Talk it out
Alyssa sat in the middle of the navy couch with her legs folded and her shivery hands stuffed in the pockets of the Texas University hoodie that swallowed her petite frame.
“I thought I was discharged.” Alyssa articulated in a quiet tone. She intently watched the leggy brunette woman slide the burgundy rimmed square glasses over her straight nose.
“You are.” The brunette strolled over to Alyssa. “Dr. Crawford wants me to meet with you before you leave.” She held her flat hand out toward Alyssa. “I’m Dr. Russell.” Alyssa lightly took Dr. Russell’s hand and the doctor quickly shook it. The warmth of Dr. Russell’s hand sent tingles up Alyssa’s arm. Dr. Russell let go of Alyssa’s hand and took a seat in the lime armchair. “But I’d rather you call me Sylvan.”
“Sylvan.” Alyssa pushed her hand back in the hoodie’s pocket. “Sounds masculine.”
“What can I say…”, Sylvan crossed her legs, her teal pencil skirt hiking up an inch showing a piece of her toned, tanned thigh. “Parents wanted a boy and got a girl instead.”
Silence claimed the room as Sylvan pushed down the record button on the tape recorder. She sat the device on the low brass table in the middle of them, “Before we start, let me tell you about myself.” Sylvan tucked her over-the-shoulder hair behind her ear revealing an elegant gold stud. “I’m from Chicago. Go Cubs!” She held up a triumphant fist. “I moved to Texas because my husband received a tenure position at the University.” She gestured toward Alyssa’s hoodie. Alyssa blinked down at the vivid neon green bold words, Texas University running across her chest. “You might know him, Carter Russell.”
Alyssa’s mouth gave birth to a slender smile, “He’s your husband.”
“Yes.” Sylvan nodded knowing Alyssa knew him before she asked. All the twenty-something girls on campus knew him. They fawned over him like bees to honey. “Has been since I was eighteen.”
Alyssa’s slightly arched eyebrows rumpled, “You got married at eighteen.”
The vague smile on Sylvan’s thin lips faded away. “We got pregnant at seventeen. Our parents didn’t want their esteemed names tarnished so, they created a fanciful romance for the public and orchestrated the wedding of the century for the society pages.” Sylvan’s copper eyes drifted to the photograph hanging in the silver frame on the wall.
Alyssa’s eyes drunk in the picture on the wall. Sylvan was breathtaking with free flowing curls in a white mermaid gown as Carter’s arm draped around her narrow waist, his smile as bright as hers.
Alyssa fluttered her mahogany eyes back to Sylvan, “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I got two wonderful boys out of it and although we may not be madly, deeply in love—he’s my best friend.” Sylvan shifted in the chair. “Enough about me. Let’s talk about you.”
Alyssa’s head dropped, “I don’t want too.”
“I understand.” Sylvan uncrossed her legs and leaned towards Alyssa, “But do this for me—describe everything you’re feeling in one word.”
“I can’t.” Alyssa studied the light wash of the faded jeans she wore. She knew they weren’t hers but she was grateful Samuel brought her something else to wear even if they were Lela’s. “I feel a thousand things at once. My head…my body…everything’s overloading.”
“Then relieve some of the pressure.” Sylvan’s voice was smooth as velvet. “Tell me about it.”
Alyssa swallowed the massive lump in her throat holding back the flood of tears that rose in her eyes, “Bourbon and cedar. My dad hugged me and I couldn’t take it. I cringed in his arms…pulled away like some spazz because his breath reeked of bourbon. He smelled like that—bourbon and cedar. I still smell it.” She blew out a heavy breath. “Its on my skin, absorbed in my pores. Like his lips, hands, his…” Alyssa held up her head showing her rose tinted eyes. Sylvan clinched her mouth as Alyssa went on. “ I’m hurt.” She looked at the gauze covering her left hand. “Eleven stitches. Detective Jensen said I hit him with a beaker.” Alyssa gingerly touched the purple bruise on her cheek. “And he paid me back by punching me.” Her hand grazed along the sutures in her forehead. “And my head hit the floor. The floor.” She looked up, staring at the wheat-hued ceiling. Her chest raced like a child that seen the boogeyman peering out their closet door. She opened her mouth, and then closed it. The bayous of her eyes crest, the flood of despair stormed over her high-boned cheeks. “I’ve had sex before.” She tried to wipe the tears from her eyes but more just came back. She looked passed Sylvan picking up the State Capitol out the window. “And I’ve never been this sore…not even after the first time.” She nodded. “And I didn’t even get to the worst part.”
Sylvan straightened her back, “What’s the worst part?”
“I…um…” Alyssa roughly wiped her face then focused her precipitating eyes on Sylvan. “I…. I…um…” She rubbed her mouth as she bit down on her lip almost drawing blood. “I—”
“You had an orgasm.”
Alyssa cocked her head to the side clinching down her teeth. Tears profusely drained out her eyes as she slowly nodded.
“That doesn’t mean that you wanted it or you liked it. The body is—”
“I know…I know.” She faced Sylvan. “I’m a biology major. I know how the body works. You don’t have to tell me that I didn’t want it because I didn’t.” Anger laced Alyssa’s voice. “You know someone else that knew that.” Alyssa narrowed her almond-shaped eyes. “He did and he did it anyways. Now…I’m filthy…damaged…hollow.” Alyssa rose to her feet. “I’m not doing this anymore. I’m done.” She dried her face with her sleeves. “I’m finished talking it out. I’m leaving.” She pointed to the closed door. “And when I do I’m going to be the me from yesterday morning. I’m moving on.”
“It’s not that simple.” Sylvan reached for the tape recorder. “You can’t just act like it didn’t happen.”
“Watch me.” Alyssa meandered to the door and disappeared around the corner.