He picked up the phone and dialled. He thought that there would be no answers, no advice, just someone to listen. He wasn’t sure if that was what he wanted.
“Samaritans, you are talking to Sarah….”
He took a breath. He lifted the whisky and sipped.
“Take your time.”
Another sip. Another breath. He reached into his pocket for a hanky and wiped his nose. He considered how soft her voice was.
“What can I call you?”
“Whenever you are ready Ross.”
One more drink and then he would either put the phone down or speak. Up until that exact second he wouldn’t know what he was going to do. He could hear the woman breathing.
That one word became a flood of thoughts.
“I can’t handle this.”
“You’ve taken the first step. You’ve already…”
“Don’t give me any of that reflection pish! I know all about that. I would be happy for an honest human reaction. Just for once, you know…A fucking opinion…”
He reminded himself that the anger he was feeling had nothing to do with her.
“You don’t need to apologise. I have no agendas. I am only here for you. It is up to you what you tell me.”
“Sorry! It doesn’t matter! I don’t matter! It is all about Jane.”
“…She is my wife.”
The words hurt him. He swallowed.
“…Fuck! What she went through! Those cunts!”
Putting the phone down wasn’t an option any more.
“…I am so sorry! I should kill them! But that is all Hollywood pish! Who the fuck am I to be able to do that? So guilt…Yes, I feel guilty! I shouldn’t feel this way! I am a selfish bastard!”
“You are answering your own questions.”
“I fucking know that!”
“But only with your own answers.”
“…What does that mean…Sorry…”
“Your answers are what you feel to be right. That doesn’t mean to say that they are.”
“I am here, if you want to talk…”
“…It’s not just about sex! Fuck! I know that most women…No offence…Think that it is about us getting our rocks off! Fucking! Cumming! That is ‘All that they want’! That’s what you lot think about us!! But it’s not! It is about the closeness you feel when you are in your partner. That release which has not only to do about the feeling, it has to about how you feel! Fuck! I don’t understand! I don’t get it!”
He poured out more whisky.
“…What don’t you get?”
She heard the crackle in his sigh.
“… How can she associate me with them? What they did to her was not about anything that we have shared. It has fuck all to do with sex! And even less to do with me who loves and cares and who would die for her! So why can’t she see the difference? Why can’t she see that me making love to her has fuck all to do with what they did…I know about the train of thought that says it is the act! But what fucking act? Making love with a person that you love…Or being raped? They have fuck all to do with each other…Fuck all!!!”
“I am so sorry for what has happened to Jane.”
“I can differentiate! I know the difference between sick bastards and a vile act! How the fuck…Oh Jesus! Am I as bad? Am I the same that I don’t understand? But I don’t!!”
“How you feel is how you feel. No-one should judge.”
“But she does! And I judge her for that. For not being able to separate me from those bastards! I am nothing like them. But if I go near her…If I even try to kiss or hug her, I can see it! She tries not to let it show but she ever so slightly pulls away from me. I repel her! My wife!! I would die for her and yet I repel her.”
He took a breath.
“I thought, you know, when the tests came back and she was clear of everything, we could move on. Can you believe that I thought she had been fucking lucky!! That thought actually crossed my mind! What a dick!!”
“There is nothing that I can say. What the TWO of you have gone through is horrific to the extreme. I suppose that any sort of healing is all about time. I wish I could say something else. But being true to your feelings is a step in the right direction. Venting them with us is a positive step. I will not insult either you or your wife by stating the obvious. You both need to find your own way. I can’t give you a magic solution…Just a touch at a time.”
He could feel his sobs building up.
“It’s not easy. I can see how folk look at us. It is a mixture of pity and revulsion.”
“It is also difficult for everyone who knows what has happened. They are trying to control their reactions as they don’t want to hurt either of you by being cack handed.”
“…Oh so you think they care? You think that they are being awkward for the best?”
“Yes. And so do you! You may need to open up to those who care for you. You know who they are but both you and Jane are keeping a distance from them.”
“Give yourself a break. Give your family and friends a chance.”
He felt the tears in his eyes.
“…I think that is all I can handle tonight!”
“That is up to you.”
He was about to put the phone down but considered what she said. He took another drink and appreciated the silence. She was giving him time. She was letting him decide. He still felt like shit.
“Enough…I can’t do any more.”
His sobs were escaping. This was the first time that he had cried because of how he was now feeling. It had been easier to cry with Jane over the rape.
He put the phone down. He poured out a large whisky and drunk it down in one. He dried his eyes and took a few deep breaths. The whisky hadn’t affected him. He quietly went to their bedroom. He stripped naked but after a few seconds put his boxers back on. She snored. Whether or not it was a message, he didn’t think too much on it. He got into bed and was just about to put his arm around her when Sarah’s words came back to him. He very gently placed his thumb on Jane’s elbow.
A touch at a time.