(Warning:  The following article is long and melodramatic.   If you got  the time, please continue reading.  However,  the theme may not be suitable for young audiences;  and adult  supervision is recommended.  Any similarity of events and  characters to real life is purely coincidental and not intended. Nonetheless, your views and insights to the story at the comment section would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks. -Taribong)

It’s  past   three   o’clock in the morning and i barely had sleep.  My whole body ached from the beating i had.   My right foot is swollen and it really hurts.  Pain overwhelmed me but the pain inside had been worse.

My wife lay fast asleep  beside me.   Her arms wrapped around my neck and her gentle snore filled our room engulfed  in darkness,  the only light came from the red dot of the television set on standby mode.

The past day had been frantic.  I just wanted it to pass and let it be just one damned normal day.  But,  the experience was indeed liberating.

For  almost  eight months, I have kept secret that one fateful afternoon i gave in to temptation with my sister-in-law’s  househelp in Cavite.  I knew Mariel had the hots for me;   I did not care at all and just shrugged it off.  My brother’s  widow  Elena had asked me to do their plumbing because their regular maintenance guy has gone abroad; i dutifully obliged.  Elena was  still  in the office, and my nephews  and nieces were all  in  school when i arrived;  only Mariel was  at home.

After i had accomplished my task,  i took off my shirt and used it to dry the dripping sweat from my body.   Then Mariel  suddenly embraced me and kissed me on the lips.   She was aggressive and dragged me to her room near the kitchen.   I reciprocated her advances.   I was careful not to explode inside her but she locked  her legs with mine.  The intensity of the moment prevented me from  pulling back and then it was too late.

Nobody knew of the incident except Mariel and me.  Tony,  Mariel’s husband, was off to Romblon for work  and had been away for two months when the incident happened.  It was only two weeks after that incident that Tony returned home.

Six weeks  passed  when i received news from Mariel  that she  is pregnant  with my baby.   Abortion was an option, but we were able to regain our composure and decided that Mariel proceed with her pregnancy.  Our tryst was repeated on three occasions while Tony was away, and Elena and her kids were also out of the house.  When Tony knew about Mariel’s pregnancy, he disowned the child in her womb; and he distanced himself from Mariel.

There was a time that i have been longing so hard for Mariel and i could not take her off my mind.  At one time,  I thought of leaving my family.   I felt Mariel loved me more than my wife Zeny did.    The love and  care  and carresses  that  Mariel showed me  only magnified Zeny’s inadequacies.  It seemed Zeny’s  affection lacked  fire,  her  flaws  were increasing  and  i was falling into the labyrinth of sin.

My wife had also complained about my indifference towards her at times,  i had argued with her and had belatedly told  her not to mind because it was just stress.    My close friends at the office also noticed changes in my behavior and i had to confide to them, if only to ease the burden on my shoulders,  and  pleaded   with them to keep it a secret as well.  I was able to save  extra income for Mariel’s   prenatal  check-ups and was also able to purchase baby’s  clothing and  feeding utensils.

Seven weeks before due date,  Mariel gave birth to a baby girl.  It was my father (who also lived in their neighborhood) who brought Mariel to the hospital.  When my father saw the child, he sensed something but never confronted Mariel.  After i learned  Mariel’s delivery,  i hurriedly excused myself from the office to  see her and the baby.   When i got there, i got some scolding from my father and i eventually admitted to the deed.  He advised me to take care of the child and face the consequences.

As  the day passed,  the tension grew and my burden became heavier.  The  newborn needed to stay at the  ICU.   The expenses were growing by the hour for the rental of the incubator.  I could not be with Mariel or the baby,  and i feared i would not be able to sustain their needs any longer.   Besides,  my work at the office is badly affected. My attention was divided by my worries. Worse,  my acts would not be a secret any more.

The following day was my birthday and i celebrated it without fanfare.   My family noticed that i was not my usual self but i just told them to just let it pass.  I had a terrible headache and was  thinking about my newborn child,  Mariel,  my family,  my Zeny, my kids.  What if Zeny found out?   Would my kids be able to accept their newborn half-sister?  My mind was in circus and i had to seek solace from the advices of my friends no matter how irritated they may have already been with me.  The best advice they had for me was  to confide everything to my wife and bravely face the consequences.  They warned it would be hard but then i must.  After all,  the truth would set me free.

Yesterday, i had my breakfast and was about to leave for office but i know i would not be able to work well for the day.  I decided to stay put.  My two kids have gone to school and only the third one was left behind.  I asked him to  go play outside as Mommy and i have to talk about something important.

After my son left, i approached Zeny and told her i have something to tell her and that i was asking her forgiveness for the sin i have committed, that i was very sorry for  what i had done and that i would  never do it again.

Zeny said she already sensed something was wrong even before i opened my mouth and immediately asked if it was Mariel.   I answered  yes and  Zeny became  angry and a barrage of questions came by.   She became furious.  She was crying and screaming at the top  of  her voice.   She was scolding,  berating me why i had done her wrong.   I also began to cry. I calmly and humbly told her everything she wanted to know.

Question after question  the blows came, one after another, and I took them all.  And wow,  they really hurt.  On the face, on the neck, at the chest, at my arms, at my back.   Zeny hit me hard: open-fisted, close-fisted.   She pinched, she punched,  she kicked.  I could only embrace her but she struggled.  I could not fight back, I could only parry her blows.  Then she got the big tape dispenser on top of our children’s  cabinet and  threw it at me.  It fell on my right foot and the sharp edge  struck near my big toe.  Blood  spilled from  the wound but i could not complain.  I know it was  my fault.

When my wife was tired  from the beating she threw at me,  she tried to  compose  herself  and went to the telephone.   She had  a very long conversation with her best friend who it turned out also had a similar experience with her husband.   They talked for three hours.   I could only stay seated at my seat at the dining table,  faced down.  When my son came back,  i prepared  his meal and prepared him for school.

The telephone conversation pacified Zeny.  After  she put the handset down, i approached her and hugged her.   I told her, I was very sorry and assured her,  i would never do it again. She embraced me back and i kissed her passionately.  Reluctant at first, Zeny eventually gave in and kissed me in return.  What transpired next was the best sex we’ve  ever had.   We were exhausted and after a brief  rest,  we  hurried to a nearby carinderia where we each finished double meals in record time.   By then, I knew everything will  be okay.

Last  night,  as  we  lay on our bed,   my wife again started to question me and asked for details of the affair.  I told her i have already told her the truth.   Tears were again falling on our cheeks.   We slept crying in each other’s  arms.

I awoke in the middle of the night and could not get back to sleep.  I was staring at the darkness of our room.  The memory of all that happened were flashing back to  me.   I was thinking about what i have done to Mariel, my newborn, my Zeny, my kids, my family.  I could hear the beating of my heart.  It beats for my family.  It beats for Zeny.

I heard the rooster crow from the house of  our neighbor Mang Utoy.   Slowly, light crept into the room.  A  new day has begun.