Chapter Thirty Six: Not Talking About It

 The Saturday after the wedding was a warm and breezy sunny day.  I lay in bed with my head on Fergus’ chest, feeling his breath on my face. He stroked my hair, very slightly, very gently, but his eyes were worried as he murmured, “I wish you would tell me what he did to you.”  My heart began to beat a little faster as I looked away from him, “I can’t” I whispered.

He stopped stroking my hair, and I turned my back on him, my thoughts a jumbled mess as I buried my head in the pillow.  After a few minutes, I sensed his fingers on my spine, and I found myself flinching involuntarily, for the first time in nearly a year.  He had wanted to have sex with me the night before, and I had stopped him. He hadn’t questioned me then, just rolled off me and gone to sleep, but I had known that he was losing patience; I could sense it, in every inch of his body.

  “I know he hurt you,” began Fergus, carefully, “but,” he hesitated, “You would tell me, wouldn’t you? If it was sexual as well, if he hurt you in a sexual way?”

  The implied question interrupted my thoughts, and it confused me because I didn’t have an answer for it.  Then I began to ask myself if he had raped me, if consenting only because he wasn’t going to leave me in peace otherwise, was rape, if I had consented because I was frightened of him, and if that was rape, if I had let him do things to me because I was too scared to say no.  So many scenarios, so many situations where he had had the upper hand, and where I had wanted to say no to him, but hadn’t done.  What did that make him? And what did it make me? I didn’t like to think of the relationship I’d had with Terry as being like that, but that was how he was making me feel…  A familiar, fierce, insistent pain was beginning to throb in my left temple as I closed my eyes once more; I was tenser than I had realised “I really don’t want to talk about this now.” I whispered, “Could you get me a glass of water and my migraine pills?”

  I heard the bed creak, then the floorboards as he climbed out of bed.  I rolled over to face him.  He seemed to tower over me, and there was an edge to his voice as he asked, “Do you want your other pills as well?”

  “What other pills?” I asked, quietly.

  “The ones you can’t drink with”

  I flushed, “My anti-depressants,” I admitted, “I came off them last month.”  Then, in case the significance had bypassed him somehow, I added, “I’m clean, Fergus.”

  He stared at me for a long time; it was as though he was studying me.  Not because he didn’t believe me I don’t think, but because he was trying to see inside my head.  He was reading me, like he used to do when we first met; I thought we were past all that now.

  The next morning, after a fraught and sleepless night, I staggered along the corridor, wincing as the bright sunlight hurt my eyes.  Despite my weariness, my mind was in turmoil, preoccupied by thoughts that I couldn’t control.  I found myself dwelling on Terry, despite myself, and I found myself reliving some of the things that he had done to me, things that I had not forgotten, but which I had driven back into the furthest recesses of my mind, where I wouldn’t have to deal with them.  I had spent a sizeable amount of the previous night arguing with myself as to what, if anything, I should tell Fergus, and he had been fast asleep next to me the whole time, blissfully unaware of my restlessness.  At least he had slept, and wasn’t that better than telling him? Wasn’t it better to let him believe a lie if that gave him peace of mind? Wasn’t it better if he believed that nothing really that bad had happened to me? That I wasn’t broken, or damaged, or… or… or any of those other adjectives that people would use to describe someone in my situation: I couldn’t find an answer that morning, and I still can’t find an answer now.  As I walked towards the living room, I could hear Fliss singing:

            She packed her case

            And kissed goodbye

            Then flew away from me.

The melody seemed to have been lifted from an old Doris Day song that Fliss had on tape somewhere, but the lyrics were new, and sad, so very sad.

  She jerked her head up in surprise as I entered the room, and blushed fiercely as she hastily folded up the piece of paper she had been reading.  I made to leave, but she stopped me and motioned for me to join her on the sofa.  I guessed that the letter was from Adrienne, though I didn’t want to ask because I could sense her awkwardness.  In the end, Fliss brought it up.  “She’s in France,” she said pensively, “I think she means to stay.”  Tears were shining in her eyes as she looked up at me, “I miss her,” there was a tremor in her voice now, “I miss her so much…” she began to cry, softly at first, and then harder.  The letter fell to the floor, forgotten.

  Nat and Dylan returned from their Russian honeymoon a few days ago now, and I saw them last night at Juvenile Hell.  Nat was holding court to a number of press people and miner celebrities when I arrived, and Dylan was gazing at her adoringly.  Once the schmoozing was over with, she returned to his side, and didn’t leave it once all evening; whenever I saw her she was smiling and smiling; she seemed so alive. .

  I saw Fergus almost as soon as I arrived; he was by the bar, chatting to some friends from work who I don’t know very well.  After our last meeting, I was wary of approaching him lest he was still angry with me, so I waited instead for him to come looking for me.

  We didn’t talk about our conversation that morning until we were in the car, travelling home.  “Do you love me?” he asked once there was a lull in our conversation.  “Of course I love you” I replied, a little startled.

  “Like Nat loves Dylan?” he persisted.

  “More than that,” I insisted.

  When we reached the flat, he stopped but didn’t switch off the engine.  “I won’t come in,” he said, tensely, “I think its best I don’t.”

  I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I just nodded and then got out of the car.  I stood on the pavement for what felt like a long time, watching him drive away into the summer sunset.

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