As Asia got ready for work, thoughts of last night’s love affair began to haunt her. She was already ten minutes late, but moved at a snail’s pace. She hated to live like this; using a married man to medicate her loneliness, only to find that the next day, she’d be lonely again.
Not a single call came in, but it was no surprise. He had a wife and a family to think about, and by morning light, she despised him. But it wasn’t always like this. Just three years earlier, she was an ambitious young woman with a promising future. She worked tirelessly to make her parents proud, and all she asked for in return was love.
The older she grew, the more she stumbled. By age 20, she was a disappointment. Worry had taken over and failure had persisted. She was devastated, but the lesson was learnt. Sometimes, being a ‘good’ person was not enough, though for years she’d been taught so by the very tongues that convinced her otherwise. Feeling betrayed, it was a hard pill to swallow.
Now she was free, belonging to everyone and no one. Her flirtatious ways often got her whatever she wanted, so why wasn’t she happy? Guilt had brought her to her knees more times than she could count, but acknowledging her wrongdoings seemed even harder than simply accepting them. Again and again, she returned to her old ways. Spiritually, she was broken; too tired to fight.
That night, she saw a handsome fellow. He disgusted her, but she struck up a conversation with him nonetheless, as if it were her duty. In the quiet cafe, she made her advances subtle. The man was good-looking, much different from Greg, her secret lover. For one night, at least, she could pretend to be in love.
But despite her efforts, he would not give in. Not once had he called her beautiful. Not once had he yielded to her advances. Instead he asked her what her name was, where she worked, and what she wanted. By the end of the conversation, they were both laughing, and she’d forgotten her original intent. When he’d offered to walk her home, she felt disappointed. What made him any different? She knew how the story would play out, and she prepared herself. He wasn’t Greg, but maybe for one night, she could forget him.
Opening the door, she called him inside. “That’s fine. You take care,” he said, taking his leave.
“Is something wrong?” she asked, puzzled.
He shook his head. “Not at all.”
“Then why are you leaving?”
For a moment, there was silence. “Do you want me to stay?” She couldn’t answer. It was the first time a man had asked her what she wanted, and it scared her to say no.
“If I said yes, would you?” He shook his head. “Why not?”
“Because I respect you,” he continued, “and I respect you enough to tell you that this isn’t love.”
She felt uneasy. “Well who said I was looking for love?”
He shrugged. “I know I am.” From his bag, he pulled out a pen and a piece of paper, wrote something, then handed it to her. “Call me if you ever need a friend.”
She looked at him suspiciously. “Why are you being so nice to me?”
He smiled. “You remind me a little of who I used to be.”
She hesitated for a moment.”What changed?”
“I realized that what I called freedom was far from it,” he confessed. “I wasn’t happy. Nothing in this world satisfied me, so I stopped looking for satisfaction in it. ”
As he walked away, she felt a sense of peace. “Thank you,” she whispered.
The next morning, she couldn’t allow herself to despise him. Something about what he’d said had stirred something up inside of her.
That day, she went to work and played the fool once more. When night had fallen, Greg called to tell her he’d be coming over.
For the first time, she said no, but he hardly listened. Finally, she’d had enough. “I’m sorry. This isn’t love.” She hung up on him. From her bag, she grabbed the piece of paper the stranger had given her. Quickly, she explained her situation to him. “I don’t mean to be a burden.”
“You’re not,” he said, smiling as if she could see him. “I’m proud of you.” She went silent, not knowing what to say. Up until then, she’d only been crying, not realizing that she’d just been liberated.
I don’t usually do these kind of stories, but just felt the need to.
P.S. I’m starting a story narration series on YouTube. More details coming soon.