Father and I were in the purple car handed to him for the nth time; where n is equals to the infinity of the fathers who drove their daughters to the JS Prom. For years, the tinted windows of the car and the strangulating seatbelt have created an artificial intimacy—between me and the world outside the car, and him.
The suffocating airconditioner made the car windows misty, and I traced escape holes with my thin fingers. The traces made me recall my tongue, carefully parting the hairs of his stiffening chest that night we lay awake.
“You wash your hands before eating in the party okay? Remember that a fine woman comes to the table with clean hands.”
The overwhelming Shaldan freshener reminded me of the fragrant citruses the vendors in Bankerohan wouldn’t miss to sell. Yet it also smelled of his skin. If it was because of his soap or some cheap cologne, it did not seem important that night. To gorge on him with my bare mouth and to savor the juices of fruits sold in the stalls, both are a pardonable gluttony, sweet as pomelos, watermelons, mangoes, and a man’s body. I fidgeted in my seat.
“Look at how these market women’s naked hands and the flies alternately feast on the city’s harvests. God! Leaves a sour taste in my mouth. You check first the vegetable salad in the party and never touch it with your bare fingers.”
I glanced to see what Father was talking about. But in truth, I wanted to touch the smooth dashboard; the panel was so slick it seemed like his body when it felt mine. He lay down beneath me, like a long, intricately carved table, dignified by a tall and gold-ridged candlestick forking several wicks of fire. The fire seemed to signal the start of the feast of titillating hunger. I closed my eyes and felt him once more.
“Hoy Regina, are you listening to me?” Father asked, without waiting for an answer. “When boys ask you to dance, say no. If they ask you why, say because I said so.”
I pretended to nod at him so that he would not see me taking off my right foot in my sling pump. I started playing with the car’s carpet, stroking its bristles with my soft toes. I wanted to feel him again kissing the sole of my feet and worshiping me.
“The boys will be giving you a fruit drink but you have to say no or that you’re full. It’s a drug that deceives only the weak and the flowers they give are chosen for you as bait. Never ever lose yourself, Regina.”
I drowned my father’s voice with the car’s music, but it was drowned more by the ecstatic screaming inside my head. I cried out that night, like a majestic eagle soaring proud and unafraid as the King of Heavens. Lose yourself Regina.
The city’s lampposts with the waling-waling decorations reminded me of what I was. The flower’s full velvet petals tinged in royal colors of purple and red made me think of every being in this world not giving up on her feelings. I held between my legs what he said was most beautiful. And like the royal flower perpetually venerated by men, I felt like a woman.