At lunch yesterday, I mentioned #Lippie to a couple of trusted colleagues. ‘I might choose a lipstick for myself over the weekend,’ I said.
‘No,’ they insisted. ‘We’ll randomise one for you!’ And that’s how I got Plum Dandy.
The therapist gestures in the air. ‘This…’ she says, mimicking a spiky series of peaks and troughs, ‘…is happiness. Everyone aspires to happiness.’
She makes it sound like a bad thing.
‘And this…’ the line she draws with her hand is flatter now, like a bad dance move, ‘…is contentment.’
In my head, the first pattern is red, passionate, interesting. The second is flatlining, blue, cold, dead. That’s not what I want to be.
She can’t tell me he’s bad news, obviously. She can only parrot back the things I say, until I can say he’s bad news.
‘Contentment is peaceful,’ she says. ‘Imagine how good it would feel to be calm, to be able to sleep, to not worry about where he is, or who he’s with.’
While I can still imagine him, I can’t imagine peaceful.
‘Wouldn’t that be nice?’
Erm … no.
I mean, yes, obviously, on some level it would be nice. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t miss sleeping well, or regular meals, or not feeling angry the whole damn time. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t already know this was unhealthy.
I like lots of unhealthy things.
I’m meeting him in the pub. He knows where I’ve been this evening, but he won’t ask for the details. He respects that I have a life separate from him. I resent that he has one separate from me.
We’re good, in public, at pretending we live by the flat line of contentment. We drink a bottle of Merlot, and he tries to wipe away the blue tint it leaves on my lips with something that looks a lot like tenderness. When that doesn’t work, he kisses it away instead, sinking his teeth into my bottom lip until the blood flows in and my mouth flushes pink again.
The wine is finished and the candle is soft and misshapen, spilling wax across the table.
‘Take me home and fuck me.’
‘I have to be up early for work.’
The therapist was wrong. The red line doesn’t just spike upwards. It forms stalactites too, lows that leave me breathless with the fear of losing him.
I like that I care that much. It’s who I am; what I value.
‘Fine, but it’ll need to be quick.’
It’s lucky I get off on humiliation.
He holds me down as he pounds into me, my arms high above my head, his fingers imprinting him into my skin as he drives his cock deep. These are the moments that I live for, these twenty minute snapshots of violent passion. I struggle, pretending to want to get away. Not only because the idea of having to fight him turns me on, but also because the greater the struggle, the better the bruises.
‘This isn’t about you.’
Oh, it is, my love, it is.
His sharp little teeth sink in just above my nipple. Bite marks are the best marks, somewhere between purple and scarlet, a million miles from the sickly, greenish-yellow bruises he leaves with his fingers. Both are good, but everybody has a favourite colour.
If I stay with him, I’ll never achieve blue calm, except in moments like this, snuggled in his arms after red hot sex, briefly able to forget that I’ll be on a night bus by twelve. And on that bus, I’ll slide my fingers under the neckline of my dress and press down on the flesh that is quietly turning violet. I’ll revel in those marks, and every time I catch sight of them I will feel plum dandy.