It had been twenty-four years since I'd last seen it, but the place looked exactly the same, the goose bumps, the shivers, and the memories inculcated deep within my soul never vanish nor grant me a sound sleep.
"What are you doing here?" the soft yet intimidating voice echoed inside the room. I knew him, without looking at his visage; his voice is enough to drive me nuts. I decided to not face him, I tried to make my feet move to keep my sanity but half of me wanted to stay, even a little longer.
"You have not changed a bit, Felicity", he said as he tried to walk near me. I swear that I will pass out if he would touch me, but never will I ever allow him to drag me to hell again. I wanted to run, to scream, to let it all out, to brag about everything I am now, but I refuse to. Two decades and four years ago, I've decided to cut all my ties with him; and I am firm with my decision.
When I was about to leave the room, my eyes suddenly darted on the picture frame near the window; it was dusty, old but a simple, cheerful, and gullible girl was smiling widely is still visible. Innocent is an understatement to describe her. I missed seeing her genuinely smiling.
I was smiling widely in every car that are coming on my way. Biting my lips a little, and compressing my tits to make it more attractive. Having this street lights as our own spot light. Making us look like a star; a celebrity for smaller price. This is my life. This is where I got my living. Men look at me as if there is this huge price tag over my head saying how affordable I am.
Here I am again, walking down the street around 3 am, freezing in the night just to make someone's night warm and comfortable; wearing this thin red tube dress that exposed my two huge and luscious breasts; revealing the perfect curve of my bodacious body. I can feel the freezing wind touching my bare skin, but I do not care, I should not care. Not minding the ache in my ankles by wearing these 5 inches stilettos. I was thinking about my exams for tomorrow, I have not reviewed anything yet. Those are for two major subjects and I really need to pass or else all of my efforts will be put into waste. Of course, I won't allow that to happen.
In the depth of my thoughts, suddenly a red car stopped in front of me. This will be my second for this night, perfectly enough for the Midterm payment tomorrow. "Hi. Get in?" An around 50 year old man smiled while waving at me. I just nodded and smile as pretty as I could. I cannot allow this one to just be wasted.
The old, smelly, drunk man quietly drove me until we reached a small parking lot; I was shocked when he immediately put his hands inside my dress naughtily playing my two pink nipples. That was too quick. "Will we not have even a small room?" I asked him but I did not even bother to take his hands off me. I do not want him get mad, I have to finish this business early; I still have a 7 am class. "This will just be quick; I have to go home before my wife wakes up. Besides, I am trying to control this all the time but you are just too hard to resist. Shit," he cursed while fiercely kissing my neck. Maybe I was just pre occupied by the exams I will have tomorrow that is why I did not see his car parked few meters away from where I was standing. And maybe these wet tissue papers on his car will actually suffice to describe how he failed to control himself.
"Do this, then you may leave," he said while unzipping his pants. "This early? How about foreplay, sir?" I said while caressing his chest slowly. He looked at his watch, maybe he is really in a hurry. So I just quickly do as he said. My hands are friskily wandering in his chest that make him curse and blame God for the sensation, while I was just thinking, that one more year and I will finally get away from this hell.
That soon I no longer need to wear this kind of dress that I don't really know if this is a dress at all. That I no longer need to be with different men every single night, because one more year, and I will finally be free. That instead of holding make ups and lipsticks, I will hold a book and pen. That instead of wearing too exposed clothes I will soon wear a decent one. That instead of offering flesh, I will soon offer knowledge to children.
When he finally reached his peak he asked me to swallow it. He threw me out the door of his car, giving me a yellow bill. "Till next time" he said and hurriedly drove his car away. He left like other men do, after getting what they want they will just dump me like a useless tissue paper. I swiftly wipe some tears that are left on my cheeks. I smiled as if life does not offer me any problems at all. I am strong. And I will always be stronger that I was before. "Felicity," he said that made me back to my senses.
"Why are you crying?" saying as his thumb wipe the tears flowing down my face. "Don't touch me!" I screamed. I don't know why I got to be this weak. I thought I was alright. I thought everything is well, but he is still in control of me.
He hurriedly grabbed my arm making me stop. My entirety froze but my tears continue to fall. "You are back! I waited for you, my Feli" his last words sent shiver down my spine. I am still weak; but I refuse to succumb to this terrifying feeling. "I know you will be back. I knew it" he said in between his weeps and smiles. I remember the feeling. Maybe this is the feeling I needed to remember to forget, to move on, and to be better.
“Felicity, come over here!" my big brother said holding a piece of our favorite cupcake. He handed me half as he swallowed the other. "Thanks, kuya!" I said as he pinched my cheeks. He was always like that: kind, thoughtful, generous and loving. When my mother left us, he always tried his best to keep me safe and not hungry. He made sure to make me sleep early so I wont hear all the bad things our father was saying and doing to him. He endured every single thing, for me. He was perfect. I greatly admired him.
Until one night... I was alone in our hut. Wondering why the sky and seas are blue. Is God's favorite color is blue? "Feli!" he shouted. He immediately went near me. I can smell cigarette and gin over him. Before I even utter a word he harshly placed his hand over my mouth. I tried to scream but his hand was too huge to even cover my whole face. He placed me over the table in the kitchen. I was scared, I cried, I begged for his mercy but he refuse to hear me. I called out for my brother, asking for his help, but I only saw him crying on his knees as he was sneaking glances on me and this monster.
He used me. It did not just happened twice, or thrice. It happened countless time, to the point that I had forgotten how excruciating pain it should have caused to a six year old kid. "Papa! Please... Kuya, help me!" I whispered in between my weeps but my brother looked away.
They say that abusers are the worst, but truth be told, people who allow abusers to abuse are even worse. How could they sleep at night, knowing someone can not? How can they live peacefully, knowing they could have done something to end someone's suffering?
A forceful slap landed on his face. "How dare you touch me? How dare you!" I hysterically said while looking straightly into his eyes. I see how his face ran out of blood. His mouth half open, as a single tear escaped his eye.
"Felicity. I am your kuya, your kuya Francis. Of course--" I cut him off. "When was that? You are nothing but rubbish to me!" I said while trying not to cut my stare.
"I went here because I wanted to slap you with this", I said while showing him an envelope containing all my diplomas that I worked hard of. "I did it, Kuya! I was able to live without you all." It took a lot of years than expected but at least-" I said while trying to control my tears. I wanted him to see that I was able to pursue my dream all by myself, even without him or anyone else. I sell every single thing I could offer to everybody.
"Can you still count how many men slept with you, then?" he said grinning that broke all the strength I was trying to build. Of all the people, how could my own brother hurt me this much? I thought my hatred is already too much all these year, never did I imagine I could hate him even more.
I saw his eyes darted down my fingers. "Felicity, all men are the same. What makes you think that man can accept you?" he continued. His words echoed in my entirety living me out of sanity. "Where are you going, Feli? Look, papa gave us budget for the whole week, he even left us food. Look!" he said happily.
I was sick almost every day. Everything is soar. I wanted to die but I know I am better than this. "Kuya, let's run away?" I pleaded. "Where are we going, then? We will starve!" he shouted. "But it hurts! I want to study", I said almost in a little voice. He stood up and locked the door. "Feli, we can't study. Especially you, you can offer nothing more than this. Remember that," he said in a very low yet irritated manner while pointing into something in between my thighs.
He was right, I remembered it, every single time. It was carved badly on my head, heart and soul. I got nothing to offer more than my body. The very reason why I decided to ran away, after almost two years of living to hell. I thought I had met the worst demon in the whole world, but every night, every month, every year, I got to meet worst demon with bunch of money, enough to send myself to school.
"I got my bachelor's degree years ago, but I got no guts to see your face. I am seeing a psychiatrist now, and she said seeing your terrible face would help to embrace everything and become better. One more thing---" I said as I showed him the ring hugging my finger. "Look. I finally see a man who could treat me more than just a woman who owns that thing", I chucked.
"I am better than you, Kuya." I said as I showed disgust on my face. He was wearing a supposedly-white shirt that turned almost yellow and jersey shorts that God-knows-how-old. I can see pain in his eyes, but it did not shake my determination.
"I am sorry, Feli. I waited for you but---" he whispered as his tears burst. "I would admit that I also waited for your explanations. I wanted to hear you, that maybe I was too young to not hear your intentions, I... needed to know why you let him; but maybe it is your ego, hurt ego, talking now," I said without even a single blink. I had heard enough.
I was about to turn my back on him when he spoke, "I am happy that you came back. I am happy that you are safe. I am happy that you are brave enough to escape. I wished I was as brave as you. I am sorry for being such a coward. Please know that your kuya is very proud of you, Feli! Best wishes!" he said as he turned his back.
Everything happens for a reason; but life is so cruel to let us know what the reason is. Hence, there is one thing I confirmed... I was brave. Indeed, it was a tough fight. I may not have an impeccable past, I would admit a bunch of it needs to be forgotten or covered.
I looked up to the sky, but no longer wonder why the sky’s color is blue. This place brought nothing but pain to me, but the sky still brings me calmness; not making me feel alone in this fight.
I looked down to the diamond ring that clings onto my finger; even this diamond gone through a lot to be this perfect. A smile escaped my lips, I cannot wait for my coming days with Angelo, the only man who showed love and not lust; and that was all that mattered.
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