It had been the longest week, in a span of five days I had been in three different states, so the idea of going home to surprise my mother was (premeditated and) advantageous to my exhausted self.
So, I arrive in my city after a long and arduous train ride during which I am assaulted by a manner less child whose parents’ discipline tactics are obviously not working.
I call my sister (who is also visiting) to ask if she has sent the car to pick me up and with just a little commotion, I locate the driver.
We drive off, and he tells me of all the things I have missed in all the months I have refrained from visiting.
The Gills got a new dog and their son married a really beautiful girl.
The empty plot next to our house now has a brown house on it.
My paranoid mother has had cameras installed in the house.
Suddenly, at a point which is (even optimistically) only halfway home, he stops the car.
Perplexed, I ask him what’s wrong and he informs me that my sister has instructed him to drop me off at that particular market square and return home.
If you know my family, this is not strange behavior.
I figure she has made lunch plans and neglected to inform me of them. I get off the car, stretch my legs and light up. I get out my phone and call her.
She doesn’t answer.
I call again.
She’s nowhere to be found.
Something you should know about this market square; located right at the corner (on top of a basement bar), is a really shady hotel.
The kind where ordering a cheap hooker is more appropriate than expecting a clean glass of water. Back in school when I was still living at home, this was the place my master (let’s call him A, yeah?) and I conducted many of our amorous activities.
It didn’t hurt that the setting made me feel like a cheap hooker.
So often were we there over the years that we had begun to communicate with the staff on a first-name basis. That we’d unthinkingly leave our belongings there and casually pick them up the next time.
The lady at the front desk was the first person we invited to our wedding over six years ago, when there wasn’t even the possibility of a wedding to speak of.
And even though it had been a while, every time we had revisited the city together, we’d return for at least one nostalgic fuck.
Anyhow, so there I was, fuming and calling my sister incessantly when I see the front desk lady approaching me. I put out my cigarette and embrace her and before long, she’s inviting me to come up and have a cup of tea while I wait. Predictably, while we sip syrupy sweet tea out of chipped coffee-coloured china, the talk turns to A.
She says she wondered if she’d ever really get to attend our wedding, I tell her we have no immediate plans but it’s bound to happen eventually.
I ask about her children. She asks if I’d like to see our old room.
Though slightly blind sighted by her offer, I accept nevertheless and she hands over the keys.
I climb the stairs, following the path to the depravity of my youth.
I turn the key in the old-fashioned lock and after a little struggle, the door unlocks. I open it slowly, my hand goes instinctively for the light switch on the left.
And it hits me all at once.
The stale scent of the over-washed linen, tainted with irremovable filth. The thick red curtains and the deep-seated stench of tobacco. The fading walls and the still crooked picture frame of flowers that adorned it. The brown blanket whose touch was like that of an amalgamation of unwashed human hair. The little gray TV and the taped up remote.
It’s all still here. Exactly the same.
And as I’m standing, left breathless and hesitant to move a muscle by a lifetime of memories, I feel a hand cover my mouth and another grabs my wrists.
There’s a moment of blind panic.
I kick and thrash as my heart explodes in my chest and then, I see him.
Holding me down and grinning as I burst into tears.
I punch him, over and over, the weakest blows anyone has ever delivered.
I cry hysterically.
He grabs my hair and holds my head still.
I look at him through my tears, I don’t know what he wants.
The tears don’t let up.
He comes closer, looks straight at me and says, “I come all the way to tell you that I want to marry you and all you do is cry.”
He doesn’t ask if that is what I want.
He doesn’t wait for a response.
He doesn’t get down on one knee.
He doesn’t offer me a ring.
He slaps me repeatedly as he ties me to the bed and promises me that I will never ever get away from him until I die at his hands.
And just like that, I am fifteen again.
Ready to do anything he demands.
Even if it involves a lifetime.