I didn’t remember how it turned out like this. Everything seemed fine just hours ago. I looked at my trembling hands as I sat on a leather couch that smelled of fresh polish. The lighting in this room was dim, which was good because I didn’t want anyone to see my face. My head was kept low, out of the sight of the people walking around me.
The soft music played at the back did nothing to sooth my troubled heart. The light chatter of the people around only made it harder for me to breath. The shimmering chandelier the size of a mini cooper hung overhead provided no light to clear the darkness in my shattered heart. The exquisite art pieces and posh carpet faded to the background like they were nothing worth to be admired and adored.
Tears were running down my cheeks and I allowed them to meet at the tip of my chin before dripping off onto my jeans. The tears reminded me of the time when the news of mum and dad came. It reminded me of the looks on their face as they smiled brightly at Laura and me before leaving the house for the very last time and to their eventual deaths.
“You take care of your big sister, Layla.” my mother’s words resonated within me as I remembered our final moment together. Her hands were soft against my face and the kiss on my face was the single most precious memory I had of her.
They always knew I was more responsible than my sister and even though Laura was older than me, I had never failed to assume the position to be the one in charge. At least until Laura turned nineteen and began mixing with those wretched friends of hers.
But the fact remained, I was still the responsible one. I was entrusted to take care of my sister and to care for her well-being. I shouldn’t have let my aunt peruse Laura as if she was a sex slave. I shouldn’t even participate in the ridiculousness. I should have noticed the pain Laura endured sooner. I should have known how to untie those ropes, or even learned to untie them first before even doing anything to her. And most of all I shouldn’t have pushed her that much.
But my sadistically inclined lust commanded me like a misguided general leading his army into an abysmal end. I thought I knew best. I thought I couldn’t have done anything wrong.
I was wrong.
“How is she?” I heard my aunt asked softly. The couch shifted as she stood up. A pair of feet came into my view.
“She’s fine. The muscle tear is serious but the damage should heal. She strained her tendon too but I didn’t think it is anything too serious.” a man, addressed by my aunt as Rowan and a friend of hers I presumed, informed with a wry tone.
“That’s good. Any long term effect?” my aunt asked.
“No. But she will have to rest for a few days so that the muscles can heal properly. And she needs to stay off of any heavy activity for at least six weeks.” he stressed on the words ‘heavy activity’ and that told me he might know of aunt Mary’s sadomasochistic endeavors.
“Alright. I understand.” my aunt’s voice was defeated, almost as if she was embarrassed to say anything further.
“I’ll get prescribe her some painkillers for the pain and anti-histamine for the swelling. I’ll keep monitoring her for now and if she develops fever, we may have to admit her.”the man added, sounding exactly like a doctor. I chanced a glance at him.
Rowan was a man in his thirties, straight cut hair, wearing spectacle, pink shirt and black pants, the sleeve folded up until his mid arm. He looked like he could be working in a pediatric department with that nice, cleanly shaven, approachable and friendly face.
“Thanks Rowan.” Aunt Mary gave a curt nod. “Can I see her now?”
“She’s asleep. I gave her sedative to sleep through the pain and stop her from moving too much. The first few hours are crucial for a good recovery ahead. She won’t be waking anytime soon. You might want to head back home and rest first. She should wake the next morning.” Rowan explained.
“I see. Well, I guess I’ll head back first.”
My heart raced. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to leave this place, the place where I could find solace and hide from reality, from the coming retribution I so well deserved, from the disappointed look on aunt Mary’s face. It’s like I was a five year old once more, waiting to be given an earful at the dining table for breaking a vase.
“Mer,” the man said, his voice laden uncertainty. “This never happened before. I thought you’re always careful.”
“I know.” Aunt Mary sighed solemnly.
“Is it because…” the man trailed off.
“No, it has nothing to do with her being my niece.” my aunt snapped.
“I’m sorry.” the man apologized sincerely. “But people aren’t taking it lightly that you turned your niece into a sub. It’s taboo and all, you know.”
“If a prosecutor can be tied and fucked by the defendant that she was supposed to prosecute a few days later within these walls, I can’t see how our relationship is any worse.” aunt Mary remarked pointedly.
“You have a point.” Rowan sighed and shook his head.
“Besides, this place embraces taboos. It is where people go to satisfy their darkest fantasies without being scorn by society. You, as I recalled, fucked two of your patients at the same time a few days ago at room number seven.”
I suddenly felt really out of place as I reluctantly listened to their conversation. Then, something they said hit me. Could this place be the club aunt Mary told Laura?
In fact, I had been thinking for quite a while now. Why didn’t aunt Mary bring Laura to the hospital. Why bring her to some posh club that seemed nothing to do with healthcare and more to do with rich people burning money for the wrong things. And now I realized why.
Hospital staff asked too many questions. Questions that would lead to an insurmountable trouble for aunt Mary if answered. It would only be wise to bring Laura to the club and seek medical treatment from a doctor that wasn’t a stranger to taboos and understood the incestuous relationship that would otherwise be frowned upon.
“Layla.” aunt Mary’s voice startled me, pulling me away from my thoughts. “Time to go.”
Aunt Mary drove silently on the road as I rode shotgun, equally as quiet as she was. I hazarded a glance and instantly regretted it. Her face was strained. An unspoken disappointment was written all over her face. Cringing, I turned to the window and stared absentmindedly at the white marking on the road.
The car suddenly cut into a driveway and jerked to a stop. I heard the door unlocked and aunt Mary went out of the car. The door was slammed shut and it felt like a kick to my stomach. I bit my lips and squeezed my eyes shut, trying to stop myself from crying again.
God, it was terrible. I would have felt better if aunt Mary had just screamed at me. I would even be grateful if she would slap me across the face. In fact, anything would be fine. Any retribution would be welcomed. Anything except this silence. The silence that was etching at my heart and exacerbating the guilt I felt.
Aunt Mary hadn’t said a thing to me since Rowan went into the room to examine Laura. Except for the four words – Laura, Time to go. The words were cold and indifferent, as if she was saying it because she didn’t have any other choice.
When the driver’s door opened, I heard the crumpling noise of polystyrene bag. I didn’t turn to see what she had bought because I was scare to look her in the eyes. The eyes of disappointment and regret, anger and resignation…the eyes that no longer see me as the sweet niece she had always thought I was.
I heard the bag being tossed to the backseat haphazardly. Then, there’s a popping sound as if a cork was yanked out of a champagne bottle. The smell of alcohol immediately hit me and I turned to my aunt. To my horror, she was taking a swig off a bottle of wine. Every inch of my nerve prickled with worry. My heart clenched as she took another long swig. She had never taken alcohol like that before. She always drank them off a cup. And most of all, she never drank when she drives.
“Aunt Mary?” I muttered nervously.
“Don’t speak.” she spat and took another swig. “Hold this.” she handed me the bottle of wine and then gunned the engine.
As she drove, I took the task between passing her the bottle when she needed it and checking the vicinity for cops. I never liked the idea of drunk driving since my parents were killed by an idiot whom thought he could drive a FWD with an alcohol concentration seventeen times the legal limit in his blood.
But with the predicament at hand, I didn’t raise any objection. I did the only thing I could, checking for cops, passing her the bottle, and be wary of any car in front of us that we might accidentally hit.
We reached our home , much to my relief, without any incident. Aunt Mary killed the engine, snatched the bottle away from my hand and left the car while I was still sitting there not knowing what to do. I watched her climbed the steps one unsteady step at a time and when she reached the door, she clumsily fished her bag for the key. The alcohol clearly had taken effect. When she got in, she left the door wide open and disappeared into the house.
Reluctantly, I stepped out of the car and went into the house. When I reached the living room, aunt Mary had just walked out of the kitchen. The bottle was still in her hand.
“You dinner in on the table.” she said coldly before heading upstairs. I watched her lumbered up the steps before turning to a corner. Finally, I heard the door shut. The sound punctured my heart and I broke down and began crying.
After emptying my tear ducts for what seemed to be the umpteenth time, I closed the front door. I made a point to lock it since the last thing I wanted was a burglar slipping in to our house. I went to the kitchen next and when I saw what was on the table, my heart cringed. I felt queasy as I looked at my dinner. It was a piece of cake.
My favorite cake, Dark Forest. The piece of cake that aunt Mary had promised to buy for me because she thought I felt left behind. Because she didn’t know that I had lied to her. The cake that reminded me of my stupidity and the cruelty Laura suffered and the agony she had to endure for the following weeks.
I dragged the chair dejectedly and took a seat. There’s a tiny plastic fork in the box. I picked it up and fork a piece of the confectionery to my mouth. I slowly chewed and rolled the cake around my tongue. The cream didn’t taste sweet. I forked another piece. The chocolate tasted bitter. I forked the strawberry. The little fruit was bland. This was the first time a cake had tasted so disgustingly horrid to me. But I kept eating since I didn’t really know what else I could be doing.
Aunt Mary did not come out of her room ever since she was back. The house felt really empty, even more empty than before. The subtle warmth that had developed over the years of sweet memories was replaced with a frigid silence. The silence that reminded me of my mistake, singeing my heart with guilt.
When I hit the bed, I cried as I thought for hours how I could reverse the time and do things right. Stop aunt Mary from doing the things she did to Laura. Stop my sister from befriending the wrong kinds of friends. Stop myself from becoming what I had become. A sadist. An unforgivable sadist. Finally, stop my parents from going on that trip that took their life.
I wanted to start over again.
But that’s impossible.
Sleep didn’t come easily that night.