Joan laid in her cell, sighing softly when she turned her face into her pillow. Vera’s scent still lingered there, and she hugged the pillow closer to her.
It was morning again, and Vera had already left before she woke. Wistfully she touched her lips, remembering the softness of her kiss.
Joan closed her eyes when she remembered the night before. How passionate she had been, and how close she came to hurting Vera... or worse.
It was a strange feeling, this lust and desire she felt for the smaller woman. Maybe it was the danger of being in the prison. Or maybe it was because there was always something between her and Vera, whether they liked it or not.
She doesn’t regret her time with Vera, definitely doesn’t regret how it felt to be inside her. But she does regret the timing of it. She wasn’t one to move that quickly with intimacy, and it was confusing considering everything she’d been feeling recently.
It was impulsive, and a little out of control. This scared her the most. She often prided herself on her tightly controlled emotions, but she fell apart in front of Vera, allowing herself to be extremely vulnerable.
At the time she turned it around so she was in control of the situation. That made it easier since she was naked, not expecting to run into her at all there. She’d been waiting for anyone else but Vera.
And while she worried she hurt Vera, there was still the small part of her that thought Vera deserved a little of it. That’s what she got for sneaking up on her.
Sometimes Vera really could be very wayward at times. It wasn’t the first time she was lacking in her judgment. But Joan enjoyed their time, no matter how it happened.
“You like to win don’t you, Joan?”
“My father instilled in me the importance of victory.”
Was that what happened in the shower with Vera? Was it a form of winning? She wanted to assert her dominance over the woman, and teach her the consequences of what could happen.
She wanted her then, loving how uncomfortable Vera was, but also knowing that Vera wanted her through her own body’s responses.
It had been a very long time since she’d been intimate with anyone, a woman that is. She wouldn’t call what happened with the psychiatrist a form of intimacy.
It was twisted how much he got inside her mind. The first time being when he lifted the earbuds into her ears and she listened to the music of her youth. There was something so precious and private in how she let herself go then. She hated herself for it, that he was able to see a part of her that not many had seen in a long time. Not even Jianna.
Her hands shaking, she slowly ran her fingers through her hair. It was a way she could comfort herself when no one else was around. She tried hard to remember the music of Dido’s Lament, so she could imagine the peace she once felt.
But that peace never came, and it reminded her of how he took advantage of her. But didn’t she encourage it? Didn’t she encourage his behavior so she could get out of there?
Was it actually rape if she didn’t say no?
Joan felt sick, knowing then that whatever happened between them was a form of abuse. She didn’t want it. She never wanted to be taken advantage of like that, but she was all alone and no one was around to comfort her. The amount of sensitivity and empathy he showed towards her, made it even more confusing.
She never actually consented. It was almost worse because of how tender and kind he could be. It was insidious in nature, and before she knew it, she was slowly going along with the sexual abuse.
A touch here and there, and then more than that. She felt her stomach, thinking of how this was the result of that.
Did she really want her child to experience the same pain she felt? This world was cruel. She wasn’t sure if it was too late to do an abortion. Sometimes she hoped she would have a miscarriage.
This also made her feel horrible, and she took a deep breath, trying to remember the reasons why it was good to have this baby. But it was so hard to see the positives. She was alone in prison, and not even Vera could always be there for her.
And it couldn’t be better for her to go into Protection. The isolation would drive her insane, no matter how much danger she was in. If it was just her, she would deal with it.
Her meals were still delivered to her, and she refused to eat today. Not because she was trying to punish Vera, but because she wasn’t sure she could keep this baby.
“You need to eat, Joan,” Kaz said gently, watching over her in her cell. She laid on her side, staring at the wall with her back to Kaz.
She felt a hand gently stroke through her hair and she closed her eyes. It was Kaz who looked after her now, and she was surprisingly grateful for it. She was a toothless tiger, but she was a woman full of compassion and Joan recognized that.
“I’m not hungry,” she said quietly. She sighed when Kaz rubbed her back, being there for her in a way that Vera couldn’t be.
She couldn’t look at her though, wanting to pretend she didn’t know she was there. It was easier that way, easier to accept her comfort when she couldn’t look her in the eye. It was too humiliating to show this kind of weakness, even if she desperately needed the comfort.
“What’s bothering you?”
Joan didn’t say anything at first. She wasn’t ready to, not with her.
“Did something happen with Ms. Westfall?”
Joan slowly shook her head. “No, nothing happened with her. She just asked me questions.”
She felt the bed move as Kaz stood up, and she was both sad and relieved that she was leaving.
“Whenever you want to talk, I’m here.”
Joan nodded. “I know,” she whispered. Her eyelids grew heavy, suddenly so tired that she just wanted to sleep.
She breathed deeply, moving in and out of consciousness. A hand stroked through her hair again, and soft lips pressed against her temple.
Her lips trembled at the affection, and she felt gentle arms wrap around her. It was then that she realized she was shaking.
“You said I could talk to you,” she whispered. “What if what I experienced wasn’t rape? What if I just accepted it because I had no one else to turn to?”
There was a deep sigh behind her, and she closed her eyes, waiting for the rejection. No one would feel sorry for her knowing how it really happened. She wasn’t forced, therefore how could it actually be rape?
“You didn’t accept it. You didn’t ask for that to happen to you. What happened was rape because he was in a position of power. He should have never done that to you.”
Joan closed her eyes, embarrassed now when she realized it was Vera who was holding her and not Kaz. She never planned on telling Vera that. Not now at least.
“I never said no to him. It just happened.”
Vera squeezed her tighter. “He knew what he was doing. He was the professional, the doctor. You were the patient, and you were heavily medicated. You don’t even remember when I visited you, so he took advantage of you in that state. Do you understand me? He was in the wrong, not you.”
“I’m no victim. I am always in control,” she said, remembering the same words she said to him before she was released.
“Not everyone is in control all the time, not even you,” Vera whispered. “He abused you, and if you never consented then that is rape, nevermind that he was in a position of power.”
“I can’t have a child that was born of this,” she said, her breath hitching as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“Joan, we’ll get through this,” Vera whispered, hugging her close.
“I’m not a good person, and the baby would be better off without knowing his or her parents.”
“Your baby doesn’t need to know him, but this is your child. Please think about it before you do anything drastic.”
Joan closed her eyes tightly, remembering the years she spent with her father, and sometimes wondering if he ever wanted her. If he ever loved her, or if she was just a burden. She didn’t want her child to feel the same way.
He never showed me love, so how can I love my child?
“He used to say that emotion leads to mistakes. I’m too emotional right now to think.”
Vera kissed the back of her neck. “I’ll be here for you no matter what you decide.”
Joan felt a heaviness in her heart, and she thought of a little baby boy or baby girl and holding them in her arms. She imagined what it would be like for her to hold something so precious, and especially one that was a part of her. Could she really do that?
Will I ever forgive myself?
She sighed, taking Vera’s hand and moving it over her stomach. Vera stroked her hand and stomach, moving her hand under her shirt and gently rubbing back and forth until Joan felt sleepy.
“Just take some time,” she whispered. Joan allowed herself to relax under her touch, turning over to face her. She looked into her eyes, seeing the tenderness there. Reaching up to stroke Vera’s cheek, she kissed her softly.
“I don’t have time. I… I’m going to have this baby.”
“Are you sure?”
Joan wasn’t sure, but knew that it was the right thing to do. She couldn’t harm her child, no matter how she felt about the situation.
“Yes,” she said simply. Vera stroked her arm, and she kissed her again.
“I’ll help you in any way I can.”
Joan smiled gently, resting her head on Vera’s shoulder as she held her. She was afraid, but she knew that no matter what, her child would be loved.
“Emotion leads to mistakes.”
I’ll love you in the way he never could with me.