The rain was falling all around, the only sound in her quiet hotel room, thunder echoing in the night. A lightening bolt flashed illuminating her room. Her first client of the evening had left a half an hour ago. He was a sweet man, older, mid-fifties, great smile and piercing blue eyes. They had a lovely conversation over a glass of wine, getting to know each other before moving into the bedroom.
He had booked her for 2 hours and the time had passed quickly, it always did when there was chemistry. A nice hot bath would help her relax, she thought, then maybe a short nap before her next client arrived. She walked to the spacious bathroom, turning the water as hot as she could stand. She poured a generous amount of bath oil, the scent of vanilla and sugar coming up through the steam, into her nose.
Removing her black silk robe, she took a moment to glance at her reflection in the full-length mirror. Her birthday was coming up, and she would soon be 41. She was pleased with what she saw for a woman of her age. Toned, slim legs that met with a nice round rear. Small, perky breasts. She released her hair from the clip, watching it fall across her shoulders, touching the middle of her back. It was one of her best features, thick and auburn with a natural wave. As she turned to enter the tub, she caught a glimpse of the large butterfly tattoo gracing her side. It hurt like hell, but the result was worth the pain. A perfect symbol of how she saw herself, a woman changed, transforming into something new.
She had gotten the piece shortly after her divorce last year. A permanent reminder of her second chance at a new life. She understood now she had stayed far too long, lost inside sadness, trying to put a puzzle together with pieces that didn’t fit. She had been a bird in a gilded cage, watching the world pass while desperately wanting to stretch her wings.
Many times in the past year she had tried to pinpoint where it all gone so wrong. They had been happy once, madly in love, until they were not and they had spent their time playing at husband and wife. Caught up in his business dealings and hobbies, somewhere along the way, everything else had taken priority, while ‘they’ got pushed further back. She had never wanted for food or clothes, lots of baubles and things, all of the creature comforts in life. What he never understood was that she would have given all of that up, if only to have him back by her side. Time had marched on, the kids they raised grew up and moved on with their lives. All of the things that had given her a distraction from her truth, no longer there. Shortly before her 40th birthday, she had taken a hard look at her life. What if she lived to 90, she had thought. Could she play pretend for another 50 years?
One day, after months of thinking, she rounded up her courage and said “I want a divorce,” tears flowing freely from her eyes. In her secret hopes, she thought those words would wake him up, make him want to fight for her, for them. “I do to” had been his reply.
It had not been what she expected, or perhaps, deep down, it had, but after that night things moved lightening fast. He found a small apartment and moved out, taking nothing but his clothes. Efficient to the core, even when it came to divorce, he had made a check list of to be done. He found a lawyer and within five weeks it was over. A promise of forever made 12 years before ended with their signatures in black and white.
The first month she had walked around in a fog, slightly in shock. It had been her idea, she reminded herself, she just had not expected it to be so god damn fast. She thought perhaps they would try counseling, figure things out. Her denial had been all encompassing, vast. She had never been able to admit his distance was because he didn’t love her anymore, a fact now freely repeated when she asked. It all made sense to her, the robotic kisses, the obsessive need for routines, she had her way of avoiding the truth, he had his.
The months passed by and little by little she began to find peace. In a strange way, although this time, she was alone, her loneliness had ceased to exist. It was a relief to be free of the eggshells her marriage had become, being able to live her way. There were moments of sadness and anger too, but she was finding a peace of mind that had been missing for a long time. Reality, however, is a brutal bitch, and it soon became evident she needed to work. She only had two semesters left to her degree, and she could not see giving up her dream of graduating. She had to find something that would let her stay in school, fulfill the promise she’d made to her grandmother before she died. She would walk down that isle and get a diploma, the first of her generation to do so.
A conversation with a good friend a few weeks later gave her an idea.Her friend was a provider, a high-class escort. She worked a few times a month and spent her time with gentlemen and in turn, earned enough to take care of her family and live a decent life. They spent hours talking about the industry, what it was really like. She knew she was taking a risk; she knew that society and family would judge her if they found out. She also knew that she had to do what felt right for her because “they” were not living her life.
She decided to give it a go and had her photos taken and a website set up. When she got her prints back, she was in shock. Was that her? Was she that beautiful and sexy? Years of being ignored and taken for granted had taken a toll. Her ex’s lack of interest in her had chipped away at her self-esteem. Without even being aware, she had placed her sensuality in a box.
Her first few sessions were nerve-wracking, she had felt timid and unsure. Men were paying money to spend time with her, what if they didn’t like what they saw? What if they found her dull? Time, however, proved her wrong, and she found her confidence begin to grow. It wasn’t at all like what people thought. She had come to realize society had this profession completely wrong. To listen to the media, women who provided were “dirty, damaged goods with daddy issues” and the men were all “deviant perverts”. As she had gotten to know other women in the industry, she found that many of the were like herself. Smart, articulate, beautiful women who figured out a way to take care of themselves financially while enjoying the company of others. Many had been like her, former housewives who had found themselves starting over with nothing, determined to make a new life.
The men were not like her misconceptions either. Most were happy in their marriages. Some traveled all the time and preferred the company of a woman for a few hours rather than a night alone. Some had marriages were sex was no longer in the equation even though love was. They took care of their physical needs with her, allowing them to focus their emotional ones with their partner. There were so many reasons that she saw people, and she began to realize how valuable what she did was.
She remembered how much it hurt her every time her ex had an affair. The times where he sat her down at the table saying “we need to talk.” He always fell in love with them, always looked for something more. She had stayed because she loved him and because of the kids but the pain of those “talks” left bullet wounds on her heart. The men who saw her knew there was safety in her time. She would not call them later, would not barrage them with texts. She wouldn’t fall in love or ask them to leave their wife. She would give them a moment to remember and in turn, they would pay her for that time. It was a good arrangement, one that benefited them both, without leaving a trail of pain behind.
The water had begun to cool as she soaked, her mind drifting over all the profound changes in her life. She got out of the tub and took a fluffy towel from the rack, drying her body off, feeling relaxed and recharged.She was proud of the strength and the courage that she had shown during this time. Providing wasn’t permanent but in the next two years, she would have enough saved to buy her house, start a savings account and most importantly, finish her degree. It might not be “accepted” in the mainstream, but it was letting her take charge of her life.
A glance at the clock told her that her next client would be there in 40 minutes, her nap, it seemed, would have to wait. She went to her bag to pick out her clothes for her next session and began to dress. A knock on her door a short time later, let her know he’d arrived. A forty-something man wearing khakis and a polo greeted her. He had wavy black hair and an engaging smile. “Hope,” he asked, his hand on the knob. “Hi, Max, nice to meet you. That’s me” she said as she ushered him in.
A fitting name for herself she thought when she’d chosen it. Hope because that is what she had now. Hope for the future, hope that this time around, she would spread her wings and fly.