With my landline phone against one ear, I glanced over at my mobile’s screen. When I saw who the text message was from, I froze.
“Mum, I’m going to have to call you back.”
“Something’s come up.”
I put down the handset and looked at my mobile, my heart pounding. Perhaps if I just delete the text, then I can ignore it. I pushed the phone to one side and paused. Then I looked at the screen again. The letters seemed to glare at me, and with butterflies in my stomach, I read it once more.
‘I just heard.’ it stated. ‘Saw the show; you looked great and came across really well. So pleased for your success. Guess I need to read your book now.’
It was inevitable: he would find out sooner or later. For a moment I wondered how he learned about it; who might have told him. Then I gave up – it didn’t matter either way. What mattered was that he knew.
Of all the men I have written about, there were three whose response upon their knowing, I feared. Not because I had necessarily bad-mouthed them, but because they had gotten to me: to my heart, to my vulnerability. They had access to the recesses of my being that few others have had; they had known another, more fragile, part of me, and thus had the ability to hurt me.
Two of these men know everything; they have both read the book – and are fine with it: we are still friends, and are close, and I feel blessed that they have been so supportive and understanding about it all. The third guy though, did not know - until now. I suppose because he has not been in my life for some time, I had hoped that he would never know; never find out that I had divulged intimate details about him - about us. Whilst I was still anonymous, this seemed like a possibility; I could carry on - perhaps naively - believing that that he would live his life, separate to mine, and that the sadness I once felt about him, would be hidden from his discovery. Until now, that is.
I looked at the phone again.
Delete delete delete.
It would be so easy. My lack of response would say so much; that I didn’t want to speak with him; that I didn’t care enough to reply; that what was in the past should stay that way. But as I held the phone in my hand, I physically shook; my nerves were on ice. Why should I feel so worried now, so long after everything? Why was my heart thumping so fast I could barely breathe? How much did he know?
I had to reply: better he heard it from me, than believe any of the gossip or lies that have surfaced. I began to type back; polite, friendly. He replied straight away and we began a brief text dialogue; each message getting closer to the inevitable question. Finally it came:
‘I must ask: if I am I in the book, were you discreet?’
Delete delete delete.
Too late to delete. Too far gone, to alter what I’d written. Too much said, to deny it now. I cannot delete the past.
I imagined him with his phone in his hand, waiting for my reply; aware that with each passing silent moment, it spoke truths that no words could express. How could I deny I had written about him? It would be like saying he had had no impact on my life – but he had. He had awoken in me something I hadn’t felt for a long time; he had made me realise that I wasn’t strange or unusual because I loved sex; he had helped me embrace my being a strong, self-assured person, alongside being fragile too.
Memories flashed through my mind as I sat there, phone in hand, and debated what to do. Our waltzing together in his living room; him laughing at my clumsy feet. My wrists handcuffed above my head as he teased me, making me beg for his cock. Watching him shave, as we bathed together; me tickling him with my toes. Him kissing my ankles as he entered me; my feet wrapped around his neck. Eating face-to-face in candlelight; me dropping crumbs in my cleavage. My straddling him, watching him smile at me whilst whispering my name, over and over, as we climaxed together. Glimpses of another time; of other people. We are not who we were. And we weren’t meant to be.
I typed a message back, telling him I had written about him (though heavily disguising his identity), and that I was sorry he was finding out this way. Live by your word, I told myself; live by your honesty. Until this point, I’ve had the protection of anonymity to shield me. He may not like what I have said, but the truth is, what it is. Whatever will be, will be. He didn’t reply to my text – nor did I expect him to. He knows, and that is all.
Of course, I worry what he might think if he reads it; how he might feel. I have no wish to hurt him - we had closure a long time ago, I’m not interested in stirring up the past. But my words, my thoughts, my feelings, live and breathe beyond me; I cannot delete what’s happened as if it were some text on my computer screen. Perhaps, more importantly, now I realise: nor do I want to.