Monday, 7 November 2016

Nearly strangers


I looked at him. I looked at him closely, carefully, from a short distance, with my glasses off and my hands flat on the table that separated us.

"Sure?"

He nodded. Wordless. His chest was rising and falling in a slow, deeper than normal, pattern of breathing.

"I need to hear that."

"Yes. I'm sure. Ma'am."

"You realise I've never done this before? Not like this," I wondered briefly if I was losing it here, losing some edge, letting things slip from my hands.

"Yes. Yes, I do."

"You realise it's not going to be a... "session"?"

He faltered here, a little. I wasn't sure if he understood what I was saying.

"You're not going to owe me anything for this. Apart from what I take from you at the time."

He nodded again, maybe thrown just a little bit.

"OK. Good. Very good."

I kept looking. It was becoming surreal. I hadn't planned any of that. I hadn't suspected or allowed for any of that and yet there we were. Seemingly sane. Nearly strangers.

"Until I've had enough?"

He caught his breath. Almost gasped.

"Yes. Ma'am."

"You realise that it might mean much less than you want?"

"Yes."

"Or much more," that wasn't even a question. Though he took it as such.

"Yes."

I moved my hands, shifted my gaze.

"Are you scared?"

He was back to looking at me. I was smiling, a little square, a bit lop-sided smile that didn't make me any prettier and that exposed the upper right part of my teeth.

"Maybe. A little bit."

I laughed, a quick, one-exhale laugh that cut off almost as soon as it started.

"Good. I'm fucking terrified. Let's go."

I got up and strode purposefully out of the hotel bar, towards the lobby and the lifts.

He followed shortly behind me.





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