We should all live more provocatively if only we had a secret life.
Still, while most of us do live more than one life, it’s not the one, or two, that we should have selected if we could have at all. The kind of secret life I speak of is a demimonde: a half world, a mistress world where you can live the kinds of lives that you have ever dreamed of.
Like you, I too have a confession:
These extravagant worlds I have passed invisibly in and out of for most of my adult life. My thirst for secret codes, sensitive communication marked only by a symbol on a dirty car window or two rings of the phone coupled with shrewdness, lust for heartfelt adventure and the ability to make quick judgments have served as the grace in my gait to and from these worlds. Neatly and quietly I have married my waking life and these half lives, these mistress lives that I am only now leaking into the living light.
My demimonde is not one, nor two.
My demimonde may be a theme in a champagne play of crimson curtains, but I know not this concision. What I do know is that the through line of my mistress lives are the boiling of the blood; the letting go of everything you think I am. I swim behind mixed pseudonyms and defensible positions of power and location, but my charms are always the same. For I am no actor. I never have been.
I am the space you create away from your other masks. I am wispy, pillowy; the place you land in-between your breath of obligation. And work. And duty.
You are the switch that turns me on and lets-loose every literary alias that we could have ever been all this time. You do not know where I live, and I never want to know your façade. I do not want to know your simple chores, nor you – mine. Never will we wake in the same bed. We do not pass one another in public, with our husbands and girlfriends meeting unknowing eyes in the middle of our median lives.
Sometimes I am your secret.
Sometimes you are mine.
On the nineteenth floor she is waiting for me in the striped chair. When the elevator doors open she uncrosses and crosses her legs. I can see her stockings and her garter and the sly grin in her mascara makeup.
Our greetings and salutations are not composed of words. For I think that if they were, we might find ourselves in love or flirting with some other four letter words as simple as: Soon. Can’t. Wait.
Instead, we keep it simple. We stay with lust. And a much bigger word: Escape.
The restaurant is not open but the door before us is. As we pass through the empty restaurant we can hear the musical movement of dishes and pots and pans and the scents of preparation. The bases and the heat of cuisine wafts in and around us, concealing us from the noonday outside.
She drops my hand from the lace of hers and walks up to the window. Sighing, she looks down and out and over the afternoon city. She says conquer me.
She says, seduce me. With a word. Or four.
Standing behind her, I whisper into her ear and speak in eloquent tongues – my story of devouring her. I kiss the ridge on the neck. Her hands grip onto my hips and I press harder into her. The diamond on her ring sparkles and disperses light all over our corner of this hotel. I reach around and up and into her skirt. Over the stockings and garter and… she is bald and heaving and naked underneath in the invisible places that she will take back into her office in only a couple of minutes.
I can hear somebody behind us, setting a table in a white coat. I am certain he spots us, for a short moment there is no sound. Then, sound again. Next to us, our table is set. The champagne glasses sit unused. I hear someone moving behind me and I press harder underneath her clit, finally sliding inside her.
Here, our permission is only in the simple repetition of our quiet, weekly lunchtime presence, where this restaurant is closed, but the door is always open.
She turns around and I cup her question mark of a backside. I move up and down the pleat in her taught skirt. She tells me to kiss her hard. She says that her husband knows. And she thinks he likes knowing about our secret.
She tells me to kiss her hard again. With the back of her hand she brushes my cheek and I know it is over.
She takes the first elevator down. She waits as the doors are closing and utters four letter words: This is the… Last. Time. Good…
I am Speed Dial Number 9.
When she takes her men into bed, she keeps her phone near. She holds down her whimper just as she holds down the number 9 on her keypad. She rings me in and in circles of light opens her bed and her sex to me miles and lives away.
On her unattended phone I can hear the rustling of sheets. The soft meeting of the headboard and the wall. Thrusts counting her breath. I can hear her whimpering. She is begging. She is beckoning, silently as if there is somebody in the other room: Fuck me. Please, fuck me.
Voice mail can only go for so long and I only have a partial recording of one of her phone calls. I think about this recording for we cannot continue forever and I want my tee shirt from the experience for my dying days.
She is her own demimonde, the high priestess of her life, and others. She is mistress to many and the world calls her a whore. Her name is Angela and every time I remember this because, within her is an Angel.
We met years ago and I do not believe that Angela is her real name. She is a prostitute and I think that she may be the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. And while she has imparted the stories of her life, she has not told me with any convincing, her real name. Angela, afterall, is inappropriate for what she is.
She wears a Bindi, that Hindu red dot between the eyes. Even in the winter she wears very little clothing when she answers the door. She is tan and her body is as perfect as you could imagine from a sculpture. I think that she likes to tease me, always with her body and the cut lines of her panties underneath her transparent robes and shawls.
She never leaves me alone in any room for too long even though she confides that I am her only real friend. She tells me that her family no longer knows where she lives. All they remember is that the world calls her a whore.
I kissed her once, deeply and madly on the lips as though we both we needed it. But the smoke and the drink got the best of us and we only both began laughing.
I have been to many of her homes over the years. She moves frequently and I wonder silently who moves all of her furniture so much of the time. I worry when I do not hear from her for months on end. Sometimes strange phone numbers show-up on my phone and I am left only with messages. Quick updates.
Then, last year, the calls stopped.
I do not know if Angela is alive or dead, or if she ever was. For there was always something half-living and half-dead about her brilliance. I, however, have not changed my phone number. There is a secret part of me that hopes she will find me, find this story and read her name in these words; and call me; carry me up and away to an invisible city where nobody knows our name and we sit in the champagne sunlight of the futuristic world we have only ever known in the movies.
I often think of painters at the opening of their new exhibitions. I wonder if their internal trepidation in the opening is on account of the fact that their secret is being made public. I often think that the great ones were exhibitionists at heart. Exhibitionists of the heart.
For while these three girls began with a matter obscured by lust and the mad derisions of a hungry being, they all ended as the best phone calls do: with love and a smile. Memories of a life well lived and a heart beating in concert with breath.
…these are the most erotic things: reminiscences that bring you back to the anxiety of want and of being alive.
Half alive in a mistress world.