Chapter 19 If You Say Things Out Loud
I wake up in Elena’s arms, still feeling a certain pain in the back of my mind. Ignoring is no longer an option and Doctor Burton gave me the assignment to write down my feelings every day of this week until our next appointment.
It scares me to put those thoughts on paper. It scares me to face the fact that I’m really acknowledging what happened to me.
If you say things out loud, they become real.
Elena is still sound asleep. It’s strange to think that something good came out of this. I would never have met her if I didn’t go to therapy. But I’m not sure if I’m ready to open up to her and tell her what happened.
I feel my stomach telling me to put some food in my system. I didn’t even eat last night. Did Elena even eat?
I slowly remove myself from her arms and walk towards the bathroom to brush my teeth.
I look into the mirror and see that my eyes are puffy and red from crying. I wash my face and walk into the kitchen.
Ana is already making my usual breakfast.
“Good morning, Ana.”
“Morning, Miss Gopal.”
I can feel that Ana is distant and then I remember how I reacted last night. Poor girl, she never saw me act like that.
“Ana, I owe you an apology. I’m sorry for how I acted. It had nothing to do with you! Can you please forgive me?”
I look into her eyes and I can see her concern.
“It’s okay, Miss Gopal. You don’t need to apologize. I didn’t know. If I knew, I would have never touched you!”
How does she know? Does she know? When I look into her eyes there is no pitying look. Something is going on.
“What do you mean Ana?” I ask.
“I mean that I can recognize someone who’s been abused because I experienced the same thing,” she responds.
How is this girl so strong and can tell me this without even crying? I wish I could take this burden from her somehow but she doesn’t seem too scared to talk about it.
“What happened, Ana? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”
“It’s okay,” she sighs.
She hands me my breakfast and I take a seat at the bar across from her. I can hear my stomach craving food and I dig in.
“I was 12 when it happened. so a long time ago. My parents worked all the time and my uncle would come by very often. He always played with me and gave me a lot of attention. So, he was my safe place. Until one day he crossed the line a little bit further. At first, he just told me to take off my clothes, told me it was part of a game. I never thought that it was wrong until he touched me, well you know where.
“That day I froze and started to avoid him and stayed out of his way. After a while, he would just act normal and I started trusting him again. He would buy me presents and always compliment me in front of my parents. Thinking about it know I can see how fucked up that is. One night he came into my bedroom and told me that my body was made for him and that it’s normal to touch him and like it.
“The sad part is I thought it was normal after a while to have sex with my uncle. Little did I know that this wasn’t normal. One night I tried to do the same with my father because I thought it was normal. He yelled at me and sent me back to my room and the next day my father beat my uncle into pieces.”
I can see tears falling down her face and she’s embarrassed by herself. But the only thing I see is a strong woman telling me her story and acknowledging what happened to her without letting it define her. I wish I could be that strong.
I walk over to her and hug her.
“Thank you for telling me. I wish I could take your pain away and give your childhood back!” I respond.
She cries for a while and I hold her.
Suddenly I hear a voice from behind us.
“Hey,” Elena walks towards the kitchen.
“Hey,” I respond. She’s beautiful; I don’t know how I ended up deserving her.
“Sleep well?” I ask.
I let go of Ana and smile a little before letting her go completely. I can see a strange look in Elena’s eyes. Is she jealous?
“Wonderful, haven’t slept that good in ages. Waking up alone in bed was less joyful,” she responds.
“You were sleeping so peacefully; I didn’t want to wake you!”
“What would you like for breakfast, Miss Elena?” Ana asks her.
“The same that Tara’s having would be fine. Thank you, Ana. I can see how Tara couldn’t live without you!”
“Thank you, Miss Gopal is the best boss I ever had,” Ana responds.
I sensed right; Elena is jealous, better talk about it later with her. It’s kind of cute though.
“Do you have to work today, Elena?”
“I have the day off actually,” she responds.
“Great, let me make some phone calls in my office and we can do something after you finish your breakfast,” I respond.
She nods and I walk towards the office. I tell my secretary to clear my schedule for today and walk back towards the kitchen.
Ana and Elena are talking to each other. I’m too far to eavesdrop on their conversation.
But as I come closer, I hear Elena asking Ana, “for how long?”
When Ana sees me, she doesn’t answer the question.
“I’m going to do the laundry,” she tells me and walks away.
That’s strange. I ignore it and walk over to Elena.
“What would you like to do today?” I ask.
“Just stay in bed and watch a Bollywood movie?” she responds.
“I thought you didn’t like the last movie you watched?” I ask.
“I liked it, it was just a bit long. But spending three hours in bed with you sounds like a good plan to me!”
“Okay, I’ve got another classic for you: it’s called Kuch Hota Hai!”
We cuddle in bed and I put the movie on. I never felt so good lying in bed next to someone. She makes me feel at ease every time I’m around her. I haven’t forgotten about yesterday but with her around I can cope with it.
To come to think about how love was never easy for me. My first girlfriend broke my heart so I stopped dating entirely.
After that I just had fun with a few girls every now and then. But I wasn’t looking for something serious. I don’t know if Elena is even serious about me?
But I should just enjoy the moment and talk about it later before I scare her away too.
I have just finished work when I see that Tara has texted me wanting me to come over. I was already looking forward to seeing her. So, receiving this message confirms that she enjoys my company too.
I’m already on my way to surprise her. I ring the bell and walk into the elevator towards Tara’s apartment. I never cared much for luxury but I don’t hate it either. I love Tara’s apartment if you compare it with mine; well, I don’t think I should even do that. That’s like comparing a bed and breakfast with a 5-star hotel.
Tara doesn’t act like she’s rich and she isn’t cocky about it either. I love that about her.
“Hi, Elena,” Ana says to me.
I am surprised by seeing Ana. I guess I have to get used to it because she works here. I keep forgetting that Tara has a maid. A very attractive maid! Makes me wonder if something ever happened between them?
“Hi Ana, Tara asked me to come over,” I say to her.
“She’s not doing well. I just saw her crying and running into her bedroom. Good that you are here, she could really use a friend right now,” Ana responds.
A friend? Who does she think I am to her? Then again, we didn’t put a label on it. But I like to think I’m much more to here than a friend.
“Follow me, I will take you to her,” Ana says, not waiting for me answer.
She sounds a bit worried about her. And she thinks that I can’t find her bedroom. Why am I acting so jealous?
“Miss Gopal, Elena is here to see you.”
I hear her unlocking the door and I can see her eyes are red and puffy. I recognize that look: that she’s experienced something she wishes she doesn’t have to go through again. Of course, she had her appointment with Doctor Burton today.
It pains me to see her like this. But I know from experience that talking about it is going to make her feel even worse.
“Could you just hold me?” Tara asks me.
I nod and walk toward her. I hug her and walk over to her bed. I take off my clothes and get into bed. I can see Tara’s wearing several layers of clothes. Someone abused her; the thought alone makes me angry. I can’t ask her but I hope she will tell me someday what happened to her.
She puts her head on my shoulder and I hold her tight, watching her doze off. Even with so many layers on she looks like the most beautiful woman to me.
I wake up to an empty bed. Bright lights enter my eyes and for the first time, I notice the view from her apartment. You can see the whole skyline of The Hague.
I walk to the bathroom and brush my teeth and take a fast shower. I put on Tara’s robe and walk towards the kitchen. I can hear Tara talking to Ana and she’s hugging and caressing her cheek. What is going on here?
I can see the look in Ana’s eyes; she’s in love with Tara. It’s so obvious and Tara doesn’t even notice it. Or are they more to each other and am I only assuming things?
“Hey,” I walk towards the kitchen.
“Hey,” Tara responds. I can see her checking me out. If Ana and she were a thing she wouldn’t do that. I love when she looks at me that way. It makes me feel admired. I can see a jealous look from Ana and I should really talk to her before things turn ugly.
“Sleep well?” Tara asks me. I should have asked her that. She cried herself to sleep and now she’s comforting someone else instead of thinking about her own sorrows.
“Wonderful, haven’t slept that good in ages. Waking up alone in bed was less joyful,” I respond wanting to see if I touched a nerve with Ana by saying that.
“You were sleeping so peacefully, didn’t want to wake you!” Tara responds. I love that we have that same effect on each other.
“What would you like for breakfast, Miss Elena?” Ana asks me. I hope she will not spit in my food if I ask her for something.
“The same that Tara’s having would be fine. Thank you, Ana. I can see how Tara couldn’t live without you!” I respond, again triggering a twinkle in Ana’s eyes.
“Thank you, Miss Gopal is the best boss I ever had,” Ana responds.
I can see Tara looking at me weirdly but I have to talk to Ana because this is not a healthy situation for her.
“Do you have to work today, Elena?” Tara asks.
“I have the day off actually,” I respond.
“Great, let me make some phone calls in my office and we can do something after you finish your breakfast,” Tara responds. I love to see her taking charge and can’t help to admire that she’s the boss.
I nod and see Tara walking towards her office. This is my window to talk to Ana. She puts a fresh plate of breakfast in front of me.
“Thank you, Ana,” I respond.
“Your welcome, Miss Elena,” she responds. I hate it when she calls me miss. Just Elena would be fine but I told her that many times already so never mind.
“Can I ask you something, Ana?” I ask.
“Sure, Miss Elena.”
“Do you have feelings for Tara?” I ask.
I notice Ana’s eyes turning to me but she can’t deny it. She starts cleaning up faster and I can see she’s getting nervous now, like I caught her stealing something.
“Yeah, sorry Miss Elena. I-I can’t t-tell you. Well…yeah, I have feelings for Miss Gopal but I never acted on them,” she stutters.
“For how long?” I ask.
I hear footsteps coming our way and Ana getting more nervous.
“I’m going to do the laundry,” she tells Tara and me and walks away.
How does Tara not see that her maid is hopelessly in love with her?