If I were to drop a pin in this room on the marble floor, the sound would hurt our ears. I silently sat on the armchair in front of his table, fidgeting with my fingers on my lap and my eyes fixed on the ground. Callum stared at me with fingers clasped together. He opened his mouth but no words came out so he closed it back.
I had sex with my therapist. I tightly shut my eyes, trying to get rid of the memories of him naked and on top of me.
“Audrey…” I jumped a little when I finally heard him speak. “First of all, I want to apologize. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have touched you.”
“It’s not your fault, Dr. Francois. Ako ang may gustong mangyari yun.” I tried to keep my voice from shaking. Was it that horrible that he had to apologize? I felt even more embarrassed that I already was. My little meltdown ruined it.
“Did you really feel ready for that type of intimacy?” He asked.
“I… When we kissed, I felt like I was ready.” I bit my bottom lip.
He nodded his head as if analyzing what he heard. He didn’t speak for a few seconds and I felt like I should say something.
“When you were kissing and touching me, I really felt ready. I want to be normal again, to feel normal. You’re the first man I’ve ever felt comfortable with since what happened. Binigyan mo ako ng pag-asang maibabalik ko ang dating ako.”
“But you went numb when I got on top of you?” He asked in a very professional way. Na para bang hindi sex ang pinaguusap namin.
I slowly nodded my head. “I don’t know why that happened.”
“What was running through your head?”
I hugged myself and rubbed my shoulders. “Hinahanap ko yung takot na ipinadama nila sa akin, yung sakit. My body craved the pain and agony. I wanted to feel something.”
“This is a sensitive question I have to ask you and I want you to answer with all honesty. Have you ever felt arouse while being violated?”
Suddenly, my eyes shifted away from him. I swallowed back the lump forming in my throat. “After raping me, they’d… they’d touch me down there. They’d play with me until… until I’d feel something… I didn’t want it. Hindi ko ginusto ang mga ginagawa nila sa akin. I never told anyone about it. Just you. Lalo akong nandidiri sa sarili ko sa tuwing iisipin ko yun. I feel ashamed of myself.”
“It’s normal, Audrey. I know you didn’t like it. It’s simply a biological response that you can’t do nothing about. Sexual arousal is housed in the autonomic nervous system, this is also where the fight or flight response comes from. That’s what most women like you struggle with. Just because you’re body responded to it, it doesn’t mean you like it. A common analogy is tickling. When it’s done against your wish, it can be unpleasant but your body would still respond to it. You grew accustomed to it that you’re body had learned to associate pain with sex and pain became your pride at surviving.”
“Help me, Callum.” I pleaded helplessly. “Ikaw lang ang may kakayahan na tulungan ako so please help me.”
“Audrey.” His eyes turned softer, his hand reached up to touch my face. “If I had the power to erase all your painful memories, you won’t remember a thing.”
“But you do.” Ipinatong ko ang kamay ko sa ibabaw ng kanya. I brough it to my lips and kissed each finger. “Callum, you made me forget. Kapag kasama kita nakakalimutan ko iyon. You’re the only man who ever made me feel safe again.”
He pulled his hand away. “This is wrong… I shouldn’t have touched you in the first place. It shouldn’t have happened.”
It felt like a slap on my face. Para akong nabuhusan ng malamig na tubig. I blinked and shook my head. “Yung nangyari sa atin. Does it mean anything to you?”
He sat straight up with an air of formality. “I think we shouldn’t talk about that anymore.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” I nodded my head.
I got up from my seat and ran out of his office. He stood up and called my name but I ignored him. I tried hard to keep my tears at bay as I walked. What happened between us didn’t mean anything to him. I didn’t mean anything to him while he was my source of comfort in the deep pain and emptiness.
“Hi, Ma.” I waved at her in the video. Everytime I feel down, the first thing I do is call my Mom. Nasa veranda sila. I could hear Dad and my sibling’s voice in the background. It was one of my favorite spots in our house. Dad used to set up a tents at our backyard every summer at gumagawa pa siya ng bonfire.
“Hey, Drey. Kumusta na?” She asked. “Kumpleto ang mga kapatid mo ngayon dito. Ikaw na lang ang kulang.”
“Ate Drey, when are you coming back?” Ronnie popped into the screen. Siya lang ang dark haired sa amin magkakapatid. We had blonde hairs like our Dad because he was of Spanish and American descent. She used to always wonder why her hair wasn’t like ours and we used to tease her and tell her that she was adopted. She’d come running to Mama and Mama would always explain to her that she got her dark hair from her.
“I still don’t know.” My smile disappeared. “Ikaw na lang ang bumisita dito.”
“Dad’s actually planning to spend our Christmas holiday there.” Sabi ni Ronnie.
“We can go to New York.” I excitedly said.
“We can’t wait to see you again, little sis.” Kuya Miggy said.
“It’s been months since you last visited, kuya. I miss you.” I pouted.
“Hindi ka man lang nakapunta sa engagement party ko.”
“How are you and Hazel?”
“Still happily together.” He smiled.
“I’d love to meet her in the future.”
“Drey!” Coco waved at me with Cookie straddling his shoulders. He grew up to be a handsome little guy. He had the same blonde hair as me and Coco. Habang lumalaki, lalo siyang nagiging kamukha namin.
“Hi Tita Drey!” The handsome little man blew me a kiss. He was a real charmer for a child his age. “We miss you.”
I smiled. “I miss you too. So much.”
“What are you going to tell your Tita?” Sabi ni Coco.
“Oh, thank you for the bike you gave to me on my birthday.” He said.
“You’re welcome, baby. Ang laki laki mo na, sa susunod binata ka na.” I sighed. “Don’t be like your Daddy Coco ha. Be a good boy when you grow up. Saka makikinig ka palagi sa Mommy Anais mo, wag kay Daddy.”
“Okay.” He said.
“Cookie, huwag mo nang kakausapin ang Tita mo kahit kailan.” Coco frowned and then he looked at me. “Stop making me look bad in front of my child!
“Hi, ate Drey! Thank you for the toy robot. I named him Chips and I like playing with him!” I paused when I saw him. He was sitting on Dad’s lap. My face paled. I felt like a candle being burnt at both ends.
“Last Monday was his first day in preschool.” Dad proudly said.
“And I was the only one who didn’t cry.” The child said.
“What a brave little guy you are.” Dad shuffled his hair.
“Ma…” I quietly said.
“Audrey.” I heard Ma sighing.
“Ma, please!” My voice grew louder and stronger.
Ma took her phone inside with her and we talked where no one would hear us.
“Ma, we’ve already talked about this.” My jaw clenched. “And please, stop telling him lies. I never bought anything for him!”
“Don’t be hard on Arthur, honey.” I could hear Ma’s sadness in her voice. “Sinabi na lang ng Dad mo na ibinigay mo yun sa kanya. It was his first day of school last Monday. Naiingit siya kay Cookie dahil palagi kang may ipinapadalang regalo kay Cookie kapag birthday niya o pasko. You’re being unfair.”
“You’re lying to him. I want absolutely nothing to do with him!”
“Don’t say that…” She whispered. “You’re still his…”
“Ma, this conversation is going nowhere. I have to go.” I said and pressed the end button. I tossed my iPad on the bedside table.
I locked the library’s door and turned into a warm body. I looked up and saw Callum’s dark eyes. They shone with deep sadness as he looked at me. It’s been weeks since I last saw him. I was actually planning to switch therapist.
“Audrey, can we talk?” He asked.
“I don’t think we have anything to talk about, Dr. Francois.” I tried to keep my voice as even as possible. I avoided his gaze and pushed him out of my way.
“Why did you stop seeing me?” He asked, following behind me as I jog walked.
“I won’t ever be seeing you again, Dr. Francois. I’m switching therapist.” I shrugged.
“Why?” He asked, exasperated.
I turned to face him. “Are you really asking me that question?”
“Dahil ba iyon sa nangyari?”
“You acted as if what we did meant nothing to you. I feel like I’m just an experiment to you. Ano’ng title ng research mo, Dr. Francois? How A fucked up rape victim responds to intimacy?” The corners of my lips tugged downwards at the struggle not to cry. “Ikaw lang ang unang lalaking pinagkatiwalaan ko. The only one I ever trusted to touch me and you were acting like what we did meant nothing to you.”
“You don’t know how much that meant to me.” His eyes softened as he looked at me. “But I just want to protect you from me and from yourself. You’ve been through alot already. I just don’t want to take advantage of your situation.”
“You weren’t. Ginusto ko ang nangyari. I willingly gave myself to a man for the first time in my life and it felt liberating.” My voice quivered a little.
“I am still your therapist.”
“Then from now on, you aren’t anymore. You brought back the normalcy I thought I’d never have again. You taught me how to trust again.”
“This is so wrong.” He sighed and shut his eyes.
I swallowed and slowly nodded my head. “Okay, I understand. Goodbye, Callum.”
“Audrey, I like you. Damn it! I don’t know what to do because I’m not supposed to like you! I’m a psychiatrist but I think I need one right now! You won’t believe how crazy you make me.” He brushed his fingers through his hair.
“I desperately want to help you in any possible way I can. I can’t lose you like this.” His voice trembled with so much passion. He crashed his lips against mine and murmured.
“You’re making me break my own rule. You don’t know how bad I want this…”
“We want this.” I whispered against his lips.