Wednesday, May 20, 2009
A Floating Life
I feel her soft breath on my shoulder, then the light, spider-like spread of her fingertips on my breast. Waking, I see her face close to mine: pale skin and dark eyes, half closed, framed by long strands of black hair. She is lying on her side. I reach out to draw her closer. She bows from the waist to rest her head on my shoulder. I can just make out his shadowy frame behind her, his hand like a gentle talon around the back of her slender neck. Her breath catches: she tries to stifle a low, guttural sigh. I extend my arm over her boney hip to touch where he is moving within her. She presses her swollen lips against my mouth to suppress a low moan.I've lost count of the nights that she has found her way to us. It's never planned, never announced. She slips in through an open terrace door, always after midnight, and makes her way by touch to our bedroom at the end of the hall. She undresses by the window in sight of the sea. Sometimes we watch her. She doesn't always join us in bed but rather, lies naked across its foot to gaze at the shimmering reflections of the moon and stars on the dark water. She leaves, often without waking us, in the half-light of dawn. The first time we met, she wouldn't tell us her name. Reed-thin, quite tall, with olive skin, she looked Chinese or sometimes even Mexican rather than Japanese. She asked if she could sit with us at a small table outside a coffee shop in Darlinghurst, in Sydney. There were empty tables nearby. She said, "You look as if you don't match. I think that's interesting". We spent the aftenoon together. She didn't look as if she matched either.I've given up trying to figure out when – or why – she might visit. I don't have her phone number nor her mine. Maybe once a month, she drops by the studio during the day. She sits, cross-legged, on the day-bed. As she sips herbal tea and chats distractedly about her life back in Tokyo, I sketch her subtler details. Once, she brought an old, Selmer alto saxophone from which she coaxed a looping, breathy Stan Getz ballad. She's always dressed in long, '60s-style velvet dresses and long, paisley-patterned shirts, always barefoot. "It isn't about the sex," she told me, suddenly, as we sat together on the studio terrace, a month or so ago. I hadn't asked. "It's about having somewhere to lose myself, somewhere that isn't the me I used to be. Does that make sense?"