The Northern Territory

In the midst of my boredom and my exacerbation about life, I read this ‘Gonzo style’ and decided to try writing a fictional story. I’m not sure that my story matches the style, but at least I tried to put lots and lots of detail with a first person narrative. I think omitting the vernaculars makes it a no-Gonzo, but whatever. Haha!

I met her in a fancy cafe where we first met, on a chilly winter evening. She was as beautiful as she had always been: long, brunette hair tied into a bun with a pearly white hairpin. Almost no make up on her face, she was wearing a thick sea-green sweater that matched her fair skin. She had her laptop opened and studied the screen so seriously, it almost felt like she was inspecting a crime scene. I shivered on my knees as I made my way through her. For a split second, I thought I wouldn’t be able to at least say, ‘Hello’. I was afraid of my own decision, I was afraid that my words would hurt her, and I was afraid that she might run away from my life forever. She might do that after she heard what I was going to say, obviously. But it still pained me.

I was just about to take my first step when she glanced right at me.

That icy look on her eyes that I hoped would leave my memory.

I straightened myself up and walked across the room. People were busy chatting with each other while sipping hot coffee. The air smelled delicately nice. Fresh bagels, toasts, and cinnamon rolls were carried out from the oven. It could have been one of our lovely evenings, where every sunset that we missed were wrapped up in a kiss. I remembered the endless days and nights when she fell asleep on my shoulder, or when she threw one of her ugliest duck face when I was just about to click the shutter, or when she walked beside me in the lakeside on one sunny afternoon.

She closed her laptop and waited with hands crossed on the table. I took a seat without any warm welcome. She sat quietly still, waiting for me to start. I knew she knew what I was going to say. She was always better than detectives in investigating. She had found her letters in the drawer. She had come to my home one day where my mother said no with a mundane finality and shut the front door. She had read my message and cursed me on the phone for not having the guts to stand up. For her.

I ordered a cup of peppermint tea. She was halfway through her cappuccino. I saw her eyes and my heart melted. Its brown iris pierced me through my brain cells. I wished I could stay and embraced her with my arms. I almost wanted to hear her crisp laugh at my jokes, like usual, but I had no jokes to throw.

My words came out as intrusive.

“How are you?”

She jerked her head, said, “As if you’d care”

Not a good start.

The waiter came with my order and extra sugar. If this was going to be her tantrum, I’d have a peppermint winter.

“Why don’t you say your plea?”, she said scornfully.

I started speaking with a painful tone,

“You know why I can’t do anything more than this. I hope you’ll understand”

She seemed to hold a restrained tear.

“You promised me we could stay through the thick and thin”

I went on ruthlessly before my courage ran out.

“I don’t deserve you”

She spoke with a soft voice,

“Then who else will deserve me, K? I don’t care what people say. You will have a decent life one day, and I’ll be in the picture. With you. Can you say that to her? Of course you have your own opinion, but to me, you’re my Northern Territory”

“And what does it possibly mean?”

“Well as you’ve guessed – I can’t go anywhere. I’m in this restricted area where I have built a fence on my own”

“Then don’t”

“It’s nothing sort of what I can control”

“Listen. Go South. Or West. Or East. Don’t go North”

“Compass always tells us to go North, doesn’t it? Even if I want to go South, that little “N” word is where the needle will always point to”

I gazed at her with an astonishing look. I’ve lost my words, and arguments, and my will to combat the statement.

“I don’t want to hurt you, N. I love you and maybe you have everything that I demand, but I can’t force myself to love you this way. Not when we perfectly know that we won’t have any satisfying end”

“Then why don’t you try? Perhaps, as time goes by, we’ll see what we have for each other. Then after that, you can either leave or stay”

“What if I break you in the process?”

“That’s the risk I’m going to take”

I shook my head in disbelief.

“Why do you insist?”

“Because I feel the need to save you”

“I don’t want to be saved. You think I’m a little boy? I’m perfectly fine, you don’t have to save me whatsoever”

“I feel the need to save you. If we reach mutual agreement, I’m sure at least one of us will be saved”

“Don’t do this. I’m not going to be a good lover for you. There must be a lot of better men out there, you don’t have to invest your feelings on me”

“Then I should ask, why do you insist? Why don’t you have the guts to try? I tell you what, K, I’ve been hearing you speak to everyone about the woman you desire, and like it or not that woman seems to fit the picture of who I am”

“Don’t make me reconsider”

She nodded but looked as if she was going to cry. But I knew her better, she was stronger than that. Stronger than any women I had ever known, except when being lied upon.

“Well, K, I guess it’s time to part”

“I’m sorry. You deserve an apology”

She laughed, “Why do you have to apologize for being honest? If you stick to the decision, then that’s that. Just because we can’t be together doesn’t mean I don’t love you”

“Want a piece of advice? Don’t waste your energy on someone who will not love you back”

“Oh, you don’t? Was I the only one who fell in love? You think you’ll live a happily-ever-after life after tomorrow?”

“I’ve always loved you, N. Always have, always will. But this is something I have no control over. Please don’t say you love me”

“I’m doing this for myself”

She stood up and gave me the deadly look I wished was never casted on me.

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know. I’ll go for another cup of coffee. I’ll go North. But not here, not with you”

“Can I at least say goodbye?”

“Life is short, K. Just let me love you once before we run out of time”

“I’m sorry, you know how sorry I am”

“Not as sorry as I am for you”

The door swung open and she stepped outside. I finished my coffee in one gulp and went out, caught a strong wind and chilly winter air. I thought about that woman with a sea-green sweater. Her lovely smile that used to be my personal fantasy. I knew I’d never find anyone as close to perfection as her. I felt as if there was a hole in me that suck any happiness I’d normally feel the following day.

She should be there. She should be in the picture.

I turned left and caught the glimpse of a familiar silhouette.

She used to say that she wanted to go to places she had never been. She wanted to kiss me in front of Eiffel Tower. I said it was cheesy and I’d prefer eating spaghetti in Rome.

“We’ll fly together, won’t we?”

“To where?”

“To the sky, of course! See where the wind blows. Do a random trip. Somewhere on this earth, everyone has their own place”

“No planes for me. I’ve got a fast car”

“I’ll go faster than you”


I ran.

It was the painful scream that I heard last.

A violent stab of loneliness hit me as I drew nearer to the crowd, and in that painstaking juncture when the world stopped, I couldn’t help but regretting that I really had run out of time.

Her brunette bun was already in disarray.

Author: mfaradina

An Indonesian. A reliable realist outside yet a romantic dreamer at heart.

One thought on “The Northern Territory”

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