His beaten shoulders heaved in the turquoise shimmer of the moon. Beams spilled in through the wicker blind, branding him with zebra stripes of midnight luminosity across his naked back. He took on the appearance of a wounded wild beast; lame and hopelessly caught. Silent spherical tears tumbled down his prominent nose and landed guiltily at his bare feet, bathing the distressed pine floor boards.
I remember kneeling in the salty puddle.
I squatted inbetween his legs for a few moments, peering up at his soggy, ashamed face, and brushing his coarse, ebony hair away from his hewn, dark cheekbones. He couldn't meet my gaze. He was broken.
I remember how he tried in vain to form the words, tried to vocalise what had happened to him. But each time, after whispering one mere meek syllable, the anguish, rage and suffocating sorrow would gurgle up into his throat, and feverishly bubble into his mouth, causing him to stutter, spit and choke on his own grief.
I was afraid he might drown in his own misery.
His naked torso was embroidered with a spider's web of tear tracks, glistening in the light, which made him almost sparkle. I remember coaxing him to lie down; width-ways across the bed, but then the spider's web shifted, and its beauty and diamond-cut paths were destroyed. He lost his sparkle.
Truth is; it had vanished long before then. Four years previously, he had been stripped of words. His confidence and his ability to trust had both been crudely pawned for soul consuming fear and endless doubt. Yet I will always remember him at his most beautiful, the night he told me he had been raped.
As we lay diagonally across the downy duvet, he told me of how he had been repeatedly abused by a supposed family friend, in that very room. It had insipid, pale walls and a murky ceiling; it began to reek of despair... like the smell of warm dentist's gloves mixed with rotting scented flowers. I remember gently tracing my finger tips around the outline of salmon pink and citrine daisies on the worn cotton bed cover as he spoke, trying not to intimidate him with any eye contact. I wanted him to empty his heart onto that duvet. To place all of his lacerating memories on it, so that we could pick over them like vultures and then discard them without care, in random forgotten places, as a child does with unwanted pieces of Lego. I wanted him to let go of everything he had guarded for so long, hidden deep in the secret cupboards of his mind, with himself as the only sentinel; let it come spilling to the ground, and form a stream of grief that would ebb away with his bitter tears.
I was overwhelmed. His words stung me. With every detail of how he was violated, needle pin pricks stabbed at my nauseous insides; I was sickened by his story. I felt contorted, twisted, and manipulated by his abuser. He had shattered the man I was madly in love with; he had hurt him and reduced him to a whimpering child in my arms. I was only sixteen myself, and built like a sparrow; I had delicate wrists and ankles that only just about supported my own weight, let alone that of a destroyed young man.
We sat up talking until the moonlight grew warm. His head nestled in the crook of my arm; by now we needed the headboard to support our exhausted bodies. We had sat vigil to his atrocities all night. We wept for them, we regretted them, and we freed them from the human cage of his lonely body. But like most wild things that are released, they did not immediately settle into their new surroundings with ease.
They dragged up question after question, raised issue after issue, and the sun was hot in the sky before our tongues rested. That night, our childhood perished.