I've always been a girl who kept to herself. I rarely shared my secrets with anyone, to the point that even some of my closest friends never knew what was going on inside of me. Yet, they would all confide in me and make me their own "well." Later on I would discover how hard it was to always be the confidant and never the one confiding; people began to think my feelings were non-existent. I realized how some things could or could not come to pass based on my discretion and how neglected and left out I felt. Hence I wrote "The Well," my own way of encouraging people, especially women, to speak out and express what is happening inside our minds and our hearts. I had to start with myself.
What harm will be done if I tell her? Just once! She won't be here for long, few weeks and everything will be buried with her: the pain, the shame, the guilt and the madness.
I never shared my feelings with anyone. Every time I tried, words wouldn't escape my mouth. I kept everything in a deep well I dug years ago, somewhere inside. A bottomless well that got deeper and deeper over the years. I thought I was sparing my dignity, among other things. I never knew I'd built a steel shell around myself, not until it was too late.
Ironically, it wasn't until one sad afternoon that I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My mother had hard time deciding how to tell me the sad news, not knowing that my life was about to take a new turn.
"Her heart is so weak. Doctors say she needs an immediate transplant. She's on the waiting list, but too many people have the same condition and..."
She needn't say more. My cousin was dying. I got it.
At first, the shock was enormous, but then I started to see it.
She's dying... let her take your burden to the grave.
I knew I should be ashamed of myself to think like that, but I was desperate and shame was the least of my worries. I started rationalizing and encouraging myself to go ahead and get over with it... what's better than sharing your deeply held secrets with a dying person?
That night I couldn't sleep; my blood was boiling with anticipation. Tomorrow I'll be free. Free at last.
The next day I made sure to go to the hospital at a time when there would be no visitors, just her and me. I entered the room wearing a shy smile; she had such good faith in me, I knew that she would believe I was faking the smile to not cry when I saw her in that condition. She would never know I was trying to hide my shame behind that sheepish smile...
I asked her how she was, and she went on and on about how good she's feeling and how she's accepting her fate. Meanwhile, I was thinking how to start telling her what I really came for. But I didn't need to; she did it for me.
"Seems like you want to say something" she said suddenly, interrupting herself as she noticed that my mind was somewhere else.
"Well... I don't think it's a good time..." I stammered, knowing it was the perfect time, at least for me.
"Oh, for God sake!" she moaned. "It's not like we have much time left!"
"Well... you asked for it" I said half jokingly.
She shifted in her bed, inspecting me with eager eyes; she had never seen me in such a confessional position. I fidgeted in my seat, avoiding locking eyes with her.
"You know how I always said I didn't have secrets like other girls" I kicked it off. "Well, that's not exactly true."
She smiled knowingly and nodded for me to continue.
"You know I always prefer to keep things to myself, but now I feel that I can't bear it anymore. It's eating away at me." I paused here and looked timidly at her. "Promise me you won't think ill of me or judge me for anything I say"
"Well, this might look silly I know, but I'm in love."
"That's good for a start!" she said with a curt nod.
"Well, that's not all," I started speaking rapidly as to not to hear what I was saying. "I was in love with my best friend's fiancé. I was in love with him before I knew they were in a relationship. I never had the guts to tell her, I just choked it up, and it killed me. I listened to her when she talked about him. I gave her advice and helped them make-up whenever they had a fight. I even picked out gifts for him with her. It was eating me alive, and nobody knew."
"Then what happened?"
"As I expected, they broke up. I am ashamed to admit that part of me was happy. No! Not only a part of me; I was happy. Actually, it was the happiest day of my life. I acted sorry while I was consoling her, but inside I felt like dancing with joy. The worst of all is that I didn't feel guilty, not at all. I knew they were so different, a total mismatch. I knew it, but I went so far as to think that he had something for me. How stupid! You know sometimes you want something so badly that you think you feel it. Desire mistaken for a hunch. How pathetic!"
She smiled and waited for me to continue. I looked at her through the corner of my eye, and then blurted: "I never told you my bus driver tried to rape me when I was sixteen."
She stared in awe, said nothing.
"Well, I don't like to remember the details; it took me a good deal of time to get over it. Thank God I remembered my mother's advice. ‘Go for the eyes.' Fortunately, I had my nails done that day; I almost took out his eyeball!" I grinned uneasily, and she giggled along, trying to soothe me into going on. "Worse yet is that he still drove me to and from school for the rest of the year," I said coarsely.
I readjusted myself on the cushioned chair. "I... I killed our neighbor's son."
She opened her eyes wide and stared with shock. She tried to mutter something but she couldn't make anything up.
"He was 2 or 3 years old, and he..." I paused, fighting back the tears that started to stream down my face. "He was trying to get a cherry from the fruit bowl, so I helped him to some. It didn't occur to me that he'd swallow the seed... it was too big for him. I didn't know what to do, I ran for help, but it was too late."
She buried her face with her hands. And before she asked anything, I answered her unspoken question. "Nobody knew I gave him the cherry." I gasped, looked her in the eye and cried out, "I didn't mean to do it!"
A heavy silence prevailed for few minutes, then without uttering a single word, I stormed out of the room. That was the last time I saw her.
For several days before she died, she tried to call me and she left me messages that I wouldn't care to check. Whenever my mom asked me why I didn't visit her, I would say I couldn't bare seeing her in that situation. After the funeral, I ran home as fast as I could, stormed into my room, buried my face in the pillow and wept for hours.
Several days after that, I hesitantly picked up my phone. With a trembling hand, I opened my messages, not knowing why I was doing it then. Maybe she wanted to tell me something. I hesitated for a moment. Finally, I opened the brief messages, one after another, all of them said the same thing:
"I was raped too. You never told me attacking the rapist's eyes would save me."