It was a nice place to rest. The walls were painted pink. The window was covered with pink curtains. The books were arranged neatly on the pink bookshelf. The bed on the opposite side was neatly overlaid with a pink blanket, a pink pillow by the head. The pink lampshade on the pink table by the bedside illuminated the whole room.
Yes, it was a nice place to rest. It was a place to stay in and relax. It was a place that radiated positivity. It was supposed to be.
But Lois, in her oversized plain white shirt and black skinny jeans, only stared into space. Her eyes were unblinking. Her lips were pursed together, not daring to move a word.
She sat on the bed, arms gathering knees close to her chest. She stood up, grabbed the lampshade, and smashed it against the windows. She cried silently, shutting out even the whisper of every sob. She opened her mouth and forced out the pain she kept within those last three months. She closed her eyes, prayed to God, wishing with all her might to take all the pain away. Yes, she closed them, pushing down all the profanities her mouth had ever learned to say.
She sat again, now unmoving; she was scared of every little act.
Yes, she was afraid to make even the smallest gesture. She knew she’d break into pieces if she did. She thought she was a woman of strength, that she was used to all the aches. She used to just smile away all storms. But now she thought she was more fragile than the thinnest sheet of glass. That she was sucked out of all strength. That she was the weakest person alive.
“You are simply a assh—.”
“Letse! You motherf—–!”
“P—– ina mo… You’re one son of a b—-!”
“No, no, no, no, no…” she whispered as she hid her face in her knees. “It’s not me.”
Indeed, profanity wasn’t her thing. She never wanted to say such words to anyone, just as much as she never wanted to hear anyone say it to her. But if she had to say something to Andrew….only profanity would provide the choicest words.
She lifted her head up for some air. Tears had washed her face.
That man. If I could only punch him on the face right now. I should be using a knife.
Yes, she would. If only it weren’t crime. If only it weren’t sin.
“I hate you, Andrew,” she said to herself, “it’s just that…most of the time, I don’t.”
Andrew was a great guy. At first, anyway. He knew when she wasn’t okay, even though she said she was. He would hug her with the big teddy bear he gave her on her birthday because he was too skinny to be huggable. He knew when she was mad, and he would hide in the closet with a bonnet over his head because she said she didn’t want to see his face. He knew she was scared of roaches, and he would search around the house to kill it. He knew how to make her happy with kittens and rambutan.
But, a lot of things had changed.
Maybe he knows she’s not okay, but he lets it go when she says she is. No more hugs. No more teddy bears.
She lets him know she’s mad, but he leaves her that way. No more hiding. No more bonnets.
Perhaps he knows she’s scared, but he leaves her sitting in the corner behind couch pillows. No more searching. No more swatting cockroaches.
He knows what would make her happy, but he leaves her with only apples and bananas on the table. No more kittens. No more rambutans.
Because Rika had intruded into their picture.
The times started getting rougher. When they looked at each other, they did not see what they used to. They said things, but they did not really talk. They heard one another, but they did not really listen.
Lois knew it was coming to an end, but she wasn’t giving up Andrew without a fight, event though it was the only option Andrew left her.
The grocery lists became much shorter. Because Andrew was with Rika. The house seemed empty. Because Andrew was with Rika. She made more time for herself. Because Andrew was with Rika. The days seemed longer when she was alone at home. Because Andrew was with Rika. The nights felt colder and she neede more layers of blankets at bedtime. Because Andrew was with Rika.
I should grow my nails to two inches and scratch their eyes out. Because Andrew was with Rika. I should sharpen my kitchen knives and slash them through their throats. Because Andrew was with Rika. I should take the special forks out of the cabinet, and twist the intestines out of their tummies. Because Andrew was with Rika. I could sew them together, force them away after, soak them in boiling calamansi juice, and wash them with salted vinegar. Simply because Andrew was with Rika.
“Give up na, Loy.” That was all Andrew had to say.
“Yes, I gave up. I gave you up. I gave you up because that’s what you wanted!” she said. She grabbed her pillow and threw it away.
She could not believe what a fool she was to take Andrew back just because he said that she was really the one that he loved.
“Tama naman gyud unta ‘ta ba. What we had was enough. But — I don’t know — yawa lang jud ko. I’m a demon. I am cursed.” She remembered what Andrew said when he showed up on her front door again one Sunday afternoon.
She remembered how she tried to control herself from rushing to him. She remembered how her heart melted with his mere presence. She remembered how she cried when he said that he wanted to find his way back to her arms. She thought that just having the courage to show up and admit his mistakes proved that his words were real.
She never even really expected that Andrew would come back. But she knew she’d take him back if he’d ask.
But — punyeta that he is — he still wasn’t trying to work things out. He was still doing the same thing. He was still with…her.
“I thought we were enough…because that’s what you said. I was so naïve, and you knew all this time that I was. And all you did was take advantage of it, take advantage of me.”
“Hm… Hmmm… Hmm…”
And it went all over again like a cycle. Arguing, shouting, swearing, hurting, crying, apologizing, consoling, promising. The promise breaks, it all goes back to square one.
“Why did you have to tell me you love me, and hurt me after?”
“Why did you have to hurt me all the time? Why did you have to come back anyway?”
“Am I not enough? Am I too skinny? Is my hair too long? Am I too dark? Do I lack the curves? Am I too fat? Is my hair too short? Is my skin too white?”
“Hm… Hm… Hmm…”
Lois stood up. “Am I too short? Or am I too tall?”
She stretched her arms like wings, leaned slightly to the right, and smiled like a preschool girl on her first performance on stage. Tears were still on her face.
“Am I not pretty?” she said, and turned around in place once. “Of course, I am.”
Her childish smile faded, and she looked towards the source of the moan. She took each step slowly and carefully. She kept her arms hidden behind her.
Purplish bruised left eye, swollen red lower lip, and cloth tied around his mouth: Andrew sat, his hands cuffed behind him, feet tied to the chair’s legs.
Still looking straight at Andrew, Lois lowered herself to meet his eyes. She made a fake sad face.
“Hmm…” Andrew moaned.
“You were going somewhere just a half an hour ago?” she asked.
“Hmmm… Hmm…” he struggled.
“Where? Were you planning on buying me flowers and chocolates?”
“No? Why? Had you forgotten?” Lois stood up and leaned towards Andrew.
Andrew jerked backward. His eyes rolled with fear.
She touched his face. “Don’t leave. You’ll miss the things I’ve prepared.”
Nilea Louise Morales is a BS Education student of Ateneo de Davao University.