Perte d'Innocence

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Today was no good. Spring was crawling in, unlocking memories with his long, curling fingertips, like vines slowly twisting and climbing towards the sky. I despised the warmth. I wanted to lie on a bed of ice and let my brain freeze and melt away so I wouldn’t remember that our mouths fit perfectly. I was encumbered by my nostalgia. Thoughts of his arms locked around my waist, his breath seeking my breath, his cheek gently brushing my yearning devoured my mind.

I couldn’t find my footing. Feelings of unsatisfaction were dominating me, finger by finger, beat by beat, touch by touch…

The sharp clanking of his spoon spinning through the coffee that had just arrived reawakened me to the present world at hand. Sometimes it seemed almost irresistibly simple to forget that it was Serge I loved now. He encompassed everything that was good and new and virtuous. I would always desire the innocence that he had been able to cling to. Gently, I raised my gaze to match his.
“I was thinking that this evening we could perhaps stop by Claude’s. I am beginning to tire of this closed off life we have been existing in and do you not think you should see your friends? It has been so long since you have and, well, if you don’t see them sometime soon, well…”

I could tell my face portrayed my feelings concerning socializing as he cut himself off mid sentence. The friends he spoke of I had no real care for. However, I knew to him, Claude and company were really very important and that it shamed him to have to hide away to appease me, so I took a stand against my selfishness.
“That’s alright.”

I concentrated on smiling and finally was able to pull up the corners of my lips.
He returned this with a wide, gaping grin of his own and then started rambling on about some paper we had due the next week. I closed my eyes until the only thing I heard was the sound of the light wind in my hair. Finally it was three and Serge had to leave for he had a class to attend. After a brief goodbye, I found myself alone. I decided to walk home, though the heat had made me somnolent and languid.

I could never really figure out how I arrived where I was today. At times it seemed that I fell from one mans arms to another’s, or perhaps, one threw me away and another one gathered me and licked my wounds clean. Serge was my doctor, my keeper, my father, and when I found myself being cruel to him I was almost always filled with regret that the other man (the pulchritudinous and devastating Maximillian) ruined the way I love, think and be. I had thought all my life that time could cure anything. Maxim proved this wrong. Still when I fell asleep at night I was haunted by images of his broken vows, a fleeting love, and his soft closed mouth kisses. The mask I had sewn to my face Serge never saw through though fortunately. He was not aware that my heart still beated and pained for someone that was not him.

I arrived at the apartment my parents owned on the outskirts of the Vieux Ville. The street was lit up with nascent wisteria and oleander flowers. The awakening world unpeeling itself from the antiquated, worn down buildings gave me a faint sense of sanguineness that the end was approaching.

I commenced my daily routine of embellishment. My frail, waif body, composed of wispy blonde hair, fatigued blue eyes, pallid cheeks, bones here and there, looked worn down. The vanishing point I had strived to achieve was finally reaching my grasp. I went to lie down on my narrow bed that was pushed up against a window looking out over the placid sea and let the gentle, dulcet sound of the waves lure me to sleep.

I was torn from my sweet slumber by the sound of someone banging on the door. In a short sequence of seconds I jumped up and made my way from the bed trying to turn myself back on. I pulled the knob and found Serge there, waiting to take me out. He looked handsome in his beige slacks and opalescent blue shirt. His unshaven face and the golden curls that messily stuck out around his head suited him. With a delicate kiss he whirled me down the stairs to the cab that awaited us outside. I watched from the car window as we raced by the sun slowly retreating down into the horizon for a deep sleep. I reached for Serge’s hand, but it was already preoccupied with a pack of cigarettes.

Finally we arrived at the Hotel Negresco where Claude permanently occupied a suite. The concierge opened the door for us and we were greeted by a blast of cool air. The lobby was adorned with glittering chandeliers and smooth marble floors that braced me for the glamour and prestige that awaited upstairs. Ten floors up by elevator and a quick knock on the door till we were thrown into Claude’s fervent embrace. His face had aged since I had last seen him. It was no longer that of a child’s and his skin was a deep bonze. Serge and him excused themselves to go indulge in gaiety and I was left to the mercy of an assembly of giggling girls who kissed and hugged me as if we had been bosom friends for all our lives. I let myself relax into the smell of cigarette smoke and spilled cocktails that stained the air. A wave of happiness cloaked and captured me and I no longer regretted my decision to come here tonight. Serge returned and swirled me out of my seat into a soft pacing dance. I leaned my cheek against his thick, strong shoulder and closed my eyes. It felt as if we could go on like this forever, never really in harmony, but also never in tumult. We were only half lovers, even if he didn’t realize it. It did not bother me however, so I let him keep spinning me around the dance floor.
I could never really grasp the concept of time, how one moment everything could be merry, blithe and carefree and how the next one could be just as convoluted and tempestuous. That was how this evening at Claude’s went. All it took was the deep sound of Maxim’s laugh ringing through the room to make the switch. My eyes jolted open, my body away from Serge’s, my loose hands to clenched fists. I concentrated on the rhythmic sound of my breaths until I found my composure. Cautiously I let my eyes search the room until they fell upon a face so familiar, but yet so distant. It was almost as if there had never been any time between us. He looked the same. Ruffled brown hair, dark turquoise eyes, the same devilish grin. I was lost in a trance, remembering my fingers tracing the map of his face. Serge, completely unaware of the daze I had fallen into pulled me to a cluster of people standing far from Maxim. I dove into their conversation, trying my hardest to make the sounds flowing from their lips into words. I must have been successful, because the tugging at the back of my shirt startled me and caught me completely off guard. I timidly turned around and before I have a chance to identify the face of the body that towers over me, I was thrown into the pit of a strongly colonged chest that crushed and pressed against my much smaller body. After what felt like an eternity, I was permitted leave from this bear of a man and found myself looking up into the joyous eyes of Jean-Luc. A grin blossomed over my cheeks.
“It has been too long cher,” His voice thundered.
I happily nodded and drifted off into conversation with my friend from infancy. Jean-Luc, a few years my senior, had played a significant role in my upbringing. Our mothers had been friends and he had held himself responsible for filling her absence. I had not seen him in months though. It had been Jean-Luc who had first introduced me to culture, class and sophistication. It had been him who had taken me dancing late into the night, bought me my first whiskey sour, lit my first cigarette and introduced me to Maxim. It was perhaps because of this that when Maxim and I spilt all those months ago he had vanished from my life, encumbered with guilt for having wished away my innocence.

As if he could read my mind, the moment that thought passed through my head Maxim’s name was upon his lips.
“Have you spoken to him tonight,” he demanded of me softly.
No I told him, I had not. He clicked his tongue disapprovingly. In his opinion timidity was not at all becoming. After a few more minutes of conversation, with a promise to return, he disappeared, leaving me alone with the remainder his cigarette, which I happily devoured. It was late now, almost two. I was sleepy, but felt no desire to return to my desolate apartment with Serge who seemed somber and lugubrious juxtaposed to the ostentatious, extravagant people here. The night that loomed outside was calming. The light, silver ripples through the sky reflected down onto the water and shimmered back and forth like some meretricious vaudeville dancer. I languidly sunk into the couch I was seated upon and let the velvet cushions engulf me. It was in this array that Jean-Luc returned and found me in. To my surprise, horror and delight, he was not alone. With him was my Maxim. I could not tell how long it took me to recompose myself, but I am sure in those moments I looked an awful wreck. I opened my mouth to speak, but Maxim beat me to it.
“Hello my beauty. It has been much too long.” His voice was disconcertingly calm and it set my nerves aflame.
“Maxim, I mean Max, you look well. It’s good to see you,” I bashfully stuttered. Maxim had been my personal nickname for him and now it seemed foreign and too affectionate. His lips curled up too reveal the sharp canines that had punctured my lips so many times, triggering an abundance of memories of his body protectively sprawled across mine, keeping me close as we braced ourselves for sleep. Blood was pumping through my veins at some accelerated speed and I could feel my face flushing with color. He kneeled down till he was at eye level with me, placed his hand on my cheek, and held my face so I had no where to look apart from the deep spheres of his eyes.
“I must be off now, but really you must let me take you out to dinner one of these days.” He kissed my empty cheek and in my mind I imagined that his lips rested there longer than they should have. Just as quickly as he had reappeared into my life, he was gone. I felt faint and numb so I sought out Serge to tell him I was going home. He must have noticed that my head wasn’t right, for he insisted on taking me home.

It was drizzling when we got outside and I continued wilting and sinking deeper and deeper into a state of dolor. The journey back seemed to take much longer than the first one and I was almost frantic to rid myself of Serge’s presence. At last we reached home where he took my body in for a gentle embrace and I could smell the rain in his kisses. I fumbled through the dark hallway until I reached my door, relieved to be in solitude. I did not bother to remove my clothing and went straight to bed. My mind felt dull and I was having trouble forming coherent thoughts. Maxim’s voice drifted through and haunted my dreams that night. He would not let me own his presence, nor would he permit me to be rid of it. He dominated every second, every breath, every slight chance at felicity and even in my most profound chimaeras I could not escape his grasp.





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