The Dream of Madame X

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These notes were found in a brown suitcase in one of the long-abandoned offices of a known doctor of the mind, whose name we have taken the liberty to keep to ourselves. The patient, a woman whose most peculiar confession you will read in the English transcription below, remains unidentified. 

“Oh, doctor! I’ve been having the wildest dreams. Just the other night, I dreamt that I was on a couch, very much like this one. Yes, I distinctly remember the rub of this fabric on my skin. And I remember finding my clothes a puddle on this very carpet.

On top of me was a man, doctor, the same height and built as you. He was as naked as I was, with lips pressed on my neck.

Forgive me for not blushing, monsieur, but I’ve been sharing with you the most intimate of my secrets for months now. I cannot even pretend to be embarrassed, especially given how bizarre this dream was.

But where was I? I was pinned down on this couch by a man, yes, and I was caught by surprise, of course. Imagine my shock, doctor. Being intimate with a man not my husband—what a scandal! I tried pushing him away in vain. But it was not long until the heat of his skin and the smell of his hair awakened desires I felt like I had not long had. The way his fingertips made contact with my most sensitive places— What a man he was! And I never felt more like a woman until then.

But this carpet—this design, this exotic pattern—it caught my attention and reminded me of a trip with my husband, God rest his soul, to Persia. We were a young couple under the haze of early love. And in one of our trips to the local market, I remember coming across this artifact. I swear on Mr. X’s grave that this is the same one I saw on that trip. Look at this design, doctor. Wouldn’t you agree that the maker would not have been able to replicate it had he tried to?

It was so many years ago, long before consumption claimed his body. I remember asking him to buy this carpet as a wedding gift. Did I mention it was our honeymoon? But he declined, harshly, saying that the carpet only reflected my provincial taste.

Oh, forgive me for straying too far from my narrative, doctor. You must think me too much of a scatterbrain, telling stories that have nothing to do with what my appointment is for. But in my dream, these were the thoughts that ran in my head about ten minutes under this man who was making love to me the way my husband never did.

So there I was, locked in the arms of an unknown lover, dreaming about Persia with my dead husband, when his speech broke the harmony of our moans and grunts. “Is this what you want, mother?” he said.

I was horrified at the prospect of having coital relations with my own son, but before I could push him away in disgust, I realized that I was not in fact the intended recipient of his query. That was when I noticed a dark figure in the corner of the room, this room, come to think of it. There was a woman sitting on that chair.

At this point, the man on top of me held my neck in a choke and I had to suppress a cough. Pinned down and strangled, I looked at the woman whose legs were spread open. It was clear to me that she was, well, pleasuring herself. Do you understand, sir? Her hand was—

Pardon my vulgarity. These are not the words of a lady, I understand, but this was my dream. And as I stared into the eyes of this woman, the mother of my lover, I felt sick at the pit of my stomach. I dare say, even the women in brothels will find the experience of being caught in the act of making love by the mothers of their partners repulsive. Even more so, if said mother thought her voyeurism particularly stimulating.

But after the alarm faded, intrigue settled in and I found the way she fingered her flushed folds most entrancing. She called the name of her son over and over between her multiple spasms. And I watched her, completely neglecting the man whose manhood was pressed between my thighs. At a certain point, I was even quite sure that there was no one else in the room except the mad woman and I.

The more I watched her, the more the space between us vanished until I was face to face, eyes to eyes, with her person. My faceless lover, I saw sprawled by her feet, leashed like a loyal dog. I observed as she placed one finger and then two in her body. And she watched me watch her.

Alas! The key reached the plate, sir, and I awoke most perplexed by the perverse nature of this dream. I find you now taking notes, doctor. Perhaps you, with your theories on the psyche of man, with your scientific insights, can enlighten me with your brilliant mind and point me to the whereabouts of my dress.

October 13, 19—”

 

*Image by Paul Medalla. Check out more of his awesome work here

Orange

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She turned to me and asked, “And how do you spell orange?” A smirk played on her lips. That and the cheap lipstick she just bought from the pharmacy.

I wanted to tell her that orange is what happens when the sun of her smile kisses the sea of her lips. That orange is a flower blooming on her perfect mouth. I wanted to tell her that orange is the fruit Eve tempted Adam with and of which he happily partook. I wanted to tell her that orange was what I wanted.

But the truth was I wanted more.

“What do you think?” she asked again.

I went to her and pressed a thumb lightly on the corner of her lips. Orange rubbed off on my finger and I sucked on it, running my tongue over the color, looking for the faint trace of her taste. I wanted to drown her in my poetry and shower her with complicated words which will never explain half of what I feel. I wanted to breathe my literature into her mouth when she finally gasps for explanations. I wanted her to die with her last breath in my lungs. I wanted her more than anyone or anything in the world.

But the truth was I wanted more.

“You look pretty,” I said.

She looked pleased as she held a palm to my cheek, her eyes examining my face intently. “But I’m still not as pretty as you.”

Sometimes I wonder why I don’t have what others have.

We are not ruins, we told ourselves. At least not in the way most people imagine it.

It’s been three days since I last spoke to him. Three whole days, seventy-fucking-two hours. The last time I saw him, he walked right past me to the bathroom without so much as a look. In a house as small as ours, you’d think that the walls would push us to get sick with each other’s presence. Except he’s been cooped up in his studio for the past three days. The sink is half-full with dirty plates and I cannot be bothered with dish-washing when there are words, turns of phrase, that I cannot wrench out of my head.

He understands.

I understand.

There’d be days like this, we tell one another, when we would get lost in our respective worlds. There are healthy breaks for and from people sick with images constantly darting back and forth in their heads. We are balls of energy, too much exposure to which can cause nausea, mood disorders, and even mental derailment. This is also why we don’t keep too many friends.

One of these days, he would finish his art. I would know it when he finally summons me for a reason as to why the house is a filthy mess. I would crawl up to him with a piece of paper in my hands, three days’ worth of words that would never fit the proper meter. He would read it and kiss my forehead. I’d look at his work and tell him that it’s the best he’d come up with so far. We would never ever come to terms with our worth.

This is how we are.

We’re down to our last five hundred pesos with two weeks remaining till the end of the month. Money has never run stable in this household with the couple of us never really learning how to spend like proper adults. We splurge on sudden cravings, five-course dinners washed down with the finest merlot. The following week, we’d hoard the cheapest noodles and the cheapest cans of tuna for the charity case that was ourselves. There are times when I feel like money is the root of the evil that will eventually lead to our ruin.

We are not ruins, we told ourselves. At least not in the way most people imagine it.

There are nights when he would come home to silence and consequently find me in fetal position on our bed, my arms a crisscross of red lines and my skin a patchwork of black and blue. A number of men had left me to die but he would look at me as if I was the most beautiful piece of art to ever breathe. I look at his ability to hold me despite my constant breaking as tragic. He would make love to me like our lives depended on it and they did. A few hours later and we’d be laughing over plans of moving to India or Brazil.

Sure, there’d be days when memories of childhood dreams and the mainstream definition of the words “happiness” and “success” would eat at his heart. He would cradle my neck in a choke and would curse the day he says I destroyed his dreams of becoming something else. I’d scream my own frustrations into his ear and share with him the horrible adjectives I reserve only for my self. His mouth is cruel, seeking to pain, but the fire in his eyes would assure me that we’re good and we would be moving to Cambodia or Cuba. This is our music, our art, our lives, ours.

One Christmas eve, I got him the present of a black eye.

He sent me to the hospital with a broken wrist.

We spent the next week apologizing with sheets upon sheets of love letters. My mother, she worried over the bruises, the unpaid bills, and the absence of a grandchild. I laughed and told her that she could never really read me even as a kid. When I smiled, I wondered if she thought me as beautiful as I felt.

If you had asked me at fourteen what I wanted to be when I turned thirty, I would have told you that I wanted to be a respected journalist. If you had asked me at twenty-two, I would have told you that all I ever really wanted was a home. If you’re going to ask me now if I think I made it, I’ll just tell you that I feel like I finally understand everything I sought to understand. From where I’m sitting, the words are clear on my notebook in the exaggerated loops of my handwriting.

“Let love be the name of their lie.”