Till Fantasy Do Us Part

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
"Till Fantasy Do Us Part" is a fictional shorty story about the hidden dark sides of a married couple.
The two protagonists, Nick and Natalie, appear to be just another happily married couple. He was the high school dream jock. She was head cheerleader and prom queen. He is a ruthless lawyer. She is a housewife. But behind the veneer of normality, both are tormented by buried fantasies. He has been denying his true self out of fear. She refuses to accept her desires out of shame. He seeks comfort behind the computer monitor. She struggles to remain in control.

Submitted: June 05, 2014

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Submitted: June 05, 2014

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“Are you ready yet?”

It was 6:24 p.m. Nick was already dressed and ready to go. He sat on the living room couch, tapping his foot on the carpet.

“Just a second! I need to get the last pie out of the oven and brush my hair.” His wife, Natalie, shouted from the kitchen.

The smell of cinnamon wafted into the living room. He breathed it in with his eyes closed. Now he was hungry and craving a slice of that pie.

A loud slam, then something that sounded like metal fell to the floor. He heard his wife cursing.

“Are you ok in there?”

“Yeah, I’m fine…just dropped something.”

Water gushing in the sink. She was washing something, cursing again only at a lower volume which he could still hear. She always became disorientated and her fingers went buttery when she was in a rush.

Wakes, they were so unnecessary, so stupid. The person was dead, end of story. Why the need to put the corpse on display? And why was it called “Wake”? Nothing would wake them up now. No matter how sorry everyone was, how much they kissed the dead person’s cold ass and cried. They were gone, dead, and nothing would wake them up.

Nick just wanted to get it over with and come back home to eat pie and watch bad Christmas T.V.

“I’m just going to change my shirt. I’ll be right back…”

He heard the clacking of her high heels on the stairs. He sighed.

Natalie took off her shirt. It was stained with white frosting. She unearthed a black turtleneck from the dresser. Standing in front of the full-body mirror in the bedroom she noticed she had lost some weight. It was nothing dramatic, but since she was already thin, it always showed when she gained or lost weight.

“Honey!” Nick shouted from downstairs.

“I’m coming!” She shouted back.

She pulled on the turtleneck and arranged it a bit, then removed the butterfly clip from her hair and ran the brush through it a few times and tied it in a low bun. Her dark roots were showing. She added blonde hair dye to her mental shopping list. Lastly, she spritzed some perfume on her neck and hair.

Nick was waiting in the living room doorway, his arms folded.

“I’m ready.” Natalie galloped down the stairs.

“Finally.”

She had a last look in the mirror facing the closet door and ran her fingers underneath her tired eyes. She had been cooking and baking all day.

“You look fine, honey. Let’s go.” Nick got their coats from the closet. “I want to get this over with.”

He held Natalie’s coat and helped her put it on.

“Thanks. Oh, but why did you wear this blouse? I told you I ironed that black shirt for you.”

“I got toothpaste on it.”

“Great…” She brushed the lint off his shoulders and back.

“It’s fine, let’s just go already.” He moved away from her and put on his coat.

The Wake was right across the street. Their neighbor, Christopher, had lost his battle with prostate cancer last night. Christopher was an old man who never stepped outside and very rarely stuck his head out the window on sunny afternoons.  

Despite living on that neighborhood for two years, Nick had never spoken to him. Natalie had had a few pleasant chats with him. He was full of life and he had a great sense of humor too, something that apparently had not rubbed off on his son, Cooper, who lived in the same house as him with his wife and two children. Cooper looked like a small duck that was always grumpy, and his son was his split image, only he had inherited his mother’s Amazonian height and build while his sister was short and skinny with long black hair.

The blue Christmas lights which decorated their house were turned off. They could see Cordelia, Cooper’s wife, talking to her daughter and an older woman in the kitchen. The light was on in Christopher’s room, creating an eerie sense that he was still alive. Ever since Nick and Natalie had moved on that neighborhood, the light in Christopher’s room was on every single night until dawn.

They walked inside, saying hello to a group of people talking near the front door. The grumpy duck and his tall duckling, both dressed in black, welcomed them with arms folded behind their backs.

“So sorry for your loss. He was such a good man.” Natalie said.

“Thank you for coming.” Papa duck Cooper gave Natalie a nod of gratitude then took a step forward to shake Nick’s hand.

“It was the least we could do.” Of course, Nick did not mean it. It was just the “right” thing to say.

The unlit Christmas tree was pushed into a corner in the living room. Christmas trees always put Natalie in a cheerful mood, but this one was so grim and depressing next to the pastel green wallpaper and people dressed in black. She glanced around her and everything looked washed out, bleak. It did not seem like two days before Christmas.

The coffin was in the middle of Christopher’s room, which had been emptied of all the furniture. Wooden chairs were placed along the walls. Only four of them were occupied by two old ladies whispering to each other, a gentleman with a blank expression staring at the coffin and another one of their neighbors, the old Hungarian lady from next door.

Nick and Natalie walked up to the coffin.

Christopher’s corpse was not the corpse of an old man who had been fighting cancer for years. Nick’s uncle had died of prostate cancer as well, and in his last month of life he become a shriveled and emaciated shell of the man he used to be. Christopher was still healthily plumb and his face, although pale and chalky, had retained a life-like brightness. He really did look like he was sleeping, having one of those great dreams that you do not want to wake up from. He looked…happy.

Well, that’s what Natalie thought. To Nick, he just looked dead.

“Can we go now?” Nick whispered.

“We just got here.” Natalie whispered back.

“It’s not like we’re his family. We barely knew the guy.”

“Nick…”

“Fine.” He saw some of the other men in the hallway over by a table stocked with paper cups and drinks. “I’m going to talk to the guys. Come get me when you want to leave.” He kissed her on the cheek and departed from the room.

She watched him, softly shaking her head from side to side. He could be so callous sometimes. But then again, he was a man. A former boy scout and the captain of the football team, now a ruthless lawyer and her husband of three years.  

The old Hungarian lady placed her hand on Natalie’s shoulder, startling her. She had not heard her come. It was like she had teleported behind her.

“And another one is gone…” She spoke broken English with a thick accent. She was looking down at Christopher. “Now they happy house is all theirs.”

“Pardon?”

“I see them at night in bathroom. Like dogs.” She snarled. “He pull her hair.”

“He beats her?” Natalie asked in a quiet voice.

“No, the bitch like it!”

“I think I should be going now. Excuse me.”

Natalie fled the room. She went to offer her condolences to Cordelia.

 

 

Nick poured himself half a cup of warm wine and joined the other men of the neighborhood. They were talking about hunting, which he did not practice, not even fishing. So, he sat on the side, simply listening to the other men without saying a word until the conversation shifted to sports, football to be more exact. That’s when Cooper joined them as well. He probably needed a break.

After about 10 minutes, Natalie showed up. The conversation suffered an immediate death. She told Nick she was ready to leave.

“Now?”

“Yes, now. I thought you couldn’t wait to get out of here.”

“Oh, alright.”

They said their goodbyes to everyone and left.

 

 

At home, Natalie served Nick that slice of pie he had been craving for and headed upstairs to shower. As soon as she disappeared, Nick grabbed his laptop from his briefcase and powered it up. He signed in to YeeHaa! Messenger and opened a chat window with VelvetStraitjacket, who had the status: “Kitties vs. Ducklings for my heart”.

“Well hello there J” He wrote.

“Hi fuckface.” VelvetStraitjacket replied.

 

 

Natalie took her sweet time in the shower. She put conditioner in her hair and patiently shaved every inch of her legs. Nick complained she spent too much time in the bathroom, yet he spent almost as much time as her. And she did it for him, after all. She did not want to turn into one of those wives that let themselves go when they became comfortable enough around their husbands.

With everything clean and smooth and conditioned, Natalie stepped out of the shower. She dried herself up and applied moisturizer to her skin. A few hairs had grown underneath her manicured eyebrow. She plucked them out.

From an early age, her mother had drilled into her head that she should always look her best, and it was a rule she strictly adhered to. Nick told her he did not care about those things, that he loved her anyway. Natalie did not believe him. She knew that if she would have been fat and ugly he would have never looked at her. Luckily, that had not been the case. She was one of the most popular and attractive girls in their school. Head cheerleader with a flawless complexion and bouncing breasts, the girlfriend of the captain of the football team/dream jock – Nick – and of course, prom queen…yes, she was that girl. The girl every other girl wanted to be, and every boy dreamed they could have. The girl everyone envied and hated.

She slipped on her white silk nightgown and played Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie No.1”. She sat on the bed, brushing her hair. And as she brushed, she remembered what the Hungarian lady from next door said about Cooper and Cordelia. She wondered if it was true, and if it was true, did Cordelia enjoy Cooper pulling her hair?

How could she enjoy something like that?

Did it not hurt?

She brushed harder, and harder and harder until it hurt her scalp.

It was probably not the same with a hair brush. She tried to imagine a man’s hand doing it. The fingers coiling her hair around them, securing a rough grip, and…

“This is stupid.” Natalie said to herself.

She put the brush on the nightstand and relaxed her body upon the white sheets of their big bed.

Nick had never been rough with her. In bed, he was tender and patient. He made love to her. She wondered what it was like to be…well, fucked. Nick was her first and only man. From the moment she met him, she was convinced they were meant to be together, that they would get married and have kids and grow old together. Her friends had told her she was silly, but she was so sure of that feeling. And at least a part of it came true. She wanted to have the kids as well. However, Nick insisted they wait a little while longer, just so they could offer the best to their future children.

She closed her eyes and envisioned herself on a bed of beautiful flowers. The sky was blue and clear behind her eyelids. Butterflies descended on the flowers. The song began to fade out, yet she could hear it so clearly in her head.

It was warm.

She was naked.

Her eyes opened to a shadow standing above her against the blue sky. Nick smiled at her. He was naked too and he slowly lowered his body atop of hers. They kissed and he caressed her skin as softly as the sun’s golden rays that shone down on them.

The butterflies fluttered in a multicolored halo. Nick’s gentle touches became small pricks. The butterflies turned into buzzing bees. So many of them, thousands maybe. They were all over her body, stinging every inch of her exposed flesh. She cried out and tried to get up, to run, but her body was paralyzed.

She woke up with a sharp gasp, breathing heavy. The bees were gone. She was in her bed. Her empty bed. Nick was still downstairs.

What an awful nightmare. A nightmare which had somehow…aroused her. She felt uneasy, almost guilty.

How could pain awake pleasure in her?

And then something even more awful struck her over the head…the realization that she had once again fallen into those fantasies.

“I feel good talking with you about…myself. My real self.” Nick wrote.

“I feel special.” VelvetStraitjacket responded.

“Don’t be so dry…”

“Oh, go suck dick.”

Nick replied with a laughing emoticon and wrote, “I mean it. I feel I can only be myself with you.”

“That’s nice. Good for you. How’s your girlfriend by the way?”

“I told you I broke up with her”

“Mhm, if you say so.”

He heard something.

“Nick…” Natalie was coming downstairs.

Nick quickly wrote, “I’m gonna go now. We’ll talk tomorrow, ok?”

There was no prompt reply, so he continued, “Goodnight J” and signed off.

“Nick, baby…” Natalie walked into the kitchen.

“I was just doing some work.” Nick said as he powered off the laptop.

“Again?” Natalie rolled her eyes. “Honey...”

“I know, but I have a lot of work. Who’s gonna pay the bills and send you to the beauty salon every week?”

“Oh come on, we’re more than fine with money. Just forget about work and come to bed.”

“I’ll be right there babe.” He got up and gave her a kiss on the cheek on the way to the bathroom.

 

 

In bed, Nick was almost asleep. Natalie was staring at the pitch-black ceiling, troubled by the dream she had had earlier. It was not the actual dream that truly bothered her, but the fact that she took pleasure in the pain. It was not normal.

“Nick, are you asleep?” She whispered.

“Not yet.” He muttered. “Why?”

“Nick, can I ask you something?”

He sighed and turned to her. She turned to him.

“Have you ever…” She stopped. She did not even know how to say it. “Did you ever want to be…rough with me, in bed?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, pull my hair and other things like that.”

“Um, no. Why?” He snickered. “You want me to?”

“No, of course not. I was only curious, that’s all.”

“If you say so. Anyway, I’m really tired Nat. I’m gonna go to sleep. Goodnight.” He kissed her and turned his back to her.

“Goodnight…”

 

 

“No! Let me go! Help!” Natalie screamed.

The man wearing a Wolf mask dragged her into the forest by her hair. He slapped her and threw her on a blanket of dead leaves.

“Please, don’t…”

No words came out of the small round hole of the mask, but she knew he was going to hurt her. She was terrified. Trembling, she begged and cried.

He reached down to her red cape and ripped it apart, leaving her completely naked.

Still no words from her masked attacker. He slapped her again, harder. Her cheek burned. His hands wrapped around her throat. She was excited. Trembling, she sighed and gripped handfuls of cold rotten leaves.

“Did you hear me?” Nick was staring at her, confused.

“What?” Natalie woke up from her daydream. “I’m sorry, I…”

“You looked spaced out there for a moment. Are you alright?”

Four days had gone by and the fantasies became more vivid and intense each day. Like a snake they slithered inside her mind and their poison put her into a deep trance. This was the first time Nick had actually noticed, though.

“I was just going through the things I need to buy.” Natalie said, smiling.

“Oh, okay. You sure you don’t want me to come with you?”

“Yes honey, I’m sure.” She put her hand on his freshly-shaven cheek. “I know how much you hate shopping and I don’t want you rushing me. Just go home and relax.”

“Well, okay. Call me when you’re done and I’ll come pick you up.”

“I will.”

Natalie got out of the car.

“Bye.”

She waved after him.

When the car disappeared from her sight, Natalie took out her black leather gloves and oversized sunglasses. It was quite cold that late morning, so she wore her black knee-length coat, high-heeled leather boots and a brimless cylindrical flat-top hat. She passed all the shops without glancing at the displays.

Two nuns carrying bags in both hands rushed by her. She automatically said hello to them, bowing her head slightly.

Guilt-ridden second thoughts tore her mind in two. She had no idea what she was doing. Why she was doing it.

It was not too late. She could still turn back and go shopping, forget all about it. She would buy condiments, olive oil, paper towels, and those gingerbread cookies Nick loved.

Nick…what would he say if he knew what was going through her head? Would he still love her? He would probably be disgusted. She was disgusted, too. But, at the same time, she wanted it. It was wrong and degrading and disgusting – and that turned her on more than anything. She did not know why. She could not explain or understand it. It was this pagan feeling inside of her, stirring her up. Its hot fingers were plugged into her spine, controlling her, leading her towards that desire she wanted so badly to reject and deny.

 

 

Knowing that Natalie would be away for a few hours, Nick opened his laptop and signed in to YeeHaa! Messenger. His secret pen pal, VelvetStraitjacket was not online, which was disappointing but not at all surprising since they usually talked at night.

Although VelvetStraitjacket was unapologetically abrasive and did not open up to Nick, he greatly enjoyed their chats. Talking to VelvetStraitjacket gave him a sense of understanding and acceptance he could not find in the people in his “real” life. None of them would understand, not even Natalie, who he did truly love.

He wished he did not have to hide and lie. Sometimes he could not sleep at night because of the guilt. He had tried to stop many times, but he always came back. Those feelings always came back.

VelvetStraitjacket was not the first one, just the most recent. The one that had hooked Nick from their very first chat about three months ago. And while the others were often brief cybersex-only encounters, VelvetStraitjacket refused to partake in such “pathetic things”. And Nick was okay with that, because talking to VelvetStraitjacket gave him a different type of satisfaction – the satisfaction of being himself. Bittersweet freedom. 

 

Natalie was walking down the street leading to the alley she had heard of by chance at a Christmas party last year. She had gotten bored talking to the wives of Nick’s colleagues and went to get a drink at the bar. It was there that she had heard two men talking about this supposed obscure alley in the middle of the city where prostitutes were lined up, waiting to be picked up.

She could see it, its gaping stone mouth between a coffee shop and a funeral home. She checked to make sure no one else was around. The street was empty. She straightened her sunglasses and headed in the alley.

Music was playing from somewhere and the heavy smell of fried meat polluted the winter air. She wondered if people lived in those godforsaken buildings. They looked horrible, cracked and abused by the years. A piece of blue tinsel hung over the sharp edge of a broken window. Many of the windows were broken or missing altogether.

Deeper into the stinking throat of the alley, Natalie found herself at the start of a line of girls and boys. She froze up completely for a second.

A girl dressed in what looked like a pastel green evening gown draping onto the filthy wet sidewalk and a fur coat eyed Natalie from head to toe. The girl next to her whispered something in her ear, her harshly-lined eyes pinned on Natalie as well.

Another chance to go back. Another chance she ignored.

Seeing that she began to walk in front of them, the girls and boys posed like mannequins behind the windows of a shop to show off the merchandise.

“Hey, sweetie.” A girl wearing a pink wig licked her chapped upper lip.

“You lookin’ for a party girlfriend?”

“Come here….” A more mature-looking woman invited her. “I can be your mommy.” She unzipped her coat and pulled her blouse to the side, showing Natalie her saggy breast.

Pretending not to hear them, Natalie continued to the end of the line.

Someone caught her attention. A man with a mean face and a large scar on his cheek leaning against a “STOP” sign. He was bald and not that tall, dressed in a brown jacket, jeans and leather boots. His hands resembled the paws of a beast. He was not attractive. He was nothing like her husband.

 

Nick disposed of the crumpled sticky tissues and washed his hands. He returned to his laptop and cleared the browsing history. He was always very careful. Natalie never borrowed his work laptop. Nevertheless, it was better to play it safe. If she or anyone else would somehow come across some of the websites he visited…he did not even want to think of the repercussions.

Listening to “Aladdin’s Story” by Death in Vegas, he sat on the couch and lit a cigarette.

Washing his hands was not enough. He needed a shower. He wished he could talk to VelvetStraitjacket. That never failed to make him feel better, to not feel wrong.

Sometimes he could not look in Natalie’s eyes. Those were the moments when his guilt smothered him. He looked at her and he saw lies…his lies. They were everywhere. The dining room table, that couch he was sitting on, in their bed. Every mirror in the house reflected his lies.

The worst was immortalized in their wedding photo in which they were looking at each other, high school sweethearts, the perfect couple in love.

Nothing but a big festering lie framed and hung on the wall.

Sometimes he wanted to smash it and just run away. To forget about everything. To forget his life, his face, his body. To be nothing. To fade from existence.

 

 

Stripped of her clothing, Natalie was on her stomach on the dirty sidewalk, her head pinned under the heavy leather boot of the bald man with the scar.

All the girls and boys were gathered in a circle around her, looking down at her.

“Are you just gonna sit there and stare, lady?” The bald man spat on the ground. “How’s about it?” He grabbed his crotch. “I’ll treat you real nice.”

Natalie backed away from him. She was frightened. Frightened of herself. She turned on her heel and rushed out of the alley. Her palms were sweaty inside the gloves and her skin itched as if she had an army of tiny bugs in her clothes. She stopped to catch her breath outside the alley. She felt like crying.

This was not her. Not the daughter her parents had raised. Not the head cheerleader and prom queen. That perverse freak she thought she had buried could not be her. She was Nick’s wife and she wanted to be the mother of his children. And how could she ever be the mother of his children when she had such fantasies?

The door of the coffee shop opened and a woman in a tan knee-length coat stepped outside. She was about to walk in the opposite direction, but then she noticed Natalie wiping her eyes before putting on her sunglasses. 

“Are you ok?”

“I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?” The woman approached her. “Were you?” She pointed to the alley with her thumb.

“What?” Natalie acted confused.

“I’m asking because you’re not the first girl to come out of there crying.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Natalie was prepared to leave.

“It’s always hard the first time.” The woman said as Natalie began to walk, causing her feet to freeze. “Trust me, I’ve been there.”

Natalie faced the woman, and she was smiling. Her blue eyes had compassion in them.

 “But, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?”

“I’m not a…”

“Oh! Oh, sorry. I thought you were…well, just shopping can be hard too. Especially if you’re looking for something special, which I assume you are because, well, I doubt a pretty lady dressed like you needs to shop for her men.”

“I need to go.”

“No, wait. Why don’t we get a coffee? My treat. You look like you could use it.”

“I don’t know you.”

“I don’t know you either. I could have simply ignored you and continued on my way, but I didn’t.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ve ignored too many people in need before. Holiday spirit and all that. And I know what it’s like to not have someone to talk to. You know, really talk to.”

“So you think I’m just going to talk to a complete stranger about my problems?” Natalie shook her head and slowly turned her back to the woman again.

“Well doesn’t that make it easier? Isn’t it what many of us secretly want? To open up to a complete stranger, someone we’ve never seen before and most likely will never see again. To tell them the things we can’t tell the people that know us.”

A sigh trembled out of Natalie.

“It’s gonna be ok. Come…” The woman held out her hand.

 

 

There were few people in the coffee shop and Natalie and the woman went as far away from them as possible, so Natalie could be more comfortable. It was a small place, not very well lit, and the cigarette smoke formed static blue lines in the air. The woman ordered two coffees for them. She took off her coat. She was dressed in a knitted white sweater and a grey skirt with a back slit and black ankle boots.

Only now did Natalie give her a good look. Her face was pretty, but not like something you would see on the cover of a glamor magazine. She did not have any make-up on. Her dark brown hair was wavy, hanging atop her shoulders, and she had wide blonde streaks in the front. She reminded Natalie of a young Sigourney Weaver only more petite and with softer facial features.

“That’s gorgeous!” The woman admired Natalie’s white-collared black dress.

“Thank you.”

“It looks really expensive.” The woman got a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of her coat. “You mind?”

“No.”

“Want one?”

Natalie made a rejecting gesture with her hand.

“What’s your name?”

Natalie hesitated to respond.

“Ok, my name is Daniela, Daniela Breeons.”

“Natalie.”

“Nice to meet you Natalie.” She smiled. “So, tell me. What’s wrong?”

“I think this was a bad idea.” Natalie rubbed her forehead.

“Don’t worry. I’ve heard it all. And believe me, there’s a lot to hear in this line of business. And do, of course. And I’ve done things you couldn’t imagine.” She had a puff from the cigarette. “Yes, if you haven’t figured it out already, I’m a prostitute. Well, I’m actually trying to get out of the game. But that’s easier said than done.”

“You work in that alley?” Natalie did not hide the fact that she was appalled.

“Oh, no honey. I don’t turn tricks on the streets. I’m a call girl, not a street walker. I come here because I have a friend that I check on from time to time.”

“How is that so different?”

Daniela breathed out short little laughs, shaking her head from side to side.

“Well, it is. Those boys and girls back there, they’re meat puppets with asshole pimps pulling their strings. Most of them are sick and barely hanging on, but they have no choice. There’s the difference. I have a choice. No one’s forcing me. I can stop if I want to. Well, if I could just land a decent job. And I went to college you know! Yeah, I have a damn diploma and the only thing it’s good at is gathering dust in the back of my closet.” She laughed. “There’s just always something wrong with me.”

 

 

Instead of that shower, Nick drew himself a hot bath. Natalie was still not home when he got out. Good thing she did not want him to join her. He would have been going out of his mind after the first 20 minutes and she spent ages every time she went shopping.

He signed in one more time to see if VelvetStraitjacket was online. The avatar which showed the person behind the username, pale with long brown hair, sultry eyes and a full pout, was slightly faded. VelvetStraitjacket was still offline. Nick decided to nap for an hour or two.

 

“I have these…dreams. Fantasies.” Natalie managed to gather the strength to finally speak those words. Her voice was low, almost hoarse.

Daniela lit her third cigarette. Her coffee cup was nearly empty. She had been very patient and communicative. She could tell it was not easy for Natalie to open up about those fantasies that drove a privileged, upper-class girl like her into that alley. At the same time, she knew the privileged and bored upper-class often had the most depraved and perverse kinks and fantasies of them all. Not that she judged them. Her limits were few and she had overcome her inhibitions a long time ago. For the right price, she had engaged in practically every sexual activity that was not too disgusting, damaging to her body or hurt her more than she enjoyed, at least once.

“What fantasies?”

“Fantasies of being…” Natalie swallowed the knot in her throat, “Hurt.”

“You mean like getting spanked, whipped?”

“Having my hair pulled, being slapped, tied up…choked. In some of them I’m forced, but, I also want it.”

“So it’s with consent?”

“I don’t know. I guess.”

Daniela leaned back on the chair, smiling at Natalie.

“I don’t want to have them. They’re not normal. It’s not who I am!” Natalie said, and it seemed as if she was trying to convince herself more than she was trying to convince Daniela.

“Of course it’s not who you are. Many of us are different people in bed, sometimes a lot of different people. They’re fantasies and it’s perfectly normal to have them. Everyone has fantasies! It’s just that few people have the courage to actually speak about them. That’s why a lot of them go to prostitutes, because they can pay to have their fantasies fulfilled in secret, without fear of being judged or laughed at.”

Natalie had difficulty processing everything Daniela said. It was like she had a violent ocean in her head, ready to gush out her ears and nose.

“Listen, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“But I am! I have a husband. I want to have kids. I don’t want to be some…” Natalie stopped, fearing she might offend Daniela.

“Some what? A depraved slut?” Daniela giggled. “You know what the problem is? Women are raised by our society with the aspiration of being housewives and mothers, and not much more. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a housewife and a mother, if that’s what you want. But if a woman wants the same things men do – power, sexual freedom – they are either bitches or sluts. It’s as if women should not have their own desires, desires other than pleasing men. I mean, women should not be sexual if it’s not for the enjoyment of the boys. God forbid a woman has sex to satisfy herself, not the man!”

Oddly enough, Natalie remembered that her father always told her to not be afraid to want more for herself, to think of college and a career before marriage and babies. Her mother, on the other hand, advised her to find a husband and get married before she would be too old and no man would want her because there was a younger girl just waiting around the corner.

“You mentioned your husband.” Daniela stubbed out her cigarette. “Have you considered telling him about your fantasies?”

“Of course not! God knows what he would think.”

“If he loves you, he won’t care. Hell, he’ll probably want to try it, too.”

“No, not Nick. I know him.” Natalie was certain of that.

“Really, do you know him as well as he knows you?”

Natalie’s eyes widened unconsciously and her mouth came apart.

Daniela smiled.

“I-I could never tell him.”

“Why not? A marriage is not just about that golden ring on your finger honey. A marriage is supposed to be a union of love and trust, right? Don’t you trust him?”

“I do trust him. And I love him more than I love myself. But…I’m scared.”

“There’s nothing to be scared of.” Daniela put her hand on top of Natalie’s and looked into her eyes. “If he loves you half as much as you love him, nothing will change. You’ll still be the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with, only a bit more interesting in the marriage bed.” She winked.

 

Nearly two hours later, Natalie returned to her home. She had rushed to buy the items on her shopping list and took a cab. She left the bags on the kitchen counter and went upstairs.

Nick was asleep. She loved watching him sleep. When he was curled up in that fetal position of his, it gave her the impression he was just a child. An innocent, vulnerable child she needed to protect. She dropped her coat to the floor and climbed in bed behind him, wrapping him in her arms. He was so warm. She kissed the back of his neck.

 

Maria Callas began to sing “Ave Maria” from the CD player. The bathtub was full. Natalie let the white bathrobe fall off her shoulders. Her eyes glancing at her naked body in the mirror, she slowly lowered herself into the water. It was hard to breathe at first, as if she had a weight pressing on her chest. Then she remembered Daniela, the things she said, and she felt like her body slowly liquefied, like she was water.

Daniela was right. If Natalie truly loved Nick, she had to tell him. If they were going to be together until death parted them, she had to be honest with him, and herself. Her fantasies involved her getting hurt, but that self-inflicted torture she had lived with for so long had to come to an end. She could only hope and pray that Nick would still love her once he knew.

Her hand slid from the edge of the bathtub, sinking in the water.

 

 

9:35 p.m. and Natalie was taking a bath. She would probably go to bed after. Nick was already talking to VelvetStraitjacket, confident that he would not be disturbed. Something was wrong, though. For whatever reason, VelvetStraitjacket was being more abrasive than usual.

“Honestly speaking, I don’t know why I waste my time talking to you.” VelvetStraitjacket wrote.

“Don’t be a bitch”

“Aww, does it sting?”

“I see you’re back to your “dominant” attitude.”

“That’s the truth. I don’t know why I waste my time talking to you because nothing will come out of this. You know that too, right?”

“Keep calm. And…” Nick wanted to change the subject.

“I’m very calm. So calm, I’m bored out of my fucking mind. And you bore me even more.”

“Ok, fine. Then we’ll stop talking.”

“Of course we will. Because you have nothing to offer.”

“If you say so. Goodbye.”

“The fact that you don’t argue with that says everything. Bye shithead.”

Neither Nick nor VelvetStraitjacket went offline.

Nick was angry. VelvetStraitjacket had stepped on his tail. He was prepared to quit, and delete VelvetStraitjacket. It was so simple. Yet, it wasn’t. That secret part of him that suffered and longed in silence, the one he kept in the dark, needed VelvetStraitjacket. He needed the acceptance and freedom, even if it was purely behind the monitor of his laptop. He needed to not feel like a freak.

Exactly 6 minutes went by and Nick broke. He typed, “Why are you like this?” and pressed Enter. He lit a cigarette and waited.

“Oh, did you mend your ego?” VelvetStraitjacket wrote after 3 annoyingly long minutes.

“My ego has no implication between us”

“Mhm.”

“But try to fucking understand where I’m coming from”

“Wanna know what I understand? I understand you’re reluctant and you have doubts, and whatever else is crawling through your little brain. But it’s your problem, not mine. I’m not your shrink or your fucking mother. I’m not gonna fix your problems and I have no patience for indecisive assholes.”

Before Nick could finish reading the wall of text, VelvetStraitjacket wrote some more.

“You’re confused, dear? You don’t know what you want? Again, it’s your fucking problem. And I’ll tell you this. I don’t “play” with boys like that. Because all the guys I’ve talked to so far were exactly like you.”

VelvetStraitjacket typed fast, furiously even. Nick could barely keep up with the sudden outburst.

“All of you have girlfriends, even wives. You’re all straight and you just want to “try something different”. Well I’m not just a fucking fantasy or something you can try whenever and how you like.”

Then, the text stopped coming through. Nick did not know what to say other than, “Ok…I understand. I don’t want to take up any more of your time. This is just who I am now…”

“See? This is why I pushed all your buttons.” VelvetStraitjacket continued, “This is why I didn’t “give in”. Because I knew that you don’t know what you want and you’re only confused. Just like how I knew nothing would come out of this.”

“Fuck…this is who I am. So if you want to and you have the patience, something will come out of it”

“Why should I have so much patience? Fuck patience. You speak like you’re some virgin with Jesus on your back.”

The laughing emoticon was Nick’s reply.

“And tell me, what do you think will come out of this? Sorry. Would come out of this.”

“I don’t know…I just know that maybe if we will see each other, we’ll figure out what we want.”

“Hmm, well let’s see…say we meet, and you don’t irritate me to the point where I want to rip out one of your arteries. Then what? Well, we might fuck, right? Fine and dandy.”

“Ok…” Nick was curious where VelvetStraitjacket would take this.

“But after that, once you’ve satisfied your fantasy, you’ll still go back to a woman. Because that’s what’s “normal”. That’s what mommy and daddy and the whole wide world taught you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am. Just like how I was sure of your reluctance, even if you haven’t spoken about it directly.”

“But what if I like it too much? More than what is normal?”

“I told you, you’re not the first guy like this I’ve talked to. Many of you think you can have it all, but it doesn’t work that way.”

By this point, Nick had forgotten about Natalie and everything else. The only thing he thought about was himself, what was inside of him. Not just the fantasies, but what he truly felt and wanted.

“I want what’s best for me, not what the world wants.” He wrote.

“And what do you think is best for you?”

“Before I don’t “try” I don’t know what’s best for me. I’ve only had the “normal”. I don’t know anything else.”

“Oh, so I’m just an experiment for you?”

“No you’re not and you don’t have to be. I don’t see you as an experiment. Sorry if I gave you that impression…”

“Of course I’m not a fucking experiment. It was a question for you, what you see me as. And let’s continue that idea. You said “I don’t have to be”. Ok. Let’s say you try, and for whatever reason it doesn’t work. Then what? Doesn’t that make me just an experiment for you?”

“Well we’ll discuss…and …fuck, you are an experiment”

“See?” VelvetStraitjacket then wrote, “I don’t need that. I need someone that sees me as more than just an experiment or a pretty fantasy they can go to when they get bored of the “normal”. I need someone that fucking sees me for me.”

“Ok, I don’t want you to be an experiment. And yes, you were my “shrink”, and I thank you for that.”

“No, I was not. I just found amusement in pushing your buttons and weakening your seams. And I think I might have pushed too hard. I admit I sometimes get carried away.”

 

 

Natalie rose from the bathwater feeling clean for the first time since her fantasies resurfaced. She was at ease with herself. She pulled the drain plug and stepped in front of the mirror. She was still not proud. Daniela told her it was something that was going to change once she opened up to Nick.

She hoped it was true. She did not know how she was going to do it, but she was determined to tell Nick that very night.

No more dirty secrets and hiding.

 

“I feel I should tell you one more thing.” VelvetStraitjacket began writing, “I didn’t tell you all those things because I was expecting you to love me or something. I never had any expectations from you whatsoever. And the truth is, I’m fucked in the head.”

“Trust me I noticed that last part…” Nick laughed to himself.

“I don’t hide it. Like I didn’t hide that I was pushing your buttons and provoking you.” After a short pause VelvetStraitjacket wrote, “And the fact that I’m a difficult and fucked up person is another reason why, if you just want to try, I’m not the right one for you.”

“I don’t know if I just want to try or completely head in that direction…so if I do only want to try, I won’t do it with you”

“First off, it’s not a direction you choose to go in or not. It’s who you fucking are and what you feel.”

“Shit I’m confused! I want to try. I want to see if it’s my real life. And at the same time, something is stopping me”

“What?”

“I don’t know what, honest. It’s a “fear”. Something in the back of my head”

“Fear of what?”

“Probably fear of something new. Fear of the unknown.”

“You’re such a pussy. There’s nothing to be afraid of. You only have one life.”

“I’m probably scared because…well, I won’t be the same anymore”

“And what’s the point of living if you’re gonna live in fear?”

“I know. And that’s why I took “refuge” in my conversations with you. Because I could open myself to you. I had nothing to be scared of” 

“These conversations are pointless if you don’t do something about it. They’re nothing but a bunch of virtual chats on the internet that you can delete with a few clicks.”

“Well that’s why I wanted to “try” it with you”

“I’m still not sure what exactly you want to “try” with me.”

“I want to feel you, to kiss you, to hold you…to talk to you, to have sex with you. To see what it’s like to touch a dick…”

That was not all. Nick had not been completely honest with VelvetStraitjacket, either.

The first lie was that Nick was 22. He was not. He was 28 and he had felt the need to shave off a few years since VelvetStraitjacket was 17.

Another thing that VelvetStraitjacket did not know, besides the fact that Nick had a wife and not an ex-girlfriend like he had said, was that he wanted more than simply sleeping with another man. His pornographic videos of choice were with transsexuals and transvestites, hence why he was talking to VelvetStraitjacket, a boy that looked like a girl. But when he watched those videos, he fantasized about being…“her”, not him.

“Right. And by telling me that you want to touch a dick you once again make it so very clear to me that I am not the person for you. I told you before and I guess I have to repeat myself. I’m not into that and I make absolutely no exceptions.”

“I didn’t ask you to fuck me or anything like that.”

“It doesn’t matter. I mean, it’s your business and you’re free to do what you want for all I care, just not with me.”

“Ok, I respect that.” Nick truly did. “I just want to say thank you for all the conversations we’ve had. You have no idea how much you’ve helped me.”

He had a feeling this was going to be their last conversation.

“I think this is the last time we’ll ever talk.” Apparently VelvetStraitjacket had the same feeling. “I hope you figure out what you want and find someone who can give it to you, whatever it is.”

And just as Nick was in the process of typing “Thank you. Take care of yourself.” Velvet Straightjacket signed off.

Nick lit another cigarette. He sat at the kitchen counter in the dark, staring at the chat window on the laptop monitor. His eyes were sore yet he could not stop reading the conversation over and over again.

VelvetStraitjacket was right. He had to do something about it. He could not continue living like that. Even if everything was going to change and he would not be the same, he had to do it. Natalie was surely going to hate him. He could already see the repulsion in her eyes, the pain and anger in her voice while she shouted at him to get out of her bed. But he had to do it. It was better than keeping them both trapped in his lie, like he had done for all those years.

He went upstairs to the bedroom. The dread grew and grew with each step he took. He was so nervous his hand shook uncontrollably on the doorknob.

Natalie heard the door opening. She raised her head from the pillow and turned to it. Nick came in. She had been waiting for him, repeating in her mind what she was going to tell him. She was scared and worried, and ready.

Nick walked to the bed and sat on the edge with his head down. He did not know how to begin.

“Nick,” Natalie put her hand on his shoulder, “I need to tell you something.”

“I need to tell you something, too.”

They waited. Both of them hoped the other one would go first.

Speak now, or forever hold your torment.

“I love you.” Nick said, and faced Natalie.

“I love you, too.” She said without blinking.

“Goodnight.” He kissed her on the forehead.

“Goodnight honey.”

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2019 Alex Marloe. All rights reserved.

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