Her Secret’s Safe with Me
My leg cast is off. Physically I’m okay, but my courage is gone. I had hoped to get a job in a bank or as a political aide here in San Juan. I had hoped to be engaged to Maria by now. Instead, I’m sitting alone in a small apartment staring at a big white bird in a cage. Maria’s parting gift.
We didn’t break up exactly. She’s left the city. I imagine she is staying with her grandmother near the rainforest. She left after I criticized her brother Silvio. I’ve been trying to figure this guy out, why he is intent on embarrassing me when all of us are out together.
Maria let slip that he was jealous. I know Silvio has a steady girlfriend, and other women follow him around as well. The guy has money. I had to wonder why he’d be jealous of me. What could Maria have meant?
Then, I started putting a few things together. How Silvio had danced with Maria at the Santurce market. No one from the States would have believed they were brother and sister. How he always told Maria when to be home at night. She’d never spent the night with me. I had assumed Silvio was old-fashioned, protective. Yet he made fun of the way she looked if, she did her hair up or put on make-up. It didn’t add up, until I let myself imagine the worse. They were lovers.
Maria denied it at first. She looked shocked when I asked her if he had ever touched her inappropriately. She became a different woman: frantic, angry. I saw all the light go out of her eyes. She slumped in the corner by my chair and cried. I walked over to try to comfort her. I didn’t know what to say, so I stroked her hair, kneeled and kissed her cheek. She would not look at me. She was angry at me! She got up after awhile and walked out the door. That was two weeks ago. The two of us had a dinner date for my birthday that evening. Yeah.
For two weeks I’ve been telling myself, “Will, you are not equipped emotionally for this. Incest wrecks psychological havoc you can’t hope to understand. You’ve known Maria since college, since 2009, and you never saw this coming!” I haven’t left the apartment much, wanting to avoid Silvio and Maria’s friends. I don’t know anyone I can talk to here, so I am thinking of flying back to New York or Washington, D.C. But I’ve decided not to leave the island before talking to Maria.
“Let’s say we fly, big fella?” I murmur, opening the birdcage. How would you like to visit the rainforest?”