I feel this sinking feeling in my stomach like I’m going to throw up.
He was fascinated by little girls?! So it wasn’t just me? Many other girls had been bought and sold like property for his amusement.
It seems Tosin notices my reaction and puts his hands on mine but that doesn’t help. I snatch my hand away before it reaches mine. I’m too disgusted for anything physical. I’m glad he understands and he doesn’t try to touch me again.
‘I’m so sorry. You don’t even understand how sorry I am. When I found out about my dad’s “activities” you were the first person that came to mind.’
‘I know Daddy wasn’t exactly the best… ok he was horrible but I can’t help but wonder… did he know? Is it possible he knew and still sent me there?’
I wish I could rest my back against something but I can’t. This is just too much for me. All this. What next? All I wanted was a have a nice night out after staying indoors for weeks not this. Not this.
I let out a deep sigh. How I wish I could let out a sigh and all my worries would disappear.
‘I don’t think your father knew at the time.’
Did I say that out loud?
‘I know your father sent you to my house back then to collect his watch but I doubt your father knew what my dad was into. I think if he did, he would have blackmailed him for money and not sent you to collect the stupid watch.’
Yeah. Daddy was a greedy drunk, there’s no way he would have passed on the opportunity to get money off of Tosin’s dad.
‘I wondered for so long if my dad hurt you in any way. When I asked him about you back then, why you never came down to eat the noodles I made for you, he told me that you said you had to go meet your dad. That your dad was waiting for you.’
I quietly watch Tosin as he tells me what happened. He’s not looking at me anymore but staring at the heat balm like it held all the secrets of his past. He’s hurting too, we both are. Slowly, I place my good foot on the floor and carefully place the other so it won’t hurt as much. The pain comes despite my effort and I suck in my breath. Tosin turns to me at that moment and tries to help me back onto the stool but I refuse and hold him still.
I caress his cheeks while looking into his eyes, it’s filled with sadness. It’s almost like I can see mine reflected in his.
‘I know I’m paying for the whole night but this isn’t what I had in mind.’
Despite the situation I couldn’t stop the giggle that escaped my lips and then the tears came.
Without saying another word, Tosin holds me to himself and lets me cry.
For years I slowly taught myself to be strong, to never show weakness, to never allow my emotions show no matter how painful the situation may be but tonight, just this once, I want to be that little girl again. Before Daddy’s alcoholic rage, before losing Mummy, before ever meeting Tosin and his dad. I want to be held and loved the way mummy held and loved me. I’m so tired of holding it in that I let it all out and Tosin just holds me. Like I’m an egg, just the way mummy used to.
I don’t know how long we remain in each other’s arms but I feel his them loosen and I’m tempted to hold him tighter but I don’t.
‘I hope you can forgive me for what happened. All these years I’ve blamed myself for what might or might not have happened to you that night because I’m the one that found you that night. I’m the one that led you into the house, to my fathers’ room…’
I watch him battle with the guilt and I can’t help but feel sorry for him.
‘… I hoped that you were different, that he never put his hands on you.’
He says this while cradling my face in his hands.
‘And from your reaction, I can see that I’m terribly wrong.’
I pull my face away from his hands and let out a deep sigh. One that feels like it’s from my very soul.
‘I’ve searched for you all these years you know.’
He takes a few steps away and turns his back to me as if gathering his thoughts before facing me again.
‘When I found out about what he was into, I searched for you. I’ve always wondered what happened to you but the thing with my dad pushed me to seek you out.’
Tosin searched for me? But then… does that mean he already knew about my ‘work’?
‘You said you searched for me. So you knew it was me when we first met?’
‘No, I really didn’t. I would have said something. Meeting you that night was pure coincidence.’
‘Then how did you know it was me?’
‘Don’t be mad but your roommate is really chatty. I got more curious about you and I decided to take a chance and I was right.’
He has been looking for me… has daddy been looking for me too? It didn’t seem like a coincidence that we met that night. This is just too much.
My ankle starts throbbing forcing me to sit down.
‘If it’s not too much, can you tell me what happened to you that night? I’ve always wondered and imagined the worst things. Please, I want to know.’
He wants to know… It feels like I’m being thrown back in time as I recall that very night…