“Just like then, on Hel. It was the end of August. We lived in a little hut smelling of pinewood and resin by the beach. We didn’t sleep all night. He got up and brought a white towel from the bathroom and wrapped me in it. We came out onto a small wooden veranda covered with peeling paint and fenced off the beach by a low sand barrier of rotten boards. The sun was rising. Only over Hel and Key West in Florida the sun rises in a way that makes you believe in God, if you haven’t yet.

We sat on the veranda, looking at the sunrise, completely enthralled by the view. He slipped his hand under my towel and touched me. He passed me an open bottle of champagne. To this day I don’t know if it was the alcohol or God pushing the sun so beautifully over the horizon that morning which made me feel suddenly so incredibly close to him.  Have you ever felt something like that for a man? Have you had a feeling that he belongs to you so completely? A sudden feeling that there is a mystical, solemn, evangelical bond between you? A tantra at sunrise. I felt all those things, one after the other on that pathetic veranda in Hel. That’s probably the reason I plucked up my courage and said:

“I would like so much to be the only woman in your life. The only one! Do you understand?! And to know I will have you tomorrow and the next Monday and on Christmas Eve. Do you understand?!”

I was crying.

“I would like to be your only woman. That’s all.”

He dropped his head. He shrank, as if what I had said was like a blow and now he was awaiting another. He pulled out his finger from the bottle neck and froze still. He was silent. After a while he got up and started walking towards the sea. I sat, unable to move. When he got back, he touched my head and said in a low voice:

“Forgive me.”

Then he went to the kitchen and started preparing a breakfast for us. We didn’t make love that day. Nor the next night. Then we drove in silence all the way to Warsaw.

It was then, on our way back from Hel, that I understood he would never belong to me and to me only. That he can only be had completely –  temporarily. And that I should accept it. If one can’t have the whole cake, one can always have the joy of picking out and eating the raisins. Besides, it’s worth living for the moment, even though you want to leave your own heart away in a fridge. When on the way back we reached the outskirts of Warsaw, I had resigned myself to it. I touched his hand. The place where his veins are most protruding. When we arrived at my apartment, he followed me up to the fourth floor, helping to carry the suitcase, and stayed the night. I have never withheld that acceptance to this day.

Tomorrow is my birthday. And his wedding anniversary. I haven’t had my period for nine months. I am with a child. His child. I’m no longer afraid of that wedding ring. I will tell him tomorrow. That one cannot buy two bouquets of roses and think that one can offer them to women from two different, separate worlds.

He will certainly understand and will leave us. But he will leave with me his whole world. The baby one.”

Mistress © Janusz Leon Wiśniewski


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