Story 58

She did not know what she really wanted in her life. Bouncing from one foster home to another she had lived the growing up years of her life not really giving a thought about what was happening with her or without any plans for future. She was clever, she was beautiful, she was smart and she could adapt to all sorts of situations; even the toughest ones and she learned to live independently. That was good, accept the part that it made her too sceptical about trusting anyone or forming any kind of emotional bond.


Grown up and truly independent she had found a job that fed her and a room that gave her shelter. She worked, she studied, she dated, had relationships which eventually ended badly. She had trust issues. She did not trust some men and some men she trusted too much; the end result was the same – she ended up alone. The guys she had abandoned found new partners like changing into fresh set of clothes the next day. She on the other hand, took a while to step out of a relationship. 


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It had been months since her last break up. The guy had been an asshole, only she could not see it when she was with him. She was close to believing that he was the one. On one hand she feared commitment but on the other hand she wanted it to work, she wanted him to want her. She was ready to make changes in her life, to learn to depend on someone and to be a part of someone’s life. Unfortunately, the man had abandoned her, somewhat like crushing the cigarette butt once you are done with it. He was done with her after he had managed to get into her pants. 
The man had turned it into a big deal. She had been too hurt and ashamed to continue showing up at work. He had already told his friends about his achievement and their gazes made her cringe. She wanted to belong to someone; but not like this. She did not like being looked at as an object or some trophy someone had won. She did not go back to the job the next day. She ended up uprooting herself from the place she had started to like and had considered calling her ‘home’


It had been weeks since she had shifted to this new place, taken up a new job. It was here that she met him. The man who was about to change her life. The man who was about to give it a meaning. And – she was skeptical. She was scared. Even though she was aware that he did not seem to be the kind of man who would hurt her, she worried that she would end up being hurt any way. She did not know whether the man would understand how she felt about him; reciprocating her feelings was a different matter altogether. She had her doubts but the root of it was not how he would treat her; it was about would she be able to treat him right.


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Cruel people said he was retarded; others said he was mentally challenged. She believed otherwise. His only problem was – he trusted people too much. His IQ was somewhat lower than others but that did not make him ‘different’ like people said -she tried to convince herself. He was like a child trapped inside the body of a grown up. Don’t we all have a child within us, she told herself. 


Now, as she sat in bed next to him and watched him she wondered why she felt as if she had raped an innocent child. She buried her face in her palms and breathed into it. She smelled alcohol. She should have not given in to the temptation. She rarely consumed alcohol but when she did she almost always crossed the limits. She picked up her clothes from the floor and put on her t-shirt. She pulled the bed-sheet over him and tucked him in properly. She tiptoed to the bathroom and showered hoping that he would still be asleep as she stepped out. A towel wrapped around her, she stepped out of the bathroom, he was still asleep. She looked at his innocent face and once again felt ashamed of what she had done. She put on fresh set of clothes and walked out of the bedroom. She entered the kitchen and started making his favorite breakfast. She did not know how she was supposed to behave once he woke up and came face to face with her. Was she supposed to let go of what had happened, forget about it and behave normally or talk to him about it? What was she going to say to him? Sorry for exploiting you? 


She sat down on the floor, resting her back against the cabinets. Forgetting what had happened was not possible for her, at the most she could pretend for his sake. Talking to him was difficult. After being with him in this house for weeks, she had recently learned to communicate with him. The need arising because of sudden death of his guardian; the owner of this house where she stayed as a paying guest. 
The regular conversation took some time getting used to; ‘this’ – this was too much and seemed impossible.


“Fire … fire” he yelled and she came out of her reverie. “shit” she exclaimed and stood up to switch off the burner. She threw the burnt pancake in the garbage bin and put the pan in the sink.
“I am sorry” she said turning to face him. She had apologized for the pancake but at the same time she hoped he could apply the apology to what she had done to him and if at all he had hard feelings for her, he could forgive her. She wondered, whether he was capable of having hard feelings for her or for anyone. 
He had grown used to her. He trusted her, had faith in her and she had used him for sex. What kind of person that made her?


“I am hungry” he said sitting at the dining table. She made another pancake and served it to him. She watched him as he ate. She did not know whether it was because of hangover or it was something else that made her want to kiss him as she watched him eating the pancake. She knew – after what had happened last night; every time she looked at him, she would want to kiss him. She turned around and shook her head. 
“More” he said and she started making another pancake. She did not turn around to face him. She was also at loss of words. 


Usually, every morning she asked him whether he slept well. If he had any nightmares or had he woken up in the middle of the night feeling hungry. 
These sorts of questions made no sense this morning. She knew he had slept well and did not have any nightmares or did not wake up feeling hungry.
What was she supposed to ask him? “How was it? Did you like it?” 
The woman in her wanted to ask that question to him, she wanted to know what it meant to him. Whether he felt the same way she did.  
A part of her cursed her for getting into bed with him but a part of her knew that it was not mere lust. 


This weird feeling had been building up inside of her for past few days. With each passing day it had grown stronger. Simple touch of hands or brushing of arms had aroused her. Why had he started to affect her the way he did? And, why all of a sudden? It seemed as if someone had injected her with some love serum. 
Whenever she had seen him smile or laugh she had felt a deep sense of happiness knowing that she was the reason he was smiling or laughing. She liked taking care of him. Sometimes, she even fed him his dinner. She always tucked him in bed, the way his guardian used to. She felt responsible for him. She liked the way he trusted her. The way he let her take care of him. He even let him button his shirt at times. 


She had been fighting against her desires for a long time; in the end alcohol had messed it up. Maybe it was lust, after-all. They had been happy together. He made her happy. He made her laugh at times, his innocence made her believe that good still existed and she had ruined it all by having sex with him.


She returned to the present in time and flipped the pancake. After some time, she placed it in a plate and walked towards the dining table to find him staring at her with an expression she had never seen before. She ignored his gaze and served him the pancake. He continued staring at her, his gaze burning her skin.
“I liked it” he said and she looked up at him. “Let’s do it again” he said with a smile on his face; tomato ketchup dripping out from the corner of his mouth and she visualized a small child telling her “I liked the game, let’s play again.” 
She rushed to the bathroom and fell on her knees and puked in the commode. She flushed the contents and sat down on the floor and started crying. 


The conflict inside her becoming unbearable with each passing moment. At one point, she had been sure she was in love with him and kissing him did not feel wrong. She had even felt him responding, if biting her tongue was to be considered a response. 
Looking down at him as she straddled him; his eyes on her body did not feel wrong. She had been too occupied with her desire to understand whether he had really participated or she had made him do things or had done things to him. But it had not felt wrong; until the guilt had raised its ugly head. 
Before the guilt hit her, his arms around her had made her feel secured. The way she had never felt before; not even with the man who had taken away her virginity; the man she had thought would be the one until he had abandoned and humiliated her. 


This had felt different. This was different. She had fallen asleep in his arms and when she woke up the guilt had hit her hard.


She was still sitting on the floor in the bathroom and did not know he had followed her and now, he stood at the door, watching her cry. 

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