Frantic, I spun around the room. Where was she?
I turned to him. “What did you do? Where did she go?” I demanded. I wanted to choke him, but that would require touching him and I never wanted to have my skin on his in any way ever again. An open mouthed shrug was his only response. He seemed to be rather surprised himself. Bastard. I snatched up my cloak and other belongings, and flew out of the door, down the steps, onto the deserted street. I paused for a few moments once I reached the sidewalk, searching for Emma’s shadowy figure. It was nowhere to be found.
Where should I go? Where would she go? Would she head home or wander the streets or jump from a bridge or something else as dramatic and final?
I made my way back through the streets to our house, praying that she was safe but at the same time wishing death upon her for squandering what I had just endured. I knew that I would be feeling the physical pain for days but the emotional and spiritual pain would endure much longer.
I snuck quietly up to Emma’s room. I cracked the door. I could see her huddled into a ball on the floor by the window. She looked up. I could see wet tears glisten on her face in the dim moonlight. But I did not want to speak to her or try to comfort her. I closed the door softly but firmly. I did not know if she had any inkling of what had occurred behind that door in those rooms but we would not speak of it. Ever. She could explain herself in the morning.
There was no sleep for me that night. No tears, either…I stayed true to my promise to myself on that point. I washed myself over and over again in the wash basin, the soap burning, amplifying the rawness I felt in my heart. I finally gave up, accepting that I would probably never feel clean again. Somehow the white night gown I slipped over my head now seemed a lie.
I was no longer a virgin but I did not know what that meant for me now. A wedding night charade? Many a woman had faked virginity but secretly cutting themselves or other more elaborate deceptions. This did not concern me. But what did this mean from a purely religious standpoint? If virginity was required of me by God until my wedding night, what was I now? A harlot? I had a hard time believing that. Was this a sin? And if so, how damning?
My thoughts continued swimming through my brain as the dark wrapped itself around me. I thought of the cadaver’s brain on the table in the auditorium. I wish I had mustered the courage to touch that as I had touched her skin. It is easy to assume the mystical, magical part of spirits and souls until you see the reality. We are all just flesh and blood. Where is the hope in that? I was here, on the brink of something. A fall into the abyss? Or would I find strength, the will to survive this and everything else?
A chink of sunlight peered through a crack in the drapery.
I rose from the bed and threw open the curtains, catching the warm sunlight on my face. There were people on the street below already. I dressed for the morning by myself, wanting to complete the task before Emma arrived to assist me. I was not yet ready to speak to her.