We waited inside the car quietly until the attendant closed the gate sealing us in. And then my silent companion moved slowly, deliberately opening the car door as if waiting for something to pull him back.
I didn't stop him.
In all honesty, I didn't know how if I wanted to.
I followed him towards the room door that was slightly ajar. It had been so long since I had entered such a room. It smelled so strongly of sex that the air freshener failed to mask it. He let me in first and then followed closing the door softly. I heard the lock click and then I couldn't breathe. My heart was beating so fast I could almost see it bouncing against my chest. I looked at the marbled floor listening for any movement from him but he was still. I grabbed my hands. They were icy, cold and clammy. I felt that if I didn't steady myself with something I would topple over.
"Hey, we don't have to do anything, you know." I heard him say. He still hadn't budged from where he was standing.
Ah, he was ever the gentleman. That was why I always felt safe with him. I exhaled loudly feeling the fear and the tension fly out of my body. If it was him, it would be okay.
"It's fine, we talked about it and -- I want it -- " I told him.
It was surprising how calm that came out. The aircon was humming constantly like a lullaby soothing me and telling me that it was all right.
That it was all right, what we were about to do.
I looked at the ring on my finger. It was shiny and bright. Glittering even under the dim motel lights.
It seemed like an ordinary ring to me now. And yet, it felt heavy when I pulled it off. Like a ball of chain had been attached to it the minute I made the wrong decision. It was meant to remind me of the promise I had made long ago.
I walked towards the night stand beside the bed and put the ring down in the ashtray. I looked at it stupidly, picked it up then put it down again. I turned to look at the man who had agreed to be my partner in crime and saw that he still hadn't turned around. He was resting his forehead against the front door still holding on to the lock. His body was bent as if in agony and I suddenly felt sorry for him. It had been my idea after all.
"I'm sorry."I silently said. Doubt was filling me up. I looked up again to take in this man's frame. What the hell was I doing?
I don't remember when I started to break down into tears. My legs gave way from under me and I began to fall. Strong arms were there to catch me and prevented me from hitting the floor but the weight and the force of the fall left us nowhere else to go but down. He cushioned me as best he could with his body and soon we were sitting on the cold marble. The warmth that his body offered me was intoxicating. His scent was strong on my nose and even in my anguish I knew that I wanted him.
And yet here I was crying on my hands and could not move even to acknowledge him. I was so afraid and so unsure of what we were doing that I just wanted to give up and go home.
I vaguely heard him hushing me and embracing me tightly rocking back and forth as if I were a child.
"We don't have to do anything." He reassured me still rocking.
I don't know how long we were like that. My tears finally ebbed and all that was left was the feeling that I was stupid and cowardly.
"We're going to burn in hell for this, you know." I said, my hands muffled my poor excuse of a joke but I heard him chuckle.
"Who said we aren't burning now?"
It was a lame sexual innuendo and quite untimely but it made me smile. I was conscious of how my tears had pooled down my hands and wrist. Not to mention my runny nose that was indecently going to fall off. I didn't want to face him looking like a baby.
"Could you get me tissue, please?" I said in a small voice.
He helped me up and then went to the bathroom to get what I had asked for. I was looking at him through my fingers still conscious of the fact that we were alone in a motel room with no one to guard us except our conscience.
"Here, I got the whole box." he said handing me the box.
I thanked him then faced the bed and asked him to leave it there. He obliged me and sat on the couch that was near the television set. He grabbed the remote then turned it on.
As I cleaned myself I periodically looked at him from the corner of my eyes. I noticed that the hands holding the remote were slightly shaky.
I felt really bad now. I knew he couldn't say "no" when I asked him but I should have thought that it wasn't only me who would be affected. How arrogant of me to think that I had sole rights to such feelings.
Selfish bitch. That was what I should call myself. He was going through the same doubts that I was. If not even more so. I sat down on the bed facing him.
"I'm sorry, Otou.” I called him by his pet name. I saw him vaguely move to acknowledge that he had heard me.
“I know I was being selfish and stupid and greedy when I asked you to sleep with me." I told him.
I looked away from him. It was painful to see him while I was trying to apologize for my weakness and my unexplainable greed. "I didn't think –“
My nose began to itch again and my eyes watered. I wasn’t usually this emotional when I was with someone else. I preferred to cry in private where I could ball out my very soul. And yet, in front of this man, I was easily shattered.
“I'm so sorry for forcing you to make me feel better when it's not your fault that I'm like this in the first place."
“You should have thought about that before you made me promise, Ane.” His voice was soft but loud enough for me to hear over the television. He had not looked at me and continued staring blankly at the tube. He sounded irritated.
I was taken aback. This man, who has been so affable and so amiable, is now presenting another side of himself. A side that only people who have irritated him or crossed him have seen. I felt like I didn’t know him at all and I suddenly felt an unexplainable fear.
I sat down on the bed and grasped the sheet as if trying to get courage from it. However, it was cool and indifferent of my circumstance.
I heard him exhale strongly above the television noise.
Again, we were silent, caught in our own thoughts.
I studied the patterns on the ceiling and then closed my eyes.
“What are you thinking?” I asked for a lack of something better to say.
“Ne, Otou –“
“That I am somehow trapped in a check mate and my king has nowhere to go.” He said carelessly and probably without thinking.
I opened my eyes and turned my head to face him. He was focused on the television probably trying to figure out how he got into this situation. Right now, he looked like a bird in a gilded cage trying to break free or at least trying to get back to where we were before this point in time. I could almost read the thoughts that moved through his poker-faced façade. That was how I knew him and how he knew me. Two sides of a mirror. One so like the other and yet, distinctly so different.
His words had stung. The carelessness of how he threw them at me. He was angered, that I trapped him in such a dire situation. Or perhaps, confused, of how he had allowed himself to be led into such a predicament. Control. Yes, that was his master. And at this time, it had left him. I could not fault him for retaliating the only way he knew.
However, it still was painful to hear that honesty from him. His honesty was always direct and played no favorites. Even with me. I knew that but an uncontrollable rage erupted from within me that reason could not quell.
© T. C. Felix, 2019. All rights reserved.