remembered I can order something now as the silence grew bigger. I let her pick what she wanted to eat just to know that I can do it for her instead. It felt so nostalgic that she stuck to the same menu as the high school herself back then.


“I scrolled through your Instagram after you sent me DMs. Seemed like you still write poems….”


I nodded and that was all. It was weird as we were close friends who know each other more than anybody else but now our conversation sounded so dry and lack of substance. I could see the disappointment in her eyes as my only answer was a nod—not a proper or even long narration. As I wanted to say something to erase the disillusionment in both hers and mine, she asked me an unexpected question.


“Are you still the man who….” She stopped halfway. She seemed to regret the courage she had to ask me such a thing, even when she hasn’t completed it.


“Write poems for you? No.” As if could read her mind as before, I guessed. I relaxedly continued her unfinished question. That’s the truth. After confessed on our graduation day that in the future I wished I wasn’t just her friend and was answered by a bitter “let’s stay as friends”, I chose to distance myself from her. It was better for me to move away from her life completely as I moved to another city to pursue my education and job. Since that time, I only wrote sad poems until I forgot her. So I told her the truth. I didn’t write about her anymore. Years forward, here I was sitting again in front of her as if I’m a runner who lost the strength halfway and suddenly completely got it back.


“I spent my time thinking about how can a person, who is not my anyone, affected my feeling that much to the point I need to write poems.” Seriousness must be all over my face. “But I’m not questioning it anymore. Simply because I know how deep my feeling was.” I explained.

 

“Was?” She couldn’t perfectly hide the incredulity.

 

“And now, you’re not the girl who makes me nervous just to see you smile.” I calmly spoke. “I feel relaxed to see you now even when you cry or smile. Is it a bad thing?” I continued. What I didn't say is that that wasn't the case since 2 weeks ago. 

 

There was a huge silence after that question. She looked at me with such a pitiful stare. Maybe she hated the knowledge that I turned into such a heartless guy or nah… I couldn’t think the other reason behind she was on the verge of crying now.

 

“It is.” While I was drowned in guessing game, I heard her weak voice. “I know I sound like an insolent girl who wants your attention but no, that’s not the point.” I almost couldn’t hear her voice as its volume constantly decreased. Where did the brave cheerful self of hers go?

 

“What did you try to say?” Too shocked with her unexpected answer, I felt the urge to confirm her intention.

 

“Is it too late?” she sighed heavily. Only a deafening silence left after that question as my mind stopped working. How to process a big load of information in such a short time and respond to it with the most correct answer? Scientists out there please tell me.

 

“Yeah. It is too late. Ah I should’ve accepted your feeling back then. ”. I could see the amount of effort it took for her to say such a surprising fact. Tears sat in the corner of her eyes. It was truly painful to see how hard she struggled to look collected and composed. It must be embarrassing and disheartening to see a man being this quiet after you pulled yourself to confess your feeling. I couldn’t even set my eyes to face her because tears also slightly filled them. I took a deep breath as I couldn’t think how should I respond to her without sound too happy because maybe… she who loved to fool around just threw me a joke with perfect acting skill. After all, she boldly rejected me in the past so I was not in the position to be confident now.

 

“Do you want to meet me again tomorrow?” I ended the long silence. I tried to sound excited in the calmest possible way—if that was possible.

 

“Hmm?” She kept her head down.

 

“I said, let’s meet again tomorrow. Maybe start from tomorrow, I won’t write sad poems again.” I repeated as she seemed more confused than before.

 

“Of course, I got over you.” I took a deep breath once again. “But maybe we can start over new. Let’s be friends....again.” I smiled.

 

Hearing my words, as if a photocopy machine, she copied my expression.

 

“Why are you smiling ear-to-ear?” I broke the silence between us again. It was weirdly comfortable to see her wordlessly smiled in a child-like way while leaving all my statements unanswered. Now it is my turn to be confused, I guess.

 

“Anyway, can I have your number?” I held out my phone to kill the awkwardness.

 

“Hmmm,” She nodded while the smile was still plastered on her face. “It’s locked. Open it first.” She gave me the phone back. I deliberately didn’t accept it for two reasons: I always trust her that much to even know my passwords and one other reason, the reason I changed my passcode since the day I found that her trivial texts made my heart fluttered.

 

“121019,” I said slowly which was answered by her nod once it was finally opened.

 

“Do you know what’s that?” I asked while she was still busy typing.

 

“Hmmm?” Her eyebrows were raised. I told you that you looked the same, right? You looked the same even the way your eyebrows move when you want someone to quickly answer you.

 

“My passcode.” I quietly exclaimed.

 

For the first time since I saw her today, she shook her head.

 

“Think again.” I pressed my side forehead with my finger three times as a code for her to give it a deep thought.

 

She shook her head again. This time with a more clueless face.

 

“It’s today. 121019. The day I promised someone that I’ll wait in her favorite restaurant.” This time she couldn’t help laughing at my sappy statement. I giggled at my corny words or her cute laugh—I couldn’t decide. She shook her head many times as if couldn’t believe her friend was still cheesy as always.

 

“You remember one of your poems was like 'You’re supposed to be a fictional character. Why actually living on earth?'. That’s so cringy. Time passed and you remain the same.” She shouted in such a low tone that I can hear it clearly but not other people around us. We talked and laughed all over again over the silly jokes we used to throw at each other as if years of distance didn't even exist.

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Second wind is a phenomenon in distance running, such as marathons or road running (as well as other sports), whereby an athlete who is out of breath and too tired to continue suddenly finds the strength to press on at the top performance with less exertion (wikipedia.com). Generally, it means the strength or motivation to go on and succeed in what you are doing when you are tired or unsuccessful (collinsdictionary.com)

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(This is "The Second Bite of The Cherry" from a different point of view. Enjoy!)

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