An ode to September

Fate is one son of a bitch.

I hold a new job description in my hand, stating I am bound for an assignment trip to Borneo. This wouldn't happen if I didn't ask to be more involved in investigative reporting. I am going to study Camp Leakey for a week and investigate illegal loging activity in Tanjung Puting.

It sounds great and amazing. Until it says that I will be joined by a photographer, a New-York based, September Wiley.

I know I cannot fight this decision, it will be worthless. Mr Adams' mind is final. I was asking Robin if he would like to switch our positions. But Robin is being Robin.

He is my darling whose life has been absorbed by the ryhtm of the city. All those starbucks caps and cups trashing the floor of his car and his work out gears all over the passanger's seats, he is the type of casual urban boy who used to intimidate girl like me. We wouldn't match if we met 10 years earlier. He must be the popular boy girls always cheer for and I am just a basket case nobody notices.

Too bad, he cannot stand the frills of the nature and unable to find joy from it.

"Plus, I'll run for the city marathon on the assignment date." He shakes his head.

I fold my arms to assert my dominance, but he doesn't seem to be bothered. His face hiding behind the monitor, his hands typing an overdue editorial.

He doesn't know how terrified I am about the trip. I want him to be scared to death just like I am.

So the moment he drops me at the airport, I kiss him hard on the mouth. It almost feels like an assault. I take his hand of and squeeze it against my full breast, so hard that I pant. Robin's eyes widen. Now he sees all my tigress' strips and, he kisses me back and pull my free hand closer to his groin. He is aroused.

I let him implore me like it is the last time. Because who knows what will happen when I board the plane. The truth is, I haven't booked a return ticket back to Jakarta.

"I love you!" are three words he shouts before I enter the terminal. He is the first one to say them. I can feel the heat on my cheek and smell his lingering perfume on me.

I walk inside the terminal and never turn my back around.

I love seeing a man's broad shoulders. That's my favorite part of a man's body. And it is not hard to notice September's because I know them so well.

His height makes him standing out from most of 5 feet Indonesian crews. He seems busy, talking and dragging cigarettes in and out of his lips, but he stops the moment our stares meet.

Unlike any other crew, he greets me with his 'That's not how you greet an old friend' kind of hug and pecks on my cheeks. All eyes are looking at us.

His sincere attention and warm greetings can be perceived somewhat unusual and romantic in this culture. I smile awkwardly but September handles it pretty well. He introduces me as his oldest friend to the crew.

I spend the whole day following his tail through the jungle, such a typical of me when I am around a person who can make me comfortable without even trying. I hate this version of myself. I know I am at my weakest point.

September doesn't change much from the last time I met him. He only dresses to the tropical climate which means baring more skins in his fitting t-shirt. His muscles are glistened by the sunlight. I imagine what we can do under the heat like this and push the fantasy away.

We don't talk in the first day, we don't even sleep on the same deck. The ladies take the upper deck and the men take the crew bedroom downstairs. September seems to enjoy his visit to Borneo.

He doesn't seem bothered. He chats with the crew in Broken Bahasa Indonesia during dinner and few times, I catch him staring at me. I stare back and try to arch my smiling muscle.

I wake up to the morning of the second day. Brushing my teeth by the Sekonyer river and looking down to check my luck for the infamous giant croc with big marble red eyes. But he doesn't appear when he's anticipated.

"Good Morning," a voice calls from behind my back. This one is not anticipated.

September appears with his bedtime face and bedtime hair. He is too adorable to be missed and I am sure I don't look as adorable with foamy mouth and eyes startled. I spit the foam away to the river.

"Morning," I dry my hands against my lap.

"How are you, Autumn?"

"Me? Fine, I guess. How are you?"

"Sleepy," he follows with a yawn.

"Trouble-sleeping, I see. Would you like a cup of coffee?" I offer.

"No, thanks. I will serve myself."

I place my hand on his shoulder. "Oh, please." I walk pass by him and into the kitchen.

We spend the morning having breakfast with the luxurious view of murky river and lush rainforest. Just two of us. Talking about small things that annoy and amaze us. Our laughter would wake the rest of the crews who are still asleep. Our conversation are light enough to keep ut at ease. It is still one hour before we will continue our expedition and I am on my second cup of coffee and one and a half serving of kaya toast. September is taking drags of his newly-lit third cigarette, which I frown upon.

"I am sorry, Missy, old habits die hard." He says, I love the way he calls me Missy by the way.

"So you have started smoking since that night in New York. It seems like I kept you under real pressure."

September keeps a tight-lip and keeps smoking away. But I don't back off. "That night you were saying that settling down isn't something that you want. Is that true?"

"You know I only tell you the truth." He buts down his cigarette and pauses for a moment, it seems like he regains his seriousness. "You know I loved you and I will always do. But I only said the words because they were on the top of my head. I said them because I hate to see you upset."

I feel a warmth in my chest, like a small flick of fire. The tiny hit of warmness from a hot beverage coming down through your throat and inside of you. A slight pang of relief.

"So you are content with your relationship." I mutter.

"Amanda and Q are my world, Autumn." He said it with conviction. "Please don't feel bad about that night because I was also making the same decision to go to the bar and turn a friendly encounter into something else. I keep my promise. I won't happen again."

September looks a little bewildred when I giggle. "You weren't drunk, you had a bottle of beer and I had wine with sprite."

"Yea, I wasn't." He admits. "But I know what makes you finally called me on your last day in New York."

His eyes begin to search and this is the part I hate the most about him, September is very good at reading me. "What do you think you know?" I challenge him.

"You had someone in your life, Autumn. You had someone in your life and you didn't know how to do with it. It may sound ridiculous, but it is as if you are asking my permission to tell your heart that it is okay to do it."

I stay silent, absorbing the words I need to hear out loud.

"Can you at least tell me who this person is?" September asks with a grin.

I sigh. "His name is Robin. He is a colleague at work. We have been dating for a year now. I have never thought that this can go far. It starts simple as just as admiring him. Back and forth, he kept me at bay, before I learned that his affection isn't general. He is nothing like you. Nothing like us. He is the kind of person who is brought up by the city. He cannot survive in this kind of environment... I tell you..."

"Did you say his name is Robin?"


"So you are his Batman?"

I chuckle. "Is that a dad's joke you are gonna carry til your son grows up?"

"What kind of name is Robin?"

"What kind of name is September?!" I fire back and September responses with a louder laugh.

"Okay, overprotective girlfriend. I get it."

I smile and continue. "But I guess what bring me closer to him is our similarity. Our despair and pain. I think he was searching for Mrs Right, building a high wall that no girls can ever leap. No girl fits into the shoes of his past lover."

"But you do," he says, "you fit into the shoe."

"Yea, I do. I fit, But it doesn't feel like the most awesome shoe, ever. But his struggle sounds so familiar. It is almost unfair to laugh at. I do feel the same way about you September. You are the real reason I couldn't reach out to anyone..."

"But to Robin." He continues.

"Yes, and it comes to my sense that love is this. This is what Robin and I have. It is what you and Amanda have. Our love was a fuckin aphrodisiac mess and I loved it. It felt almost like I could touch the paradise."

"But sometimes relationship doesn't have to be a full aphrodisiac drug. It fills with turbulences and tests."

"God knows, how much we have been tested." I laugh and rewind my own words in my head. I look down.

"Then, it is over." He says as his stare pierces against mine.

"It finally is over. The test is over." I look up to him to find the calm reflection in his eyes. The warmth in my chest spreads thin and all over my system. My eyes glaze with water but they are not sad tears.

I look ahead to the open waters of Sekonyer. Adapting my sense to the chirping birds and the warcries of the apes. I breathe the pristine air into my lungs and I have September kissing the top of my head. We hold in our one last embrace.

We get up and begin to start our day. Before I pause my step and mutter to myself.

"Crap. I need to book a ticket back to Jakarta, real soon."


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