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Thursday, July 20, 2017

La Belle et La Bête

The giant rose in the bubble mesmerized her. Her big round eyes grew wider as she admired the sealed glass jar with the flowers inside, the white rose nestled perfectly among the other flowers. So pretty, so beautiful. She reached out a hand to touch the glass jar. It's calling her.

"Don't touch it," barked a harsh voice. She turned to see her captivator standing in the doorway with a nasty snicker on his face. "It will outlive you," he said with a grin, "It's specially preserved to make it last forever while still looking fresh." She looked at him with hatred but stood her ground. There is no way she'll let him bully her around. He stepped closer and lift up her chin. "Too bad we can't do that with the human body," he whispered, "You'll look great in my parlor." She snapped and ran away, with his laughter following her, echoing in the empty castles.

In the comfort of her room, she furiously threw her pillows and duvet covers to the wall, over and over again. The soft pillows make no sound as she frustratingly punched them vigorously to release her anger. The best code breaker in her division, the top of her class in the military, the darling of the commanders, yet here she was being trapped with no one to save her. If only her dad weren't stupid enough to get caught up with this swastika-loving lord, and promising her in return for his safety. Which is why her team cannot 'save' her. Despite the obvious siding, she's the resistance and he's the enemy supporter, her captivity was considered as 'servitude' and her commander refuse to act on it. "Stupid men. Stupid, stupid men," she fumed.

Deep down inside, she knew they will not help her. More than once she intercepted a request to transferred her to a different division, from the genteel request "It is far too dangerous for the young lady to be in the midst of the battle" to the chauvinist demand of "She's a looker, and that's where my men look, instead of focusing on the battle ground." Her commandeer knew her worth, but it was only time until she got relocated in some obscure department and indirectly pressured to resign. It's a man's world indeed, she thought bitterly.

But he did not treat her like that. On his better days, they'll have long, interesting conversation together. He's far more educated than any of her compadres in the resistance, and more eloquent as well. It's just Stockholm Syndrome, she said to herself firmly, more than she liked to. He'd debate her vigorously, he'd laugh and admit defeat if she managed to outdo him in a debate (which didn't happen much), and never once he showed any disrespect towards her or telling her she's just 'a woman'. Her attempt to seduced him to buy her freedom, to her embarrassment, had been greeted with a hearty laugh. 

"Belle," he had said gently in front of her locked bedroom door after that particular incident, "Your beauty is what you have in you. Don't sell it so cheaply." She had told herself it was only a dream, that she was imagining things. After all, it was probably the very first time someone had say no to her. It's understandable if she's making things up to escape from the shame, because there is no way that scarred, horrible looking man who pledged allegiance to the Fuhrer will be kind enough to say those things. Yet she saw kindness in his eyes, especially when he thinks she wasn't looking, the kindness and warmth that made her heart skip a beat. For the first time in her life, Isabelle de Honore was at lost on what to do.

She hated how he treated her in the vault, teasing her about preserving her. She hated how much power he had over her, and the simple gesture of touching and lifting her chin send shivers down her spine. She hated how she gave in to this Stockholm syndrome, thinking that this man could actually be someone decent, even believing the maids' story on how selfless he was and how his pledged allegiance is a way to protect his people. She hated for wanting more from him, for the desperation that's gnawing on her, for realizing that the scarred-face man with arrogant attitude might just be the true Prince, the true 'La Beau', and she was the unworthy hideous peasant, 'La Bête'. She cried bitterly in silence.

The night was late when she woke up with a grim determination. He is not The Beast, and she is not The Beauty. This is real life and not fairy tale. The enchanted rose will never wilt, and the curse will never be lifted, if it ever exists. The only curse exists is the curse of her weak will power. He's the enemy, she's the resistance. It couldn't get any simpler than that. She got dressed and readying herself for an overdue escape. Her team, the resistance movement, that's where she needed to be, instead of playing an obedient hostage in a luxurious castle. She needed to get away. She needed to get things done.

The castle was deathly quiet, but she had learned to walk like a cat. It wasn't long before she found his bedroom, the door slightly ajar. She put the pistol that she had stolen in her hand, readying it to be used immediately, before silently entering the room. The fire burning low in the fireplace illuminated the room, but the man sprawling on the bed was unperturbed even as she inched closer to the bed. He had put the glass jar with the rose on his bedside, and for a moment she wanted to run and hugged him instead. Duty comes first, she said to herself. She steeled herself and silently climbed his massive bed, kneeling next to him and aiming the pistol right between his eyes. 

The eyes that promptly opened. The eyes that looked straight back to her eyes, full of pain, full of question, full of understanding. They were the deepest blue, like the beautiful summer evening, with long, lush lashes. The body underneath the blanket was rigid, solid, and exceptionally fit. As she kneeled there in shock, the horror of her action came rushing in as if a flood gate was opened.

"Belle," he whispered.

She was going to kill an unarmed man, a sleeping man.

"Belle," he whispered louder.

For what reason? Only because he was not interested in her.

"Belle?" he asked quietly.

Her pride was wounded and she's ready to lodge a bullet in an unarmed, innocent, sleeping man just for that.

"Belle," he said louder, alarmed.

Where's her dignity? Where's her integrity? He was not the beast, she was. She saw her true, vain self that moment, and she loathed herself.

"Belle," he called, louder, but he did not move. How could he? The pistol was there, ready to slay him. 

"Wrong target," she whispered. She pulled the pistol from between his eyes and placed it on her temple instead. The beast must be killed.

"Belle!" he shouted, and in a quick move wrestled the pistol from her and tossed it across the room.

A moment of silence. She still kneeled next to him, paralyzed in shock of what she almost did.

"Belle," he called out firmly, hands clasping each of her wrists to prevent her from fleeing. Tears started to fall on her cheeks. She struggled to free her wrists but she was no match for him. She kicked and she pulled, but he wouldn't let go.

"Belle," he said gently, "It's ok." With that, her barrier broke and she cried. Her sob echoed in the room. He pulled her into his arms in a gentle embrace. "It's ok," he said, "It's ok." He said that over and over again as he caressed her hair, as he lovingly kissed her cheeks and forehead. "It's ok." 

The fire crackled softly, illuminated the two figures sitting together in the center of the bed, embracing each other tightly. The white rose bathed in the fire's orange glow. The fairy tale had just begun.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Cerita Sebuah Perjuangan

"But I only have this love to chain you with
I only have the place called "home" to lock you with
I only have the smell of sweet garden flower and homemade cooking to entice you with
And a fervent hope these will be enough to keep you forever" 

"Chain, Lock, and Sedate", February 2013

Ulang tahun saya kali ini akan dirayakan (kurang lebih) dengan keluarnya jadwal terbit buku saya. Setahun yang lalu, ulang tahun saya dirayakan dengan lumayan pahit, maklum baru pisah dengan mantan suami saat itu. Nggak terbayang kalau setahun kemudian saya akan sibuk dag dig dug serr untuk peluncuran buku saya. Gila lu ya. Jadi dokter nggak kelar, jadi Dayu (keturunan pendeta) nggak becus, nggak tahunya bisa menulis buku dari Los Angeles, diterbitkan pula. Dan ini nggak akan terjadi kalau bukan karena adanya orang-orang yang membantu saya. Dari kisah cinta mengharu biru hingga kisah perpisahan ala telenovela, saya belajar banyak selama hubungan saya, dan perjuangan ini masih belum berakhir.

Cerita saya berawal dari Stephan yang mengadakan acara sepeda bareng company nya di Bali. Teman saya Vidya dari Letsgoto Bali merekomendasikan saya sebagai blogger peliput. Saat acara saya memenangkan voucher tiket pesawat, cukup untuk terbang ke Jakarta. 6 bulan kemudian saya berkenalan dengan si Akang Amrik saya, dan partner-in-crime saya Nirartha membantu saya memesan tiket pesawat untuk bertemu dengannya di Jakarta. Nggak lupa Egi, Mila, dan Dyan yang saya repotkan selama disana. Sisanya ya sejarah. Anggre yang membantu saya menyiapkan kebaya, Nila, Suri, dan Ira yang membantu saya melewatkan hari-hari terakhir di Bali dengan bahagia. 3 tahun kemudian, Ayu yang mendengarkan curhat saya di Union Station Los Angeles sambil menunggu kereta, dan ia juga yang dengan semangat men-share artikel saya, yang akhirnya membawa tawaran menulis buku. Serius, nggak kebayang.

Dan tentunya semua yang membaca artikel saya. Semua yang mengirimkan pesan dan komentar di Facebook saya, di Instagram saya, dan tentunya di artikel "Halo Selingkuhan Suami Saya" tersebut. Banyak yang bercerita mengalami nasib yang sama, namun ada juga yang berada di pihak si Mbak dan mengaku tersadarkan. Hati nggak karuan rasanya melihat jumlah pembaca blog mencapai 3 juta lebih, tapi yang lebih sumringah adalah saat melihat semua jadi punya suara. Orang-orang yang mungkin hanya bisa diam dan bersedih saat terjadi pada dirinya, mendadak menyadari bahwa mereka tidak sendiri, mendadak berani bercerita tentang apa yang mereka rasakan. 

Waktu saya ditawari menulis buku, saya sempat ragu. Saya nggak mau menulis hal bombastis mumpung tenar, saya nggak mau membuka diri sekedar demi rating dan asal laku. Untungnya bukan ini yang dibutuhkan sang penerbit. Mereka ingin buku yang membahas bukan hanya tentang selingkuh, tapi juga tentang cinta. Mereka ingin buku yang bermanfaat dan bisa membantu pembacanya. Saya dengan senang hati menyanggupinya. Cover buku ini mudah-mudahan bisa saya terima dan saya share minggu depan ke anda semua, namun melihat draft layoutnya sejauh ini saya sangat bahagia. Ilustrasinya cantik, enak dibaca dan ringkas, seriusan saya sampai menitikkan airmata waktu melihat draft buku ini di PDF.

Apakah ini akan membantu pembacanya? Semoga ya. Saya tahu yang saya tulis membantu saya. Walaupun saat artikel itu viral saya sempat berseteru hebat dengan mantan suami saya, apalagi karena banyak yang bersikeras mengejar bahkan meneror si Mbak ini, namun saat ini hubungan kita sudah jauh membaik. Kita bisa berbicara santai, bahkan dia bisa bercerita tentang pasangannya. Saya bahagia melihat dia bahagia. Saya juga bahagia melihat saya bahagia. Hidup saya tidak berakhir saat hubungan (baca: pernikahan) kami berakhir, atau setelah perselingkuhan tersebut. Dengan mengerti tentang diri saya, dirinya, dan diri pasangannya, saya mampu bangkit dan meraih kebahagiaan saya sendiri. Saya harap para pembaca buku saya akan bisa terbantu dan bisa meraih kedamaian diri juga.

Semoga para pembaca bisa belajar dari tulisan saya, dan semoga (banyak) yang suka hehehe. Yang mau Pre Order bisa kontak Ayu via Whatsapp: 0817816341, atau siap-siap meluncur ke toko buku Gramedia di bulan Agustus. Sekali lagi terimakasih banyak untuk semua yang sudah membantu dan mendukung saya, baik teman maupun pembaca. Kalian semua menakjubkan!!!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Afternoon Soiree with Cthulhu

"See here," I said to him as I took a bite from my canape, "The problem is, men are just… men."

He raised an eyebrow and took a sip of his wine. Blood red, as he liked it. 

"I mean…" I looked at him exasperatedly, "I don't even know how to say it. You'll understand, you are a man."

He raised another eyebrow, "And what makes you think that?"

"That you are a man? Well it's obvious, right? You and your testosterone-fueled 'lets-go-destroy-the-world' attitude."

"Excuse me," he replied with a laugh, "but some women also did that. I did not remember you balk out from getting sacrifices."

I waved my hand impatiently at him. "Oh posh," I said, "You know what I mean."

"I do, but at the same time I don't," he reached out to one of the canapes, took one careful bite before devouring it whole.

"Misery and Fear," I said proudly, "That's what my chef called it. I asked him to specifically create the meal for you." 

He took another one and laughed at my smirking face. "I must say," he mused, "You are an interesting host."

"Anything for the great Cthulhu himself," I bowed my head prettily at his compliment, "You can't expect me to serve anything less."

He reclined in his seat and smiled contentedly. "What do you want from me?"

"Me? Nothing. Just someone to chat with."

"You humans always want something. And don't you have girlfriends to chat with? Someone your age?"

"Zuul is off to this city called New York," I said sullenly. "She always said 'There is only Zuul', which is so true. Nobody is more selfish than she is."

"It's summer, dammit," I continued, "Instead of ravaging the beachside I have to stay here by myself just because she wants to hook up with the KeyMaster. Ugh."

He shook his head sadly but I can see his grin from behind the tentacles. "And your dragon girl?"

"Off to some wars. She said I can't come because it's a family issue. Three dragons and I can't even borrow one."

"Dragons are complicated creatures," he commented while pouring another glass of wine. 

I heaved my breath. "I know, but hers are so beautiful though."

"Why aren't you with your boyfriend? I thought you were engaged a few centuries back?"

"I returned the ring to him. To be fair, I threw it on his face and he couldn't catch it, so it fell in the lake instead. He then made up a story about a giant war to cover it up."

"Not fanciful enough for you? He was pretty loaded, no?"

"Oh yeah, vast kingdom and such. One ring to rule them all indeed. I can only do things that he liked or he wanted. And the all-seeing eyes? He's not just observing his 'enemies'. No indeed."

He laughed heartily at this. I pout handsomely, "You are not supposed to laugh." It made him laugh even harder.

"That's why he stopped talking to me," he said after he finally managed to stop laughing. "I can't believe you got the best of him and not the other way around."

"Hmmpff," I grumbled, "I can't believe you matchmake me with him."

"You may have set yourself a standard too high," he said, "I did introduce you to that prince who hangs with Masters of the Universe."

"Mr. Steroid-I-am-too-sexy-for-myself dude?"

"And the Starlord,"

"A broke-ass thief."

"The Xenocide,"

"Which turns into a hermit. Come one, it's only one race that he put to extinction, enough with the guilt trip already."

"Wait, weren't you with him for quite a while?"

To his credit, I actually blushed. He read my face before laughing so hard it cracked the crystal goblets, "It's the ansible, Jane, is it?"

"Oh you know what," I furiously answered, feeling the heat from my face, "It was just a one-date thing!"

"I distinctively remember you were hanging out at Lusitania for longer than just one night,"

"Can we change the subject now?"

"What happened?"

"You won't let me go, would you?"

He answered by sipping his wine with a smirk.

"She… wants a man."

He looked at me for a while before reaching out to let the tip of our fingers touch.

"I am fine now," I said with a forced smile. He smiled back at me.

"There is a rumored rising star in the wizarding world in the far land," he told me, "In the position where he could defeat the dark lord of his era."

I cringed. "I've heard about him. The lightning scar actually sounds attractive, but I am no pedophile."

He cocked his eyebrow, "Oh please, you weren't *this* picky when you arrange the Game. I know what you did to the tributes."

I raised my chin and smiled defiantly, "Considering most of them will not see the end of the day, you can say I actually did them a good service."

"Oh, I am sure you did," he chuckled.

"Oh, shut up," I blushed again.

"A good cover up for sacrifices, by the way. Pity they ended it."

I sighed. "Time change, doesn't it?"

"You didn't," he smiled, "Here we are, still trying to find a partner for you."

"I only invite you for an afternoon soiree. Good chat, wonderful wine, delicious bites."

"And you trying to pry if I have anyone left in stock."

"Can't blame a girl for trying."

He chuckled. "I like how you think," he said, "I like how you think."

Made with love for #EmbraceYourGeeknessDay

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