Naomi Trenier is an author and speaker from the UK.
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The plastic cover sticks to my legs as I shift in my seat, the rain still matted on my bare legs. I try to dry it a bit with my sleeve, but it's wet too so it just smudges more water on my skin. I can see the window beside my table steaming up from the damp warmth of my body. I look around to try and get the waiter's attention, but he keeps avoiding my eyes. I know he doesn't want me in here. I guess he's the owner. Respectable. I just want some coffee. Something to keep me going for the rest of the night.
I see the doors of the church across the street open, the light inside suddenly reflecting in the rain soaked streets. Making the puddles look even deeper. The people pour out, shoulders hunched against the weather. Bit of a shock I suppose, after a warm building. And coffee.
Here she comes again. She knows I'm around here somewhere and she spots me in the window before I can duck. Well, at least I can get coffee now. And maybe I'll only have to listen to her for a few minutes before I can leave. Just a few minutes of how she wants to help, and how it needn't be this way.
I don't see her again for another week, and when I do, my defences are down. A week of build up; an old song that reminded me of a friend who doesn't speak to me anymore, an unexpected bill, PMS probably, and then a violent client. She sees me walking in the street, hiding my eyes with my fringe and my sleeve, mainly so no-one can see the tears, rather than the bruises. I should have pushed past, but like I said, my defences were down. She talked about a warm room, and a fluffy duvet, and breakfast in bed, and a roaring fire, and all my senses lit up and betrayed me. I followed her home, and it was all there, in full technicolor.
Of course the next morning came the hangover. It was so clean, and well-behaved. And now I was alone with her and couldn't really leave straight away without appearing extremely rude and ungrateful.
So I listened for a while. A sweet lady. She really thinks she wants to help, but really she wants to save her own soul, to feel useful, purposeful, to feel like she's found her calling and is fulfilling it.
The thing is, I'm sort of a romantic notion to her. Her own personal version of Jesus and the Prostitute. An italic title in a bible in a church. It's all so vague. A prostitute. She doesn't mind me being in her house now, holding her cup between my hands. But if I was specific, if I told her that these hands had gripped dozens of cocks this month, these fingers had slipped in anuses, suddenly I wouldn't seem like such a romantic notion, but a stark vivid reality. If I told her that my mouth, that now sipped her coffee, had also been filled countless times with white dripping cum, and moaned with pretend ecstasy while doing so, her sense of decency and morality would far exceed her theories of Love Conquers All. I don't really want to burst her bubble. She's a sweet lady. I'll make my excuses in a few moments and leave. I know this isn't a place for me. It's not a place for the truth.
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The hot wool of the chair itches my legs and I shift in my seat. Finally we stand and say the prayer of serenity together. I look around at the faces of these women I love - all of us here with one struggle or another, some addiction or compulsive behaviour. The masks we save for the outside world are carefully folded and put in a drawer as we walk through these doors. There's no room for them in here. Our hair is down by our naked shoulders in this room. Nowhere to hide. And if these walls could talk, the stories they'd tell! Enough to make your hair turn white! Looking around at women in suits, or women in knitted cardigans, you couldn't imagine they'd know what half the words being said even meant, never mind experienced it themselves!
I leave the church building, and out of habit my eyes sweep to the cafe for her. She is there, hiding as usual! Like a child playing hide and seek with their hands over their eyes, thinking you can't see them. I buy her coffee and talk a short while before her desperate twitches compel her to finally move. I know she only wants the coffee, but who can blame her? A hot coffee is one of life's greatest pleasures!
A week later I see her, in a bit of state. I invite her home, and to my surprise she agrees. That night I can't sleep thinking about her. I hope she sleeps well. I hope she feels safe. At one point I cross the room to my bedroom wall, and stand there with my hand against it, whispering silently to her that she is safe and brave and to have good dreams.
I might not know what it's like to live her life, but I know what it's like to feel desperately alone, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I want her to know she never has to experience that. I guess she reminds me of myself a bit and that's why I feel so protective of her. I know what it's like to have your family abandon you, to reject you, to be wholly unacceptable to them.
I know what it's like to have a real 'family' that you've made as an adult, people who stand by you no matter what. Who love you just because you're you. Who've seen your darkest secrets and snotty face, and still hold your hand, and then take you out dancing afterwards. People who don't turn away when you yell at them. Family that are still there the day after the night before.
The next morning, the shutters are down in her face. It's not hard to guess what she thinks of me. Naive, certainly would be up there. She assumes a lot about me, but has never asked much to clarify her thinking. She probably assumes I don't know what being a prostitute entails. Perhaps she thinks I'm under the impression it's missionary position in a flowery bedspread, with a handsome businessman. I chuckle to myself, what an idea! A lot of young people are like this, I suppose, they think us older ones are shocked by anything remotely sexual. Penises, vaginas, and sex toys were around long before she was! I should know, I utilised them vigorously. I chuckle to myself again, and offer her more coffee.
Naomi Trenier is an author and speaker from the UK.