“Grab a coffee and come join me at the table. I need to tell you something,” I said.
He went out back to the pila and grabbed his favourite ceramic mug, filled it with boiling water from the kettle on the stove, and sat at the table. Mixing in the instant coffee from the INCASA jar that constantly sat there, we both, somewhat apprehensively, settled in. We sat facing each other, his hands resting open palmed up on the worn wooden tabletop, my hands fiercely gripping its rough edge.
I felt my throat tighten as I gazed into his tired face and spoke the words. “While you were away,” I swallowed, my throat tight and dry, “something terrible happened.”
I no longer had black eyes, the whites of my eyes no longer blood filled from broken capillaries, the split lip healed, the raised red welts on my neck barely visible, all having faded over the past ten days. It wasn’t evident what I might say.
“You know, when you were away, I went to the beach at Monterrico for a break.”
He nodded, his smile slowly tightening as he took in my tone.
“While I was there, a man broke into my cabin. It was pitch dark, the middle of the night. I had barricaded the doors … but still he got in.” My voice quavered, my eyes radiating humiliation as I spoke, not wanting to say the rest. “He attacked me, beat me senseless, sexually assaulted me and tried to kill me.”
Spontaneously reaching for me across the table, spilling his coffee, he almost shouted. “What?”
“Oh my god! Are you Ok?” Don now almost whispering, crushed my hands as if to save me. His coffee spread across the pink tablecloth like a bloodstain and ran down onto the ceramic floor. Softening his grip, he gently folded my hands in his larger ones, rough and calloused after his weeks of construction work.
I could only shake my head-mute, my body hunched forward as if in agony. What could I say? How much could I tell? “I’m here and in one piece,” I replied, hoping my calm words would soften the worried look on his face. But there was no softening the details and the recounting of the many injuries.
We sat like that, both of us crying, our hands tightly intertwined across the damp table.
As I stared into my son’s eyes, I was filled with such love for him. But unspoken was the profound sense of inadequacy I felt as a parent, burdening him with this harsh news.
“Oh Mom, I’m so sorry. That’s unbelievably terrible!” he said, suddenly standing by my side, gripping my shoulders. “Oh, Mom, how could he? How could you? I don’t know what to say? What can I do?” he moaned, his face a mask of grief.
I took a deep breath, then said, “I’m okay, really, I am …but… I’m still quite jittery and anxious. I’m sure I’ll get over it soon.”
“Please son, don’t worry. It was shocking and scary, but otherwise I’m fine,” I said, telling him two truths and a lie.
Suzn Morgan is a fiction and nonfiction writer. She is part of the All Writey Writers Group meeting Monday mornings at AWCS.