*I woke up this morning and realized immediately that I needed to tell DaSade about the dream I just had. While hurriedly firing off texts with uncaffeinated fingers, I knew cckitten needed to hear it too. And you know what, so does the internet, because it is rare that dreams are this coherent in storyline and filled with subtle details. ...And this hot. I won’t be embellishing because I don’t need to. I hope it is enjoyed as much as I enjoyed it.*
I’m back walking downtown. I don’t drive in anymore unless I absolutely have to; driving (and parking, oh god) is just a nightmare. No, I’m walking the few blocks, past the shops and restaurants, checking my phone every few minutes for the time, and to see if he’s contacted me.
It’s been barely two minutes since I last checked, and no, he hasn’t texted since last night.
It’s expected, of course; he’s not one for chit-chat. Nowadays, the most I’ll get is usually a text the day before with a time. Sometimes a question mark. Never the place, not anymore. The place is always the same.
The hotel comes up on me, lit arches with the name nestled tightly between two high-rise corporate buildings. I push the glass doors in and get a room from the woman at the desk. Her eyes are on me but she is looking past me, even as I'm handed the keys.
I'm numb to the process at this point. The first time, I was a new customer, unsure of the procedure of purchasing a room. The next time, it was a different girl at the front. A few times later I began to dread walking in, because they recognized me, and recognized my patterns of coming and going. There was a distinct shift when they went from being familial back to sterile customer service.
They saw shame, and I knew they assumed I was a prostitute.
Of course I tried to rationalize it, because I'm not... But my brain was quick to remind me of what plays in my mind even now as I walk the stairs to the second floor:
*"You're not. You're just doing this for free."*
I open the door to my room and toss my bag in the corner. Each layout is the same, despite having a different room each time. Dulled, flowery bedspread; tan carpet; sore-thumb white radiator under the window. I take out my change of clothes and lay them on the bed -- lacy thigh highs, a bra, and a skirt -- and then I start to strip, detached.
No, I'm not a whore. I'm not a slut either, despite the adage. I don't entirely know what I am. I don't entirely know if I'm *willing*. There is something to be said for the fact that I keep coming when he contacts me, but I rarely even get physical pleasure out of what we do.
Fully changed, I sit on the bed, and check my phone one last time before it is set on the bedstand, and I wait.
Always I am here first, always I wait for him to come, and to...
"Fuck me" isn't even the right turn of phrase. Maybe "use me" is.
I leave after he does, as per our arrangement.
The walk out of the building is much worse, but often I can hold onto that dissociation long enough to ignore the judgment of the staff and make it to the street where I am just another face in the crowd once more. The anonymity under the sun is welcome, and so is the walk back to my house. It's cleansing to see the buildings in reverse order from when I come in. I have the memory of the hotel room but it is just a memory now. Less threatening. I can get back to my life.
A few days pass before I get another text. It is an earlier time than usual; 11:15 am as opposed to the afternoon liaisons. I check my schedule to make sure it is OK, and decide to take the car so that I can run a few errands in town for the rest of the day.
I leave early to ensure I am on time with the traffic. Getting into the city is backed up at the tolls, but after a while I make it and have time to grab a bite to eat before I head to the hotel.
My phone buzzes, my heart jumps to my throat.
But it's a text from my father instead.
"saw ur car downtown, wanna grab brunch at the mexican place?"
*Shit.* I've been caught. He can't know what I'm doing here. I told him I was just doing some shopping.
I check the clock. 10:45. If I swing it right, I can do this, but it will be tight. I text him back that yes, I will be there shortly.
...And I have to text someone *else* that I might be a little late, and explain the situation.
It's long, and it's sent, and I hope that he understands. The phone goes off almost immediately.
"Ok. let's try to avoid this in the future."
But I can hear his tone. There is no "we" in this. I got a free pass this time, but next time I may not be so lucky.
And I still don't understand why the idea of losing our arrangement makes my stomach sink with dread. Trapped, but not by him.
Brunch is pleasant, the restaurant is new and all of the food is fresh and housemade. My father is happy to see me but I get the distinct sense that he knows I am hiding something from him. Like getting lunch with him was a test. I know I made the right choice by coming.
I fend off his queries with the classical nonchalant answers and it seems to appease him, but when I hug him goodbye he holds me longer than usual, like he doesn't want me to go.
I push it out of mind and get to my car, passenger seat holding my bag with another outfit. The car stays in the lot, the bag will come with me as I walk. But I have to wait to make sure my Dad is gone back to work. I pretend to text while watching him drive off, with a careful eye on the clock.
11:30, not too bad. It's time to go.
My walk is rushed and halfway there I realize I've forgotten the shoes for the outfit, but it can't matter now. I am already keeping him. Who knows if he will be there already. Maybe he's waiting outside to watch me go in. Maybe he's already upstairs. Maybe he's just going to make me wait longer for my transgression. Maybe he won't show up at all.
Keys in my hand, blurring my eyes and mind to the people around me, I ascend the stairs once more, and resign myself to whatever this time will bring.