I was created in the mental image of you. I have red nails and silicone breasts. I wear red lips and little else. I show my neck and shoulders to make your fingers ache. I have my black cat castrated because my mother taught me to be a lady. I cannot feel you. You cannot touch me.
We barter. I cook the meals and pick wild ivy for the house because there is no money to waste on lilies. I give my body to be stretched and swollen by your children. I open my legs to a strange man and only take you along when your child can be seen, clinically, on a screen. I am scared, scared shitless. I open my mouth for you when my body is still under (de)construction. You pay the bills for crystal and silver; oriental carpets and anniversary presents.
I think of ways to make you notice me. I take the children to my mother and shop for a black negligee and aromatic oils. I admit nothing to my friends when we have tea and tennis and talks. You have a meeting when our child convulses. You have a trip when the house floods. You work ceaselessly when someone tries to get into our lonely house. You hit me when I am hysterical with fear and empty, dark hours. You fall asleep while I light the candles in the bathroom.
I am not a woman.
I am the logical choice. You look at me and think how well I cope. How well I have learnt to read the subtle power games and have the house impressive and look glamorous when you bring influential clients for dinner. We touch a lot while people are around, your smile smug when I debate a controversial subject without your support. Your life works so well, visibly affluent and lubricated.
I wear black all the time now.
When we are alone you mostly smell of liquor and stale words. I read a lot. We travel to expensive destinations. Alone in the harbour café in St Tropez we drink mineral water and read French magazines. We do not speak French, so we do not speak. You buy antiques and art and I buy spiteful little souvenirs for the family. I am constantly hungry, but not for you.
I am not a woman.
I plan and organise my move. I wash the towels that smell of you and pack them in boxes. I leave the day after your roaring surprise birthday party. You keep my books and music. I never worked; I am not entitled to take my father’s painting. You cancel my signing rights on our mutual bank accounts.
I take nothing of my beautiful prison with me, only the children that you never knew.
I am not a woman. I am a widow now.
You have taught me well.