Friday, September 5, 2008

RazorTime by N

It was her fortieth birthday.

A milestone, an event ... and a caution. This was the point in her life when--if she wasn't strong, if she wasn't careful, if she wasn't confident enough--she would start to believe the subversive propaganda suggesting that her life was effectively over, that the best years were behind her, that...

Yes, she had the distinct impression she was in danger of being bamboozled by a pernicious media into accepting that, in the space of twenty-four hours, she had been somehow diminished, that she was less of a person, was of less value, than she had been just a day before.

A young thirty-nine mutating into an old forty.

It was difficult not to be depressed, not when she found herself assailed from every side by images that celebrated the wonders of youth, demeaning those who didn't quite fit--either temporally or spatially--into this obsessive, zero-sized template. How, the magazines and the movies and the adverts seemed to sneer, could a woman like her--slim, attractive, vivacious, intelligent, successful though she was--ever imagine she could compete with the callow, super-thin, fifteen-year-olds they held up as paragons of womanhood?

Yes, it was very depressing.

She shook her head. In fact, the question should really be how could these callow, abnormally super-thin fifteen-year-olds possibly hope to compete with her? They had no sophistication, no experience ... no imagination. They were unformed and pliant, and surely a lover required more than that?

The really annoying thing, though, was that this birthday coincided with a ramping up of her interest in sex, which was, unfortunately, accompanied by a corresponding diminution in her husband's interest in all things sensual.

Terrific.

Hers, she described as a pepperoni marriage--one where the good, meaty, spicy bits were being sliced thinner and thinner. By his disinterest, her husband was unconsciously reinforcing society's stereotyping of the over-forty woman as being less desirable than the gaunt teenagers parading along the nation's catwalks.

She sighed, a long exasperated sigh ... she shouldn't be so censorious. Her husband might not be an exciting or a passionate lover, but he was sensible and reliable.

Sensible ... reliable ... such disappointing words.

But he was sensible and reliable nevertheless, and, thus, would never forget her birthday.

So it came as no surprise when the package arrived that afternoon. It was, after all, her birthday. And despite her husband being away at a sales conference in deepest, darkest Scotland, she knew he would not forget: he was ... reliable. Never had he forgotten an anniversary or a birthday: he had dutifully sent her a dozen--never more, never less--red roses on Valentine's Day and always taken her, her mother, and the children to lunch--always to the same local steak house--to celebrate Mother's Day.

With another heavy sigh she unwrapped the package, expecting--knowing--that inside she would find the usual, safe, conservative brand of perfume, her enthusiasm dampened by the predictability of it all.

Give it another ten years and he'd be sending her gift tokens.

But she was surprised. There was no perfume in the parcel. Instead the package contained a selection of beautifully wrapped and really very expensive clothes. Unveiling them from their golden tissue paper, she found a slight wisp of a blouse, a long PVC kilt, a pair of shadowed hold-ups, a collection of very outré jewellery and, most intriguingly of all, a black mask made of intertwined strips of leather. It was a very strange and a distinctly disturbing collection. But it wasn't though the strangeness of the gifts which was the most disturbing thing about them ... no, it was the familiarity of it all.

It was all so very, very, very familiar.

What on earth has gotten into her husband?

No way could he have bought these at Harrods where he did all of his gift shopping; not, that is, unless Harrods had formed a strategic alliance with Cathouse Creations.

At the bottom of the box she found a card and a sealed envelope. The card read:

I know you. I know the real you ... the secret you. The 'you' that you hide from the world, the 'you' that inhabits only your fantasies. Tonight I offer the opportunity to live out these fantasies, to satisfy these secret hungers and to make your dark desires flesh. Come to me tonight at midnight and become that which you have always dreamed of becoming. Come where you will be safe from daylight's savage censure, come where it is never dawn, come and experience the Principles of Pleasure. Come ... I know you.

There was no signature on the card, but she knew it was from her husband, who else could have sent it? She giggled: this was so silly, so ridiculous. But, she had to admit to herself, she was pleased. This was her man at last making an effort to put some of the intrigue, some of the mystery, back into their relationship.

Better late than never.