I know your Husband (and your Father, too)

You, Me, Him and Her

 

‘Oh God.’ I whined throwing the pillow over my face.

Picking up my phone, I noted that it was three am.

We had been back in London for fourteen days and this was the eleventh time I was being awoken in the dead of the night, by a knock on the front door. Each time it had been the guy from upstairs, coming down after a midnight text from Tally, who wanted yet another pick me up. She was sleeping all day and snorting all night. I tried talking to her and letting her know that I knew how she felt but after they stopped showering, I stopped going into her room. I say they because Jack had taken up residence since we came home and while I knew Tally was no walkover his presence meant that the house was overcome with the scent of free sex, expensive drugs and cheap romance. It was less than thrilling.

I was annoyed for many reasons. The primary one at this point was that I was unable t work from home. There was no way I was going to invite clients to spend time with me, in what now actually looked like a whore house. All we were missing was a toothless bouncer, random needles and a couple more girls. I had standards. But this meant, I was spending more than was necessary on Taxi’s since I was only doing outcalls.

Since Jack had been down Tally had ceased working but continued spending. I knew that they were ordering no less than two grams a night. And I knew full well Jack wasn’t paying for it. I had tried not to show my unhappiness when after the committal, Tally pulled me to one side and let me know that he would be returning to London with us.

‘Ok.’ I half smiled.

‘Maybe he would be good for you. Help you take your mind off things.’ I winked.

We both giggled awkwardly.

Fast forward a fortnight and I regretted not just saying ‘No.’

The common misconception about me is that I’m hard as nails and don’t think to say what’s on my mind. Nothing could be further from the truth. And living in an unhappy home was proof that I preferred to walk on eggshells than upset any sort of apple cart. But I didn’t know how much I could take.

Sliding out of the bed, I shook my head. Looking over at my dresser, I noticed that my running clothes were draped over the chair. I hadn’t been for a run since before the funeral. Without giving it too much thought, I began to slip into my running tights. Running was like work. You couldn’t think about it too much, or you’d back out every time. You had to commit to the task or road ahead. If you didn’t, you would be caught off guard because both the road and sex always have something new to teach you. Also both had an ability to help you escape reality, which is what Tally was doing. I just wish she found a less harmful and cheaper way of doing it. By the time I had laced up my trainers, I was happy to be hitting the road.

Grabbing my keys, phone and earphones, I turned my face up at the idea of wearing a jacket or taking my bus pass.  The weather seemed fair and I knew I wouldn’t go too far.

Stepping into the hallway, I could hear Tally sniffing. Shaking my head, I opened the door and slammed it so hard, the entire building seemed to shake.

As I’d figured, it was fair and our neighborhood was still very much alive. That was another thing I appreciated our choice of location for, at any given time you could step out alone and not actually be alone. Jumping on the spot, I put my earphones in and just hit shuffle.

Turning left I began with a slow jog to warm up. Cutting through backstreets, I began to pick up the pace until I was on the main road.

This was just what I had needed. Fresh air and a form of exercise, that didn’t involve using my Kegel muscles.

There was something indescribable about running through the city at night. While to some it could look threatening, I always thought at night, the streets and it’s inhabitants became more honest. Daylight was like a huge microscope, where everyone knew they were being watched so we were all on our best behavior. But as soon as the Sun set, the cloak of darkness that descended was like a cloak of invisibility. We were all able to show who we really were and our actions, no matter how grotesque yet genuine were always put down to being under some kind of influence.

I was headed towards one of my favorite places; Tower Bridge. My love affair with it began when at ten years old; I saw it rise up for the first time.

The traffic was manic and the sun was beating down on us.

‘Undo your seatbelt Cand.’ Dad said.

I never questioned him.

‘Stand on the seat.’ He encouraged taking off his sunglasses so he could get a better look himself.

The roof of the car was down, enabling me the extra room to pull myself to full height and get a good look at what looked like the bridge snapping in two.

‘Wow.’ I exhaled.

I used to think that it was my lack of vocabulary that made me just settle for ‘Wow’ but coming across the bridge over a decade later, with my fathers face on my t-shirt, I still hadn’t found another word to use.

Running backwards, I took in the cheers, the crowds and the elation of being halfway through my first ever marathon.

Even before my first disastrous fourteen minute mile, I had always believed that there are two types of runner. The first was the one that ran towards something. Be it weight loss, a promotion or self-confidence they were out there using those miles to better themselves. Then there was the second type. This kind of runner ran from things. Usually the reality of life but this also included insecurity, questions and depression. I was the most definitely the latter.

I had picked up running to get away from grief. But after trying to get Tally to do one full lap of our local park, I had to admit that it wasn’t an antidote for everybody. Although I could diagnose her with having a bad case of overwhelming grief, I learned quickly that I didn’t have the correct cure. And since then had resigned myself to getting the miles in, all by myself. Thinking of Tally, I had to admit that I was a little jealous.

Being around her and Jack had made me yearn for male interaction outside of work. No matter how imperfect he was, there was no doubt that he loved her. They loved each other. Spending time in their company only highlighted another thing I was running from: loneliness. Even though my phonebook was full of male contacts, and I lived with someone I considered to be a dear friend, I had never felt more alone.

The bridge was in sight now, so I really started to go for it. Pulling my knees to my chest and using my arms as accelerators I tried to focus on my breathing and keeping my steps light and graceful. That was another thing about nighttime running; not having to hurdle over tourists or citizens contemplating suicide on their lunch break. Sprinting to the middle of the Bridge, I put my arms out to steady myself on a bollard that sat ahead.

Ripping the earphones out, I struggled to catch my breath. Through the pain, I chastised myself for not running more often. I only ever stuck to a training plan if there was an upcoming race I wanted to be a part of. And since I hadn’t raced in over five months, I was unfit.

Standing up straight, I put my hands on my head to stop a stich from creeping in and opened up my lungs at the same time.

God the view from here was ridiculous. London was illuminated by millions of, lights but due to distance they resembled candles. The waters below however murky by day, looked like they were filled with a million stars due to the reflections.

Grand architecture met my view as far as I could see. There were a couple of boats docked, Varying in size, the silent rock of the tide made them sway as if they too were hypnotized. I closed my eyes and worked on controlling my breath. I heard footsteps, which seemed to come to a halt close behind me. My eyes fell open. Even though I seemed to be alone I was not afraid. Work had taught me to listen to my gut instinct and for some reason, she had not yet spoken up in fear, so I kept my gaze fixed on the view ahead.

‘I thought I was the only one that ran at this hour.’ He said.

I recognized that voice. Not because I had heard it often but because it had been on replay since the day I had looked into his charming face and his grip had left a burning sensation on my arm. Beyond that, I had lost count how many times I had masturbated over it. Slowly, I turned round.

‘Ste..B. We meet again.’ I smiled embarrassed that his nickname had almost escaped my lips.

‘Candice.’ He smiled, showing his perfect set of teeth and went on to perform a mock bow.

We stood there taking each other in. I hadn’t banked on him being so tall but then again, I had met him sitting down. That seems to be the only time I’m taller than most five year olds.

He was wearing miniscule running shorts, which on a normal day, anyone would say showed far too much leg. But like I said, people seem to really get comfortable once the night creeps in. Clearly he ran a lot, as his legs had not an ounce of fat on them. Although he was standing perfectly still, every muscle seemed to need to be the center of attention.

Even through his running jacket, I could estimate that his waist was tiny. This was only further accentuated by broard shoulders, which supported a long graceful neck.

All of  sudden I became very aware of how much I was perspiring. I tried to wipe sweat from face. Not one to usually fuss about my appearance, this was a clue to the fact that I actually fancied him. He didn’t have a bead of sweat on him, it was as if he just appeared.

His stare felt like an x-ray machine, taking in the very marrow of my skeleton. I shifted my weight and folded my arms across my chest.

‘I wouldn’t have taken you for a runner.’ He commented

I giggled. That wasn’t the first time I’d heard that. My clients sought me out because my body type was far from sinewy. Although not as robust as Tally, I wasn’t lacking in the curves department. Every time I revealed I enjoyed running, I was met with wide eyes, chuckles or flat out disbelief.

‘You’re not the only one.’ I retorted trying to stifle a giggle.

‘No! I didn’t mean it like that.’ He cried bringing his hands to his face. He seemed to be a little cheesed off with himself.

‘None taken.’ I said throwing up my hands in mock surrender.

‘So, gotten your teeth into any Sashimi lately? Work experience had taught me that men do not like feeling insecure, so I took the lead in changing the subject. And offering up a sense of humor.

‘Ha, ha. Matter of fact, I have. I eat there once a week now.’ He winked

‘Hmm, I’m impressed!’ I laughed and I was. Very few people got my curt sense of humor. But I was now regretting the fact that I had decided against wearing a jacket. Since I’d stopped moving it was suddenly very chilly. My nipples seemed to agree.

‘Cold?’ he nodded, trying his hardest not to stare at the obvious.

‘Just a little.’ I blushed, wrapping my arms around my chest once more.

He began unzipping his jacket.

‘Didn’t your Mother ever teach you to not leave home without a jacket?’ he playfully chastised, shrugging out of the jacket.

I watched as the surrounding lights danced off his smooth skin. As I had guessed, his waist was akin to that of a small boy. He was delectably athletic. Stepping closer to me, he wrapped the jacket around my shoulders. Raising my arms so he could dress me, our bare skin touched. There it was again, that burn, spark, that thing.

‘She taught me a lot. Thank You.’ I said, pouting.

Bending down, he toyed with the zipper. It was an erotic sight. Me drenched in sweat and this man stooped down below with his face dangerously close to my cunt.

Finally the zipper caught, and he slowly and deliberately pulled it up. When it reached my breasts, it strained a little but he just tugged at it harder, until it came to a stop, just beneath my chin.

‘Yeah, like how to be insanely beautiful.’ He sighed stepping back to admire…his jacket.

Usually, these kind of compliments would have me running to the hills, laughing my head off or at the very least, rolling my eyes.

But for some reason, everything that fell from his full lips, seemed to be sincere.

He stepped towards me once again, more slowly this time.

‘How lucky I am, to have bumped into you, jacket or not.’ He smiled

I had to look away.

‘Luck is not real.’ I answered flatly.

I was going to have to put up a fight on this one. I wouldn’t allow his teeth, skin and the delicious scent of some expensive cologne rising from his jacket to upset my head.

‘Ok. But would you believe me if I said, that I only eat at that Japanese place once a week, with the hope of bumping into you again?’

My lips fell apart and formed a little ‘O’

‘Yep.’ He nodded.

‘And since it’s almost four am, on a work day, in the middle of London, I would say that providence, luck or even God had a hand in this one.’ He laughed.

I shrugged. Truth be told, his admission has just taken the wind out of me. I was used to being coveted, that was part of the job. But what he was talking about –eating at a specific place just because he wanted to see me- seemed, romantic. And that was new to me.

‘Maybe he did.’ I smiled, looking down at the floor.

He inched still closer to me.

‘Warm yet?’ He whispered, lifting my chin so that I was forced to meet his gaze.

‘A little.’

‘That’s not good enough.’ He remarked lowering his face so that I could feel the heat of his lips in line with my own.

I wanted to step back. Fuck, I wanted to take off running and not stop until I was well shot of him, but something other than the fact I was wearing his jacket rooted me to the ground.

I wanted him to kiss me but I didn’t know how this worked. I didn’t usually waste time, kissing clients.

His lips came closer still and just as I offered up mine, the sound of my phone ringing startled us both.

It was Tal. I knew this because since she began her decent into drug addiction, I had assigned her, her very own ringtone. The sound of Jay-Z rapping ’99 Problems’ pierced the early morning stillness.

‘Whoever that is, I’m going to take a shot in the dark and assume that you don’t like them very much.’

Little did he know.

Even though I didn’t want too, I answered.

‘Yeah?’ I answered in my most ‘I cannot be fucked’ tone of voice. But I didn’t receive the response I was expecting.

‘YOU NEED TO COME RIGHT NOW!’ It was Jack.

‘What? Why? Where is Tally? I sighed. This boy was working my last nerve. First he had overstayed his welcome and now he was just picking up Tal’s phone shouting.

‘SHE IS NOT BREATHING!’ he shouted.

It took about two seconds for me to comprehend the situation at hand.

‘SHIT! JACK WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE TO HER?!’ I began speed walking back across the bridge. B was right behind me.

‘SHE WONT RESPOND!’ He cried.

‘FUCK! LISTEN TO ME, TURN HER ON HER SIDE AND CALL AN AMBULANCE. I AM COMING!’ I hung up before I could translate the wail coming down the phone.

I knew it was too good to be true. That phone call pulled me right back down to earth and quickly. Turning to B, I reeled off some facts.

‘That was my flatmate’s boyfriend. By the sound of it, she’s overdosed. I have to go now.’ I began unzipping his jacket.

His eyes became wide as he took all the information in. But he remained calm.

‘Keep the jacket. You’ll freeze without it.’ He ordered zipping it back up.

‘I’ll be fine, I’m going to get the bus…FUCK!’ I just remembered that I left my bus pass indoors.

‘What?!’ his face was filled with more concern than was necessary for someone he knew for all of five minutes.

‘I have to run back, I left my bus pass at home.’ I put my head in my hands.

‘I have money.’ He raised an eyebrow

I hated taking help from people. Especially men. But it would take me at least thirty minutes to run back home. And only God knew what could happen in that time.

‘Could I borrow a couple of quid for the bus?’ I asked

‘The bus?’ he asked, screwing his face up

I nodded franticly.

He kissed his teeth.

‘I don’t like the fact you’re out at this hour, your friend may die and you expect me to lend you money to get on the bus?’ He sounded angry.

I was confused.

Grabbing my arm, he began running across the bridge. I struggled to keep up.

‘What are you..?’

I watched as he flagged down a Taxi.

It pulled over. Opening the door, he kissed my cheek and pushed a twenty pound note into my hand.

‘Got a bit of an emergency mate, get the lady home, quickly.’ He ordered slamming the door shut.

‘Will do.’ responded the faceless driver who began pulling away.

‘Thank you!’ I shouted through the closed window.

He lifted his hand as if to signify ‘You’re welcome.’

It wasn’t until his figure became a small dot, that I realized, I didn’t have his number.

Sitting back in the cab, scared about what I was about to witness, I couldn’t help but let out a nervous giggle at the absurdity of the nights events.

‘You better be dead Tally, if not once you’re better, I’m going to kill you.’ I muttered under my breath as the Taxi swept through the still quiet streets.

Turning onto our usually quiet street, it seemed that  every household had been awoken by the sirens.

‘Thank you.’ I shouted, throwing the money into the driver’s window and not waiting to receive change.

Fuck, there goes our inconspicuous lifestyle. Even the landlady across the way was out. Fluffy slippers and all.

‘Everything alright love?’ She shouted

Nosey bitch. Yes, everything was fine. We just decided it was time to provide the entire street with some early morning entertainment.

I didn’t respond. The only person I couldn’t see was the dealer. As angry as I was, I couldn’t blame him.

As I approached the door, there was Tal coming down, strapped to a gurney.

‘Tal!!!’ I cried running towards the male paramedic.

‘Do you know this woman?’ He asked shoving past me

‘Of course! She is family!’ The moment the words left my lips, I knew how ridiculous it sounded but how true it was. But right now I was her family.

‘Errr, ok, well are you riding with her because that lad in there is a mess.’ He detailed.

‘Yes, Yes I am.’ I said scrambling into the back of the ambulance.

‘Sit there and buckle up’ Instructed the female paramedic, pointing to a an uncomfortable looking passanger chair.

 Slipping into the big chair, I watched in horror as the paramedics, moved Tal around as if she were dead.

‘IS SHE GOING TO DIE?’ I screamed

Neither of them answered me. I knew that wasn’t a good sign.

The male paramedic, slammed the doors shut and ran round to the drivers seat.

He ran. That wasn’t good either.

The female was squeezing what looked like a giant turkey baster down Tal’s throat. Just as I looked away, the Sirens began blazing.

The worst sign of all.

By the time we reached the hospital, I had got no more out of the paramedics and had seen no sign of life in Talia.

They pulled her out quicker than they put her in and if I thought we were in the shit before, the fact that doctors were awaiting her arrival really made me realize that I had to be realize that there was a chance I could leave, with less than I came with.

Holding my breath, I hovered around, until I was told to go and ‘get a coffee and wait for a doctor to come and find me.’

Stepping out of the cubicle, the last thing I saw was the nurses cutting her top off.

Walking without purpose, I decided to skip coffee- I was already wired- and go outside. I felt as if I were going to vomit and cry simaltanelously.

Stepping into the dawn air, it was ironic how beautiful the sky looked, It was the colour of flamingo’s. Birds chirped carelessly and the streets were starting to come alive.

Wrinkling my nose, I could smell cigarettes. I looked over at what was clearly a cancer patient, sucking the life out of a Marlboro.

Clearly I stared for longer than I realized.

‘Want one?’ She snapped, her huge bald head hanging off her body like a bobble head toy.

I nodded.

‘You’re going to have to come get it I’m afraid.’ She chuckled nodding towards her walker.

Gawking, I walked over and retrieved the cigarette. Leaning forward, I allowed her to light it for me.

Smoking was like riding a bike. I didn’t do it very often but every time was as easy as the last.

‘Yeah, this place will do that to you.’ She said eyeballing me.

I tried not to star at her but her veins seemed to be rotting.

‘I know I shouldn’t.’ she said, raising her cigarette

‘But fuck it, what’s the worst that can happen? Can my Cancer get Cancer?’ she tried to laugh but it just sounded painful. Instinctively, I moved forward to pat her back but then I recoiled. She looked far too fragile.

Once her cough had settled, we just stood there watching the world go by. And waiting for life, be it her own or my best friends, to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 16
Chapter Five.

Lucifer

 

Standing back, I admired my handiwork.

 

‘Because if you are having a tough time of it, one should never know by just looking at you.’ I whispered, sweeping the powder brush along Tally’s cheekbones, one last time.

It had taken three hours, half a bottle of Gin and a lot of retouching but finally I had Tal, looking like a beautiful…mourning daughter. I had worked hard to convince her that my choice of delicate vintage silk wrap dress would go down far better than her overbearing need to shove herself into a two sizes too small revealing cat suit.

‘But I want to look sexy.’ She pouted, slamming her purse down onto the cashier’s desk.

I’d left my patience on the Victoria line. Since we’d left the restaurant the sun seemed to have caught fire, not even my makeshift fan was cooling me down. Tal was still acting as if her fathers unexpected demise was a rollover lottery win and I couldn’t shake the image of Steak Teeth. Four hours later when she finally gave into my idea that the funeral should be about of her Dad’s life and not her arse, I was spent.

Smiling sweetly at the scared looking sales assistant, I grabbed Tal’s arm and pulled her out of ear’s reach.

‘Ok, listen to me Talia and listen to me good. This is crazy, your Dad just died and you expect me to act like it’s your birthday. I cannot do that. Now a little part of me believes that you asked me to help you because you are scared. And guess what? That’s what happens, that’s what’s supposed to happen. Our parents are supposed to die before us and leave us feeling like a hot dog shit on a snowy day; out of place. I have a lot of questions, questions I know you’re not ready to answer but as of right now, I’m going to need you to buck up your fucking ideas because your Dad is somewhere on ice and I need you to have respect not for him but for yourself. We do sexy every day of the week but just this once, you’re going to do demure and guess what? That’s not for him. It’s for me.’ By the time I’d reached the end of my onslaught, I was out of breath and shaking.

 

With tears in her eyes, Tal pulled away from me and put the spotlight back on the shop assistant.

‘How much is that?’ she asked sweetly, tears now sprinkling the cash desk.

‘Errr, one hundred and eighty pounds but if you get a store card…sorry do you want a tissue?’ clearly dealing with one unwillingly bereaved, and another aggravated prostitute hadn’t been part of the shop assistants training.

‘It’s ok.’ I whispered. I had a hanky ready. I almost had to tip toe to reach her face but gently, I dabbed her face while she counted out the money.

‘Keep the change.’ She offered grabbing hold of the luxury carrier.

‘Here’ She said, pushing the carrier bag into my hand.

I took it and we spent the rest of the trip in awkward silence.

The week had passed in quite the same atmosphere; awkward. I would awake to hear her crying but thought better than to pry. She was now only surviving on diet coke. And I didn’t dare remind her of how much she hated smokers when she asked me for a cigarette.

‘Breathe normally.’ I advised, watching her shaken, pale hands toy with the slim menthol. But through all of that, I had to commend her. She had not cancelled one booking. She remained attentive to her clients needs even if it was only to avoid dealing with her own.

I was afraid of how I was going to pull it off; making her look like what I figured was beautiful but allowing her to be comfortable. This entire episode of her life was teaching me about compromise. After much back and forth, we decided on a natural look. Holding up a mirror, I watched as she took it all in.

She had expertly pulled her hair into a high chignon. The density of her brunette locks was a stunning contrast to her transparent skin, which looked like silk. Delicate fake lashes played up her eyes-, which referenced a Chinese ancestry-. We decided against mascara as the panda look was no ones friend. On her lips sat a touch of pink lipstick, which I then shoved down into the crevice of her cleavage for safekeeping. Finally, I dusted her face with powder so that she looked matte and dare I say, perfect.

‘Holy Shit Can.’ She exhaled after sitting in silence for what felt like a decade.

‘I know, I know it’s not what you’re used too but I promise that as soon as-‘

‘Shut up.’ She spat

Taken aback, I stepped back ready to be defensive.

‘He would have loved to see me look this…ladylike. I love it. Thank you.’

I let my walls fall down. It seemed that her ones were weakening also.

‘No problem.’ I clapped, snapping straight back into fixer mode.

‘So, the car will be here at 10am. I was going to keep your phone but I’ll leave it with you and text you to remind you to turn it off. Don’t worry about missing calls, I promise you won’t want to work tonight. How are you about seeing the others?’

Tally decided to check into a hotel. I knew that there was only so far I could push this boulder up the steep mountain and had gone against my innate need of trying to turn the funeral into a family reunion.

‘Fine.’ She said waving her hand in that nonchalant way only she could get away with.

‘Ok. I’ll be sure to be the crematorium before you.’ I reminded her. I had stood firm to not going to the church service. I always thought funerals were for family and friends. I was neither. Their funeral shouldn’t be the first memory you have of a person. Yes, I was here to support Tally. But even my support had morals, even if I wasn’t clear on my personal ones.

‘Ok. You working this morning?’ she asked while draping her ample bosom in the delicate fabric of the wrap dress.

‘Yeah, watersports guy. Why do you think I’ve been drinking so much?! I laughed, clearing the make up products off the bed.

‘Good luck with that.’ She giggled. It was nice to hear some genuine happiness in the room.

The buzzing of her phone made us fall silent. It was Jack.

‘Lover boy.’ I sighed, tossing the phone towards her. ‘I’ll be in the shower if you need me.’ I advised, making a sharp exit.

The cleanliness of hotel showers always excited me. I would always jump at the chance to service a client at a hotel, just to have some me time in the bathroom afterwards. I much preferred the five star ones, I mean who wouldn’t? There was something about cleansing ones self in a gorgeous bathroom that I found to be akin to baptism. Another opportunity to wash away sin.  Turning on the shower and slipping out of my robe, I let the tension of the past week melt away. And tried not to think of Jack. It didn’t matter that I didn’t like him. What mattered was that sometimes in a woman’s life, shit happens that only men can fix. And if they can’t fix it, they can sure as hell make you feel better. I was one banana and two tangerines short of being able to help Tally out. Jack knew her father. So when she mentioned he was going to the funeral, I encouraged her. I knew she was surprised. But I knew that the enormity of today had not yet sunk in, and it wouldn’t until months, possibly years later. At the very least she could look back and know that Jack was a pillar of strength. Funny how even escorts need escorting sometimes. Another person I had struggled not to think about was Steak Teeth. And I was struggling to not refer to him as Steak Teeth. That was a professional habit, which had slowly made its way into my personal life. It’s starts innocently enough. I meet a client who has a memorable physical or character trait. He then asks for a particular service. I end up merging the two together so he becomes known to as;  ‘cage fighter sub’ or Sports socks giver’ It’s a habit I had to constantly chastise myself for because sometimes in the throws of passion I would screech my personal moniker for them instead of their given name! So right then and there, I began got out of the habit of calling him Steak Teeth. I would remind myself that he introduced himself as ‘B.’ I wondered what that was short for? And how confident one had to be to shorten their name to a mere initial? But why did I care about what his name was? Why was I practicing breaking out of a particular habit for him? I wasn’t going to see him again. That much I knew. He was just being nice. And I had to admit, that sometimes it was no more that that.

‘Stop over thinking things, Candice.’ I said to a steamy, overheated, empty bathroom.

By the time I’d finished in the shower, Tally had already left out. Weirdly, I felt uncomfortable being alone, especially, at a time like this. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I took a few deep breaths. The thing about death is, it comes in like a Tsunami. It takes the wanted lives, scares the crap out of the surviving civilians, fucks off and then leaves you with a lifetime worth of clean up. There I was on the shore of Tal’s life feeling a little shook up. Experiences I thought I’d long buried were being washed up to use as experience at helping her get through her bad patch. The only problem with that was that it meant, I had to get wet, again. I could only be strong for so long. Just as I was about to let the tears fall, there was a knock at the hotel room door.

Shit! Watersports was here. I slid back into the bathrobe and took a deep breath. It was time to get back to work. It may not be emotions but I was happy my client had arrived, at least there was something I could dump out on him.

‘Ready?’ I asked the poor sod now planted to the bottom of the bathtub

‘Yes please’ he practically begged

With that I let out a sigh of relief at being able to finally empty my bladder.

A second shower and an hour later, I was being helped into the back of a car by a friendly cab driver.

‘You look, lovely, Love. Off somewhere special.’ He said eyeing me up in the rearview mirror.

‘Thank you. Funeral.’ I smiled, which I was hoping would throw him off. And it worked. We rolled through the town in silence. Things were very different in the north of England. Being a born and bred Londoner, I always remember the confusion on my face when we’d been shopping in the town center the day previous.

‘Where are all the black people?’ I asked scanning the surrounding stores.

‘What do you mean?’ she asked looking around. ‘There are tons of black people.’ But all of a sudden she didn’t look so sure.

‘No love. We’ve been here over two hours and I’ve counted three Indians, a bi racial dude and myself. No wonder my phone hasn’t stopped ringing.’ I chuckled.

It’s funny which moments make our hearts swell with gratitude. Riding through a city with only a handful of multi cultural inhabitants, I was overwhelmingly thankful to have seen it all in London town.

‘Here we are love.’ Said the cabby as we pulled into the haunting courtyard of the crematorium. That was another thing I found strange, just how small it was. When Tally had told me that the crematorium was across town, I had assumed it would take at least an hour to get there, so had decided to leave early. It turned out that I could’ve moonwalked walked there and it still would’ve only taken ten minutes.

‘Keep the change.’ I smiled coining one of Tal’s terms.

Stumbling out onto the gavel, it was a wonder how I didn’t start sinking. I cursed myself for choosing five-inch suede sling backs over sensible courts. But as today proved life was short, so I thought ‘fuck it’ and promised to be more sensible in another life. I took a deep breath. It had been a while.

Watching the cab disappear, I turned back to look at the crematorium. It looked pretty standard. There was no pomp or grandeur. And the only thing making it look remotely historical was the weave of ivy snaking it’s a way around the sand colored brickwork. Imposing oak trees created a canopy of sorts. There was a retired looking flowerbed and various floral arrangements dotted around the grounds. On tiptoes, I made my way towards the entrance. I was sure to be waiting at least another an hour and I was damned if I would stand in these shoes. I had purchased them on a whim, imposing a ‘sitting only’ rule. While I usually ignored them, this was one I was going to follow to the letter.

The doors were beautiful; a deep mahogany with embossed crucifixes, I had to stop myself from taking a picture. I ran my hands over the imperfections before wrapping my grip around the iron handle and giving it a heavy-handed tug.

It was like stepping into another world. The outside had looked so free of any original personality, so non descript. But inside was like a magical tomb. Cold due to the lack of body heat, I ran my hands along the pews and decided to sit right at the back. Sliding along the seats, I made sure to remain as quiet as possible. Funny how all places associated with death have a sense of quiet about them. We breathing folk can be so loud sometimes, while this wasn’t one, I understood why people sought solace in churches. It was peaceful in here. Slowly tipping my head back so as not to disrupt my lace veil fascinator, I closed my eyes. I wasn’t tired. But I knew that the day that lay ahead would require me to be alert, to say Thank You, and to keep her busy. It was time to return that favor. As Haughton had promised, it was my turn quicker than I wanted to believe.

‘Thank you.’ I whispered looking up into the eyes of an old friend. Haughton was like a brother to me. Having gone to the same schools and remaining friends through that awkward sixth form phase, we had a connection that spanned a decade. We always looked a right pair. With him standing at six foot five and me barely clearing five feet, we would tend to stop traffic. Another contributing factor was Haughton’s beauty. His skin was the same tone of salted caramel, it was as if God just melted it and poured it over his meat. His fingers were long and feminine, much like his limbs. So tall he was, he seemed to stalk around, like a Giraffe. All neck, his jet-black goatee was a frame to once again, perfect teeth. He had to wear braces to achieve the symmetry desired but it had sure been worth it. His hair was like an ocean of tar, but soft to the touch it would curl up on itself and make tight waves, which always looked slightly damp. As if this wasn’t enough, he always smelt like heaven. Well educated and filled with joy, both sets of our families would encourage us to date.

One evening Haughton must have fallen ill, because while watching TV, he put his arm around me and pulled me close. Before long, we kissed and retreated to bed. But our inquisitiveness stopped short of us copulating. And I know we both thanked God for that moment of clarity. Because it would have cut short one of the most meaning relationships I had. Where I always felt like I was giving something to Tally or others, advice, support or love, with very little or nothing in return, with Haughton the reciprocity was overwhelming at times. He filled me to the brim. Like all good desserts, I didn’t need him. I wanted him. And the feeling had remained mutual. So it was a no brainer, that on that day, the day when my Sunset forever, he walked me down the aisle.

‘I got you’ he whispered

And I was very thankful for that as, I could feel all eyes of the congregation fall upon me. I had avoided sitting in the front pew on purpose. This day was not about me. It didn’t matter that earlier that morning, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror due to the fact that I saw him and not myself. His teeth, the teeth with the gap, the two dimples, one where it should be and the other awkwardly set in the chin. His nose, neither big nor small but constantly referred to as ‘cute’ all of him was still very much alive in me. And I knew they would all see that. His own mother had neglected looking at me, which was the only upside to this prolonged period of time which I would now file under ‘God, kill me now.’

How apt that the carpet was red. I had always wanted to grace one, of course the reason for doing so wasn’t to my taste but one cannot let a moment like that go to waste. It as at this point I was grateful for his advice:

‘Cand, it matters not if you are having a tough time of it, one should never know by just looking at you.’

In times of uncertainty I had clung to that. So I had taken my time with choosing my outfit. Ironically, the black fitted jacket I wore had been purchased in Italy was on his encouragement. After fussing in the changing room for far too long, I decided to send him a photo. Within minutes he had responded ‘Lovely. Smart. And would be good for a funeral.’ If only he knew, its debut would be his own. Nipped at the waist, it had a ruffled neckline, which fell into delicate waves. I paired this with an A-line calf length skirt of the same material. So tapered it was towards the bottom, it forced me to wiggle instead of walk. Underneath both sat a vintage lace body, which snapped underneath the gusset. Far too chilly for bare legs, seamed hold ups were the answer. Knowing that I wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time on my feet, my six-inch stilettos, which featured gold steel toecaps, were destined to take attention away from my face, his face. Haughton had encouraged accessories so he purchased me lace gloves and a flamboyant fascinator with a lace veil, which sat atop my head like an avant-garde birds nest. With it being the first week of December it was easy to get away with cocooning my fragile self in a vintage fox fur coat. To top it off, the weather continued to bless me and I was able to use the beautiful umbrella he had gifted me with. Upon first glance it was just a black umbrella but once opened, it’s edges curves over to make it took like a canopy, the inside was a deep maroon and the handle was dressed with a soft tassel. Getting dressed up had protected me in ways that I never thought possible, looking like I gave a shit, in turn made my life worth one. So I thanked him by living up to that. It had to be theatrical, dramatic a sartorial viewing of what one would expect to be a flummoxed, flapping young woman who was now without her male escort. But I’d had enough of that. As confused as I was, there was only so much wailing and drinking, I could commit myself to until I learned that no one man’s death stopped the world from turning. There were still plans to be made. What kind of coffin would he like? Flowers were too much, weren’t they? Was it customary to invite ex wives to view the body of their beloved? Who knew? It’s in the face of death you realize that you get to know people based on their actions not their words. He hated parties. Whenever an invite would arrive, he would pretend to choose a suit and tie, only for the date to come around and for him to make an excuse and order a number thirteen from the Chinese takeaway. So that ruled out the customary ‘nine night’ viewing of his body which was an excuse to get pissed on his behalf. He lacked patience for anything that he deemed to be waste of time. Considering he wouldn’t be here for this display of love, I knew that keeping the service to under an hour would be a nice touch. A classic claustrophobe he once joked that he would rather burn than awake in box somewhere he’d never been and now had no way of getting out. So cremation it was. And that’s how I pulled it off, by grabbing the threads of his habits and sewing them together until I had a suitable cloak of farewell that truly projected who he was or had been. I was the only one, the only thing that would alert you to the knowledge of his existence. I was in charge. And shaking or not, that’s what I had to remind myself. Taking to the stage, Haughton steadied me, as between the lack of stability of my gravity defying shoes and the lack of strength in my weak knees, I am sure if not for him, I would have swayed backwards, and laid to rest in a heap upon the coffin.

The sea of faces looked up at me expectantly, as they had once looked at him. His employees, friends and family now wanted to hear form me. I prayed that my voice would be loud enough and more importantly, would not falter.

I had written something, but at the last minute screwed it up and decided to speak from where most of my rhetoric came; my heart. And plus if emotion was to overcome me, I was safe knowing that tears couldn’t run the ink of the words.

The church was packed. For the selfish, arrogant and rude bastard he could be in life, he sure was appreciated in death. More than a few of them were probably here out of jubilation. I reserved note to touch on that.

‘Oh Daddy, how could you leave me?’ I whispered. Before I could force the delicate question down my throat, there it was; floating down the microphone, out of the speakers and resting softly in the ears of the mourners that sat before me, and the dark mahogany coffin. I was glad I opted for a closed one. At that moment seeing what was left of him would have surely sent me into a state of panic and I would have had to flee from the scene. Suddenly that wasn’t such a bad idea. But the show had to go on and seeing as I was the only remaining main character, I resolved it would be best to offer up great words for our dearly departed.

‘I never knew him like you all did.’ Through the tears, I smiled because at that moment I was glad to not have had too.

‘He was your boss, your superior, your older sibling, your pushy friend. He rarely smiled, his mouth was filthy and God help you if you were not an Arsenal supporter.’ I heard sad laughter bounce off the walls of the church.

‘But to me he was just Dad.’ Looking up I scanned the room and noted there was not a dry eye in the house.

‘Dad, I promise that If you would have told me that I would be standing here, right now this early on in life, I would have tried harder. I would have studied longer, had better boyfriends, learned to drive and paid closer attention to your monologues about how Ian Wright doesn’t get the credit he deserves.’

Once again sad giggles floated around the church.

‘But I didn’t. I was, as children are meant to be blissfully ignorant to the heartache that awaits us all.’

I was on a roll now. My shoulders relaxed and my free flowing tears didn’t allow my voice to waiver.

‘I’m sure many of you here have memories of my Father that like me, you will keep to yourself and relive in your own private time, when the grief gets too much. Yes there are more than a few that, if you don’t mind, I would rather keep to myself. But there is one, that I would like to share.’

I paused to look around the room once more. Sweeping my eyes over the vast bouquet, which lay atop the coffin, I took a deep breath.

‘I was five or six and it was Christmas Eve. Being the gullible child that I was, I was convinced that the new Polly Pocket set would change my life. Believe me when I say, I had been sure to alert my Dad to the fact that Christmas was on its way by leaving the Argos catalogue turned up, on the page where all the Polly Pockets were displayed. He never spoke about it but many of you would know that, that was his way. A man of few words, he would make a silent note of your need and in time let you know if he could supply or not, So when I awoke that morning and he instructed me to get ready as we were going shopping, I wasn’t surprised but I was overrun with excitement. Our first stop was the Woolworths in Walthamstow Market. They were sold out. I was a determined child, so I didn’t give in so easy. Traipsing from toy store to toy store, I grew more despondent. To keep me occupied, we stopped at a corner shop where he purchased me the usual dib dab sherbet and a Strawberry Ribena. I sipped slowly and tried not to show my disappointed nature as we returned back to his car, without my desired Christmas preset. Driving, I noticed that we were not heading back to his home. I tried to stay alert and make sense of this new route but as usual anything more than thirty minutes in a car a that age, would send me into a state of comatose. Much later, I remember being shaken awake by him.

‘Come on kid.’ He laughed, scooping me up into his arms

‘Where are we?’ I questioned, still groggy from the nap.

‘Croydon.’ He confirmed making sure the car was secure.

‘Ok.’ I said as if I knew where Croydon was.

Heading into the town center with me balanced on his hip, we again stopped at Woolworths. Setting me down, I directed him to where the Polly pocket should have been only to be stopped short by a completely desolate shelf. As mature as I tried to act around him, I now turned into a very sad young girl, who knew that this Christmas, I would not be getting what I want. Letting the tears fall freely, I took his hand and let him lead me towards the exit. But through the tears, I spotted the Polly Pocket in a man’s hand that was in a heaving line, waiting to pay.

‘Look! There it is!’ I said

Looking towards the man, my Father quickly stood upright.

‘Stay where I can see you.’ He ordered.

Nodding my head, I watched him stride over to the man , who resembled Father Christmas without the obnoxious facial hair.

I watched, not sure of what was transpiring with wide eyes. Then I saw Dad go into his pocket and retrieve his wallet. Seconds later, a miracle seemed to be happening. The fat man was handing my Father what I was convinced was the last Polly Pocket in the world. Running towards him, he bent down just in time, so he could hoist me onto his shoulders.

‘Wow, you did it Dad.’ I smiled.

‘Anything for you, Cand’ he shrugged, ushering me into the back of the line. I t was the first time, I didn’t mind waiting.

It was time for me to look at the congregation again, but I decided to keep my head bowed and get on with it, my Father wasn’t a patient man and even in death I could imagine him fidgeting at his own funeral.

‘It wasn’t until years later, he revealed that the plastic toy which I lost some time in the new year had actually set him back by one hundred pounds! Now Daddy was a lot of things, and we all know that being a tight fisted git’ – I looked up in mock apology at the preacher- ‘was one of them!’

Real laughter came now, as I had been one of the few to speak the truth.

‘But I guess the moral of the story is that, he would have done anything for me and he did. Today, as sad as I am, I know that he sacrificed his life for me and for that, I have no words. Daddy I miss you and know I will see you again, and yes, my first words will be ‘Can I borrow a Tenner please?’ But for now, I’ll let you rest in Peace. Thank you for listening.’

It started with a small clap, way in the back but by the time Haughton was helping me down the steps and taking me back to my seat, the church had broken out in frantic applause.

‘Richard lives on.’

I heard an old man say, as I squeezed back into his seat.

‘Indeed he does.’ Haughton whispered as he pulled me into his chest.

I cried silently until it was time to stand once again, and be the first to walk behind the coffin.

The rain was unforgiving and unrelenting. It was coming down as hard as hail now. Watching the coffin be pushed into the back of the hearse, there I stood. Alone, underneath an umbrella, wondering what the point of Life was, if this was the way we all went out.

‘Candice! Candice!’ I heard someone whispering. I span around. It was Tally. Shit! How long had I been sitting here?  It must have been a while as seats were filling up. Awkwardly, I tried not to draw any attention to myself, which was most difficult, with this fascinator atop my dome. I pulled it off in haste as I tried to remain inconspicuous and prepared to fail miserably at it.

Tip toeing towards Tally, I could tell she’d been crying. Leaning in to pat her face, I could smell the unmistakable scent of Cocaine. I screwed up my face. This wasn’t the time or the place to chastise her for her behavior. Admittedly, it had taken half a bottle of Gin to see me through my Fathers funeral but Coke, as hypocritical as I sounded, was very different.

‘What now?’ she asked eyes glazing over my face

‘Ok, well now he needs to be committed. It’s a lot shorter than what you just suffered. The Priest will say something  about last rites, make a sign of the cross, the curtains will close and your Mum will wail. Any extra’s are up to you.’ I half smiled.

She gave me a strained one in return.

‘Where is Jack?’ I asked looking around. He was no midget and I had suspected that he would be Tally’s shadow at this time, I also assumed that it was him that gave her drugs. I wasn’t happy about that and wanted a moment with him, alone.

‘He is playing pallbearer ‘ she mumbled pulling me out of the way of other grievers.

‘Oh’ I said, popping my mouth closed again.

‘Talia?’ an old lady with bleached hair pulled back into a tight chignon called in our direction.

‘Coming Gran.’ She responded, turning to look at me.

‘No. I’ll stand back here. You’ll be fine. I promise.’ I said giving her cheeks one last pat.

She let out a deep sigh and then followed the prissy petite figure of her grandmother down the aisle.

Watching the collective of mourners, it was hard not to get sucked in. it was almost impossible to remember that I didn’t know her Father. There is something about the longing for someone, that ties us all together, I think. Those feelings need no translation. Because regardless of race, job, the depths or shallowness of our bank accounts, wanting something, that we cannot have, is a feeling that escapes no man or woman.

‘And now, the end is near, it’s time to face the final curtain….’ The undeniable rasp of Frank Sinatra started to fill the space and pew-by-pew, like a Mexican wave, everyone stood to their feet. Pressing myself into the wall, I tried to keep my smirk hidden. What a cheesy song choice. How predictable was that? I loved it.

Gasping, I struggled not to be shocked by the way her Fathers coffin balanced precariously on the shoulders of the young men who dared to believe that they could carry a casket – because that was far too grand to be deemed a coffin- of that magnitude, without dropping the entire box on the floor and having the poor man roll out. But they did very well. Right at the front stood Jack. Tall and strapping, if I snorted a line and squinted one eye, I could see why Tally found him attractive. He had a boy-band like charm to him. I noticed Tal’s two brothers straight away, they too had a Chinese look about them. Although not as tall as Jack, they were no shrinking violets. There was a moment of unrest when they came to put him down but the fact they made it up that aisle without so much as a wobbly moment was very, very impressive.

And now as tears subside, I find it all so amusing…’ the sound of Franks voice became more distant as the Priest stepped towards the stage.

‘I trust that you have all made it here safely and I thank you for celebrating the life of George Allen.’

George. It had never occurred to me that I didn’t know his name. Why hadn’t I thought to ask Tal? Looking to over where she was, I noticed she was the only one not standing. I sighed. George was a good name, a strong name. I liked George. And judging by the size of the crowd in the crematorium, so did a lot of others. I hadn’t pushed it since the first day but what could this man -who seemed to be adored by his community and most of his family alike- have done to Tal that was so unforgivable?

Of course I could think of a few things, but I wouldn’t allow my mind to go there, not right now. Once this funeral was out the way and we were back home, maybe I’d work on getting it out of her. And if I didn’t; I had to understand that, it was okay. Since I could remember, I had been a control freak. Prostitution and Tal had taught me that I couldn’t always have a say in the way things were going down and past that, sometimes, it was best not too.

‘We ask that God have mercy on your soul….’ Hushed the Priest as he made the sign of the cross over the casket.

I had to work hard to suppress a snort. Of course nothing was funny. But everything was ludicrous. I wondered if God would have mercy on my soul? Was there space in heaven for a sinner like me? Wasn’t his Son besties with a Pro? Surely that would swing some things in my favor?

Then I remembered why events like this; funerals, weddings and christenings were hard. At some point, God always came up, which was understandable because we were in his ‘house.’ I knew this because the church my grandparents dragged me too as a nipper, was in his name.

‘We welcome you to the house of the Lord!’ the gap toothed Preacher would smile. A young girl, I would look around and be pretty in awe of God’s crib. He had all that stained glass, a huge stage and lots of chairs. How much did all of this cost? I was curious. How much did God make?

 One day after a particularly long service I tugged on my Grandfathers sleeve.

‘Yes dear?’ he questioned stooping to my level. I always preferred talking to him than my Nana as he would bend down and make me feel as if I was asking the most important questions in the world.

‘How rich is God?’ I asked making sure my face was very serious.

He laughed. That’s another thing I loved, his laugh was hearty and honest. He also had a mouth full of gold, and it’s as if the sunshine itself would roll around his tongue as he tried to catch his breath.

‘Boobie, God doesn’t have any money!’ he laughed fixing my hair ribbons.

Although I usually smiled when he addressed me by my nickname, my face was twisted up. This wasn’t making sense.

Putting my small hand on an even smaller hip, I leaned in toward my Grandfather.

‘Then how can he afford all of this stuff?’’ I said looking around wide eyed, trying desperately to make my point.

He leaned back, obviously shocked that I would, at merely seven years old already understood that something wasn’t quite right.

‘My, you are a smarty-pants. Well, God doesn’t pay for it.’ He said with his matter of fact tone, which only became apparent when he had run out of ways to charm, anyone.

‘But if this is his house and he doesn’t pay for it, who does?’ once again I was thankful that I was having this conversation with him. His patience with me, never thinned.

‘You do!’ he smiled, patting my forehead.

I shook my head.

‘I don’t have a job, papa, you know that, you take me to school!’ I giggled leaning in so my head touched his.

‘I know you don’t have a job. But you know that pound coin I give you every Sunday that you put in the bucket?’ he leaned back once again. He nodded slowly as he watched me mentally connect the dots.

I stood silent for a moment.

‘ So this is my house.’ I was annoyed that I had been lied too.

Standing up and bringing me with him so I was able to see a sea of hundreds of other churchgoers who also paid for this house. It was if Papa had read my mind.

‘No, it’s everyone’s house.’

And so the decent begun. I continued attending church of course, but I began to question everything. As I matured, so did the questions. Older and less enthusiastic than before Papa would remind me that my constant questions showed me to be of ‘little faith and God didn’t like people that weren’t faithful’

I got accused of being insubordinate, difficult and even a trouble maker by the elders in my family not because I was being bad but because I just couldn’t take their or the preachers words for it anymore. At times such as this my Father became a strong council, who would encourage that I investigate was best for me. Like me, he was raised as a Christian but the only mark of that upbringing was a gold crucifix he wore around his thick neck.

Whenever pressed about his lack of attendance at church he would always have a slick tongued reply.

‘You want me to leave my home, to sit amongst strangers and praise someone I cannot see, for things I can acquire myself through hard work? No thank you.’ He’d say settling further into his lazy boy.

And to be fair I saw his point.  But going to church helped me deal with my issues. It was a suppressant from reality. A place to escape and help shape me into the adult I thought everyone wanted me to become.

One afternoon, after having to listen a gospel album on repeat, my Father knocked on my bedroom door, interrupting my personal bible study.

‘Can I come in?’ he chimed. Since walking in on me trying to work out how to use tampon, the only door he didn’t knock on was attached to the car.

‘Sure.’ I said quickly slamming the Bible shut and pushing it underneath my bed.

He entered just as I pretending to stretch.

‘Sup Daddy?’ I smiled, not holding his gaze. He looked a little concerned. And he wasn’t the type of man that wore concern, ill health or poverty very well.

‘Nothing much.’ He lied, lunging himself onto the bed.

‘DAD!’ I just made that!’ I cried in mock distress.

‘Chu!” He laughed.

‘You women can make beds with your eyes closed.’ He winked. It was no secret that he had hoped for me to be a Son. This didn’t bother me too much but he did have a way of sounding like a sexist pig in the most awkward of situations.

I pursed my lips while straightening the duvet.

‘You know I’m here if you want to talk right?’ He questioned, propping himself up on his elbows.

‘Yes.’ I said in a matter of fact tone, snatching his wire frames of his face and looking for my lens cleaner. I always wondered how he could see out of them.

‘And you know I don’t beat around the bush?’ he questioned, eyes now slits as he struggled to decipher the detail in my facial expression.

‘I wouldn’t have it any other way.’ I confirmed, placing his glasses back on his nose and delicately fixing the arms on his ears.

‘Well, now that we agree on all of the above, may I say that I think all the time you’re spending at church, in the choir and holed up in this makeshift little chapel-‘ he swung his arm in the air to point out my living quarters – ‘could be spent far better. You’re a blessed kid. No amount of chanting, incense burning or communions will change that. I cannot fault you for exercising faith. But if I cast my mind back, that little book, said something about needing to work.’ He ended raising his eyebrows in my direction.

‘Faith without works is dead. James, Chapter two. Verse dependent upon whichever version of the Bible you’re reading from.’ I confirmed, toying with a nearby pillow.

A silence settled between us. Only ever comfortable with what he could see and control, of course my Father was becoming uncomfortable with me praising the esoteric, non-tangible, scentless thing that I claimed had a purpose for my life.

‘You know, you’re old enough to make your own decisions.’ He said slipping into press up position, standing up and turning towards the door.

‘But don’t be so consumed with what you cannot see that you overlook what you can.’ He finished, closing the door on his way out.

I stood, frozen for a few minutes. It was not until my chest begun to vibrate that I realized I was sobbing.

While he had not meant it to be, I took his advice as if it were a telling off. Since I was a child, other members of my family had encouraged anything that involved God, his word, his house or his people. It had taken a while but finally, I was coming around to their way of thinking. Only for the smartest man I knew to tell me that I was not thinking at all.

Fortunately soon enough, another wave of adolescence consumed me and I went to Church less and less. It wasn’t until he died that I was once again forced to deconstruct my own beliefs.

Heading to Church a few months after the funeral. I was in need. And my friends knew this. As I made the jilted transition from teenager to twenty something, I had solidified my circle of friends. All as fearless, unique and outspoken as I, it was a wonder to find young people that I could connect with on all levels. We all accepted that God was a part of our lives. But we wanted him to know that we lived in the real world, and we weren’t going to feel as though we should be burned at the stake for not remaining virgins until we married. Of course, our rebellious aesethtic rubbed the more mature and conservative members of the congregation up, no end. On rare occasions, we would be greeted with a smile although the acceptance that danced on their lips, never took to the floor with their eyes. More often than not we were whispered about, pointed at and on special occasions we were even made to be the butt of subliminal preaching. But we reminded ourselves we were coming for God. And that specific Sunday, we were there for me.

When the four strong group ambushed me that morning, I stank to high heaven of Bells whisky. After propping me up in the shower and debating whether a Class A upper would put some pep in my step, we were all bundled in the car on our way.

Heading towards our usual seats, I decided to sit down during the praise and worship section. God had taken my Dad away. The last thing I was going to do was join in on the chorus of ‘How Great Thou Art.’

Striding towards the pulpit was a young preacher none of us had ever heard speak. A soft rumble went down our row.

‘He has ten minutes.’ Said Dani. The tallest of us all, it was her who usually took the lead in situations like this. The others nodded their heads in agreement.

He was doing okay. He was appealing to the younger members of the Church while keeping the Freedom Pass holders happy. I was really regretting not having a line. I could barely keep my eyes open and the quench that only those who begin to suppress their feelings with alcohol feel, began to tickle at my larynx.

‘We need to wash our sins and pray for the removal of evil spirits!’ He roared. The congregation began to clap in agreement.

‘Let God curse all the evil doers!’ some members of the congregation jumped to their feet shouting ‘HALLELUAH!’ or ‘AMEN!’

‘Let God overthrow all sexual deviants and homosexuals!’ he screamed.

My head shot up.

Did he just say?

‘Let all those involved in same sex relationships get ready to burn!’

He fucking did.

Without turning to consult each other, all five of us bent to retrieve our belongings. Not waiting for a moment less obvious, Dani was the first to stand, marching us out of the packed church. There was not an eye that had not swiveled in our direction. But we didn’t care. A line had been crossed. Amongst our other circles we had plenty of homosexual friends who were good- no- great, model citizens. There was no way we could sit there and agree to what was obviously going to become a two-hour hate spewing session. Stepping back out into the warm sunlight of that Sunday morning, it suddenly all became to clear what my Dad had warned me about years before.

‘I’m not going back to Church.’ I said to no one in particular.

And five years later, I had stuck to my word. I still believed in God and tried to maintain a relationship with him, although I knew that my lifestyle, too most, would seem to conflict with God’s usual teachings and desires for those that sought solace in that area. But I figured that if God  ‘knew me before I was formed in my mothers womb’ and all that then God must have know that I was going to be a Prostitute. And aren’t we all in one-way or another? You hate your job and don’t agree with the companies manifesto but still you go. The thought of deep throat turns your stomach but you do so just to keep him interested in you. Yeah, it’s all give and take. And I knew, or at least hoped that God, whoever he or she may be, would understand that.

Prostitution as a line of work was no different. The same way you don’t tend to bring religion up in the staff room, is the same way it never crops up in the bedroom. Of course there are little things I note and keep to myself. A bit like how my first client Barker made a note of my Bible, I too collected clues that related to a customers Faith. Sometimes it was blatantly obvious. A Sikh client’s hair would remained wrapped as he would tell me about how his arranged marriage which apart for the need to reproduce children, was sexless and soul destroying. The Jewish ones I had entertained were all less orthodox but they like Alan, would in time reveal a kosher habit.

Then there were the ones you couldn’t place. The ones like Mr. Bigger. Before meeting him, I assumed that his moniker was only for ego inducing purposes. But after he had pulled his six foot six, thick-limbed body out of his underpants, I realized that wasn’t the case. He had a really huge cock. No matter from which angle I took in its girth, I still questioned if I would be able to send him home a Happy Camper.

But that wasn’t the only reason I wondered if I would be able to cater to his requirements.

Mr. Bigger was a Dominant looking for a new submissive.

But I wasn’t having any of it. I had tried this once before.

Turning up at the hotel room of a perma tanned, know it all who requested me to ‘get on my knees’ before he had even paid me, let alone said hello, had not been the best first experience of this S&M craze which seemed to have been reignited in the punter world.  But I had tickled Mr.Bigger’s fancy so much that although he could tell that I lacked the natural whim of compliance gifted to excellent Sub, he subsequently doubled my fee to get me to ‘give it a go.’

Now he was speaking my language.

And even more so when we met in person. Polite and almost submissive in his introduction, he instantly made me relax. That was at least until  after business had been dealt with and it was time to deal with pleasure. Nervous, I lay on the bed naked and awaited his orders.

‘Now, I want you touch yourself. You are my sexual slave and you will call me Master.’

I nodded. Before I could correct a novice mistake, his palm had greeted my left breast with a slap that I’m sure would have  stung if I had not been mighty turned on.

‘Forgive me Master.’ I sighed, caught off guard by the growing dampness between my legs.

‘You are forgiven. As I was saying, you are going to pleasure yourself right until the point of orgasm. But you will stop just short of that. I will then take you. Do. You. Understand?’ he whispered chillingly.

I almost nodded just to get another smack but decided against it.

‘Yes Master.’ I sighed taking in the sunspots on his chest.

Pushing myself up against the bed head, I spread my legs so he could get an awesome view of my swollen cunt.

He wasn’t the most beautiful, but the feeling of being commanded was wonderful. Lacking control and trusting in something that I didn’t quite understand was a turn for me.

Of course! This was the feeling akin to the relationship I had battled with God.

Just as I was about to climax, he was on top of me. By this time, I was so aroused, it didn’t matter that his dick felt like trying to get a Jeep into a keyhole, I needed to be overcome by this feeling.

His panting became more erratic and I knew the time was near. Leaning further into me, I felt something cold and metallic in my mouth. Arching back, I saw that it was a dense Gold crucifix.

‘Oh God!’ I cried out, overcome with the orgasmic waves of pleasure.

He thrust twice and came to rest in heap on top of me, Crucifix resting on my mouth.

I didn’t know what to say, which was ok because I couldn’t quite catch my breath to say anything.

‘You are a fine Slave. I see potential in you yet. As long as you obey me, you will be fine.’ Mr. Bigger preached.

In awe of what he had just orchestrated, I closed my eyes and whispered;

‘Thank you.’

As much as Mr. Bigger was clearly a catholic who got kicks out of  being able to control young ladies like myself, he was no different to all the others, who were one body and all seemed to serve the same Christ; Sex. What all these faith filled, cross wearing, Sabbath serving men had in common, was me and the fact that against everything their God told them they still decided that I was worth not just the financial dent but a spiritual one too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 8
Chapter Four

What more can I say? 

 Of course I see all types of client. The widowed elderly who more than sexual release is seeking mere companionship in hopes that it will temper the boil of loneliness that creeps in long after the chess club has been dismissed. This type of client is a rarity, but a true gem. Everyone can own a Diamond now. But an elderly client is like a Yellow one. They always bring you flowers as they were raised in a time where chivalry was a necessity to snag any kind of pussy. What I find most compelling about the aged client is their knowledge of prostitution. They will have been around the game for all of the rule changes, infringements and also the development in the popularity to be ‘Independent’

They prefer it that way. To meet a young woman who is selling her body and time at her own whim. They get no uncomfortable stare down from a pimp, can use their fine tuned discernment to ascertain if she is worth the pension money and moving forward can leave the situation feeling somewhat esteemed as they offer council, advice and if you let them, nurture.

 

Then there is the young man encouraged by his benevolent peers to rack up notches on his bedpost even if he must pay for the pleasure of having his dick inspected by a woman who on a normal day in a situation that didn’t involve cold hard cash, wouldn’t massage a cancerous tumor out of his testicle. It is with them, I have the least fun. They can teach me nothing. Usually they are working class. Hard grafters, their hands are rough and uncared for. The use of slang over time has totally diluted their ability to sound intelligent, and most have never left Great Britain. To be honest there were a few who had but one can hardly describe a Aiya Napa booze fest as ‘seeing the world’

 

Then of course there is the most popular of them all: The Married Man. I can spot them a mile off now, and for the less audacious a quick feel of their ring finger soon provokes blood flow to reveal an indent of the ring removed moments before.  Before I had seen a Married Man, he was the idea I struggled with the most. How could I play a role in the downfall of his marriage?  As contradictory as my work/life lance may appear to some,I was an eternal feminist, how could I knowingly encourage him to step out of the union he had committed to before his fifth cousins, rugby mates and God of his choice? Being a female myself, how could they possibly believe that after retuning home, their wives would not be able to smell their wrongdoing? Like the heavy base notes of my favorite scent: Tobacco Vanille. The pungent trail of deceit would follow you around all day. Even after a shower, he seemed to be able to linger on your clothing, in your hair and seep through your now open pores. I would normally be racked with fifty-nine minutes worth of guilt after entertaining a married client. I was specific about it being fifty-nine as I never wanted to feel for a client longer than what he had paid me for. There was no overtime in this job. But as with most in life there is always a person or situation that changes the course of your thinking. In this instance, it was a combination of the two.

It was a pleasure to walk next to Peter. Dapper in his dress, he was sure to be the perfect client. The first meeting nerves, which usually saw me needing to make two trips to the bathroom, were not haunting me. But the sun was. Delicious beads of sweat had begun to pucker on my back; slowly they had met their relatives and were determined to become a pool. Thank God I had decided on this top and not the plain peach one. A prostitute with sweat patches will never be successful. I resented that fact that I sweat so much. I had read somewhere that people used Botox to block their sweat glands. If I didn’t want to show up to every appointment looking like that chick from FLASHDANCE, I may have to invest. How does one gauge success? By being called back. Of all the men I have ever serviced, only one has never returned. And that’s because I asked him not too. I am very good at my job.

 

I digress.

 

Back to Peter. He was of Kazakhstani heritage. I normally had a firm rule: ‘No eastern Europeans, Asians or Africans.’ As racist as that may seem, a Prostitute needs rules. Every woman does. Woman. A girl cannot and should not be doing my job. The first and the last had questionable reputations and the middle one lacked length or girth. Yes I provide a service, but to myself first and foremost.

Stepping into his new build apartment, I gave my internal Madame a high five. Not only was he well put together, this man had; Money.

Do I prefer to see rich clients? Of course. I want to make money. A lot of it. Now to some women, that means being able to afford the latest ‘It Bag’ while I understand the interest, I want my monies, money to make interest.

 

‘May I commend you on your class and demeanor.’ Peter stated, while offering up the envelope.

 

‘Check it if you so wish.’

 

Taking the envelope, I slipped it into my Gucci handbag. What? Ok, one ‘IT’ bag had the power to transform an entire wardrobe.  I would later check it in the bathroom. While some men, love the power of having paid for my time. Most like to believe that I would give them a second glance in a bar or club. I could tell that Peter was the latter. Counting the money out of eyesight helped them make believe that I would really sleep with them, if there weren’t cold hard cash involved. Also, It would be at this point I would also phone Tally and let her know I was safe. It had to be a phone call, one that was specifically void of any of our safe words. Any old murder could send a text.

 

‘Would you like a drink? I have some rare Kazakhstani whisky I’d like to share with you.’

 

I politely declined. I understood that drinking on the job could cost me more than I bargained for.

 

‘Water, will be fine thank you.’

 

Letting my eyes scan the beautiful open plan space, my eyes spotted a medal I recognized.

 

‘Ah, Run On! How did you find it? The hills were so tough.’ I rambled. It’s all about people skills you see. Once I notice that a client and myself have something in common, it’s hard to shut me up.

 

‘Ah, no. That belongs to my wife. She has recently become very interested in Marathons. While I like to keep fit, anything beyond six miles is for a masochist. ‘

 

I giggled. So the solid gold band I spied did have meaning. He was my first client that spoke so explicitly about his wife. I had to respect him for that. But it made it no less appealing.

‘Thank you’ I said while taking the bottle of water he offered up

‘I’m training for an Ultra marathon myself.’ I hoped that bringing the focus back to me would make him feel comfortable. Immediately, I spied his shoulders relax.

‘ULTRA! You’re insane. Beautiful, but insane.’ I watched as he gracefully walked back over to the sofa. His small, weightless limbs were the perfect hanger to his perfectly pressed clothes.

‘Cheers’ he prompted, raising his tumbler half full of whisky.

‘Cheers.’ I replied making sure to make eye contact. The record executive had once publicly and then privately scolded me off for looking away during the clink of glasses. I hadn’t diverted my eyes since.

Vanilla begun to punctuate the air, swiftly followed by the scent of cinnamon. It took me a second to work out that it was the whisky.

‘That smells divine.’ I admitted.

‘Are you sure I cannot interest you in some?’

I took a moment to weigh up the pros and cons.

‘Sure. I would love some’ my intuition had yet to lead me wrong. This dude was kosher.

‘You can watch me pour it from the bottle. And you’ve seen me drink some. I promise that I do not want to hurt you.’ His reassuring while unnecessary was warmly received.

As he stood up retrieve a tumbler for me, I began to action plan my next movements. While I had stopped perspiring, my top was damp. I couldn’t let him touch me this way.

‘Sometimes, when I can’t be fucked, I just open the door in a towel.’ I recalled Tally sharing her Pro tips with me once. Yes! That’s exactly what I would do. God bless her and her lack of class.

‘Enjoy beautiful’ Peter smiled while handing me the glass.

I swirled the whisky around the tumbler. I knew very little about alcohol but I knew this would bring on that gorgeous heady scent quicker than anything. Raising the glass to my lips, I let the whisky caress them until that familiar burn began to set in. Slowly and with saccharine purpose, I let the whisky slide past my tongue and down my throat.

‘Sensational.’ I determined, smacking my lips together.

‘Isn’t it?’ Peter rhetorically asked, eyes filled with excitement.

‘I acquired it on my last visit. I was promised it was very expensive. I think it shows.’

‘Indeed.’ I added remaining wary of the time. ‘Please may I use your bathroom?’

‘Yes, of course. The en suite one in the bedroom we shall play in, is all ready for you.’

Play. I hadn’t heard that one before. Maybe I took the job too seriously. It made me chuckle.

Trying to emulate his grace, I slipped off the sofa and grabbed my handbag in one swift movement.

‘Back in a tick’

I couldn’t keep my eyes off the interior. This pad was the place of dreams. Who knew that in the depths of East London, such excellent properties existed? I spied Laura Ashley linen on the way to the bathroom. His wife had excellent taste.

Once inside the bathroom, I made about getting out of my sweaty gear. As I had assumed, fresh towels were already stocked in the bathroom. I quickly stripped naked. I had become an expert at folding my clothes quickly.

Reaching into my handbag, I remembered the envelope. Pulling out the wad of cash, Tally was right, I had now become so accustomed to seeing a bundle of  money, I didn’t need too count it. I divided the cash into three parts. The first went into my purse, the second into my handbag and the third into the zip pocket of my jeans. I had heard stories where other clients had noted where the prostitute had placed the money. I was not going to be paid and robbed in the same hour.

Feeling blindly around my bag, I pulled out my trusty ‘For men’, fragrance. God forbid, I smell of anything but this. Spraying three squirts into the air, I danced through it and replaced the bottle into my bag. Finally, I had what is known as a ‘whores wash’

I’ll let your imagination do what it will.

‘So where were we?’ I asked sexily, padding back into the living room.

‘Oh, I like!’ Peter beamed.

Sitting, beside him but closer than before, I reached for my handbag once more. I pulled out my ‘Kit’ Now, it is my sincere belief  that every woman needs a kit, not just a prostitute. While one would assume that the contents would differ, all I have that’s out of the ordinary are double ended dildos, cock rings and dental dams. Other than that, it’s the usual; wet wipes, carmex, lip gloss, five pounds in coins and as many condoms as a make up bag can hold without bursting at the seams while fiddling for my mascara on the central line.

‘Oh you do?’ I teased.

Peter had mentioned in emails that he liked dominant, feisty women, who weren’t afraid to grab life and men, by the balls.

I took one final sig of my excellent whisky. Then I went in for the kill.

I leaned in so that my vanilla laced breath, danced across his lips and my hand found his cock. Hesitantly I leaned in to kiss him. I was wary that we were facing an undressed window, which gave full view into the flat and our experience to come. Pressing my lips against his, I let my hand move back and fourth. He was ready.

‘Shall we move on?’ He panted

‘Lets’ I agreed.

We were halfway through the appointment when it happened. He had just come for the second time and me for the first; he was a wonderfully accomplished lover.

‘I love your body.’ He whispered

‘I remember dating a woman like you. A real woman. My wife is Chinese. While I appreciate her face and intelligence, there is not enough of her body to truly satisfy me.’

I blinked. A man had not yet been this honest with me about his other life, the real one.

Never before, had I connected emotions to this job but all of sudden I felt sad. Was I good enough to fuck but not to marry? I was intelligent. And I didn’t have a tree growing out of my face. What was the problem?

‘Would you like the last of the whisky?’ I think he noticed that I couldn’t process the information he was offering.

‘Yes.’ I answered dryly.

He gracefully leapt off the bed. I didn’t even hear him land.

Once he was out the room, I calmed myself down and reminded myself of the role at hand. I looked around the room for clues about his wife. I regretted not studying the photos in the living room more closely.

She seemed bland. A perfectionist. And I just gathered that from her dressing table. I made mental note to purchase a dressing table. It was a very grown up piece of furniture. She liked order. I was forever swept up in some kind of chaos. But that’s how I enjoyed life.

‘Here you are.’ He was back before I had time to send myself crazy.

‘Thank you.’ I said grabbing the tumbler rather hastily.

I downed it in one.

‘Woah, you’re comfortable now aren’t you?’ He teased, pulling me on top of him.

Suddenly, there was an unfamiliar sound. Before I could note what it was, he had flipped so he was scrambling off me. Where had his graceful moves run too? He grabbed the towel I had dropped on the floor.

It was the door!

Suddenly, my jaw was where the towel had been moments before.

Although I’m sure time continued to rotate as normal, things begun to move in slow motion for me.

It was his wife!

Of course it would be his fucking wife. I was three floors up; jumping out the window was out of the question. What if this was a set up? What if I’d been lured here on some Fred West like tip off? No, I couldn’t now doubt my intuition. Could I? Was she angry? Why couldn’t I hear the swoosh of a samurai sword? Would she want to fight? Yes I knew that some of my clients were married but never before would I have guessed that this would happen? Chinese folk can fight; I’d watched those Jet-Li movies. WHY COULDN’T I HEAR ANYTHING?

Just as I was about to scream a soft voice broke the silence.

‘I left her fresh towels and some Molton Brown shower gel. Please tip her fifty pounds for the inconvenience ’

Then I heard the click of the front door.

I sat on the bed in shock. Naked and shaking, I tried to compose myself but on his return, he could tell that I was shaken.

‘I am so very, very sorry. She got my play dates mixed up.’

‘PLAY DATES? WHAT THE FUCK.’ Fear had quickly turned to adrenaline, which had now turned to anger.

‘Please calm down. The neighbors will be alarmed.’ He pleaded

‘I was alarmed.’ I lowered my tone but not my attitude.

‘I should have explained,’ he began, grace again intact, he slid effortlessly into the bed.

‘My wife and I are regular swingers. She actually helped me choose you. The way you wrote reminded her of herself, she was drawn to your intelligence, I was drawn to your ass.’

I sat there, gob smacked. Just when you thought you’d seen it all, there was something new to add to the list. Here I was wondering if my profession tore marriages apart, when actually it appeared to be the thread that was holding many a marriage together.

‘Water please.’ All of a sudden, I was parched.

Passing the bottle of water, her continued;

‘Yes just last week went to a party where she was the only Asian. There was a line of men waiting to fuck her. By the time she got home, she was exhausted. It was such a turn on.’ He closed his eyes as if to relive the experience.

The water helped me find my voice again.

‘That truly is incredible. Please excuse my prior behavior but I hope you understand how worried I was.’

‘I truly do, and like she advised, I will tip you for your inconvenience. A beauty like you should not have suffered such a fright.’

Once again, he was on top of me.

Later while he changed the sheets (so slick they were with ‘play dates’ they had special bed linen) I had a well-deserved hot shower.

It wasn’t just his sexual experience that had exhausted me; it was the mental fatigue that followed such a revelation. For years prostitutes had been made to feel as if they were less than, sub par or unworthy but here, I was taking a luxurious shower with expensive shower gel and even more expensive towels awaiting the condensation of my body. While I had truly enjoyed my time with Peter, it was such a shocker as much as breath of fresh air. I let the water run over my head and down my back.

I had never imagined being married. That overwhelming need to be in committed partnership wasn’t really my teenage focus. Hell, if I had placed just half the effort I had used on developing my sexual self, I’m sure I would have had a relationship CV to rival Elizabeth Taylors. But that side of things had never been my concern. Monogamy and how those who believed in it went about maintaining it, was never an interest of mine. The afternoons activity had only heightened reinforced my belief in everybody sourcing a lifestyle which suited them. I was born into a family that built itself on the importance of union. Even if that union turned to all out war behind closed doors, it was important to ‘keep up appearances.’ But after nearly coming face to face with a wife who supported her husbands financed infidelities, I couldn’t help but wonder who we were being faithful to? Was it the interior magazines that constantly rammed images of nuclear families and their dogs squished onto a double sofa, that were to blame? Or was it the daytime TV shows that made a mint off of calling us out for ‘playing away’? I wasn’t sure. But I knew that I wanted no part of it. At least with Prostitution I was already calling myself out as a social pariah, someone who didn’t belong because I couldn’t find a cause worth affiliating with. As a wife, where was the thanks? Your husband is paying a woman who looks nothing like you, to satisfy him sexually? I’m good thank you. One thing I did credit my job with was bringing me clarity in my private life. I was single and that was the way it would remain. If any potential suitor came towards me, I would look him dead in the eye and give the excuse all normal ladies use; ‘I’m afraid I cannot be in a committed relationship, I am focused on my career. ‘

Sure enough once, I’d stepped out the shower, there was a fifty pound note with a box of chocolates next to it. Obviously he was used to treating his ‘play dates’ very well, I wasn’t about to complain.

‘Peter, I will leave you to your day now.’ I smiled while heading toward the door.

‘Good bye my beauty, it won’t be long until we meet again.’

He kissed me on both cheeks and then I was out into the bright light of the corridor.

‘You remember the way out?’ He quizzed.

‘Yes.’ I lied.

That’s another skill my line of work will teach you; how to be a motherfucking sat nav.

Stepping back out into the hot sun that rolled over East London, it all began to sink in. All this time, I was there chastising myself for the behavior of someone’s husband. Spending unpaid time, wondering about the state of their marriage Assuming that I would be the one thing that would surely break them apart. Today had taught me that sometimes, I’m the one that keeps it all together. While both thoughts can bear the downfall of an ego, it was nice to know that for the few, it was women like me who provided them with that little spark that reminded them why the fuck they signed up for each other in the first place.

 

Right on schedule, Tally rang.

 

‘You cool chica?’ from the tone of her voice, I could tell she was sucking. On a cigarette. I didn’t smoke that much in warmer weather but hearing that made the cravings kick in.

 

‘Urgh. Just about babe. But I got the fright of my life when his wife walked in.’ right on cue, she offered up her gasps and shock.

 

‘WHAT?! Oh shit, are you okay? Did you have to fight? Why didn’t you phone me?’ she sounded genuinely concerned.

 

‘Why didn’t I phone you?! Hmm let me think Tal, maybe its because I was trying to figure out if I could jump from a third floor apartment and not split my snatch on the barbed wire below!” I laughed but sometimes Tal’s doziness really played on patience and mind. I sometimes wondered how she’s lasted six years in our profession, with not so much of a mark on her.

 

‘Shit. I’m starved. Wanna meet at that Sushi place and talk it over?’ her tone sounded hopeful. And my stomach just began to get restless.

 

‘Sure, I’ll be there in forty five.’ I ended the call before she could ask anymore questions.

 

Walking back towards the station, I mumbled a little prayer to the God’s above. I hadn’t been to church in a while but there was no harm in offering up words of gratitude. There is no reason as to why I was able to walk out of that flat alive. It could have been a set up. So far I had been bestowed with a luck that seemed to be able to keep me safe in the most ludicrous of circumstances. I had honed my intuition to perfection, made sure to vet clients to the best of my ability and made sure to turn on my heel, if the tiniest thing made me feel uneasy. But it was easy, for me at least. I didn’t have to suck a cock to keep the lights on. And admittedly, sometimes I felt guilty. Prostitution had always been painted as a last resort, something that beaten crack addicts turned to in a last bid attempt to keep their heads in the clouds. I’m a smart girl and not just by street standards but studious ones also. Tally like many others, just wasn’t as switched on. Sometimes, I felt…fucking lucky. There was no shortage of murderous activity in my line of work. Tally and I would just shake our heads as these young women were thrown into a headline that simply read ‘MODEL SLAIN’ we would be angry because people wouldn’t wonder why a ‘model’ was in the privacy of a man’s home with no one else present.  Sometimes, if there was no other news it wasn’t uncommon for the headlines to feature the term; ‘Prostitute’ as if the word somehow devalued a human life. As if it gave a moral excuse as to why the faceless sex workers life had been taken. The story would read so biased, she went to him, blah blah blah as if by going to his residence and offering a sexual service was reason enough for her body to be found bobbing down the canals. She was someone’s daughter, maybe a mother, friend and usually a tax paying citizen. But because she made the decision to sell sex, whether through financial desperation or calculated career choice; She was irrelevant. A nameless, faceless, careless whore, whose murder was fault of no one but her own.

 

‘It’s as if you’ve been sprinkled with some magic dust that us mere mortals missed out on.’ My Dad would laugh once I’d finished telling him a potentially frightening story. For some reason, he never feared for me.

 

‘You’re an unusual girl.’ He’d sigh once his parenting gene kicked in.

‘But you’re sharp. And I have no doubt that you’ll find a way to tie the two together.’ He’d smile pulling me in for an embrace.

 

Indeed I was sharp and unusual. Sharp and humble enough to know that the only difference in my chosen line of work, was the risk factor. I was wise enough to know that at some point everyone’s luck run out and at any point, I could be a headline. This only intensified my thoughts of an exit plan.

Ascending the escalators of the tube station, I was in dire need of fresh air. For all that we paid them was it too much to ask that our tube line came with air con? I mean we were now able to check our emails while minding the gap, surely we could keep sweating to a minimum too? Walking towards my favorite sushi spot, I let myself relax. The sun was out. However disconcerting it was to my outfit of choice, it was such a rarity in the UK, that I had to smile. Work was done for the day and I was now able to take in the beauty of my surroundings. I knew that no matter how long I’d do the job, I’d never get over the fact that I made more than the average Joe’s weekly wage in an hour. Sure it was nice to eat at expensive retaurant’s, be able to swipe my card without tallying up the price beforehand and treat my family but beyond that, I never felt addicted to the pound signs. The sex however was a different story. But I never became greedy. Greed was a sin I wanted nothing to do with. I had enough of those going on to send me straight to hell with no way of collecting my hard earned cash.

 

‘He was really experienced, I came three times!’ I laughed while shoveling a much needed Salmon starter down my gob.

Tally recoiled in mock disgust. The blood red interior of one of our regular haunts only added to the aura of her theatrics.

‘I don’t know how you do it C, I could never, ever orgasm with a client. I feel like that should be reserved for the one who isn’t paying for it.’ She shrugged, sipping her diet coke.

This was one point where we didn’t agree. I had always maintained that if a client was getting theirs of course I would get mine. Thinking that a climax should be reserved for ‘someone special’ seemed really…precious. And a tad bit too romantic for my taste.

 

‘Well judging by this afternoons matinee it seems that the one you love isn’t necessarily the one making you shoot your load.’ I raised my eyebrow just for effect.

 

‘Urgh, loads. I cannot stand semen.’ Tally whispered.

I tried to stifle a laugh. I think she was the most prudish pro in the profession.

 

‘Girl, I don’t know how you’ve lasted so long.’ Even though I smiled, I meant it. I just don’t know how she was able to do the job when her heart really wasn’t in it.

 

‘Me neither. It’s just I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.’ She admitted, her eyes now fixed on the menu although we both knew she wouldn’t eat anymore.

Once again, here was my chance.

 

‘Come on Tally, surely you’re good at other things?’ I took it. As supportive as I was, I didn’t want to imagine that oral sex was the end all and be all of her character.

She looked up at me.

 

‘Babe, this is me. This is all I know. I just about made it out with decent GCSE’S. It’s not like I haven’t tried anything else. I lasted three weeks as a sales assistant when I was with Jack. But I was shit at it. This is what I’m good at. This is who I am.’ She looked at me with honesty burning through her eyes.

 

It was my turn to look down at the menu. This was who she was. And for some nurturing reason, I wanted more for and from her. But this was like trying to get a blood from a stone or in our case, a tip from a punter. Impossible.

 

‘How is Jack?’ I asked nonchalantly. Jack was the ‘love of her life.’ Now considering Tally had ‘life loves’ like most folk had coffee, it was hard to keep up with her personal repertoire.

 

‘Sheesh. He wants us to get back together. I love him. But you know the clause that comes with.’ she rolled her eyes.

 

Indeed I did. He wanted her out of the game, at home waiting for him barefoot and pregnant no doubt. I’d met Jack a couple of times. We’d found mutual ground in our love for Tally and wanting her to reconnect with her folks. But beyond that I didn’t care for him much. I’d found his reasons for wanting Tally to quit, quite selfish. And admittedly a little sexist.

 

‘We don’t quit anything for no man and especially not for none of that love bollocks.’ I said fiercely. I knew that my passion behind that sentence was wrapped up in my earlier viewing of the underbelly of marriage.

I wasn’t jaded. Not at all. I’d played on the other side of the fence. And the grass had remained greener for a substantial amount of time. Until it didn’t. Having watched the women in my family keep their jobs and sanity over the idea of love, I decided to follow suit. I was about my business and remaining independent. Money, while it could be the root of some evil, it was never guilty of direct heartbreak. 

 

‘What is Love anyway?’ I wasn’t sure if Tally wanted an answer or if her question was rhetoric to make us think.

 

‘I don’t know. I used to think it was meeting someone, becoming besotted with them, saving like a gerbil for a killer mortgage, stretching your body out for the sake of the kids and pretending not to wank over vampires. But today, not so much.’ I sighed

I was exhausted. Not only did this job take a toll on you mentally, it ran ruin with you emotionally. You had to pretend to listen, pretend to care, act as a sponge for your clients, so they left feeling lighter. Usually I was great at walking away from a job unperturbed by the fact that someone just paid me £500 to piss on ‘em but todays activities had taken me to the edge and back. It had once again unearthed some questions that I didn’t want to answer. Correction, questions I couldn’t answer.

 

I played with my drink, while Tally busied herself with her phone. The strange thing about our friendship is that it went no further than whoring. Tal would say it was because she didn’t know about much of anything else. I wouldn’t admit it was because I didn’t want to share anything else. But between me and you I enjoyed running. That was a hobby I had picked up after the grief came in. It helped me clear my mind. I had tried to get Tal and other friends involved but one by one they all decided I was crazy and left me to take on twenty mile Sundays by myself. I loved reading too, that was another escape. A chance to indulge in a world that had nothing to do with me, eavesdrop on puny conversations, dance with the devil and then leave without physical inflection just by snapping the book shut. All Tal read was those weekly glossies and text messages. We were different but the same. A modern Thelma and Louise with no sign of slowing. I felt as if I was overthinking things. I did that a lot.

 

‘Just going to the loo.’ Tally informed me rising from the awkward wooden bench and snatching up her mobile as she went.

Watching heads turn as Tally squeezed herself through the tightly arranged space, I giggled to myself.

 

‘Nice teeth.’ The male voice made me inhale sharply.  Before I even looked up to see who had offered up this compliment, I snapped my mouth shut. I hated my teeth.

Looking up, I was greeted by an amazing set. They were like piano keys. White and perfectly formed, it was hard to look at the face that they belonged too. I was transfixed.

 

‘Thanks.’ I kept my lips pursed together so that I would offer no more oral previews.

I hadn’t noticed that others had been seated so close. I wondered if they heard much of our conversation. Wrinkling my nose, I chose to forget about it, fuck if they overheard, I hope they learned something.

 

‘Have you been here before? Sushi isn’t really my thing.’ came the male voice once more.

Ah, they had not even ordered yet. I relaxed a little. Without turning to look him in the face I offered up some advice.

 

‘They have an excellent Salmon Salad, Thai Curry and Rice dishes. But to be honest, if Sushi ‘isn’t your thing’ then may I suggest that you go to a Steak joint next time.’ And with that I busied myself with my drink and wondered when Tal would be back.

‘Salmon Salad it is. Thank you…’ he dangled the worm and waited for me to pick it up. After a prolonged pause, I took it.

‘Chanel.’ I answered confidently.

‘Chanel.’ He confirmed.

At that moment, I decided to look beyond his smile. High cheekbones acted as runways to soft slits that one could be fooled into believing were eyes. A smooth shaved head shone like a crystal ball. A full beard was the perfect frame to expertly designed lips. Lips like that were usually an excellent indication of expert cunnilingus. I took him in for no more than three seconds but it felt like far longer.

The sound of I benches being moved, pulled me back to reality.  Tally had to be on her way back to the table.

‘CANDICE! You won’t believe it!’ she screeched, dramatically throwing herself onto the bench.

I clenched my jaw. That was my cover blown. I literally watched it be taken off and thrown away by hurricane Tal. I dared not swing my eyes in the direction of Steak Teeth.

‘What?!’ I genuinely wanted to know what had gotten her so excited.

‘My Dad just died. Cancer apparently. I didn’t even know, my mum is in bits.’ Her smile couldn’t have been any wider.

I was confused.

‘Why the fuck, are you so happy?’ I could tell this wasn’t the opposition she had expected.

‘Because I hated him’ She said dryly, although I could still see a grin ooze at the corner of her mouth.

I signaled to one of the more polite waiters.

‘Plum wine please.’ I smiled stiffly. If I was going to be supportive or not, I would need something stronger than the diet coke that had suddenly lost all it’s fizz.

‘Make that two.’ Grinned Tally.

The waiter nodded and made haste. I wondered if he could tell that I was one Nigiri roll away from beating Tally senseless.

 

‘Jesus. Mary & Joseph.’ I whispered, pulling my sunglasses off my head and throwing them to the table.

‘Ok, I am going to need you to think about your feelings here because if I’m not mistaken, Talia, your Dad just died from a disease you never knew he had.’ I felt unwanted eyes on me. I reminded myself that she had her reasons but I knew that by using her full name, she would understand that she was walking a thin line of my comprehension. And I was a bitch when I felt misinformed.

 

She nodded slowly. I watched as she fingered her chopsticks. Her acrylic nails were the colors of hard-boiled sweets. Her skin, like alabaster, was without a freckle or blemish. ‘Snow white’ her clients would call her. At that moment I couldn’t imagine anything more apt.

She unrolled her tongue and I watched as it came across her teeth forming the words I knew I would hear but didn’t want too.

‘He deserved it.’ Her voice was now only audible to me. It was noisy. There was the chatter of diners, plates being flung around in the kitchen and orders being reeled off in urgent Japanese. But for some reason her declaration was piercingly loud.

 

I felt uncomfortable. My comfort zone existed only in an area I could control and due to my lack of knowledge combined with my confusion, I couldn’t think of how to handle the situation effectively. That irked me more than I could care to show. If she wasn’t going to let me in as a friend, all I could do was treat her like a client. I went into default work mode.

‘So…how can I help?’ I probed, affixing the most fraudulent smile I could stomach to summon. And it was a genuine question, I wondered what the hell I could do to make the situation feel normal.

She visibly relaxed.

‘Well, Mum says that he had everything planned and the funeral will happen as early as next week. Could you…could you come with me? I’ve never been to a funeral before. What should I wear? Should I work up there?  No point losing out on fresh meat and even fresher money!’ She laughed but it didn’t quite come across as humor.

I nodded.

‘Sure, I’ll come with you. Clothes wise, off the top of my head you have nothing funeral appropriate but hey, any excuse to go shopping right?’ I forced a giggle out through a grimace. If she wanted to play hard ball, I would oblige. But I knew only too well how this was going to play out. Reality and Grief are two things that us humans pay a lot to keep at bay. I’d only just got out of the red.

‘Yay! You free now?’ her eyes were alight with what looked like excitement but I wrote it off as shock, if only to placate my own.

‘For you, I’ve got all the time in the world.’ I confirmed outstretching my hand so she couldn’t avoid my invitation of comfort.

Releasing the grip on her phone, she put her hand into mine and bowed her head. To the passing eye, it looked like we were about to pray.

 

‘Shit. He’s dead.’ She repeated. I knew that she was reaffirming what she believed to be a dream come true.

‘It happens to the best of us.’ I sighed.

‘And the worst too.’ She finished.

I was parched and displaced. I thought about ordering us some more wine but then figured that between the shopping trip, the sun and the situation, emotions would already feel a little tipsy. As with all things, once you received it, you had to move on.

‘Shall we shop?’ I teased, squeezing her hand.

She looked around for our passive waiter.

‘Bill please!’ she sang.

‘That’s my girl!’ I smiled, placing my sunglasses back atop my head.

Her phone rang and without skipping a beat, I watched, wide eyed as she confirmed a booking for later that day. It seemed as if she had been sedated by life. Was it the job? Had it numbed all human reasoning? What had her father done that she felt like his no doubt painful death, was like a victory? How long would she be able to hold it together? I felt the side wards stare of Steak Teeth on me. Usually, I’d turn and snap some funny insult that would instantly turn anyone that looked at me for too long, into a pillar of salt. But today was not usual. Excepting of it immediately or not, Tally would remember this day for years to come. I was not fortune teller but I could bet that these scenes would later make up nightmares. I knew that when  it was her time to be given her last rites and have her body wheeled down to the morgue, this would be one of the last things she would see and wish she had done differently. But who was I? That was the real question of the day. So consumed by the situation, it wasn’t until Tal had paid the bill and left a ten pound tip, I came back to myself.

‘West?’ she cooed.

‘Amen.’ I chuckled hoping that the glorious weather wouldn’t mean that we would have to spend hours dodging tourists who seem to spend a lot of money on camera equipment they couldn’t use.

Shuffling off the bench, I felt warm grip on my arm. I looked down into the eyes of Steak Teeth.

‘The salmon salad was wonderful. Thank you Candice.’ He smiled, piano keys as white as snow.

‘You’re welcome…?’ It was my turn to dangle.

‘B.’ he laughed.

‘You’re welcome B.’ I half hearteadly smiled, pulling my arm out of his palm.

‘Ready Tal?’ I asked urgently. I did not want to have a conversation with this man and I hoped that she would get that pretty quickly.

Ever the shocker, she did.

‘Yep, moving.’ She giggled hot-footing it towards the door. I slid behind her with not so much as a glance over my shoulder.

Linking my arm in hers, we sideways shuffled through the tight exit.

‘Who was that?’ she whispered screwing up her nose like she smelt something bad.

‘No one of importance.’ I shrugged, with a conviction that placated Tally’s interest and tricked me into believing it was the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 3
Chapter Three

It began very simply, innocently actually. I had always loved reading. My Grandfather, being the charmer that he is was very good at getting high end discounts at low end bookstores and would often bring me home material to investigate, that if he could read, I’m sure he would believe was way to advanced for someone of my age.

With it’s hardback and Freudian like cover, I immediately fell in love with ‘erotic Tales’ a book complied of short stories, and I came to appreciate the archaic language for my lady parts. Thrust into a world of make believe and drama, I was able to do away with all the evils that becoming a woman had blessed me with and concentrate on finding this ‘feeling’ which was constantly described as ‘rapidly climbing the stairs to the doorway of ultimate pleasure’

I wasn’t sure if I even had a stairway but suddenly this thing that belonged to me, which was now very used to beating the crap out of me every twenty eight days, now served as some kind of passport to a world that I was aching to visit.

Accompanied only by the light of the torch night after night, I’d stay up way past my bedtime, reading stories, filled with lace slips, men with incredible girth and damp gateways. While not yet in tune with my own physical to understand that my gateways too were damp, it was my own little secret. It was the first stage of masturbation. The most important part. I was pleasuring myself with my mind.

As time went on and I could recite the book from memory, I started to introduce my imagination. Fantasizing over my school crush Craig Dyer, I was able to illicit dampness of my own. Feeling slightly flushed one night; I reached down to touch myself and was horrified at how damp it was. Assured I had wet myself, I slammed ‘Erotic Tales’ shut and threw my soiled linen into the laundry basket, hoping no one would ask any questions.

 

I backed off for a while. With school changes happening abruptly and everyone having their own interaction with puberty talk of sex in the playground reached fever pitch.

While no one had actually admitted to having sex, there was a rumor that touching yourself made you blind. Quickly following that one was the warning that masturbation was ‘immoral’ and that orgasms would get you a VIP ticket to hell quicker than disabled pornography.

Weighing up the pros and cons of being totally blind (I’m so short sighted I’m halfway there) or an eternity of weeping, moaning and gnashing of teeth, I decided it was best not to go looking for trouble and retire ‘Erotic Tales’ and images of Craig Dyer fingering me behind the bike shed, forever.

I stopped looking for my first Orgasm. And like most things in life, when you quit the search party, all the lights come on and it’s pulled in for questioning in front of you.

My uncle was staying with us for a bit when my mother had to pop out one Saturday afternoon and for some reason or another, I decided to stay in with a new book and let her go on her way.

What pulled me towards the cupboard is irrelevant and why I looked in my Uncles unmarked sports bag, even more so but what I found set off a chain of events that have led me to write this very book/

There it was, a pornographic magazine. My first in fact.  Filled with more cunts (now my favorite word), twats, dicks and cocks than one could imagine. In a time before Internet pornography, this was clearly the upper crust of porn mags. The paper was thick and glossy and the photos were so sharp that one could count the pubic hairs on individuals.

I wanted to put it down. But there was a stirring deep within me that couldn’t be ignored. It went below my belly button and came to rest right there. Flicking through the pages, I became enthralled with the coarse language used within the storytelling. It was sexy and dirty and most importantly, strictly forbidden. The fact that I knew I shouldn’t be entertaining this feeling tat was prohibited made me want it even more. All of a sudden I didn’t give a fuck about going to hell, while I needed my sight to drink in the images, I would have traded it all for that sweet O anyhow.

Continuing to make my way through the magazine, that same damp feeling occurred. But this time, I wasn’t alarmed or afraid; I let my body naturally accept what was going on. I was highly aroused.

Glancing into the sports bag, I noticed there were others. I wanted to dive in headfirst and loose myself in the undulating tsunami of pleasure that seemed to be captivating every inch of my teenage body. But I didn’t have the time. Placing the magazines back as well as I could, I made it my immediate life goal, to try and snag more time alone and pour over porn.

I began a single-handed manhunt, for all kinds of porn I could get my hands on. I became infatuated with Erotic literature, and the cheaper stuff, like sex scenes in Danielle Steele and Mills & Boons novels. Upon closer inspection, my family home was riddled with porn. Videos in draws, magazines in cupboards, I even started to appreciate the sexual lyrics in reggae and hip-hop. 

When I could steal time alone, I’d run over to the window and be sure that my mother’s car had pulled off and then wait five minutes just for extra security. Once I could ensure that I was alone, I’d curl up on the sofa in my underwear and watch badly dubbed European gangbangs. German women with plentiful breasts and full bushes would practice intense fellatio on equally hairy men.

This was my thing. My education. Without realizing it, I was already becoming very aware of what turned me on and what didn’t. But I had yet plucked up the courage to touch myself. For some reason, that seemed like entirely new territory that I wasn’t going to cross. The mirage of naked bodies would be enough for me. For now.

Looking back, I was lucky. Most of my female friends never had the luck of stumbling across porn. Uneducated and unaware of the fact that they too should seek their own sexual pleasure before providing it to another, I watched many of them stumble into wanton relationships, void of any fun for them. Their mentality started and continued with a theme of ‘How to keep my man happy’, because none of us were ever taught; that when it comes to most things in our lives, we should be concerned with ourselves.

I cannot remember the first time I took the time out to masturbate. But I do know that it was wonderful. Like climbing a ladder that lead to a very tangible heaven, I found myself climbing, only to be kicked off when I least expected it. Instead of falling on concrete, I soared down on undulating waves, breath caught in slim windpipes, I felt myself dissolve into an ocean of happiness with no concept of true time, feeling or reality.

Needless to say, I became addicted. I’d spend hours making love to myself. Sometimes with a visual aid but most were purely assisted by my imagination. With no literal experience to evoke, I imagined myself trussed up with a school crush, or pop star. For a long time, it was Justin Timberlake.

In the privacy of my own bedroom, bathroom or hallway, I was a highly sexed, desirable young woman, whom with confidence and an insatiable appetite, I could have any man that I wanted.

The reality however, was far different. Harsher, in fact.

Moving from Primary to Secondary school hadn’t been the smooth transition I could have hoped for. And while we all have our sob stories of low teenage self-esteem, acne and general awkwardness, it didn’t help that I was the epicenter of a group of gorgeous and sexually provocative young women.

While there were many episodes that took shots at my self-esteem, most of them missed. But there was one that I caught straight in my pride.

 ‘Come with us!’ April urged. With skin the color of pistachio and teeth that didn’t need metal cages to hold them back, April Walker was THE girl of every teenage boys dreams, this side of South London.

Sometimes, I used to envy the way her full breasts bounced beneath our terrible green polyester school jumpers. Short of stuffing tissue down an already contraband push up bra, there was no way I could compete. Plus, her thighs didn’t rub together in Moschino Jeans.

‘I don’t know.’ I whimpered, as I fingered the black plastic handle of my art folder.

‘I have to go out tonight.’ I lied. The truth was, my Granddad had just sourced a first edition Harry Potter book for me. All I wanted to do was go home and read about the ridicule Harry would suffer, not be present in my own.

‘We won’t be long!’ Azara sang, as she tugged my arm. A good foot taller than me, with eyes the color of mint, I really couldn’t fight her on it.

Before I knew it, I was stomping up the stairs of the number two bus, with my head in my hands and heart in my mouth.

I let the girls’ conversation settle around me, while I went to a safe place in my mind.

At the next stop, a gaggle of boys begun to fill the bus. Immediately uncomfortable, I tried to not make eye contact.

‘April!’ The most handsome of the group hollered.

April stood to hug him and I slyly watched as he squeezed her bum.

I should have known.

‘Michael, this is my friend, Candice’ her over choice to manipulate the syllables of my name, left me uneasy.

‘Hi.’ I whispered. My glasses begun to steam up and immediately, I felt like a fool.

Michael barely gave me the once over.

‘She is pretty inint?!’ April encouraged.

The once noisy bus immediately fell silent as they awaited Michael’s reaction.

Beneath his chocolate skin, a smile begun to dance on his lips. Before I had the chance to return it, it had turned into a full-blown Irish jig of laughter. He could barely catch his breath as his giggles did the Charleston.

Before the heat that is normally quickly followed by tears begun to pierce my eyes, I felt myself moving off the bus. Everyone was laughing now. The idea of me being described as pretty was so hilarious, that boys were banging on the window, in appreciation of my physical attributes, or lack of, inducing their belly hysterics

‘Candice!’ I heard April call after me.

Bless her.

She meant well, but we all knew I was well out of my comfort zone. Benching above my weight. Shooting over my height.

With hot salty tears, rolling down my chubby cheeks, I ran back down the hill the bus had just steadily climbed. I ran until I was breathless and out of sight. Once I’d turned onto the hill that led me home, I let the tears fall into full-blown baby wolf howls.

I knew I was ugly.

But having the entire world confirm it was a bit too much for my Thirteen-year-old self.

While I was not sure of my schoolmates’ sexual status, I was sure that they were not deemed ‘unfuckable’

Most of those boys would give their right hand to be with my friends but wouldn’t even want to hold mine. Flustered by such an event, my self-esteem begun to crawl back into the shell it was just coaxed from. Cursing me wildly, it assured me that it would not be coming back out for such an emotional beating every again, and encouraged me to do the same.

I agreed.

‘Hello!’ I shouted as I fell through my front door still in tears.

Thankfully, there was no reply.

Putting my key in the lock, I took the stairs two at a time and scurried into my bedroom. Kicking the door shut behind me, I began to rip off my school uniform with urgency and anger. Throwing myself on the bed, I spread my legs and thought of Justin Timberlake. Less than five minutes later, I was shaking with happiness.

There it was; the answer to this awkward phase in my life. In my mind, masturbation solved everything.

Clearly too ugly and awkward to be afforded a real boyfriend, I had the option of coming home and kicking off my panties after a long day of soul destroying nitpicking. In love with books and handing in my homework on time, I admit that I didn’t even have cool bad girl points to replace the marks my physical missed. So how could I blame those boys for laughing me off the bus? It’s what I deserved.

All of a sudden, my worth was based on how sexually attractive I was to men. Boys confirmed my womanhood. Without their sanction, I was a worthless mesh of cells, flesh and bone taking up space and using air that could be put to better use by a woman far better looking.

 

‘What’s up? Boyfriend troubles?’ My Dad half giggled and half investigated.

I giggled. If only he knew that the closest I was to having a boyfriend was when Justin Timberlake took me on a date before he spread my legs and gave it to me like a donkey. In my dreams.

‘I wish, Dad!’ I joked but silently hoped.

It had been a month since Busgate and while I had not yet plucked up the courage to take that route home, April and the others were trying really hard to get me to see my –and I shit you not- ‘Natural Beauty’

While they were being too nice, I was investigating everything that wasn’t natural. I had begun sneaking make up from my mums make up bag.

Four shades lighter than me, I had to go easy to avoid looking like that woman who used to present the news on channel One. You know, the one that looked like Casper. But anything to try and mask my awful acne.

I had slashed my food intake by half. This had not gone unnoticed by my family & friends but since I had a lot of body fat to spare, they had yet to care that I was running to the toilets after my school lunch, to make sure that it didn’t digest.

Knees pressed into the cold stone floor, I’d dry heave until the pizza and chips, chicken and chips or pie and chips, made a welcome return into the cistern. While my friends thought I had IBS or some shit like that, I was actually just trying to get my thighs into the next pair of designer jeans.

Today I was with my Father, The one that see’s his daughter regardless of what her reflection really says and see’s every young man as a threat. He had offered to take me clothes shopping. My birthday had just passed and we were still nine months short of Christmas. While I acted grateful and unaware, I knew this was his way of keeping tabs on what I was wearing and how my brain was working. We had barely reached the corner shop at the end of his road before he begun to introduce the theme of the day, which while he never said it, was blatantly:

ARE YOU STILL A VIRGIN?

Moving staccato like through the shopping center my Dad balked at the ‘fashion’ now available to girls of my age and he also noticed how much I’d physically developed. With breasts now more ‘Jumping June’ than ‘Darling buds of May’ he politely left me alone in the underwear department. While my comfort was rich cotton vests, my chest now seemed to break loose of their easy barriers. While the childishness of training bra’s made me yak, I still wasn’t quite ready for the visual opulence, nor physical discomfort of a ‘Big Girl Bra’

Finally I decided that the entire operation was far too fucking embarrassing to carry out. Especially with my Dad trying to look inconspicuous on the outskirts of the underwear section of BHS. Trying and failing.

‘Nothing tickle your fancy?’ He probed when he saw me return sweaty and empty handed.

Trying not to giggle at his choice of words, I decided to lie my ass off. To save his and mine.

‘Nah Mum has all that stuff covered, so can we just move onto JD Sports?’

‘Sure thing kid.’ He replied as his body language begun to relax.

And so did I.

While there was a war between my mind and body, trying to make sense of these new emotions, sexual feelings and wondering where I fit in with it all, my aesthetic self was just interested in Nike’s latest offering.

Monday to Friday, school uniform dictated my woman hood. My bogey green jumper cluing to breast I wanted no one to see. My pleated skirt invited people to look at tree trunks that had not yet understood their purpose. By the time the weekend came, I always wanted nothing more than to curl up in my XXL grey tracksuit bottoms, pull a fitted cap over my unkept hair and try and negotiate reasons why a taking shower was a choice, not an obligation.

‘I didn’t know you had a son!’ Mutual friends would always screech when out with my mother.

At which point, she’d pull my hat off and declare,

‘It’s a girl! She just won’t act like one!’

The mutual would look me over with pity swimming in their eyes. I would look at them with ultimate disdain. Fuck them, I’d think. Who are they to judge me? At which point, I’d put my headphones back on and let Eminem direct the flow of my torment.

But there was my Dad aware that I wanted to remain a tomboy but was physically dealing with the issues of becoming a woman. As the shopping trip progressed, our conversation moved into more comfortable territory. Football, PlayStation and my latest Harry Potter book. I wished I could stay like this forever.

But if the measure of insanity was doing the same thing and expecting different results, then I would have to admit that my pussy would always be protected. Only I had the key to unlocking it.

With the eating disorder diet now fully underway, I decided it was time to deal with my appearance. Too young for contact lenses, I just stopped wearing my glasses in public. Sure this meant, I missed buses and always got told off for not recognizing people, but at least it didn’t look like two telescopes were on my face.

My skin closely resembled the craters of the moon. Overactive teenage pores had not been kind to me and despite how much oxywhatever I used; it still looked like you could fry an entire Columbian meal on my face.  Many a night I would cry myself to sleep in the vain hope that I could awake and look fuckable.

“I’ve made you a doctors appointment.’ My mother cooed one night when I couldn’t catch my breath for the snot filled weeping.

‘I…DON’T…LIKE…BEING…UGLY!’ I sobbed into her chest.

“Oh hush. You’re very attractive. Especially since you’ve stopped dressing like a boy. Once we clear your skin up, you’ll be a show stopper.’

Even though I knew it was bullshit, I let her lie to me. That was her job. To make me feel like Naomi Campbell when I favored Ann Widdecome. Watching my mother had taught me that I wasn’t even a fraction of the woman I could be.

With her cappuccino coloured skin, almond eyes that were draped in long thick lashes, various beauty spots and moles that were scattered al over her face, my mother was a fucking fox. What’s less than a fox? A dog? Well, that’s how I felt. While I shuffled along in whatever new release Nike presented, my Madre walked tall in various six inch heeled designers. Prada, Gucci, Salvatore so accustomed she was to such extravagance that whenever we went shopping together, the sales assistants of said stores would greet her by her first name.

When winter crept up on us and I would pull on a puffa jacket, my mother would keep the chill out with full-length furs from Notting Hill. Diminutive in height, it always shocked me how well she carried it off. Cigarette in one hand and designer purse in the other, I tried not to stand too close to her. She was a lady and I felt very much like a champ.

But after years of watching me feel my way blindly through this awkward phase she became a fairy godmother of sorts.

‘Ok so you must blend it properly, if not it will look like you’re wearing a mask.’ She instructed one rainy Sunday, while using her French manicured nails to show me how to blend the foundation I purchased with my pocket money.

Having been on prescription meds, the contraceptive pill and eliminating oily food from my already dangerous diet, my skin had improved vastly. I was still a virgin though. It was definitely time to take it up a notch. Friends were deflowering left right and in the womb of their center. There I was still not even fingered by something that wasn’t attached to my own hand.  While I played it down in front of my female peers, I admit that now wanking myself was getting a little boring. And there was only so many times I could imagine Justin Timberlake’s throbbing member inside of me.

 

Having had various hair-raising experiments, I decided to just settle on the standard, straight, framing face, with side parting. I guess white girls would call it the ‘Rachel’ as a young black woman we just called it a perm.

Now standing in the mirror trying to master the art of ‘seamless blending’ (to this day, nothing about my life is seamless) I was just about starting to see some of that natural beauty my parents had promised I was in possession of. It was just strange that forty pounds of animal free face paint, had to be the tool that brought it out.

But I was grateful.

Once I’d finished to my mothers standard, she showed me all the works of her ‘magic bag’ I was entranced. If I continued this horrendous diet stayed on top of my skincare and wore jeans that hugged my ‘curves’ maybe this would be the summer that I could give away what I know was the only thing standing in between me and Timberlake’s cock.

Monday coming was ’mufti’ day at school as it was the last week before we broke for summer holidays.

I remember laying out my Moschino heart print jeans, DKNY Vest top, Nike Dunks and my mothers Gucci bag, which I literally had to sign in blood for. Looking back the outfit was terribly busy and made me look like a bit of a label whore. But at least I was a whore of sorts.

Once my make up was on and hair scraped back into the most ridiculous of Croydon’s facelifts, I slowly crept towards the mirror. Although I had to squint because I still refused to wear my glasses, I looked nice, pretty almost. I smiled. I was confident in the way I looked for the first time since ‘Auntie Flow’ first came to stay.

I felt the silence wash over my classmates like a high tsunami.

“Rah, is that you?!’ exclaimed a very surprised April.

I giggled and done a little faux showgirl spin.

‘Babe, you look buff!” she confirmed through glazed eyes. Pulling me into the circle she was constantly the center of, I felt my teenage spirit float up out of my body and look down in shock at its physical shell.

‘And you’ve lost weight too!’ cried an unidentified face.

‘Have your tits got bigger?’ queried Azara while leaning in to cop a feel.

My head was spinning. I couldn’t answer al of the questions being shot at me except one:

‘Do you wanna come kick it with the boys after school?’ April asked

I could feel others collectively hold their breath. And I followed suit. We all knew what had transpired the last time. My spirit hung above me, with one eyebrow raised, awaiting it’s own death sentence.

After what felt like a decade but was no more than thirty seconds at most, I simply replied,

‘Sure.’

Making my way back up the hill that had led to a valley of cripplingly low self esteem, I didn’t want to appear to be too confident because I wasn’t. While the girls and myself thought I looked good, history had taught me that male opinion could be different. Stricter, harsher and less forgiving. It didn’t matter what we thought, what mattered was what these boys said.

Their reaction was the key to me being accepted as a sexual being. Once I had their validation. I could kiss goodbye to the lonely nights of solo masturbation and the social disability that was my virginity.

Huddled at the top of the hill, the boys looked like a pack of animals. Squinting, I could make out that Michael was at the front. All of a sudden, my heart was beating ten to the dozen and I felt light headed. Sensing my reluctance to move forward, April grabbed my hand and thrust me into full view of their hungry eyes.

B..a..b..y..g..i..r..l’ Michael said slowly while looking me up and down before coming to let his eyes rest on my breasts.

Suddenly I felt uncomfortable and was thankful that I didn’t have my glasses on. His expression wasn’t clear. I hoped I too had a poker face on. But fuck, could he hear my heart beating like this? It sounded like The Jungle Book was putting on a show in my rib cage.

‘Rah’ he exhaled, causing the whole crowd to fall silent.

“You. Look. Good.” He finished, giving every word it’s own sentence.

“Yep, that’s my girl!” April agreed, squeezing my hand.

I stood there, happy but removed. I mean, I was being discussed like I was a piece of meat. Even though I understood what his validation would require, the rainbows and unicorns that I assumed would greet me, were remarkably absent. I felt fucking cheap.

“Come, let’s roll.” Michael ordered

We all began to move as one. Everyone seemed to know where we were heading and I didn’t dare ask any questions. The less attention I drew to my novice disadvantage, the better. I appreciated the fact that April had yet to let go of my hand. During the entire course of this ‘Get Me Fucked’ operation, she had proved to be a loyal, consistent and trusted mentor.

While the facts of April’s vagina had yet to be broadcast, her stunningly good looks meant she had a head start in this arena. Watching her maneuver through such situations with confidence was awe-inspiring. It also helped that she was one of nine children and a family who had a reputation for slicing your face open if you crossed them. Being the smart ass that I was, I understood how important our friendship was, to my entire teenage existence. And what I offered in return, was my intelligence. She wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and I sure as hell wasn’t the prettiest. Together, we were dynamite.

Ascending the hill, I can only imagine how intimidating we appeared. The sun was hot. It was British summer time and the year was 1999. So it was really summer. With no clouds in the baby blue sky the sun was at liberty to wash over us.  The nervousness of the past wasn’t as pungent as before but there was a faint smell of it in the air. Where the fuck were we going? Turning down to a narrow residential street, I noticed that the crowd had thinned. I let the multiple conversations, whizz past my ears. But my aural cavity clung to keywords such as ‘Michael’ and ‘House’ 

So there we were, there I was, part of a group of no more than ten young people, on my way to a boys house. Again not wanting to appear like an ultra beginner, I kept my questions about whether or not we would be doing homework, to myself.

The first thing I thought was ‘at least he doesn’t live in a crack den’ upon seeing the semi detached home with a well kept front garden. There was also a baron drive. The lack of vehicle answered my second question; there was going to be no parental guidance. My heart started to play the bongo drums. But this was it, the next sexual level. I wasn’t going to let my fears or inexperience hold me back. I had to move like I knew what I was doing.

Stepping into the house, I instinctively wanted to remove my shoes. The thick cream carpet reminded me of clouds. Watching the others trudge their heavy school shoes across made my hear break a little. But I followed suit. The magnolias painted walls were covered in family photos. Michael was always a good-looking boy.

Beyond the hallway, looked to be an expansive kitchen. Chestnut colored units, and granite work- tops reminded me much of my own kitchen. Trudging up the stairs we were led into his bedroom. Once again I was taken aback.  And again, not for negative reasons but because it was so fucking clean.

Since he had embarrassed me so publicly, the image I had created of Michael in my head were Shrek like. I expected a stinking, shit filled swamp. Instead from the interior, I gathered that he was raised in a finically stable nuclear family. A dying breed where I came from. So how could a boy, raised in such a solid infrastructure, be the leader of a gang that enjoyed breaking people down?

Even in the midst of my initiation, my inquisitive mind was working over time.

Flicking on the widescreen TV, he instructed us to have a seat. Sinking into the soft, cream, leather sofa, I noted that when I was rich, I’d purchase the same sofas and loose myself in their squishiness.

 

‘What we drinking?’ inquired a rough unidentified male voice.

I hoped only soft drinks were on the menu. Alcohol made me brave. And by brave, I mean stupid.

‘Dunno. Check the fridge. Not the Ginger Beer though. One of you waxed that off last time and I had to make out to my Dad like I actually like the stuff.’

So the pictures were right, his father did live with him. I wondered what his father was like. If only to understand Michael more clearly.

Maybe I was unconsciously thinking out loud but April leaned over Azara and a white boy that had slipped his hand underneath her skirt, and told me ‘It’s all good babe, we’re safe here’

Throwing on my most believeable tone, I replied;

‘I trust you.’ I hissed as I let my eyes turn to slits. While this could have rightfully been confused with my need to see, it basically meant; ‘bitch, if any of these uneducated motherfuckers even touch me without my consent, shit will go down’. My father was a solicitor, and while I was in no position to throw my weight around, there was a thin line between consent and rape.

Justin Timberlake danced around on MTV and I tried not to look at the screen. I felt my palms twitch and knew that the only thing that could calm me down and help me gain clarity would be a nice old orgasm. The temptation to head to the toilet and knock one out was over ruled by the arrival of two bottles of diet coke, Bells Whisky and what looked to be marijuana.

Oh what a beautiful fireplace! I thought as I entertained my mind with everything accept my reality. I had never been under the influence of drugs but I’d heard stories, none of which were as fantastical as Harry Potter.  But I guess could make you see things Harry Potter like.

In one swift movement, Michael slipped in between April and myself and grabbed the weed as he came.  I instantly froze. The bongo drums began playing again.  Louder this time. And accompanied by an entire braless village of African ladies singing along. Stealing glances from beneath my lids, I noticed how heavy his were and how his lashes seemed to frame his eyes.

‘You ladies cool yeah?’ he asked almost rhetorically

‘Sweet.’ April replied

I just nodded my head. I knew if I opened my mouth my voice would waver, now was not the time for me to become fearful. I could sense that this could be a life changing situation. Maybe I could finally be considered a woman instead of a child, if only my untamed tongue would behave itself.

‘Come’ it was more of an order than a request. His hand was outstretched and awaiting mine.

I quickly scanned the room. Everyone else seemed to be in their own world. Except April. She had snuck her hand round the back of  Michael and had begun pinching me. I knew what that meant.

Putting my hand in his, he pulled me up from the sofa and led me out of the safety of his plush living room.

He didn’t say anything, so neither did I. This would be one of the rare times I would not to speak unless I was spoken too. Normally I’d natter on ten to the dozen, fuck I’d make conversation with my own reflection. But since we, - including the ones stoned of their minds- knew what was going to happen, there was no point making small talk. That was for little girls.

 

He took his stairs two at a time. My short stubs struggled to keep up. We went up the first flight, and I tried to catch my breath on the first landing.

Shit, how big was this place?

By the third staircase, I was convinced my drink had been spiked. His house was like something out of Alice in Wonderland. From the outside the space was deceiving, inside however, it was as if every time I thought we reached the top there was more. I would come to find that this was much like life.

Finally, he pushed a door and pulled me into what could only be described as a Cave. The cleanliness and order which had been the houses theme thus far, seemed to stop short at his bedroom. The unmistakable scent of ‘boy’ filled my nostrils. My eyes were overwhelmed by the posters of various sport stars, that decorated the walls. Unwashed sports kit was strewn across the polished wooden floors. A glass filled with what looked like stale urine sat moss filled on top of game console. The grown up in me wanted to point out how much of a fire hazard this was, but I thought better of it. It had taken me far too long to get to this point. No way was I going to let my premature mothering ways fuck this up now.

He flicked on the colossal TV. Background noise precautions I thought. I didn’t, really see myself as a screamer though, so he need not have worried.

Pulling a swivel chair into the middle of the mess I watched attentively as he plonked himself down on it.

He pat his lap twice.

I moved slowly away from the bed and tentatively made my way over to the chair.

‘Closer.’ He sighed.

I shuffled close enough so that he was able to snake his arm around my waist and fix me on his lap.

Sinking into his thighs, I could tell he was obviously aroused.

‘I love thick thighs.’ He declared while fingering the hem of my school skirt.

‘Thanks.’ I awkwardly huffed.

‘So what’s a guy got to do get between them?’ there was an honesty in voice I hadn’t heard before. Caught off guard, I just shrugged.

No one had asked me that before. I had always been preoccupied with trying to understand what I had to do, to get a guy to want to be between my legs. Now that one I had masturbated over was asking me what he had to do, I was thrown. No one had explained this side of things to me. Or had let me know that this maybe a question that may arise.

‘That easy huh?’ he laughed, pulling my skirt higher this time.

I pulled it back down to my knees.

‘No.’  was surprised to find that not only did my voice not waiver, it sounded stronger aloud, than in my head.

His arms promptly fell away from my body.

Shit, Candice. Shit. You done fucked it up now. A lifetime of reading and masturbation in your own depressing solitude awaits. I chastised myself for being to forthright.

‘That’s not what I meant. What I meant was…’ I paused to gather my thoughts. What did I mean?

What I meant to say was that I wasn’t easy. But I probably wanted him to shag me more than he wanted to put another notch on his fifteen year old bedpost. I wanted to say that I was tired of imagining what male hands felt like. I wanted to be felt up, fondled, accosted even. I wanted to admit that my hormones were a raging mess and that I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing here on this very warm day, in his very cool and beautiful house, in his smelly bedroom, on the slim muscular thighs that created his lap. None of those things I knew. What I could feel was the damp tingle that arose when I had enough time in the house alone. 

Before, I could register what was happening, I was standing up shuffling out of my school skirt.

‘WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?’ shouted my subconscious.

‘Getting what I want.’

‘And what is that?’ The male tone pulled me back to reality.

 

 

So caught up in my own thoughts I didn’t realize I had spoken aloud.

Stood there in just my knickers, I said what I wanted.

‘To have an orgasm.’ I said without a shadow of shame.

‘A what?’ he questioned, with his face full of confusion.

‘To bust a nut, cum, call your name, whatever you call it.’ I couldn’t tell if he was leading me on or not, so I decided to just cut to the chase.

‘Oh, explode!’ some form of clarity returned to his face.

‘Yes! Explode!’ I cried.

Now I was glad he had put the TV on.

I stepped towards him. My own confidence shocked me. Placing my legs on either side of his lap, I thrust the seat of my cotton panties in the direction of his M&S seamed school trousers.

Gently, he pushed me away.

‘What?’ I was reaching that place of no return. My exasperation was obvious.

‘Don’t laugh yeah?’ He looked forlorn.

I nodded.

‘I didn’t know that girls could explode.’ He admitted making more eye contact with my hairline, than myself.

My arms went limp. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to laugh. Not at him. But at his barrel of empty confidence. My Dad was right, it was the empty ones that made the most noise. How could he not know that women were too blessed with the capability to ‘explode?’ Did he think that we were just there to lay back and service…my eyes widened with the dropping of the penny.

‘Oh.’  I smiled.

‘I knew you were going to laugh. ‘ He now had the confidence of a stuffed animal.

‘I’m not laughing. I’m just a bit surprised. That’s all. You seemed to know everything about sex.’

‘I’m not a virgin!’ He shouted and stood so quickly that I had to steady myself from falling backwards.

‘You may as well be!’ Now I was angry. Flashbacks of the humiliation of last summer descended.

Even with his back to me, I could tell that I’d hit a nerve. I felt sorry for him.

‘Do you want me to teach you?’ I asked sheepishly.

‘Huh?’ he asked, turning towards me once more.

 

‘Do you want me to teach you how to make a woman cum?’  I couldn’t hide the spark in my eyes. I had always wanted to be a teacher.

‘You can do that?’ he looked up at me with slight wonder

Finally, it was my turn to be confident.

‘I’ve been doing it for a while.’ I said in the sexiest voice I could muster, while sauntering over to the bed.

Slowly & purposefully, I stepped out of my cotton briefs. It was my turn to now put on a show.

‘Sit down.’ It was more of an order than a request.

Shocked, he went over to the swivel chair.

‘I’ll let you watch me first. Then, if you’re feeling up to it, you can have a go.’ I gave him one last smile before letting myself fall backwards onto the unmade bed.

Half an hour later, I descended his stairs two at a time. As nervous as I has been the Karma Sutra Gods had  all huddled together and agreed to work in my favor. The time Michael and I had spent together was thrilling, exhilarating and above all, educational. He had been such a good student that he wanted to be left alone to ‘study’ some more. I had made him promise to be kinder to me. But more importantly, he had promised to tell everyone he had taken my virginity. That of course, was far from the truth. In fact, in hindsight, one could say that it was I who had taken his.

And to be fair not much had changed. I was still a sexual thrill seeker. The older my partner, the better. Currently in a relationship with a domineering record executive our sex lives were illuminated by class A drug assisted parties and his wherewithal to keep me happy. Sex was my outlet.

Watching the office fill up with the familiar faces, notes of various brands of coffee and indecipherable chatter, I emailed Filip.

WHAT TO CALL THIS SEX BLOG THEN?

Cx

Within seconds I watched his eyes light up while typing a response.

YOU KINKY BITCH.

Fx

We both laughed aloud.

In hindsight, Filip’s flippant idea, changed my life. There had to be a gap in the blogosphere, as it exploded. And less than six months later I was resigning and gearing up to move in with Tally. My journalistic approach to articles had meant that I had put out word for a prostitute who was willing to give a no holds barred interview. Through whispers of social media, Tally’s name was sent my way.  

Of course I arrived to meet her ready with a list of stereotypes longer than the Queens reign but within moments, Tally had blown them all out of the water. She had no pimp, nor agent. She operated totally independently. She seemed confident and it wasn’t just the fact that her base rate of seventy thousand a year kept her warm at night, she seemed to represent a new breed of woman, one using what she already had to get what she wanted. If any part of her was broken, she was doing an impeccable job of hiding it. I was in love. Not so much with her but what she represented. She came over me like a Tsumani of fresh air and soon, we were inseparable. Kindred spirits as our relationship with each other developed I would teach her how to file her taxes and she would teach me the art of incredible gag reflex. 

Apr 3
Chapter 2 Part 2

Chapter Two

 

 Can’t Knock The Hustle

 

 

Usually, I was never one to think ahead. There was no pension plan, biological clock or even plans for dinner. But I knew that I had other tools to utilize, yet, it was hard not live under the cloud of my job I loved, where I was the boss.  Tally wasn’t a good influence in this area either, bless her.

A wall of a woman, I was always speechless at her client roster and her turn over. We ran our business’  -and I say business because if you have a vagina, believe me when I say, you have a business- very differently.

Many prostitutes, including Tally, depend on what I like to call the ‘Vending Machine’ theory. They arise early in the morning, brush their teeth, shave their legs, face and vag, indulge in some heavy face painting and then just sit there, waiting. If they were lucky two clients would come along that day whom they would let settle between their legs for fifteen minutes and then close the door never to see the flustered sod again. Later that night they would drink cheap wine and communicate with their working friends about how much they hated their client and laugh about his lack of skills. I knew this because I became privy to it when I lived with Tally.

Now, Tal was in demand. Her phone would forever ring. I’d be lucky if mine rang twice. But the difference was ninety nine percent of her calls were timewasters. Ninety nine percent of mine are what I like to call, a ‘happy customer.’

I would listen bemused at how she thought talking to these men like they were something that came out of a dogs rear end would get her a client base that would support her beyond designer handbags and rent.

‘What do you want?’ she asked rushed and distracted.

‘No, I don’t do anal. Ewww no, I am not your baby. Urgh fuck off!’ Then she’d snap her phone shut only to roll around in fits of giggles. Although my exterior gigged with her, inside I was mortified. Had she no concept of ‘customer service’? Did she not stop to think that maybe the reason that client was calling her was because his wife spoke to him in that dirty tone of voice and all he wanted to do was put his cock in a clean one? They would ring back of course. They would visit her too. But only to then disgrace her on Internet forums hours after meeting her. She would spend hours consumed by their poor description of her. It was a no brainer, watching her I decided I would conduct my business in a better manner. I would pay attention to detail. I’d make them want to cum, again.

I called my way the ‘conveyor belt.’ Yes those women operating under the vending machine process made more money than me but at a higher risk. There over turn of men was ridiculous because they had no rules. Anything went. Young and old, rich and poor. My first rule was that you were old and the second was that you were rich. The older ones liked to develop relationships with you. Spend money on you outside of the allotted time. They didn’t talk about their time with prostitutes because all their friends were at it; their wives didn’t care, had found themselves a playboy or in the saddest circumstances were dead. Their biggest like was the C word. Companionship. The majority of Tally’s were just cunts.

But she was lovely and she had been kind enough to usher me into this underworld. In return, I became a faithful friend. Unfortunately, while Tally liked to think that she made the decision to be a sex worker, I felt like it was made for her.

‘Yeah, I haven’t spoken to my Mum since last xmas.’ She said without pause one rainy Sunday morning.

We’d had a long night. The flat reeked of Sambuca, the man upstairs thought he was John Lennon and it was pissing it down. I wasn’t sure if this was the right time to ask questions, as I’d noticed her lack of parental guidance before but tried not to pry.

‘I couldn’t imagine not talking to my Mum.’ I replied hoping that would coax her out of her shell.

‘Yeah, well she seems to be really wrapped up in my Dad. I can’t stand him. And he can’t stand me.’

I sat up, all of a sudden this didn’t seem like the kind of convo you could have on your back and I knew this from experience.

‘Tal, that’s a bit harsh.’

She shook her head violently, her un kept hair extensions seemed to sway like a birds nest perched delicately on the highest tree.

‘Nope, he said that I was worthless and he never wanted to see me again. It got physical. I haven’t been back since I was sixteen.’

My eyes widened. She had been a prostitute since she was eighteen. This was all starting to make sense but it left me with a feeling of uneasiness.

‘Tea?’ I asked, swinging myself out of her bed.

‘Oh, yes please.’ She sighed.

I scurried down the hallway and into the kitchen. Flicking the kettle on, I rested on the cooker and folded my arms and watched the rainfall. We lived in a lovely area. It was super residential. Well at least it looked that way. Once you’re part of any underworld, you start to make yourself available to other sorts. The day we moved in we made the bold move to let the dude upstairs know we were ‘ladies of the night.’ Without hesitation, he invited us up to look at his two collections. One was rare guitars. Beautiful and well cared for these curvaceous instruments lay strewn through his home like a musical orgy.  The other was a vintage trunk that upon first glance seemed to be filled with baby powder. Upon closer inspection, there was nothing baby about it.

We all agreed to keep the noise down and make sure that our two worlds didn’t collide. That was going well until Tally got us locked out one night. He ended up sedating our hysteria and shouldering our door down. A dealer and two whores, we were now firm friends.

Next-door was the most beautiful man I had yet to bless eyes on. A tattoo artist, his skin was now just a colorful splash which when the weather was good, he would parade about while walking his dog.

‘Oi!’ Your coloring book has his guns out again! You might want to go grab a paper and diet coke.’ Tally would holler from the front room. And I would be out like a flash, making sure to wiggle as I passed him.

Across the road was the local pub; overflowing no matter what the weather it wasn’t unusual to have a conversation with the landlady from the bathroom window. Yeah, we had made the right decision moving here. The flat was beautiful; we were close to transport links but most of all inconspicuous. Well at least, I tried to be.

Tally was loud. And large. I always knew I was petite but being around her just made me feel even smaller. Her laugh could be heard from across three football pitches and she was unrelenting in being in your face with her style. She appeared confident. But living with her had shown me the truth. I admit I was worried for her. She had no one apart from me. And no family. But we had found each other and clung to one another sharing jokes and trading secrets. I taught Tally how to be a woman and she taught me how to be a prostitute. From OWO to GFE she made sure I was up to speed on all my abbreviation knowledge and of course how I could I forget her lesson on ‘Sponging.’

 

Even over the phone she could tell that my face was ridden with horror.

‘Honestly, it’s not that bad, Candice. Push it up high enough and you won’t be able to feel it.’  She whispered.

‘But won’t client’s feel it?’ I whispered Hold on, why was I whispering?

‘Why are we whispering?’ I asked with my normal tone of voice.

‘Oh, I’m suffocating a client between my legs, I’m trying not to disturb him.’

Although most of the world would assume that she was pulling my leg, those that worked in the sex industry don’t even raise an eyebrow to that shit. Being a prostitute had opened my eyes and mind to an underworld that existed only for those who were sane enough to indulge. Sure, crazy people could fuck and be fucked, suffocated, whipped even. But crazy people forgot to go back to the real world. As time had passed, I ‘d watched far too many crazies, get swept away by what they thought was easy money and the pleasure of being their own boss. While both those things were the truth, crazy people forgot to think ahead.

‘Oh, ok. But anyway back to it…’

‘The client feeling it?  Hahha. No Love. Even if they do, they just assume you’ve got the tightest snatch in history! Whenever I use it clients…’

I zoned out while Tally went into another soliloquy about her working life. She was good at that. I suppose I would be too if I was on the game for that long. But God forbid. While I enjoyed being a player, I didn’t have the attention span required for rematches.

‘Rub some lube on it and shove it up there about ten minutes before you’re due to start working.’

‘Ok, but one more question…’

‘Uh huh.’ She paused

‘Unlike tampons there is no farking string attached, how the hell am I supposed to get this thing out?!’

Her giggles fell through the phone like raindrops.

‘Oh, that’s easy, push, like you’re having a baby or doing a really big shit. Speaking of  shit, he’s squirming. I gotta go, happy sponging!”

She hung up before I got the chance to hurl abuse.

Of course, I believed her but there was no harm in getting a little reinforcement from Google.

I couldn’t believe it. There were forums dedicated to the art of ‘sponging.’ Once again it was another trade secret you wouldn’t need to know, unless you were trading.

Later that night with one leg planted into the bathroom floor and the other on the toilet, I done as instructed. Once it was in place, I threw my legs apart and bent down just to be sure that I couldn’t see it. The last thing I wanted was for a poor guy to think that my womb was falling out. As long as I couldn’t feel or see it, I was sure that for them it would be the same. All I could hope was that the sponge, like the fantasy, remained in place.

 I swept his blond hair out of his eyes.

‘Now, either you’re doing something special or you’ve got the tightest pussy on the face of this earth.’

All I could do was giggle.

I had gotten away with it. Not only had I successfully hidden the heaviest period since the parting of the Red Sea, he actually believed that I was naturally that compact.

‘I can’t get it out!’ I shouted down the phone

‘What?! Have you tried everything?’

I had no patience for questions to which would only be met with an obvious response. Two hours had passed since my client had cum and gone and I’d whipped myself up into a frenzy since then. Exercising every position I could remember from porn, none had been successful in allowing me to get the little shit out. Every time I thought I had a grip on it, the lube I’d slathered it in made sure that it was well out of my reach.

‘Just short of asking room service, to book me a hysterectomy, OF COURSE I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING!’ I shouted, exasperated

The sound of Tally’s giggles only served to further piss me off.

‘You know, you’re just going to have to go to the clinic in the morning.’

No shit, Sherlock.

‘Really?! Why is it so easy for you to get out?’ The minute I asked the question, I wanted to chastise myself for the answer.

‘I don’t know. Calm down. Like I said, if you cant get it out, don’t fret. Just make sure you’re up bright and early so you can get to the clinic.’

‘You’re right. Thanks for you’re help.’

I hung up the phone before she could apologize. And before she could be pissed at me for taking a dig at her large hole.

 

‘Are you growing the tea leaves?’ Tally’s voice snapped me back to reality. It was still raining.

‘Coming.’ I giggled to myself

The melancholy weather put me in a reflective mood. Carrying two cups of tea, I shuffled back into the bedroom.

‘Do you remember spongegate?’ I laughed, handing Tally her mug.

She looked like she was fit to burst, of course she did. She seemed to have a knack for remembering my novice ways.

‘Ah shit, that was funny! I swear I was face sitting at the time too?’

‘You were!’ If it wasn’t for the scalding drink in my hand, I think I would have fallen about with the idea of Tally’s massive arse eclipsing some poor guys windpipe. And he paid for the pleasure. My life.

‘Have you managed to sort out that monthly inconvenience or what?’ she asked sipping on her tea.

 

‘Nah, I’ve just kept on sponging. I’m single. Babies aren’t on the map, right now. Plus I can’t bear the way that shit makes me feel.’

 

It wasn’t a lie. I had been to mars and back to try and source the right contraception. Then I reminded myself that I was single, all sex with clients was protected and sponging had changed my life.

 

‘True. God, I remember starting my periods. I used to hate them but now whenever I see one, I say a little prayer.’ Tally grabbed her mug as if she were in front of the Pope.

While I could almost be sure that Tally wouldn’t take chances in her professional life, she was a total whore in her personal one. I’d lost count of the amount of times I’d chastised her for not playing it safe outside of work. But so far, my advice had fallen on very deaf ears.

 

I knew that she was involved in a grotesque show of self sabotage, the only problem with that was, appearing to be the only one that gave a shit about her, only I was privy to her dangerous behavior.

‘Tell me about it!’ I laughed hoping not to sound too fake or concerned.  

‘How old were you when yours kicked in?’ she asked, smartly tying to put the spotlight back on me.

‘Uh..’ I stalled. But only because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share, yet another embarrassing story with her. Truth be told, I remembered ‘Auntie Flow’s’ arrival like it was yesterday.

Admittedly, I was always a tomboy. Jealous of my trouser wearing school chums, I would swing my legs wide open while battling the monkey bars, only to suffer a coarse smack from my Grandfather and a reminder that I was a ‘lady’ and ‘ladies don’t spread their legs’ As I grew slightly older, wider but no taller, I slowly started to notice physical differences between myself and my male counterparts.

Where I was once able to run around the house with a bare chest, I was now thrust into a contraption that my mother regarded as a ‘training bra’

Training for what? I would think as I tried to master the art of doing up the clasps from the back. I spent most of my pre teen days, doing one of two things, pulling my bra straps up or scratching the fuck out of my ‘buds’

My tits, were so itchy, I would walk around the house with my hand down the said training bra, complaining to anyone who would listen.

“You’re turning into a young lady now!” My grandmother would advise.

There was that word again, Lady. God I hated it. It had turned up at a really bad time. I was studying hard for my end of primary school exams, my crush on Craig Dyer was seemingly unrequited and because my family weren’t as rich as my BFFs there was no way we were going to be able to go to the same secondary schools. My life, as I knew it was perpetually, fucked.

Speaking of God. I had been forced into a relationship with him that I didn’t yet understand would sexually be the making and the breaking of me. I signed up for the school choir because that’s what Alicia Douglas had done and all the boys thought her to be wonderful. I wanted a piece of the action. Even if it meant I had to sit on uncomfortable chairs, wear unsightly off white polyester and count how many pieces of stained glass made up Jesus’ face just to get through a ninety-minute service.

Always classed as a geek, I would rather spend my time reading or listening to music than investigating what was between my legs, or worse still, what a boy possessed.  I hated cooking but could outrun any of the boys at Rounder’s, I wouldn’t let them cop a feel of my ‘buds’ and I always, ALWAYS had better football cards than them.

 

So there I was a female preteen outcast, who was friends with four others. Teachers came to call us the ‘Fantastic Five’ all excellent at our studies and very forthcoming in lessons, we were everything the boys hated. And soon enough, we came to hate ourselves too.

 

While I was never skinny my hips now seemed to make my pleated skirt resemble a new piece from Ikea. Now shaped like a Cello, the terms ‘tree trunk legs, thunder thighs and chubby’ would drip from cold hearted family members hips.

My once in proportion calves seemed to explode overnight, leaving me out of the over the knee sock trend for eternity.  My bottom seemed to be a personal bodyguard, alerting people to my presence before I even got in the room.

 

I would spend days watching my other girlfriends (possibly the beginning of my lesbian undertones) there bodies seemed so light and sleek. They had no lumps, bumps or tree trunks. Except for Morwenna. She was taller than all of us, pale with bright red hair and freckles, she had also suffered the unfortunate consequences of braces AND spectacles. Everyone knew you could only get away with one, not both. Since I was four I had proudly rocked the latter.

Morwenna was built like her mother, wide in the shoulders and hips; she too had a tremendous dislike for this puberty thing that had been thrust upon us. While I haven’t seen her since she was fourteen I can say with confidence that she must look like Christiana Hendricks.

So second to Morwenna, I was pretty low down the ‘finger behind the bike shed’ list and plus, I hadn’t yet received a visit from ‘Auntie Flow’ I knew very little about this aunt, and every time I pressed for more information women would flush and promise me that ‘I’d know soon enough’ by that time my inquisitive nature had turned to impatience. I just wanted to know who this bitch was. Should I buy flowers? Did my mum know she was coming? Where was she?

She turned up soon enough. And boy did she make an entrance. So lax was my education, that I didn’t spot the signs. I just knew I had never felt like this before. My tummy kept forming in knots and then untying itself. I was hot. And I shouted at Joanna after break time. I made out it was because she wouldn’t share her Babybel. But looking back, I wasn’t even that fond of cheese.

The next lesson up was Math’s. We had a mock exam, which was being invigilated by our head master, Mr. Grose. I shit you not. A short, balding, white man, he was the only teacher that could make pupils cry without warning. His mere presence would bring you out in hives.

So believe me when I say, I must have been feeling bad, when my hand shot up in the middle of the exam.

He was looking down.

I coughed. Hard.

 

As my classmates looked up and noticed my hand in the air, I saw fear and sadness creep across their faces.

Mr. Grose’s face was red before he had even locked eyes with me.

Moving with a grace not normally reserved for a man of his ilk, he was quickly at my table.

 

“What?”

 

With one word he had made me quiver.

“I don’t feel so well.’ I whispered in return, trying not to stare at his greying brows.

Knowing that Math’s was my least favorite subject, I’m sure he assumed I was just trying to bunk off. The militant bastard turned on his heel and left me sitting there, while the whole class sniggered into their exam papers.

It’s not until the words on my paper begun to turn to blue puddles, that I realized I was crying.  The pain in my lower abdomen was unrelenting.

Stretching my legs out under the table, I noticed something on my socks. Upon closer inspection, I realized that whatever it was also on the inside of my lower legs.

What was that?

Silently pushing my chair back, I noticed that my school skirt was damp.

 What the fuck?

Joanna was sitting across from me and I could tell she was now worried. I wasn’t the type to incense our head teacher without reason and now I was fidgeting like I had ants in my pants. Looking back, I would have preferred for it to be that way.

The next wave of pain commanded my attention. All of a sudden, I knew something was really wrong. My human instinct outweighed all logic. Before the class or myself could realize the commotion, I was kicking my chair away from me and running towards the school nurses office.

“Oh dear!” She remarked upon seeing me. A rotund woman with bleach blonde hair, many a parent said the same about her every morning.

I was now really crying. The types of tears that make your shoulders convulse and leave you with a banging migraine.

“Lets get you all cleaned up.”

Rummaging through the spare uniform cupboard and then in a draw, Miss pushed something between the clothes and instructed me to ‘make sure it sticks well’ as she ushered me to the girls toilets.

Between my sobs and pain, I tried to gather my bearings about what was going on. My stomach was still hurting, it felt and looked like I’d wet myself and now she was given me a huge plaster, what was this for?

No sooner had I undressed, than had everything clicked together.

That large plaster was not for my tummy.

IT WAS FOR MY MUNJA!

MY MUNJA WAS BLEEDING!

 

WAS I DYING?!

Shaking, I shimmied out of my soiled clothes and into the ill fitting ones provided.

I stumbled when I got to the part of the giant plaster. Where did I put this thing? In the end, I decided to jam it in between my legs. It felt as if I were wearing a nappy. But at least my clothes would stay clean.

Looking down, I noticed she hadn’t given me any socks. I wasn’t surprised. Miss never wore socks. No matter what the weather, she stuffed her sausage like feet into wedged mules. If you stared for long, you couldn’t see where her foot ended and the wedge begun.

Thinking quickly, I rolled them down, so that the maroon steaks disappeared. And tried to keep the brick like plaster between my legs.

Shuffling back to the office, I heard Mr. Gorse’s voice. Even when speaking in hush tones he seemed to have a commanding baritone.

‘Goodness grief! I never would have imagined. She’s never been a problem student so I couldn’t understand.’

‘Hmmm. Bless their hearts, growing up so quick. I was fifteen before Auntie Flow came to town!” Chimed in Miss

 

I froze.

 

This was Auntie Flow!

It all made sense now. All the women not giving me the exact date, and the way no one could describe her to me. She wasn’t a person, she was my period.

Instantly, I was angry. There I was barely eleven years old being held hostage by lack of education, shame and embarrassment. The female race had failed me. In place of open conversations and honesty, I was given archaic metaphors and continuous brush-offs. All for this flow bitch to show up right in the middle of a school day! Humph. She was no longer any auntie of mine.

I was later given a pamphlet that explained the purpose of periods. I wanted to douse myself in white spirit and set myself alight. Every month for 5-7 days, the lining of my womb would shed and leave me bleeding like a cow in a slaughterhouse. What the fuck was this really about?

On top of that was the pain really necessary? Its bad enough that my own munja was trying to kill me but the consistent feeling of being punched in the tummy while on a the titanic was God really having a bloody laugh.

I’d always called my lady parts a ‘munja’ not being able to remember where I got the name from, it just stuck. I wasn’t the least fond of its government name.

Vagina Womb Period.

I couldn’t think about it anymore.

Miss gave me a pack of the plasters and told me to change them regularly. It took a while for me to get what regularly meant, but I soon figured out that five minute intervals was too often and once a day was too long.

All of a sudden, I felt alien. Separated from my male counterparts, no longer in sync with my younger friends but not yet a grown woman, I had no concept of where my sex had left me.

A young woman thrust into a world that had not been explained to me, I felt out of place and out of my mind. Thoroughly unprepared for my womb to start shedding in a math’s exam, I thought it could get no worse. Learning to smuggle sanitary towels past my mother, I was able to keep the revelation of Flow being in town for up to six months before my mother noticed.

“Why didn’t you tell me?’” She asked one evening, catching me off guard as I left my underwear draw open.

Not meeting, her gaze, I shrugged.

 

“You should by ones with wings. It keeps them in place.” She said as left the room.

Thankfully that was it. We were both spared the embarrassment that neither one of us were prepared to deal with. Clearly my Grandmother had never discussed puberty with her and this was the ripple effect of that.

Tucking the purple packet of sanitary towels underneath Minnie Mouse patterned bloomers; I promised I’d alert my daughter to the visitation of evil Auntie Flow.

I decided to keep that version of the story to myself.

‘Twelve, thirteen.’ I lied casually, walking over to the window.

‘Yeah, I was about the same. My mum told me fuck all though.’ Placing the empty mug on her ample tummy, she swung her legs into the air.

I couldn’t help it, I would go back in for the kill.

‘Do you ever want to repair your relationship with your family?’ I asked making sure to keep my back to her. My job had taught me that sometimes eye contact made people clam up. To get them to open up, it was best not to let your body language be confrontational.

‘Of course. I see the relationship you have with your family. Your Mum especially. But there is no going back for me. I am alone.’ Her voice was at it’s most delicate now.

I watched as the rain peeled itself down the old fashioned windows. Personally, I fell in love with the floor to ceiling ventilation immediately. Windows could make things seem romantic or dramatic. Right now though, they just seemed sad. At that point I had to remind myself that I couldn’t fix her. And that prostitutes like myself were a rarity.

Do I have tales of financial desperation, daddy issues or domestic violence?

Well, extra cash is always great. That way I don’t eat into my savings. My father was never an issue and in year 6, Blaine Bryson got mad at me and slapped me in the face. But seeing as none of those things are relevant, I’m afraid not.

I am self-employed by choice. Not force. That is not to say that I didn’t try to avoid my destiny. Yes, destiny. How could a young woman of my background, intelligence and street smarts possibly want to provide one of the simplest services on earth by choice?

Because I can.

Thinking about the sting of my mothers slap still brings tears to my eyes. My seven-year-old self had just called Tiffany in Eastenders ‘a prostitute.’ I had no idea what the word meant. But I remember saying it with disgust, intent and understanding, I made sure to really push the ‘T’s’ like my uncle had a couple weeks previous.

 

‘Never let me hear you say that again.’ My mother warned once my wailing had subsided.

Like most things in life, we don’t get a chance to investigate if situations, people or words are actually ‘bad’ we just take our parents’ word for it.

I admit when I met Tally, I was blown away, if a touch jealous. There I was waking up before the crack of dawn and coming home after sundown. While my job as a copywriter wasn’t tragic, I wouldn’t go as far to say that it was thrilling. I was bored shitless. Beyond that, I’d always struggled with being told what to do. Taking any kind of orders, especially ones for teas and coffees were not my strong point. With healthy savings and a regular income, I’d made sure to never feel the pinch. Poverty had brushed past me in my teens and I’d worked hard to make sure that never happened again. So there I was, just like you; getting angry when the woman ahead knew full well she didn’t have enough money on her Oyster card but decided to ‘try it’ at rush hour on Monday and hold us all up. I too felt I had spent far too much on travel to be thrust unwillingly into some bloke’s armpit. And I was guilty of grumbling when the line in Starbucks seemed to get no shorter. When I met Tally, I wasn’t just part of the rat race, I was queen vermin. Even though I was unfulfilled, over qualified and underpaid, I was so happy to have a job and be accepted in the ‘real world’ that I would have to stop myself offering my boss gratitude fueled fellatio out of sheer happiness to look like a success.

But as we all do, I was pretending. The constant wheel of routine mediocrity was eating me from the inside out. Has it never freaked you out that if someone put a private investigator on you, he’d have your schedule wrapped in forty-eight hours? I know. So pleasantly warm in our predictable back and forth, we forget it can be the thing that leads to our death. Sometimes I would get to the office early. It was nice to be in the ‘open plan creative space’ before any creating got underway. A beauty of a building, it was no secret that the company tuned over eleven million the year previous. Out of which I received a healthy twenty-two thousand, which of course had to face tax, pay transport for London, rent, bills and utilities. But boy, I had a job and underwhelmed or not, I had to remain grateful.

One particular frosty morning, I wasn’t the only one who decided to come in early.

‘Check you out sweet vagina!’ Sang Filip, floating into the office, with a bowl of museli in one hand and a bike lock in the other.

‘Jesus Christ, cum stain! You almost killed me.’ My horror was by no means mock, Filip was known for being light on his feet. He was also stunningly attractive, innately Swedish and overbearingly homosexual which only deemed him even more fuckable. He was also unhappy. We would spend lunch times whining over microwave mac & cheeses about how we should go and live instead of merely existing. His plan was to go, build a house in the woods and write a book. So engrossed he became in his dream it was not unusual for packages to arrive filled with hunting supplies.

One afternoon a beautiful axe appeared. With a pine handle and oxblood detailing, I had to restrain myself from straddling the blunt end.

‘I think I just made you wet. Which for some reason has given me a semi. God, I have sinned.’ Laughed an embarrassed Filip, who took the stairs two at a time to get away from me. We were friends but only during office hours.

So that morning when he suggested I start an anonymous sex blog just to keep myself entertained, I couldn’t help but think he was setting me up.

‘What makes you think that I would be interested in sex?’ I pried, eyes closed to a slit and tongue forked ready for splitting.

 

He span around in his chair.

‘Only the fact that, that shit oozes out of you like pus from a teenage boys face. Have you seen our email backlogs? It’s all porn this and S&M that. I enjoy it. But you are it.’ He said raising an eyebrow over his mammoth desktop.

I giggled but I made note to delete our emails and stop being so forthcoming with my sexual exploits. Was it that obvious that it was all I thought about? Firing up my desktop, I thought about when it all really kicked in. 

Apr 1
Chapter 2 Part 1

Encore.

They will all be nervous. While we spend hours wondering if we’re going to spread our legs for a serial killer or worse still, a married man, they too are wondering and worrying. I spent hours pacing before my first ever client. After multiple showers and a few stiff drinks, I decided that I would simmer.

 

‘He chose me.’ I said aloud to myself.

 

Suddenly, I felt better, but not so much.

 

By the time the buzzer went, I was all but slitting my wrists and begging Jesus for a Xanax.

 

Opening the door, I was at first taken aback by his height. Giraffe of a man, he was. But my flat mate was in, so that didn’t really bother me. And all the men I had slept with for free were far from short.

 

‘Barker’ I smiled, taking his hand.

 

Those years I spent at performing arts school weren’t lost on me. As nervous as I was, his shaking, damp hand made me privy to the fact that he was also. Very well dressed. While I couldn’t smell money, I couldn’t smell the dole either.

 

‘Would you like a drink?’ I asked, leading him into the bedroom.

 

Moving my eyes like a serpent, I made sure that no trace of the real me was in sight. Before Barker had arrived, I made sure to stash away all family photos, precious artifacts, even books that would leave clues to the woman I really was.

At the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a Bible. I talk as if it was not in any way a possession of mine, but it had been gifted to me when I was eleven at my first holy communion. Excited about ‘drinking blood’, I quickly threw the book down on the uncomfortable pew.

‘Don’t disrespect the Lord’s word.’ My grandmother chastised.

Since then, I had always been mindful of where that book was. An avid reader, I had yet to get past ‘In the beginning…’ I contemplated putting it away. But then I remembered Pastor had said that God was ‘all seeing and all knowing’ so decided against it.

 

This is a job. A job where I’m paid to be a woman of a mans dreams, not my own reality. They don’t need to know that I circle my horoscopes in Elle magazine, all they need to know is that I’m the ‘unexpected gift’ that’s was mentioned in their own.

 

I decided on a silk batwing shirt for this first meeting. I love the way the fabric feels on my skin, but more importantly than that, it’s easy to take off. That’s another thing to consider. While those triple snap bras look nice, they are fools play once you have a client that is too nervous to undo them. The best bet is to always keep it simple.

 

‘Lets get business out of the way before pleasure.’ I smiled, while gently pushing him onto the bed.

 

‘Sure,’ he grinned, as I thrust my hips towards his groin. I could already feel that he was excited.

 

Always count the money in front of them Tally had said.

 

I saved us both the embarrassment of counting aloud. While I was comfortable being paid for my pussy, I couldn’t be sure if he felt the same. Natalie advised that soon I would be so used to the sight and feel of a wad of cash, that needing to count it would be unnecessary. I would also become accustomed to how real and faux notes felt.

 

‘So how’s about that drink?’ I asked again.

 

I had a crash course in the life of a working girl by watching a television series about a prostitute. I noted how she always went out of her way to make the gentleman comfortable but remained very clear about who was in control. I loved to be in control. Ever since I could call the shots in my sex life, I had always been about the hunt and the kill. This would be no different to losing my virginity, for the second time. And who wouldn’t want to do that again?

‘Got any wine? I prefer red.’ Barker nervously advised.

Lucky for him, I had a bottle of red at the back of a cupboard. I’d have to blow the dust off, but it would suffice.

Heading out of the bedroom, I took the wad of cash with me.

‘NEVA LEAVE THE CLIENT ALONE WID DA CASH.’ Tally been sure to  text in capitals.

Once out of the bedroom, I let out an intense sigh of relief, and hurried to the kitchen.

Scanning, I looked for a secure place to stash the cash. Suddenly, everything appeared to be too obvious. Under pressure, I threw the notes into the oven and made a mental note to remove them before my cooking loving flat mate decided to throw in a home made pizza at gas mark 5.

Wine. Wine. Wine. Having recently moved into the flat and needing to entertain no one but myself, I had no need for wine glasses.

Grabbing a tumbler and checking it for watermarks, I added ‘buy wine glasses’ to my ever-growing mental list.

‘Sorry I have no wine glasses.’ I giggled nervously, sashaying back into the bedroom

‘No worries.’ He chuckled and sipped at the wine. I’m sure it was awful. I knew very little about alcohol. But he was nice enough to not spit it all over my carpet.

‘So…’ I began

It was now or never. He was tall and handsome enough. He was sweet and charming. And I was a paid for. I didn’t want to beat around the wrong bush any longer.

He was sat on the edge of the bed. Walking over, I began to play with the buttons on my oversized silk shirt. Once again I praised my choice of outfit. It showed just a hint of ass. Every time, I lifted up my arms, he would get a quick peek of my cunt. Secondly, it was midnight blue in colour, so hid my nervous sweat patches, really well.

Straddling, him I pushed my head into his neck. He smelt of cologne and the tube. Not bad. I had read some horror stories on prostitute bulletin boards. How some women even went ahead with the booking was beyond me. Of course a mans chosen brand of deodorant could not determine if he had Hep B but in the grand scheme of things a man that smelt like shit probably didn’t give one about his sexual health.

‘Mmm you smell great.’ He sighed into my cleavage.

‘Hermes. For men.’ I giggled.

‘For men?’ He questioned into my throat

‘Only a bad business would send you back home, smelling of woman.’ I winked, while pulling the shirt over my head.

He let out an audible sigh of appreciation. I thought I would flinch when his bare hands touched my skin but my body relaxed immediately. This felt, dare I say; natural.  Sure, he hadn’t picked me up in a club, nor had we been dating a week but what was the difference? There are women out there spreading their legs far quicker than this. I did not want to linger on the fact that just because money was involved, it was immoral. 

Spearmint. My favorite. I let my tongue dance on his lips, until I tentatively allowed his to stroke mine. A lot of clients want we call a GFE. The Girlfriend Experience. They aren’t just paying for penetration, but intimacy. That’s something I could be good at. Slowly, I let my hands dance along his shoulders, up the nape of neck and then let them freestyle in his hair. His picture really did him no justice. Absolute silver fox.

I seemed to stumble upon his soft spot, as from this point on his breathing became labored and the kissing was filled with more urgency. Lifting me up slightly, he grabbed my arse from underneath and pulled me towards his groin. Slowly, I began to gyrate, giving him a preview of what was to come. Hopefully.

Tiring of kissing and hoping that pins and needles didn’t set in, I decided to hop off. Standing in front of him naked as the day I was born, I awaited the feeling of discomfort, but it never came.

‘Jesus. You are gorgeous.’ He breathed.

‘You’re not so bad yourself.’ I whispered in his ear, while slowly undoing his shirt buttons. Even in my personal life, I had not had the pleasure of undressing a man. Yes, pleasure. I could feel the anticipation running through him, like electricity.

His plaid shirt fell away to reveal beautiful skin besotted with moles. I let my eyes run over them but did not stare. One can never be sure of another man’s insecurities.

Hope he uses sunscreen. Target for skin cancer if I ever did see one, I thought to myself.

Focus, Candice! Tally warned how easy it was to get distracted once you know a client is going to be pretty easy to please. By the time he shuffled out of his dark stone wash jeans, I was very excited to see his package. And from the way his boxers now resembled a tent. He was very excited too. Leaning back like a cowgirl, I grabbed the waistband of his boxers and slowly begun to peel them off like skin from an orange.

‘Mmm.’ He moaned.

Now, I’m not a cock connoisseur but Barkers was fabulous. While I favored the circumcised kind, this one wasn’t too shabby. Skin tone even, salt and pepper pubic hair gave way to a set of perfect balls. Science would say that one testicle must be larger than the other but my naked eye could not see anything but perfection. I squeezed it. And the reflex was immediate, His entire lower body tensed up and his sock covered feet raised up off the floor. I knew what time it was. Not taking my eyes off his cock, I reached for a condom.

Half an hour later, we lay spooning trying to catch our breath. I was swinging on an imaginary trapeze from cloud nine. I had experienced not one but THREE head spinning orgasms. The kind that make you arch your back and pull away from the one who delivered the waves of pleasure.

‘So…how long have you been doing this?’ Barker questioned, while stroking my neck.

‘Three weeks.’ I lied effortlessly.

‘Wow, anyone would think you had been at this years. You’re incredible.’

‘Thank you. How long have you been doing…this.’ The moment the question left my lips, I knew I’d over stepped the boundaries.

‘Sorry. You don’t have to answer that.’ I hastily added.

He was silent for longer than what I deemed to be necessary.

‘Gotcha!’ He laughed.

I let my nervousness dissolve into giggles.

‘I’ve been visiting prost…do you mind if I call you that?’ he asked with hesitation in his tone. Now it was his turn to feel uncomfortable.

It was funny how that word seemed to get everyone in a spin. Tally had been on the game six years and she flew into a rage whenever someone referred to her as what she was.  What I had just become. I’m a prostitute. There are many women that work in my industry that hate the word. I love it. I especially enjoy pursing my lips and really enunciating every syllable.

 

‘PROS-TI-TUTE’

I don’t like the term ‘Working Girl’ Does that suggest that just because another woman spreads her legs for less than a McDonalds mean that she doesn’t work? Exactly. ‘Call Girl’ is also inaccurate. I hate using my phone. ‘Whore’ is immature. ‘Masseuse’ is a lie. So yes, Prostitute will have to suffice.

 

Prostitute.’ I confirmed, with an amusing raise of my brow.

‘Well, yes, I’ve been visiting prostitutes ever since my marriage collapsed a decade ago. I did the math and this is just easier for me. I get a sexual release, usually, intelligent conversation, and if the lady I befriend is willing, a long lasting friendship.’

I was shocked at his honesty.

He wasn’t finished.

‘I work long hours and have to be out of town very often. Why can’t I spend my money on beautiful women such as yourself? And you’re smart. Very well spoken. I was quite taken aback by your posh tone in emails.’

‘ME?! POSH?!’ I felt every inch of class melt away

‘Yes. That’s not a bad thing. I have no doubt you’ll do well in this business. You wont be as busy as other girls but you will build up an excellent list of clients, who will appreciate you for more than just a delicious fuck. You write very well. I can see this is just an experience for you. A pit stop in self-exploration. Not your destination. ’

Once again, I was shocked. Although I had made sure to hide every trace of me, this man had been able to see into the very depths of my mind and encourage me to see this job for what it was, a business.

‘Is your real name Barker?’ I questioned trying to change the subject.

Once again, silence penetrated the air.

‘No. It’s Tom.’ He finally confirmed.

‘Tom.’ I repeated.

‘Are you a Christian? It’s just I couldn’t help but notice the bible in the corner.’  Clearly he felt comfortable enough to introduce one of the topics other prostitutes had warned me against speaking about. He was also quicker than I thought. I chastised myself for not getting rid of the bloody thing.

‘Christian is a strong word. I was raised to believe that God exits. And to be honest I’ve had experiences that can only be deemed as miracles transpire. But there is a lot of shit in the world too….’ I trailed off, unsure of how to continue.

He kissed my shoulder. Glancing at the time, I noticed the appointment was over. The Spanish Inquisition had ensured that time had flown by without me even noticing.

‘You have been fabulous. Would it be okay if it became a regular thing?’

I tried not to smile. I was sure I had hit the jackpot. Not only was my first client; charming, handsome and hygienic, he also wanted to become a regular! In this business, regulars were the big fish. Being self-employed, it was nice to know that you had a certain turnover. Unless your clients died in an unprovoked terrorist or heart attack. Then you’re fucked. And not paid for the pleasure.

‘Sure. I need three days notice and I don’t communicate for free. Apart from those rules, I’m easy.’

‘No, you’re not. And that’s what I like about you.’

Once he’d left, I sat on the edge of the bed for a bit. Well, that didn’t go too badly, I thought to myself. Who was I kidding? It went excellently! Except for when he bought up the God stuff. I remembered that there was a story about a prostitute in there. I made mental note to look it up later. One would assume that I spent the next few hours racked with guilt or untidy emotions. But to be honest, it was quite the opposite. This gig didn’t allow room for emotions. But which one does?

 Sliding off the bed, I crawled over to where the bible lay. Its once white cover was now cream but the beauty of the gold edged pages, added to its vintage like quality. Fingering the embossed font, I used my index finger to push it beneath the chest of draws. A bit like my clients, once out of sight, it would be out of mind. I set about running a bath. My mind was in need of a good scrub down.

Later, sitting in the warm bath, I let my mind think back to when I lost my virginity. After realizing that boys my age were exactly that, I started to zone in on men. Always mature for my age and with no female friends of her own, my mother started to take me to raves.

I would always be slightly nervous when approaching the door. Would they know that I was still three years short of the legal age?

‘This is my daughter! Of course I know how old she is!’ My mother would shriek when the bouncer pressed for ID that I couldn’t produce. Finally, the bouncer would decide that the possibility of having an underage person in the club was a small price to pay to avoid my mother’s wrath.

Winding up the spiral staircase of the disused church, I always wondered what it would be like to party in a church. A place that was once used for peaceful worship, was now heaving with sweaty bodies punctuated by drugs, music filled with vulgar lyrics and the sweet smell of sex. It had always intrigued me how one’s heaven could also be another man’s hell.

Me? I loved it. This is what I had craved my entire adolescent life. A place to be free, a place to fit in, a place to expand my sexual horizons. I should have been overwhelmed, but my mother’s presence soothed my soul. As the years passed on my girlfriends and I would declare that our mothers were the ‘litmus test’ if we couldn’t tell them something, then we shouldn’t be doing it. I had always stuck to that belief. She knew about my new job.

“Shame I’m not twenty years younger, I would’ve joined you.” She laughed casually while blowing smoke rings into the air.

So here I was, fifteen years old, with no concept of what lay ahead. But with an understanding that I was sexually wired in a different way. My masturbation sessions were now borderline obsessive. I didn’t just indulge in porn; manuals, essays and even Shakespeare made my reading list. I didn’t just want to have sex, I wanted to be sex. And from the look of the people that were too busy stimulating it, so did they.

‘What you drinking miss?’ a short mixed raced man shouted into my ear

I lifted up my bottle of Breezer.

He was cute. My mother was here. There was only so far this could go but if physical attraction was enough to go by then, yes, I imagined he could be The One.

I thought I looked fabulous but in hindsight every fashion choice between the ages of eleven to twenty one were a bitter oversight, not just on my part but on anyone that considered themselves a friend.

My multi couloured tube top kept falling down. My breasts were far bigger then. I was bigger then. But the puppy fat had now begun to ‘settle’ and actually form a figure. I was shaped like a cello and I was dying for someone, anyone to place me in-between their legs and play with me.

“What’s your name?” he shouted over the thumps of salacious dancehall while handing me a breezer.

“Chanel” I lied. I was not about to tell this man my name.

“Tre” he shouted, while snaking a hand around my hip

He had beautiful teeth. He was only a couple of inches taller than me, which meant he was very short for a man. But he was beautiful.

“Can I dance with you?”

I looked over at my mother, who had an excellent way of pretending like she didn’t see anything, when she actually took note of it all.

“You have to ask my mother,” I giggled.

I watched, amused, by his facial expressions as I saw the words take form in his mind.

“No way?!” He roared

“Your mother?! Shit…sorry Mum.”

My mum was now very close enjoying the fact that the hundredth person, for the hundredth time that day, had assumed we were sisters.

“I thought you were-“

“Sisters! I know we get that a lot.” Mum screeched cutting him off.

I was used to this. I had long since got over being embarrassed.

“Wow. Is it okay with you if I dance with your daughter?” He gripped me tighter as if to show that he meant business.

“As long as that’s all you young people do!” mum shot back will waving a flyer in the air.

“Guess that settles it then.” Tre whispered in my ear.

Pulling me into him, he began to rotate his hips slowly and I did the same. So into it I was, I was unaware that I hadn’t stopped smiling since he questioned my drink preference.

I raised my arm to drape around his neck but decided to relent when my top threatened to release the puppies. Dancing was one thing; an unexpected nip slip wasn’t part of the deal.

We were now nose to nose, gyrating in time to the beat.

“So, Chanel, how old are you?”

I hadn’t anticipated this question so early on and in my hesitation I lost rhythm but quickly regained it when I decided to be honest.

‘Fifteen.’ I declared looking him square in the eye. If he was going to run, I wanted to give him permission to do so. I was too young for this entire experience. But my mind and my body desired it so much.

‘Fuck, jailbait.’ He frowned.

But he didn’t release his grip on me. I now knew I could go in for the kill.

“And you?” up close I had pitched him at about twenty-two

“Twenty One, next week.”

I wasn’t far off at all. I remember some r’n’b starlet singing age was nothing but a number. I admit, I had to agree with her. Here, I was too young to be in a club but here anyhow, under the watchful eye of my mother, not much could go down anyway. But if she could’ve been privy to the crevices of my mind, she would have snatched me up so quickly, my legs wouldn’t’ have been able to touch the floor.

I was really pressing my groin into his now. The music had sped up and while I knew I could maintain the speed, I wanted to know if he could too. Unbeknown to him, I had chosen him to be The One. I had done searching. I would gift this man with my virginity. And he would take it, leaving me to be free.

“Wow, you know what you’re doing, don’t you?” I could smell mint and cigarettes on his breath

“Not really, I was hoping you could show me.” I whispered into his ear. I could not be sure of my mother’s lip reading skills.

My own forwardness scared me. I had always been the shy one, lacking in self-confidence. I could only put it down to Dutch courage. And horniness. An unrelenting need to be deflowered. That’s what I put it down too.

He pulled away slightly, intrigue in his eyes.

‘Are you saying what I think you’re saying?’ I could see he was mildly excited by my partial offering.

What is it about taking a woman’s virginity that makes men so incredibly hungry, wild, and animalistic? Maybe it’s being able to later say that they hit it first. Maybe its cause they think virgins don’t have STI’s or a concept of their origins. I don’t know what it was exactly, but whatever it was, Tre wanted a slice of it.

‘Yes.’ I replied firmly. I was done with playing games. It had been long enough. He seemed nice enough and quite frankly, enough was enough.

‘Wow. How old are you again?’ he asked in shock

I kept my mouth shut and hoped that it was a rhetorical question.

‘You just come across as very mature.’

I nodded. I had watched my father do this a million times. You name a price and keep your fucking mouth shut until the other party signed on the dotted line.

‘But if you’re sure, we can exchange numbers?’

This was now an actual question. My heart rate quickened. I looked over to where my mum was standing and was happy to see she was engrossed in conversation with a friend.

‘Yes, let’s do that.’

He had signed. Without knowing it, he was now going to be the man to take my virginity. Yeah he was really short but he was cute enough to declare this a victory.

 

In one week I was turning Sweet Sixteen. But the best birthday present had come early. Tre had agreed to sleep with me. He practically made me sign in blood that I wouldn’t hop off his dick, crying rape. I understood that it was a major concern of his. But I also had some of my own.

I made it crystal clear that afterwards, I would never want to see him again. He didn’t react as well as I had hoped.

‘What? Am so I’m some kind of smashing service?’ He wailed down the phone a couple of night’s prior.

I hoped my silence would suffice.

He had not spoke of it again since. But I knew he understood that I had no intentions of developing an emotional relationship. It was purely physical. I had no idea how this way of thinking would serve me in years to come.

We had agreed to meet at a skate park near his home. It was drizzling slightly.

I decided on baggy jeans, a crop top Timberland boots. It was all very ‘90’s’ to top it off I borrowed my mothers favorite Parka. By borrowed, I mean I snuck it out the cupboard, once I’d made it past her bedroom.

‘Have fun with the girls! Be back by eleven!’ She wailed as I ran out the house.

It was a fifteen-minute walk at best, but I decided to wait for a bus to avoid sweating. Siting at the bus stop, I was sure there was a sign over my head that read ‘worlds last virgin’ It tickled me to know that on my return, the sign would be gone.

By the time, I arrived at the designated meeting point; it had really started to rain. I pulled up the mammoth hood and waited under a street lamp. Within moments, I felt his presence.

‘Chanel.’ He smiled, eyes a glow.

Unknowingly, I had also already become very talented at establishing and maintaining alter egos.

‘Tre.’ I smiled while resisting a hug and extending my hand.

He laughed at my business like demeanor and shook it anyhow.

‘Excuse my place, it’s tiny but it becau-‘

“You have condoms right? Not to worry, I have my own. And I’m on the pill. In the unlikely hood that your sperm beat its way through the latex and lining of my womb, I am prepared to have an abortion. Understood?”

I wanted to be clear. Every business had contracts, even if they were only verbal.

“Fucking hell Chanel. I get it. But for the love of God, can you please try and be a little romantic?”

I could tell he was becoming exasperated. I didn’t want to ruin my chances.

“Of course. As Long as you promise not to mention God.”

“I don’t know if I can do that?”

“Why not?” I hastily asked

“Because I’m a Christian.”

It fell silent immediately. All of a sudden, the rain was loud as hell.

“And…you’re pussy may be so good that, I may have to say the Lord’s name in vain” He added while pulling me in for a hug.

I smiled. And let my tense shoulders relax into his arms.

Was this it?

His flat smelt of damp. It was a studio job tucked behind a non descript high rise in an unmarked part of South London. Whatever ideas he had of décor clearly did not translate as everything clashed, badly.

‘Would you like a drink?’ He asked sweetly pulling off his beanie and slapping it down on one of the chairs that seemed to have seen better days.

‘No thank you.’ That was a lie. But I didn’t want to risk having to use his toilet. While it wasn’t filthy, it by no means met my mother’s hygiene standards.

‘T.V?’ already the remote was in his hand.

It was eight o’clock. Eastenders.

‘Channel one please.’ I smiled.

‘Yes! I much prefer that to Coronation street.’ He laughed.

He had great teeth. His sand colored skin was blemish free. His sense of style, while not horrid was like everything else about him; non descript. 

‘Sorry about the state of my place. Haven’t been here long.’ His expression was a mix of embarrassment and sadness.

If I had considered him being anything more than the taker of my virginity, I would have investigated his frown. But I had no time to become emotional over things that would not concern me past the bloodstained sheets.

‘So…shall we get this show on the road?’ not making eye contact, I began to disrobe my outerwear. Having promised mum I wouldn’t be home late, I wanted to stick to the schedule.

‘S..sure.’ he no longer seemed confident.

It was all very regimented, stiff even. We both peeled off our clothes and just sort of stood there looking at one another. Books and films had taught me to expect him to scoop me up and make passionate love to me. But I could tell that reality wasn’t going to provide me with such a fantasy.

Shuffling over to the sofa bed, he took my hand.

Leaning into me, I will never forget the smell of cheap cologne and breath mints. Breathing softly onto my face, he parted my lips with his.

The kisses were nice, childish even. I made sure to not open my mouth to wide and he tilted his head so our noses didn’t have to smell each other. Just as I was making sense of his tongues rhythm, he pulled away.

‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ the flicker of fear flashed across his eyes so quickly, that I almost missed it.

Clearly words were not enough. My patience was running thin and time was running low. Snatching my bag off the sofa bed, I held his gaze and blindly felt around for the Durex that we had been given during our one hour of sex education that term. Once my fingers had clipped the cool foil, I removed it, placed my bag on the floor and towards the edge of the sofa bed and laid there, waiting. I tried my best to look sexy. I thrust my c cups forward, held my stomach in an pointed my toes. In my mind I looked ravishing. Hindsight suggests I probably looked like an awkward teen on a sofa bed, gagging to be deflowered by a man I met two weeks prior.

He begun with cunnilingus. It tickled and I had to cover my face with my pillow so as not to burst into tears, from laughter. I kept trying to scurry back into the bed head. The idea of oral sex made me uncomfortable. Adolescent conversation, accompanied by Redbull and contraband fags were thick with the idea that oral sex was unacceptable. A blow-job was a mark of a whore. We never really spoke about men doing it to women though. Was this a suck job? Now was not the time to highlight my lack of experience, it was work enough getting him into the bed.

I would have to go with it.

 Now, he was between my legs really going for it. He kept sighing and groaning and I kept repeating his noises so as not to seem like a bad company. I couldn’t work out what to do with my legs. At first I held them aloft so he could get a good taste but after a while my legs began to tire, so I draped them over the his shoulders, which would monetarily shudder and throw one off. So in the end I just decided to put them on the bed and spread them wide.

 

I pushed myself  up onto the pillows so that I could get a good view of the way he navigated my nether regions. Every so often he would peek up at me and I would throw my head back into the pillows and try to stifle my laughter.

 

‘Relax’ he breathed into my full bush.

 

It was now I wished that we had locks on the bathroom door. I could just imagine my mothers thoughts if she caught me trying to de pube. But recently all the porn I had been learning from seemed to show ladies with little to no hair. My jungle was a reminder that I had a lot to learn when it came to the sartorial side of sex.

Soon I became bored of his roaming tongue and affixed my eyes to the television. Pat Butcher was sternly walking across the square to the Queen Victoria. God, I could do with a drink I thought. I let my mind met away. I was bored. As if he could hear my thoughts, he crept up until his penis totally eclipsed my view.

‘My turn.’ He smirked.

I sat up hastily.

‘Errr, no thanks, lets just get on with the other stuff.’  I screwed up my face at the thought of having to put that in my mouth. Oh how immature I must have come across. But the promises I made my girlfriends about never giving ‘head’ would remain intact. For tonight at least.

‘Sorry.’ He whispered

‘It’s ok.’ My tone was apologetic. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings or anything but I wasn’t ready yet.

He kissed me and tried to lay on top of me, but I put my hand over my vag. Sperm could swim. I had paid attention enough to those uninspiring sex education lessons to know that there was such a thing called ‘pre cum’ which if not avoided could end with me using my womb as a graveyard or standing in line for the dole. Funnily enough, neither one of those options filled me with joy.

‘I’ll get the condom shall I?’ it was obviously a rhetorical question because in flash he was on his knees, opening the thing.

 

All of a sudden my heart was beating ten to the dozen. This was it.

He leaned over me, it looked as if he was going to do a press up. Instinctively every muscle below my navel tightened up. How painful was this going to be? So consumed with doing away with my virginity, I hadn’t taken into consideration what it would take to crossover to the other side. Would I bleed to death? I had scoured the internet for information of disastrous first time copulations. Broadband had yet to become vogue, and out of fear of my mother barging into my room, I would have to busy myself while pages, forums and group chats would load with young women describing their first times. Of course none of them had died but I now wondered how many fabricated the amount of fun they were having? I thought I was well prepared. I had even bookmarked abortion clinics in the event that this would become a worse case scenario. But right now, as he guided himself into me, all of that went out of the window.

I held my breath. And waited. And waited.

But my fears never materialized.

‘Are you ok?’ He whispered

‘Very well!’ I replied trying to hold back a nervous giggle.

And I wasn’t lying. I was doing better than well. Having nothing to compare it too, couldn’t believe how easy it was. I couldn’t feel anything. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, I could feel the weight of him on top of me, I could feel his breath in my ear and I could definently feel the abrasive sandpaper like linen which was doing it’s best to exfoliate my backside. But outside of that, in the area where it really mattered, I couldn’t feel a thing. I was for sure a virgin. Of course to my solo sessions had now been taken up a notch by introducing phallic shaped utensils (which I always washed before replacing, I promise) but I was sure my hymen was intact. This was most odd.

As the minutes rolled by, his breathing became more erratic, restrained even, If it hadn’t been for my personal sex education I would have half thought he were having an asthma attack.

‘Mmm’ I sighed

And with that, a lifetime of faking sexual pleasure began. Turning to face the TV once more, I let him thrust away like a squirrel burying a nut.

As if on cue, his body began to buck and arch as he slipped into the realm of an orgasm.

‘Yes’ I whispered watching the credits roll on the television.  Made mental note to catch the omnibus that Sunday. With nothing left to give, he let himself fall on top of me. I went to embrace him and then remembered my own rules. It was not that kind of party.

All I could hear was the TV, his breathing and my heart. Any moment now, I would hear a fanfare, a gentle cry from heaven as another little girl transitioned into being a woman. I had survived. Excelled, even.

 

‘Are you sure you’re a virgin?’ he asked gently pulling out of me.

 

Sitting up, I looked down at the sheets. Not a speck of blood to be found.

‘Yes.’ I made sure to exaggerate my mock disrespect.

I watched as he put a knot in the condom and scurried off the sofa bed. His body was tiny but perfectly formed. He would have made a terrific ballet dancer.

 

‘I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just you seemed to take that all in your stride. You didn’t even bleed.’ He confirmed, wide eyed.

True. I had been expecting a blood bath worthy of a horror movie. All the literature I had sourced had me exceptionally nervous about leaving my blood type all over this young man’s already tired, linen. The older texts had spoke of the stained linen being hung high above the village, as proof that a new marriage had been consummated.

‘Maybe it’s all the stretches we do in dance class.’ I shrugged. It wasn’t a lie. I had never rode a horse, so I couldn’t use that one with a straight face.

‘Maybe.’ He shrugged mirroring my body language.

But I knew he didn’t believe me. And that was fine. I was done with him. With any luck after I walked out of here, he would disappear, like an apparition, only I would know of his short existence and the time we shared.

I stood up and stretched. Nervously, I took a few steps forward just to be sure that my legs still understood that I had to get back home. The held me well.

‘Do you want me to walk you home?’ his eyebrows were knotted together.

Slipping back into my jeans, I made a disgruntled sound. Did he not understand English? The impatient know it all within me wanted to remind him of our deal but the smart young woman thought better of it. I was not out of the woods yet. I was in a strange home, with a strange man. Years on this knowledge would serve me well. Just because you’ve had sex with someone, doesn’t mean that they are sane and you are safe.

‘I’m ok thank you. But if you could walk me back out of this maze, that would be dope.’ Smiling brightly, I made sure to look him in the eyes and calculate the risk factor. He seemed pleased with that offer. My blood pressure began to simmer.

Stepping out of his flat, I noticed how deprived of fresh air I had been in there. I gulped it down like water and hoped that my clothes were not covered in Parfum de Damp.

We walked in silence back to the main road. It was still raining, much lighter this time. The drizzle made for an atmospheric scene and almost, almost, made the area look pleasant. We reached the end.

Turning to face him, I felt overwhelmed. I leaned into kiss him. It quickly became passionate. Our tongues fought like two wrestlers, teeth just missing one another, hands trying to fondle through thick winter coats. Time was pressing on, I had to go.

‘Thank’s for that.’ I smiled backing away.

He seemed sad.

‘You’re welcome.’ He shuffled from foot to foot

I began walking away.

‘Can…should I call you to make sure you get in alright?’

‘Nah, I’ll be fine.’ I hollered back not bothering to turn around.

Picking up the pace, I hugged myself to protect myself from the elements. Even though I was not upset I wasn’t elated either. The chariots and fanfare had yet to arrive. But at least I was one step closer to the me I thought I wanted to be. Little did I know that I had just activated a gift very few posessed. The ability to screw someone, and never look back.

 

 

 

I giggled to myself. I had not thought about that in a while. As the years ran on and I got introduced to many more penises, I quickly understood why that night, I left Tre’s feeling no different. His willy was tiny! Miniscule even. Later that year, when I met my first love, who just happened to be my PE teacher (‘til this day, I have yet to have sex with, paid or otherwise a man from my generation) our first time, ended with me being whisked to hospital suffering with severe Cervical Erosion.  Now that was a willy!

Usually, I would go to a fancy clinic in SoHo, they offered digestive biscuits and special appointments for those of us in the sex industry. Their welcoming and non-judgemental attitude made it every prostitutes and porn star ‘s dream. They were intent on treating sex workers like real people and saw our jobs as a career choice and not just something to ‘tide us over’

Adam a petite well-styled flamboyant character of a consultant would always ask me what particular condoms and lubricant I desired and make sure that he ordered some of them for me especially. It was nice to feel like you had a friend. Especially in this game. Am I friendless? Of course not. I have Tally. But she’s more like a mentor.  But let’s just say we don’t hold dinner parties for a gaggle of working girls. They are our competition. So I tend to only break bread with the friends I had before the game came along, that way I know they’ll be around after it ends. It always does. You just have to hope you’re around to see it. Unfortunately it’s no secret that sex work is unsafe. Between the ever-developing grey areas and societies ever shrinking minds, prostitution continues to be somewhat underground, which means that very few involved feel protected by the law or otherwise, so it gets shoved under a carpet.  Or so people like to think. It’s very much there, readily available and in front of your fucking face, but like, most things in your life that you know very little about you turn a blind eye. I don’t blame you. If I thought something was illegal, I’d turn a blind eye too. I guess that’s something I should clear up; what I do is not illegal.

 I as a single person am allowed to sell sex to anyone with enough money to buy it. I may work from my own home or rented premises. I may use whatever tools are at my disposal to entice your Son, brother, co-worker even perhaps your husband, to buy my product. I am a product. I have to ensure that I’m selling the best one. Especially in this field. It’s over run. With our country in a tight financial bind a lot of mothers; daughters and wives are turning-to-turning tricks instead of towards the dole. I don’t knock ‘em. While we don’t have to be friends, We all have to work together. I think if every woman charged for what was between her legs, the country could stand on their own two. There is nothing like Pussy to bring a man to his knees and his bank manager.

I’d played a good game thus far, I was still here. It had taken a while but I’d established myself as one of the most reliable girls in London. All bar one of my clients had become regulars and that one doesn’t even count because I had to tell him not to come back. He smelt and perspired through to my mattress, so distressed I was, I got rid. If you’re looking for glamour, this gig is not it. That day his body odor cost me two things; Money & Time. The past few weeks though, had made me crave the latter more than the former. That had never happened before. Quickly approaching twenty-five, I couldn’t see where this was going. I wasn’t here for the money. But I know you wouldn’t believe me if I said I was here for the experience. The thing is I thought I had learned every lesson, seen every kind of client and found out a lot about myself. I was beginning to think about what was next. 

Apr 1
Chapter One