It was with that conviction that I launched the next phase of the Prisca Programme. In my notes, I labelled it DEALING WITH THE SIREN, a label open to me alone.
The subject was all attention when I announced the Prisca Programme. She listened, nodded in all the right places but mostly kept staring at me as though what I said was incredible.
Finally, she hummed the concept I had spent ten minutes explaining. “Sublimation.”
“Think of it as a vent. Time and again, you are going to feel the pressure to have sex. All humans do. It’s a basic human instinct. But we can’t always do what we want just because we can and want to.”
“And that includes having sex?”
“That includes having sex!” I confirmed. “It is not enough for you to just resolve you want to or will stop it. That’s desire. It’s quite a strong driving force once there is a will to back it up. But you also need to have strategy that will work. The strategy part is where sublimation comes in. It means you will have to channel your time, energy and desire for sex into some other action.”
“What kind of action?” she asked, uncertain.
“Any action. Anything at all. You have hobbies, don’t you?”
“My hobby is sex,” she proclaimed without a blink. Her directness was shocking but refreshing, a sign nothing was too great to be held back, nothing too little to be voiced.
“You are missing the tree for the wood,” I reasoned. “Let’s start with the smaller things that make up the bigger picture. You read?”
“School textbooks and notes.”
“Apart from academic text, you must read something else when you are not studying. Magazines, newspapers, novels?”
“I don’t do newspapers, but magazines yes, novels yes.”
“Then give more time to them,” I commanded.
“Of magazines or novels?”
Bad of me not to think that recommending harmless magazines would invite deeper questions. “What kinds do you read?”
“Adult magazines, erotic novels.”
I pictured her library, filled with thumbed issues of Playboy, Megaboobs and Asian Babes—were they for women?—and a collection of novels with titles like Dangerous Ride, Wet and Wild, Lust in Transit, Snowwhite and the Seven Hunks, Long, Hard and Lethal. I also imagined digital versions of the damn things sitting on her hard drive and her computer screen wallpapered with images of bulging hunks.
Aloud, I said, “I was thinking more about women’s magazines or the fashion one. Vogue, Elle…”
“Better Lover, True Love?” she asked.
“Equally suggestive, but I’m sure they have something you don’t find in Megaboobs. How about films. Adult too?”
She nodded wordlessly. “The more X’s the better.”
“You think there will be ever be enough X’s to cater to that desire?” The boldness of her admission shrivelled. “In addictions, sex included, there are classic signs of a vicious cycle. The first time you watch a single-X-rated movie, your heart is pounding with tension and you feel like you are moving the boundaries of decency. Soon you get used to it. The initial shock wears off. Like a drug addict wanting a higher dose, you move up to double X. It works for some time and then it stops cutting it for you. Triple X is next. The desire for more explicit images keeps mounting and you seek ways to feed it. Conventional sex becomes dull; you start detouring into extreme sex lifestyles just to get that kick. The X’s go off the chart. There is simply no telling what lengths you might go to.”
Delving into what I knew of erotica made an impression on Prisca, quieting her. Its impression on me was devastating. I had no idea how much I knew about erotica until I had spoken, and then it was too late to withdraw it, for my body was reacting to the heat of my words and thoughts.
Prisca said carefully, “I have gone some of the lengths.” The double entendre in her words was so obvious, yet unintended. I knew that. The pun worked only in my mind.
“And what did you get out of them? Honestly?”
“Honestly?” She shrugged. “Nothing.”
“Why not?” I prodded.
“I don’t know.”
“It is the ultimate sensation, isn’t it?”
She gazed at me warily, never having expected this much confrontation from me, before replying in a strained voice, “I guess so.”
“You can’t guess so.” I had been in my customary seat since she came in, but now I leaned forward and rested my elbows on the desk, bringing myself closer to her to continue the row. “It is, but we both know it is nothing more than a psychosomatic manifestation of nervous impulses generated in the…”
“Doctor,” she groaned, “please you have to stop talking.”
“Excuse me?” It was all I could say, dumfounded as I was, before getting angry.
“Listening to you talk like this is making me hot,” she said.
What the hell! She was right. I felt it too. The words didn’t come out. I reached for the remote control to bring down the cooling temperature of the air conditioner.
“There is nothing wrong with the AC. It is cool enough. It’s just that…the heat has nothing to do with the room temperature.”
Prisca was drawing deep restorative breaths as she spoke and looked everywhere else but in my face. She shut her eyes, clamped her thighs together and rested her head against one hand she braced on the arm rest of her seat.
She was fighting for control. I felt her strain. Good thing she was in my office. I could only imagine what she would have done otherwise. Would she have dipped her hand into her navel or between her thighs the way she’d done that morning with Jonathan? The shocking image in my mind caused the heat to dissipate from my body so fast I felt suddenly cold.
“Prisca!” I called her name and she turned to me. She had to face me. I had to let her know who was in control. “You need to get a grip on yourself.”
“I’m trying,” she moaned in a tortured voice.
“You have to try harder. Think what you’ve gained from being addicted. Mindless sex never ends. If it makes you unhappy, then it’s proof that it hasn’t given you any fulfilment. You are heating up for it. You need water. You plunge into a pool and submerge yourself. But you can’t remain under forever. Sooner or later, you have to come up for air. When you do, the water will still surround you as long as you remain in that pool. What would you do not to remain wet?”
“Then do, if that’s what it takes. Otherwise, think what it could cost you? Self respect, relationships, your future.”
“I don’t care about that future,” she retorted calmly.
“Then why are you here?” Did I miss something?
“I don’t care about my inheritance,” she stormed at me, her voice shaking as a sob threatened to overwhelm her. “No matter how many millions, I don’t give a rat’s arse about the money.”
“A few days ago, you were worried your mother planned to cut your inheritance unless you came to me.”
“You think I am here because of the money?”
“We all need stronger reasons to do the things we fear most. Redirecting you sexual desires into seemingly unappealing activities is not going to be fun. You can’t do it for your inheritance. Keep it out of the picture. Keep Daniel and Jonathan out too.”
She looked up, hanging on my words.
“And your mother. You can’t imagine she was happy to be betrayed by her daughter and her lover. I can only imagine she is deeply hurt. And you are hurting too.”
The sobs won and she broke down. “I don’t care about me,” she wailed. “I have to make it up to her.”
“You can’t make it up to her if she can’t trust you with any man in her life. You have to show her that that life is under control, that you are ready to move ahead.” Drawn by some inexplicable force, I walked from my seat and stood beside her, placing one hand on her shoulder. “No matter how hard you apologise and how deeply you are sorry, none of it will mean anything if she can’t trust you again. You understand what I’m saying, Prisca?”
She lifted her tear-stained face to me.
I said finally, punctuating each word for emphasis, “You have to do this for you.”
It came out as You. Have. To. Do. This. For. You.