Erica heard some noise, it sounded as if someone was slurping hungrily. She opened her eyes and saw the head of a man, lowered in between her wide spread legs where she felt warm and moist. Erica found herself groaning sensually. As the man continued with the clitoral stimulation, Erica’s groins were throbbing and her body was building up into a convulsion; the man paused and held his head up. When their eyes met, Erica shrieked in terror. For the man’s face belonged to Hock Meng! She shot out of the bed with beads of perspiration rolling down the side of her temple. Those dreams were back to plague her .
Erica dragged herself off the bed, she wished that she would not have to start the day. She had earlier gave in to her daughter, Sue Lyn’s pitiful pleads, and had promised to bring her to the Mandai Columbarium, to pay respect to Sue Lyn’s late father, Erica’s late and ex-husband and today was the day.
Sue Lyn broke free from her mom and ran towards her daddy’s niche. Erica called out for her, but she just whisked through the long deserted aisle without any intention of slowing down. She missed her daddy terribly. At the tender age of 4, she just couldn’t apprehend why her daddy had chosen to leave for heaven so soon and why can’t he bring her along, just like how he would take her to Aunty Ann’s house whenever her mummy was away at work.
Erica wanted to quicken her pace to catch up but as Hock Meng’s niche drew closer, her feet turned into lead. Erica’s mind was running an uncontrollable slideshows. It started pleasantly with the images of their wedding, birth of Sue Lyn, and their keys to their HDB flat. Then the images took on an ugly turn; filling Erica’s mind with scene of their endless quarrels, the adulterous couples, the painful sight of Hock Meng’s lifeless body. Erica felt a lump in her throat, she wanted to throw up. She gave a violent shake to her head which instantly made her woozy but it helped to jock her out of the wretched train of thoughts.
Sue Lyn’s hasty footsteps came to an abrupt stop. There was someone standing in front of her daddy’s niche, a familiar silhouette. Erica heard her daughter’s voice, “Hi Aunty Ann!” Erica stopped dead in her track; she froze.
“Meng, don’t tell me you are going out again tonight!” Erica came home wearily from her job working as a masseur in a lady’s spa. She was in time to catch her husband, Hock Meng at the door.
“Dear, it’s Alvin’s bachelor’s night. I thought I already told you.” Hock Meng was trying not to sound overly assertive. “I will try to come back early, okay.” Hock Meng made a dash for the lift, hoping that he was fast enough to shake Erica off before she could make a din like the last time. It had caused Hock Meng great embarrassment when their neighbors walked right into their public display of domestic quarrel.
Hock Meng wanted to abscond, as far away from his wife as possible. He was feeling suffocated. “4 years of marriage, had made Erica more demanding, more possessive and less compassionate.” Hock Meng thought. The constant stress of not being able to provide enough for the family was putting a dreadful toil on him. He loved his daughter, but it didn’t stop him from regretting his decision to this shotgun marriage. Hock Meng felt he has been shortchanged, he was envious of his friends who had put their career ahead of marriage and now they were all doing better than him. Hock Meng was quick to conclude that Erica was the reason for his failure.
In the eyes of Erica, Hock Meng was an irresponsible husband who only wanted to have fun and his self-centre nature had landed the family in a dire financial situation. Perhaps it was their secret ritual of blames that drifted the couple apart. They had not been intimate for the last 2 years; Hock Meng resented Erica for punishing him by withholding sex. But Erica wasn’t, her libido was low because she had been worried and depressed.
“Oh, look who’s here! Our Mr. Henpecked gets to come out tonight,” mocked Alvin. Hock Meng cursed Alvin silently in his heart, “Fucker, don’t be too happy, your wife sure will torture you after marriage.” Hock Meng toasted Alvin to a glass of whisky and bottomed it up at a single shot. “Alcohol will take my problem away.” Hock Meng believed, as he helped himself to more whisky. He didn’t stop until he literally dropped.
Erica was lying wide awake beside her daughter. She was overwhelmed by a sense of insecurity as she stared blankly at the pile of unpaid bills. Her husband’s earning as a used car sale-man was not substantial but yet he couldn’t seem to care less. She knew Hock Meng would never understand how she felt, all she wanted was some form of peace and stability. She was sick of the amount of debts from their bank loan, she was sick of worrying if they would never save enough for their daughter’s education. She was sick of being the wife of her utterly useless husband.
Erica picked up the telephoned and dialed Ann’s number, hoping to find some comfort in her. “Hello…” Erica choked and covered her mouth while hot tears streamed down the sides of her cheeks. “Erica, is that you? Are you alright” Ann asked in a concern tone. Erica sucked in a mouthful of air and regained her voice, “Hock Meng, he went out, partying again. I am so sick of this life with him!…..”
After 15 minutes of ranting, Erica was feeling a little more relieved. Ann had promised to talk to Hock Meng, hopefully to knock some sense into him. Erica knew Ann through Hock Meng; Ann was like an elder sister to her. The svelte & attractive looking Ann was a contrast to Erica, who was short and stout. Her post-natal figure only made her look even older. Ann had known Hock Meng since secondary school. They had been close since they were classmates. What Erica hadn’t known was they had even dated for a couple of months. Hock Meng had really like Ann, but she was attracting too much attention from other boys and that made Hock Meng felt really inferior. And it was his inferior complex that thwarted their romance.
“You have reached Dr. Rina Tan. I am not able to answer your call right now, please leave me a message; I will try to get back to you soon.” Straight after the beep tone from the answering machine, an overly excited lady’s voice spoke, “Rina, I tell you; I just saw your husband, Tom, walking into a Lee Hwa Jeweler shop, holding a girl half his age! Aiyo, Rina, what happen? The two of you really divorcing ar?” It was Rina’s mother.
Doctor Rina Tan was a renowned cosmetic surgeon who built her reputation with an unprecedented track record in trans-gender operations. She was a quiet woman in her early 40s, with strong masculine features and shortly cropped dark hair. If she had been chosen to be born as male, she would definitely be one very suave man. She was married, to the son of their family’s friend; he was her first and only man, for Rina had never been in love before. Their marriage was an arrangement to strengthen the ties and to harmonize the business empire of the two families. It was a plan her family had conceived since her birth. She was the only daughter to the family of 5 sons.
Rina was too numb to cry, she just stared at the brown envelop containing their divorce agreement. “You better signed the papers. I want them settled when I am back from Indonesia.” Tom said as he casually threw brown envelop on the coffee table, before making his exit. 18 years of marriage and it all went down with those pieces of papers. She wanted to scream, she wanted to bawl but she just lay on her couch, immobilized.
“Hi babe, are you sleeping already?” It was Tom calling Ann from his luxurious hotel in the heart of Jakarta.
“No, I just ended a call with Erica. She seems to be troubled… as usual.” Ann spoke through the hand-free speaker, as she laced her delicate skin gently with the most expensive cream from a premium brand. Ann continued, “Honey, buy me the SK-II Miracle Water from the airport on your way back okay, my friend told me it really works.” “I will buy you anything you want.” replied Tom. “I love you! Muack!” Ann kissed the speaker of the phone mechanically. Tom felt as if his youth was being revitalized by the invisible kiss of his young mistress. Later that night, he stood naked in front of the full-length mirror, admiring his own physique narcissistically. He reached down to stroke his testicles and grinned lustfully to himself.
Ann got to know Tom, when she went for a job interview for the position of an Admin Assistant in Tom’s shipping company, a year ago. She didn’t get the job; instead she got Tom bewitched with her charms and fabulous figure. After their second date, Tom proposed to bring her to Europe for vacation. She jumped at it, even though she knew right from the start that Tom was trying to sex her up.
Those nights in Europe, Tom had his wildest bedroom fantasies came true. He couldn’t keep his hands off Ann’s perky breasts or his mouth off her sultry lips. Each time they made out, he was orgasmic just hearing Ann’s soft girlish moans. When Ann went down on Tom; his senses exploded into a rhythmic wave of pulses. In his 18 years of marriage with Rina, he had never come close to enjoying sex like now. Tom hated Rina for her prudishness, jerking himself had been far more sexual than thrusting the unresponsive Rina in between her thighs.
On the last night of their trip, Tom gave Ann the keys to his apartment and asked if Ann would like to be his kept-woman. Ann accepted them readily. The end of their trip marked the start of their year-long illicit affair.
“Hey, you want to come over to my place to chill out? Tom is out of town.” Ann called Hock Meng on his cell phone. “Oh, you are lonely, coz your old man is not home huh?” said Hock Meng in a cheeky tone. “Tsk! Stop it. You coming? I bought some bottles vintage red wine from my trip to Australia.” Ann knew Hock Meng would be tempted by those expensive wines. “Okay, see you at 8pm.” Hock Meng replied eagerly.
Ann lit some aromatic candles and took out 2 bohemian crystal wine glasses. “Is everything alright with you and Erica?” asked Ann as she slowly poured the wine in Hock Meng’s glass. Hock Meng rolled his eyes. ”Just what was she complaining to you this time? That I am not sensitive to her feelings or I am not bringing home the money? I really had quite enough of her nonsense! Why must she stress me up all the time?” Hock Meng took a big gulp of wine and continued. “I bloody regret marrying her. We are people with 2 different characters. She is never happy about anything I do.” Hock Meng emptied his glass of wine with a single breathe and gestured Ann to pour him more.
Hock Meng just went on and on, pouring out all his woes to Ann; she just listened, nodded occasionally and made sure that Hock Meng’s wine glass was filled. Before long, the highly intoxicated Hock Meng was unable to hide his frustrated tears anymore. Hock Meng broke down in Ann’s arms. “Relax pal. It’s okay. I understand that you are having a hard time too.” Ann stroked his hair and comforted him, while he pressed his head on Ann’s tender bosoms.
Hock Meng looked at Ann and said, “If only I hadn’t let you go in the past.” Suddenly Ann was burning hot; she bashfully remembered the good old times they had. The feeling of being in love or being worthy to be loved flooded her from the inside. She hadn’t been feeling like that since she became a mistress to someone as old as her father.
Hock Meng’s lips were close to hers; Ann moved away slightly, only to have Hock Meng lunged towards her, knocking her flat on her sofa. Hock Meng’s tongue found his way into Ann’s mouth and they were locked in a passionately wet kiss. “Oh no, just what am I thinking, I am supposed to be helping Erica.” Ann fought off the rush of adrenalin and nudged Hock Meng off her body abruptly.
“I am sorry, Ann” apologized Hock Meng. “I can’t control myself; I always have feelings for you. I have never stopped loving you, Ann.” He looked mesmerizingly into Ann’s enthralling eyes. Ann was moved, she wasn’t sure if Hock Meng’s feelings were true, but she was hungry to be desired. Hock Meng made advancement towards Ann; he pulled down the strips of her translucent top slowly and fondled her breasts and caressed her areoles until they became erected. This time, Ann was feeling so aroused that she didn’t protest. When Hock Meng’s lips went for her nubile nipples, eroticism had already taken over her completely. When Hock Meng entered her, she was already steaming and wet.
Erica was turning and tossing in bed, it was a rather warm night, and she couldn’t get herself in tune for sleep. “Buzzz.. Buzzz..” The sound of Hock Meng’s vibrating cell phone seemed much louder in the still of the night. Erica wondered why Hock Meng was putting his cell phone on silent mode so often these days. She looked at the time; it was already 3am, who would have messaged Hock Meng at such hour? She picked up the cell phone and searched the message inbox.
“I can’t sleep. I want make love to you. And I have something important to tell you too.” Erica couldn’t believe what she was reading. That was not it; when she saw the name of the sender, she almost dropped the phone. “Ann, it was from Ann.” She checked the number. “It was really Ann, the Ann that I had trusted, the same Ann who had promised to help me.” She muttered incoherently to herself. Erica felt the sting of tears in her eyes as she scrolled through the inbox and saw more of Ann’s sensational messages.
That was it. Erica felt weak. Her feet were cold, her hands were clammy. She couldn’t believe that it was happening to her. It was so surreal; she hoped it was just a bad dream, one that she could wake up to.
Hock Meng heard some noise; he opened his eyes and saw Erica sitting on the edge of their bed, with her hands covering her face. “You don’t want to sleep ar?” Hock Meng asked with a tinge of irritation in his voice. Erica reached over to switch on the light beside the bed. Hock Meng shielded his eyes from the sudden glare and when he caught a glimpse of his cell phone, lying beside Erica, he had a very bad hunch.
“Why are you doing this to me? Why are you doing this to me? Why are you doing this to me?” Erica went from inaudible to screaming hysterically at the top of her voice. “What? You crazy is it?” retorted Hock Meng. “You are fucking with Ann! You asshole! Go and die! Bastard!” Erica shrilled as if she had lost her mind.
Sue Lyn woke up, petrified when she witnessed her mummy smashing everything she could get her hands on. Hock Meng gave up trying to stop Erica; he grabbed a t-shirt, wore his jeans, picked his cell phone from the floor and headed straight for the doors.
“Go. Go. Don’t ever come back again.” With that from Erica, Hock Meng slammed the door with a loud bang, leaving the mother & daughter in a chaos of fear and anger.
Rina’s hands were shaking uncontrollably as she poured out different colored pills from numerous bottles of prescription drugs. In the midst of preparing her own lethal cocktail, the scene of Tom’s departure replayed in her mind over & over again.
“Tom, don’t leave me. You can carry on taking care of her; just promise that you don’t divorce me. I can’t do without this marriage.” Rina pleaded desperately. “Don’t you understand Rina, you & I had never loved each other! Ann is pregnant with my child, I want to marry her, give her & our child some kind legitimacy. I don’t give a fuck what you and my family think. Just sign those damn paper, Rina!” Tom retorted heartlessly.
Rina’s eyes were blurred with her tears; she thought she saw dark shadowy figures approaching her bed as her breathing became faster. Rina felt as if she was drowning in a pool of water, but she was actually choking in her own saliva. She was glad that she would never have to wake up to face another day of her miseries. She passed out cold.
After storming out of his flat, leaving Erica & Sue Lyn; Hock Meng driving at a neck-breaking speed towards Ann’s residence. His cell phone rang, it was Ann’s number; he picked up the call with one hand and controlling the stirring wheel with the other. Ann struggled to open mouth, she was feeling apprehensive but she wanted to hear it from Hock Meng. “Hello, Meng, I finally got you.” She continued, “I am pregnant and it’s yours.”
Hock Meng was not ready to hear this. “What the fuck? But I thought we…” And the line was cut abruptly. Ann dialed back but Hock Meng was not picking up her call. “Fucker. All men are fuckers!” Ann buried her face into her pillows and allowing her tears to be soaked through the silk covers. She prayed that the sterile Tom would be foolish enough to believe that this baby was his.
There was a strange hissing sound, the smell of burnt rubber engulfed Hock Meng. He was lying in a pool of his own blood, Hock Meng tried to move but he couldn’t. He was sandwiched tightly in the racket. The unhurt truck driver who collided into Hock Meng’s car rushed to check on him. Blood, spilling out of his mouth, was causing Hock Meng to gag involuntarily. As the fire-fighters cut through the pile of twisted mental to free Hock Meng, the flickering lights from the surrounding suddenly seemed to fade away from him. Hock Meng knew he probably wasn’t going to make it, the thought of Erica & Sue Lyn filled him with remorse. But all was too late.
Erica was pacing uneasily outside the door of the operating theatre while Rina, seated in a wheel chair, passed her by. The ladies recognized each other; Rina was one of Erica’s regular clients in the spa. Their eyes met and Rina smiled weakly at Erica, almost too embarrassed to be caught in such a situation by someone who knew her. But Erica was too distraught to give much thought to Rina, for she was told Hock Meng was in a critical condition.
“Mrs. Lim, we tried our best. We have to declare him dead, at 1.44pm.” explained the poker-faced surgeon. On hearing the news, Erica wanted to cry but she found herself dried out of tears. She just stood grounded until a nurse came and brought her to a counter to fill up the necessary forms for the undertaking of Hock Meng’s body.
“I don’t care whose baby you are carrying. Hock Meng is dead. FUCKING DEAD! Get the hell out of my sight, you shameless bitch!”
From a distance, Rina could hear some vehement commotion, it sounded like someone was shouting and crying at the same time. She turned her head and saw Erica, who was in an abusive rage. She was hurling vulgarities publicly at a girl. Rina watched on intensively. The girl then turned around and dashed towards the exit where Rina was. Rina found this girl strangely familiar. As Ann got closer, Rina gasped. She was Tom’s mistress! Rina had recognized her from those photos taken by her private investigators.
Rina wheeled herself slowly in Erica’s direction. There was a surging feeling in her; a mixture of empathy and an awkward sense of admiration.
It had been more than 7 months since Hock Meng’s death. Everyday had been a struggle for Erica to regain her life. She had to, for the sake of Sue Lyn, she had to pick herself up. Just when she was experiencing some calmness in her life, seeing Ann again brought devastation back. She pulled Sue Lyn away from Ann, as if she was some deadly contagious disease. “I have to get going, the car is waiting.” Ann muttered her excuse to exit rapidly. Erica held on to those scornful tears, until she was sure Ann was gone. Glaring at the niche with Hock Meng’s photo, she fought hard to prevent grief from taking complete control of her.
Tom had just parked his car and he was surprised to see Ann walking nervously in his direction. She had her head turned constantly, as if to check if there was anyone behind her. “Woah, so fast? You okay?” Tom asked. Ann was startled, “Opss! You scared me. Let’s go, I am not feeling too good.” “Are you okay? Is my baby okay? I think I better take you to your gynae. Told you not to come, you don’t listen!” Tom said with a frown. He didn’t approve of Ann coming to the columbarium in the first place. He was superstitious, he didn’t like to idea of his pregnant Ann going to places meant for the dead. “If anything happens to my baby… erm… our baby, then you will regret, I am telling you.” Tom nagged on and on. “Okay, okay. Will you stop now?” Ann snapped impatiently.
“It is not even yours.” Ann thought to herself as she shifted her body away to prevent Tom for touching her. The pot-bellied & balding Tom had disgusted her.
After dropping Sue Lyn off to bed, Erica was extremely drained; she made her way back to her room for a rest. Erica had moved out of the 3-room flat she shared with the late Hock Meng. Home to her now was a 3-storey bungalow at a prestigious estate, belonging to someone who took care of Sue Lyn & herself since the death of Hock Meng.
“I met her at the columbarium in the morning.” Erica said wearily as she removed her bras and crawled under the cover of the bed. “Why do I choose to take Sue Lyn there today? Why must she also be there? Why must I allow myself to be upset by that slut? Why.. why.. why..” Erica was getting hyperventilated. Tears were gushing out of Erica like an over-pressurized dam. Rina, who had changed her name to Rick, reached over and pulled the sobbing Erica tightly in his arms. “It’s alright darling, she cannot hurt us… they cannot hurt us anymore.” he whispered, as he patted Erica gently until she gained her composure.
Rick kissed Erica softly on her lips; then he nibbled along her jaw and bit her lightly on her neck. He had always been very gentle towards Erica for he knew clearly where and how women want to be touched. “I will never leave you, Erica. Marry me.” Rick whispered into Erica’s ear while sliding a huge solitaire diamond ring onto Erica’s bony finger. Erica gasped in surprise. She threw her arms around Rick and drew him closer to her naked body, before she replied, “Yes.” Their tongues met in a passionate union, as Rick plunged his surgically constructed manhood into Erica. She moaned softly to the pleasure as Rick rocked their bodies slowly into orgasm.
As they fell asleep in each other’s arm, the sense of security that Erica was searching for felt so much more tangible than ever. With that huge ring on her finger, she was assured.
“I have some unpleasant news for you, Mr. and Mrs. Lee. Your baby has Ambiguous Genitalia, a birth defect where the outer genitals do not have a typical appearance of either boy or girl. Because of the potential social and psychological effects of this condition, you must make a decision to raise this child as male or female as early as possible.”
Ann collapsed into Tom’s arm, only to have Tom pushed her away. “See what monster you have given birth to!” Tom shouted insensitively at Ann.
“Mr. Lee, calm down. The condition is rare but not life-threatening. You might like to make an appointment to speak with Dr. Rina, I mean, Dr Rick Tan. He has a wealth of experience in the field of gender reassignment. He made headlines recently with his controversial, yet very successful self-operation on the news.” Recommended their doctor.
Tom shook his head in bewilderment while the demented Ann just stared emotionlessly at their crying infant.