It is my first time and I am nervous. Sitting in the dimly lit car park, lights flicker overhead and colourless mist seeps from the cold steel vents in the ground. Everything about my environment reinforces the nature of the activity I am about to engage in.
The building stands before me, rudimentary yet unyielding, dilapidated but foreboding. It’s like an old warehouse, long forgotten by all who have entered. It is the perfect setting.
Still, I sit, desperately mustering the courage to enter. I cannot wait much longer. It is almost time.
Not knowing where to go, I approach the front desk. Peculiar it is to me that a place such as this, a place home to activities of which civilised society dare not speak, would have a front desk. This is not the main reception of a family run architecture firm. This desk fronts an altogether different public service.
The man behind the desk directs me down the stairs. He is cheerier than I expect. But it is not enough to counterbalance my nerves. The air of mystery thickens as I descend the stairs, down into the bowels of the building.
There are no windows here. Natural light does not belong in a place like this.
Nobody is around. I wait alone. Then she comes. Her attire is appropriately tight as she saunters toward me and speaks softly, asking my name. I offer my reply. It is one of only a few pleasantries we will exchange.
She leads me to a small room, her room. I can sense that it is hers. The signs and pictures on the walls, the folds and creases of the bed, they all tell a story. Innumerable, obscene things have happened here, and I am but the latest in a long list of clients.
She shuts the door tight behind us. Nobody will interrupt this moment. She is assertive, dominant. I do what I am told and I like it. She commands me to remove my clothing and orders me to mount her bed. I do. We begin.
There is scarcely time to clarify a safe word. She takes the lubricant in her gloved hand and smothers me. I shudder as it hits my skin. It is all over me. All over my body. She rubs it in, her hands run through it like a shark slides through water. Smooth and clean.
I am cold in so many places, in so many ways.
She likes to dictate my breathing. It is all she says and she is autonomous in her delivery. “And breathe in… Breathe away. And breathe in… Breathe away.” It’s as if she readying me for something.
I try to express my plight, to tell her about myself and what events have lead to my being here, but she is disinterested, cold, far colder than the gel. She knows why I am here. What I want. There is little else to say.
She asks me to roll over on to my side and face the wall. She looks at me, looks deep inside me as her hands do their work. I can feel her.
The clock ticks so mercilessly slow as she continues to work. She has me flip and turn, taking up different positions so she can get the best from me. All the while she continues to dictate my breathing. She owns my breath.
After literally minutes, suddenly she finishes. I finish too. I feel relieved. It was short and yet as intense as anything I have ever experienced. But now I must leave. People do not loiter here. It is not a place one likes to be seen.
We exchange no pleasantries. We are not friends. This is simply a transaction. She will be paid and I will leave happier than when I entered.
For now, she offers me some paper to wipe myself down, to wipe the lubricant from my body. She tells me to get dressed and to leave when I am ready. I don’t delay.
The walls seem to run from me as I pull my shirt over my head. The room swells and I feel more alone than I have ever felt. I feel violated, used. Am I supposed to feel this way? I am not certain. But that is what I came for. This is the way it is.
Staggering through the haze of the dimly lit car park and back to the car, I still don’t know what to think, what to say about what just happened. I clamber inside and sit as I had sat before, desperately mustering the courage to move. I stare at the building and I know that she is still inside, that she will do the same to the next person as she has to me.
Finally I pull away, leaving this place behind. Once so strong, so foreboding, the building shrinks in the rear-view mirror, smaller and smaller until it disappears altogether. Much like my dignity.
I’ll receive the results of my ultrasound scan Friday.