The Leap

Dear Juan,

If you have found this letter this means that you are about to make a decision. Before you do that, I want to make one thing clear - there is nobody to blame. It is nobody’s fault but mine. Everything that has happened I have done, no, I have brought upon myself in full awareness of its consequences, in a clear and deliberate way. I know it may seem strange, even unthinkable, but still, it’s the truth. If you do not believe me, here is my story:

My name is Lucia Carro and I was born in Castellón de la Plana, on the Spanish coast of the Balearic Sea. My family was poor. I have two sisters and growing up I mostly remember my parents struggling to provide for the three of us. My elder sister, Alejandra, was 4 years older and always took care of me and our little sister, Mia. Alejandra started working at the age of 14, selling soft drinks in the streets and beaches, a tiring and ungrateful job that she always did without complaints. However despite her efforts our financial struggles continued and after her sixteenth birthday she dropped out of school and started a full-time job.

During the next two years things gradually improved and for a time it seemed like the worst of it was finally behind us, until our parents discovered that Alejandra had started working at a strip club. Father was furious and pulled her out of there immediately, almost disowning her in a rage fit that lasted for a whole week. In the end he didn’t throw her out of the family, but without the extra cash we fell into poverty again. I wanted to pull my own weight in the family, however, wary of the way things had gone for Alejandra, father did not let me drop out of school or even start a part-time job.

The next year was probably the most important year in my life, the year that changed everything and started a long chain of dominoes that cascaded into the further events of my life. It was the year when Alejandra met Michael, a handsome yet simple, down-to-earth guy who was in Spain on vacation. She was 19 at the time and Michael was 26. But the subtle, yet vastly important detail was that Michael was an American and his family was rich. By the end of his summer vacation he was madly in love with my sister and Alejandra did everything she could for him, in the end convincing Michael to take her to America. Six months later they got married and my sister began a new life across the sea.

I was fifteen at the time and I was envious beyond belief. With one stroke, with one giant leap Alejandra had managed to take matters into her own hands, to get out of our little town, our poor family,to have a better life. I desperately wanted to be like her, to follow in her footsteps, to forge my own destiny.

Our parents insisted I stay in school. Now they had one less child to take care of, and Alejandra was sending us some money from time to time, so it was easier to get by. I was smart and had excellent results, which only strengthened my father’s already adamant conviction that I should strive for the highest possible education.

When I turned 18 and finished high school, Michael and Alejandra phoned my parents and told them that they would pay for my college, if I chose to go. Having convinced her husband of my brilliance and diligence, she let Michael and father have a man-to-man talk, both agreeing that I needed to show that I really deserved the money by earning high grades every semester. Both of them happy with the agreement - Michael, having pleased his young wife, my father, finding a way to finance my education, they metaphorically shook hands on the transatlantic phone call, deciding the next five years of my life. And so, I was sent to Madrid to study neuroscience.

I met this decision with mixed reactions, which I mostly kept from my parents and my little sister, fearing a possible confrontation. But I was unhappy. In fact, I was furious. I wanted to forge my own way on my own terms. What I didn’t want was Alejandra to pay for me. What I despised was her deciding for me.

Despite my bitter feelings I went along with my parents’ decision and started my higher education in Madrid. During the first semester I quickly realized two things: first, that neuroscience was a difficult and complex subject that was not for just anybody, and second, that I was way smarter than I thought, smarter  and better than any of my peers. I blazed through the course materials ahead of schedule, was praised by my professors and received outstanding results.

Having enough free time on my hands, I decided it was finally time do something about my situation, to follow Alejandra’s example and take matters into my own hands. I started meeting with boys, going to dance clubs and taking numbers. Within a few weeks I was asked out on multiple dates.

My first relationship didn’t last very long, its abrupt ending hitting me like thunder out of a clear sky. Still, I managed to pull myself back together. It was only a first try and clearly I was lacking in experience. I told myself that I needed to learn, reasoning that boys, just like chemistry, would be simple once I understood the rules.

My second relationship went better than the first one, two wonderful months that I ended after realizing that he didn’t want anything serious. The third was a total disaster. He stopped calling after the third day, disappearing from view without ever giving a proper explanation. Frustrated, I started looking for ways to improve myself, convinced it was only a matter of perseverance.

My fourth relationship began with me sucking his cock in the toilets of a nearby cinema, an experience, I still believe, made me more a woman than his excited-to-finish fucking ever did. Of course, it didn’t work out. I started casually sleeping with guys, I read every women’s magazine, I tried to learn every trick, every possible skill in order to impress, to be able to seduce anyone, anywhere. Soon enough people started calling me a slut around campus, but I didn’t care. I was smarter than them and they were jealous. I was successful, I was constantly improving in every way possible and it was only a matter of time until I had my breakthrough.

Despite my best efforts I was unable to keep a guy. I couldn’t believe it. I knew everything in theory and yet somehow, inexplicably, I failed. Too smart for some, too pushy for others, my relationships never lasted and many guys, at first sweet, turned out to be going out with me simply for my reputation, simply because they could fuck me as often and as much as they liked. They had no intention to stick around.

Before I knew it, the first year had ended, the summer had flown by, and it was September again. Alejandra sent me more money to cover my tuition and I realized that in a full year I had failed to do what she had done in a month. I was still poor, single, and completely dependent.

Second year started with much of the same and I felt more and more inadequate. What was supposed to be one simple leap forward, one act of defining my own path, morphed into a ceaseless series of back-and-forth, of ending one relationship and starting a new one, of fucking, sucking and trying to figure out what guys want without ever quite finding the right one.

My grades lowered somewhat but stayed decent enough not be an issue. While my tuition was being paid for by Michael and Alejandra, I was still poor and very much dependent on the decisions my parents would make for me once I finished my degree. I hated it. Week after week I waited for the day my life would finally change, the day that would shatter my chains and send me in a new direction. But the breaking point never came. I continued firmly on the path others had set for me, my own struggles seemingly unimportant and inconsequential.

I was halfway through my third and final year when I met Brian. He was an exchange student, staying in Madrid for only one semester. Fun and good-looking enough, Brian soon grabbed my attention. But most importantly, he was also an American.

Having now spent two and a half years in fruitless efforts to follow in my sister’s footsteps, this felt like a painful sting, like destiny itself mocking me, showing me that no matter how easy the opportunity, I would never be good enough to grab it.

So I threw myself at him, figuratively and quite literally. It took me only a few days to become his girlfriend. From then on,  I was perfect - I cooked, I cleaned, I took him to bed every evening. I fulfilled all of his fantasies and then some. I pulled every trick in the book, scratched every possible itch, did anything and everything for him.

As the weeks and months flew by and his semester drew to an end my resolution became even more adamant. My grades dropped again but I couldn’t care less. I spent all my time with him, I was like a drug, an addiction, filling every space in his life, making sure that he could never go on without me. Our sex became frantic, excessive. It covered every inch of his dorm. I was on the table in the morning, before breakfast, and I was on the sofa when he came back in the afternoon. I was wherever he wanted me, however he wanted me. Like a venus trap closing around a fly, I was sure that at the end of his exchange programme he would take me with him.

When the semester ended Brian decided to stay in Madrid.

For a time I was so stunned by this unexpected turn of events that I almost failed my exams. I didn’t know what to do, whether to confront Brian and tell him that it was not what I wanted. Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Despite my emotional troubles, I pulled through and I got my degree, an event that my whole family celebrated on my return. Alejandra sent her congratulations, her eager voice coming on delayed waves through the transatlantic phone call. She also offered to pay for two more years until I got my Master’s. My father accepted on my behalf, not even bothering to ask my opinion.

When I got back to Madrid, Brian and I settled in a small apartment in the outskirts of town and tried to continue from where we’d left off, but the mood between us had soured. I felt cheated and betrayed. I was furious, helpless and tired. Once again, instead of making a jump I had fallen flat on my face.

Still, life continued and I started my master’s degree in biochemistry and neuroscience. Brian and I lived together while he continued his history studies, this time as a regular student. He was the one paying for the rent and some of the food, but I was still very much dependent on my father’s decisions and my sister’s money. I felt like I was being laughed at, ridiculed by destiny and circumstance. I was smarter than my sisters, I was beautiful and young, yet I couldn’t break free.

I no longer paid Brian all the extra attention I had done before. We lived under the same roof, occasionally went on dates, slept together once or twice a week and spent our days each at our separate faculties. I once again concentrated on my studies and managed to regain the respect of my professors and colleagues. There were many new faces and only a few former ones so I had managed to escape much of my bad reputation of the preceding years. Most people didn’t know me and they liked me. I started spending more and more time with them, for the first time forming a real circle of friends, people I could relate to and whose company I dearly enjoyed.

Brian felt neglected, seeking me out more often, calling me or sending me messages on my phone. He missed what he had had before and was trying to get it back. His tactics didn’t work. I was pissed off at him. And why wouldn’t I be? He knew how to accept, how to take what I gave him, but he rarely gave back. I was tired of running after someone. He started asking, demanding that I give him attention. I found it pitiful. I was bored of dragging boys to bed, tired of doing all the work, investing all the energy. I wanted to be dragged for a change.

Pablo knew how to drag me to bed. He also knew that I had a boyfriend, but cared very little for it. A self-made man, he bent and broke rules to get his own way.

I met Pablo through a common friend, at a late meeting in a bar. The moment he looked at me I knew I was his prey. It was a totally unfamiliar feeling, one both frightening and exciting, one which left an aftertaste of uneasiness and wanting for more.  He was like a predator, powerful and relentless. He was strong, handsome and arrogant. He was everything that Brian was not.

He left me that night without doing or saying anything, a cruel way of planting a deep frustration. A few days later, at university, he appeared out of nowhere and pushed me into an empty classroom, forcing a deep, passionate kiss. I didn’t resist. His fingers buried in my hair, holding me tight, I knew I had no strength to refuse him.  We made love then and there, on an empty desk, hoping no one would find us.

After that, our encounters grew frequent. He knew my schedule, he knew where I sat in the library, he knew where I went to drink coffee. He enjoyed stalking me. We played a game where I tried to avoid him and he tried to hunt me down, but in the end he always got what he wanted. Sometimes it was on the classroom floor, in the toilet, behind a corner. Patience was not a quality I would use to describe Pablo.

At first, despite my secret meetings with my lover, I didn’t want to break up with Brian. Our relationship grew cold and distant but continued, making him more desperate for my attention. He tried to impress me - he started buying me flowers, cooking dinner, calling me at random times during the day. In hindsight, it was probably at that time, when he had to desperately fight to keep me, that he finally fell truly in love.

I don’t know why I didn’t leave him. Maybe a part of me cared about him on some level. Maybe I thought it wasn’t over between us. Or maybe I didn’t want to lose my life with him in our apartment, as it was the only thing that I had done for myself and which was not imposed by my family. Whatever the case, at the time I didn’t have it in me to break up with Brian.

I did, however,  run away with Pablo.

It was an early afternoon in July and I was at a café near Puerta de Alcalá, not far from campus, studying the effects of various substances that can bind to the neurotransmitters in the brain cells. I had planned to spend the whole afternoon revising, as I often did, telling Brian that I might come home late.

Pablo found me as usual and, after taking a coffee with me, suggested I continue my studies at his place. It was not the first time he invited me over, but it was still a rare occasion. As I said before, my lover was not a man of great patience - when he wanted me, he took me at the nearest possible place. It was part of his charm, his exotism. When we weren’t around university he found weird and creative solutions, be it a back alley, behind a tree, or even, once, in someone else’s house. However, rarely, he invited me over at his place. Those were the times when he really wanted to play and to bide his time. I guess, in his own way, it was the equivalent of a dinner with candles.

Pablo was the first man who really knew how to dominate me. I had given a lot to others, I had let them do things to me, but he was different. He didn’t ask for, he took. After such a long time of taking the initiative, of being the one leading, I found it comforting to not have to make any decisions. He did as he pleased with me, he took full control, and for a short time I could forget about all of my failings, about my inadequacy and my own need for control over my life. He held me tight,playing with me like a toy. His big arms wrapped around my thin body and I felt like a puppet, a puppet whose strings he twisted and pulled however he liked.

That evening he left me tied in his bed for hours, fucking me on and off, coming and going as he pleased. It was as frustrating as it was liberating. He would push my face into the pillow and have his way with me unceremoniously, then walk away as if nothing had happened, leaving me waiting, hoping, that he would come back.

I couldn’t see anything, I was unable to move freely or even turn around. The tight ropes dug into my skin, their grassy smell taking me somewhere far away. I was lying in bed like his property, like an object that served his desires. It was a wild, euphoric feeling. Every time his footsteps neared the bed my heart would start beating faster and my body twitched in eager anticipation. I wanted to be his, again and again. So i decided to take a leap.

Up until this point, my life had been shaped by the pursuit of success and career, of a way to get out of poverty and the dependance of my family. I had hated the choices that father had made for me and I had loathed my sister’s money that put me through college. But, was it possible that I was looking in the wrong direction? This was the leap that my sister had made, years ago, and she had done it with ease. What if it was not my leap? What if forging my own way for me meant finding the person that fulfilled me as a woman, a person to whom I could belong completely? What if I had found this person?

As the evening came and night fell Pablo eventually untied me and brought me back my clothes. I kicked them away. I told him that he could have me completely and that I would leave Brian.

I turned off my cellphone and spent the night in my new boyfriend’s bed. The following morning he told me that he had thought about things, that it wasn’t going to work out between us and that we shouldn’t see each other any more.

I was devastated.

After all Pablo didn’t want me. He had been sleeping with me only because he knew that I had a boyfriend and he felt he could play around without any consequences. But that’s all he wanted. He wanted to play with me. He didn’t want me.

I have almost no recollection of the following day, other that I spent it crying in a park. When night fell, I didn’t know what to do, so I went home to Brian. Whatever anger he might have had towards me melted away when he saw my sorry, pitiful state. I told him that an uncle had died and that I had needed some time alone. The poor fool didn’t question me further.

In the aftermath of the disaster that had been Pablo I mostly stayed at home gnawing at books and trying not to think about what I had done. The poor decisions of my life haunted me and dragged me to a dark place of sorrow and self-pity. In spite of that Brian was happy to have me around even if I was sad and depressed most of the time. The cold period of our relationship had turned him into a different person and he did everything to cheer me up, called me “my Lucia” and never asked for anything. As months flew by our relationship started to mend and things slowly returned to normal.

The following summer Brian came to Castellón de la Plana with me and I introduced him to my family. Father approved of him and Mia told me she was very happy for me. We spoke to Alejandra on the phone and she told us she and Michael were doing very well but had no plans of returning to Spain any time soon.

At the start of the next year I slowly shook off my melancholy and started enjoying life again. I studied very hard and caught up on things I had missed last year. After so many mistakes I began to truly appreciate Brian who was loving and caring and ready to do anything for me. Having recovered emotionally, I started being there for him too. I bought him silly little gifts - keyholders with various historical landscapes that he collected in a drawer and showed to his friends.

Our love life improved as well - for a start, we had one, but we also spoke more openly and I told him a little bit about what I liked. He tried his best and succeeded for the most part. He never had any of Pablo’s animalistic savagery, but he was sweet and tender and he loved me.

At the end of the year Brian proposed to me and said he wanted us to go back to America. It turned out he had some wits and courage after all.

We had our wedding at the Santa Isabel de Aragón church in Castellón and spent our honeymoon at a seashore hotel, rented to us cheaply by a friend of my mother. It was a wonderful, happy period of my life, a time that I spent both leisurely with my new husband and in eager anticipation of our departure for America, a trip that would begin a new page in my life.

Most importantly, I was a married woman now and I no longer depended on my family. Or so I thought. Brian’s parents were not rich, but they offered to help us get started in life. My husband wanted to go back to his home town, but my father said I needed to continue with my studies. I had gone far enough in education and I was brilliant in my domain, it would‘ve been a professional suicide to stop there. I hated to admit it, but he was right, of course. I needed my PhD in neuroscience to get a good job.

We rented a house in Santa Paula, near Los Angeles, where I enrolled in the University of Oxnard, which had an amazing program in biochemistry. Brian decided to start a PhD as well, but he could find a good one in Santa Paula or Oxnard, so he had to travel all the way to LA. His parents gave us enough money to buy two cars, something we desperately needed, and to cover a few months of expenses. From there on, we were on our own.

And so our married life began. Those were happy times, filled with the thrill and excitement of new discoveries and future prospects. We decorated our new place, we went on trips around town and explored our new environment. Brian started drama classes and I joined a local book club. My English was pretty good but I wanted it to be perfect if I was going to stay in the the US. I didn’t want people to have any reason to think less of me. I was already smart, I needed to be eloquent.

Those first months were wonderful. We had time to study, time to spend with each other and time to relax and enjoy life. As newlyweds we often skipped weekends just to stay in bed and enjoy what we had.

After the first semester his parent’s money started running out so we had to find part-time jobs. There were enough offers to choose from, but none of them were near. I took shifts as a cashier at a supermarket while Brian worked at a newspaper booth. We didn’t earn much, but it covered the important things and at the end of the month we even had a little bit left over. As a downside, our schedules became stricter with less free time and more responsibilities, but we were still very happy and ready to take on life.

Our first disagreement happened at the start of our second year of marriage. The problem was that I wanted children.

Brian argued that in our financial situation we couldn’t afford any. We were both working hard and it was just enough to pay for our education, the rent, and the daily expenses. I didn’t agree with him but I understood where he was coming from. Our kids deserved a good, stable life. So I doubled down on my efforts.

I started working additional night shifts, through the holidays and during the weekends. My husband urged me to take it easy, tried to convince me that we had all the time in the world and there was no need to have kids right now. He told me again and again that I should focus on my PhD, on getting a proper job in my field and starting a career, and that kids could always come afterwards when we had more time and money.

There was something that Brian didn’t understand. I didn’t just want kids for the sake of kids. I wanted, I needed  things to change. All my life I had been waiting for a turning point, for an irreversible threshold that I could step through. And while I was happy with him, I had discovered that marrying him and coming to the US had not been that threshold for me. A job can be lost. Marriage can be undone. A country can be exchanged for a new one. A career is built but it can crumble. Despite my achievements I was still insecure, even fragile. I felt like I could lose anything at any point in life. I needed something permanent. I needed him to do something permanent to me. To make me a real woman. I needed children.

I worked hard day and night through that year, the summer, and the next one. I sacrificed my sleep and health but I managed to pull off my PhD all the while putting more and more money in my savings account.

After my official graduation I didn’t bother looking for a job in my field. I knew that the search would be long and tedious. The very next day I spoke to my manager and upgraded my part-time job into a full time one.

I kept doing the extra night shifts and sometimes working during the weekends. I never asked Brian to buy me expensive things and tried to cut corners wherever possible. Brian had gotten a better job as well and after two more years we finally had enough money to afford a house of our own. I was 28, I had been married for five years. Brian wanted to choose a house. I wanted to have kids.

He avoided the topic. I kept pressing him. He showed me homes in the region. I asked him when he would finally act like a man. We quarrelled.

Our love life had gradually diminished over the years. This was normal to a degree, we were both tired and overworked, often fell asleep at odd places. It wasn’t easy to find quality time for each other. But it was more than that. He was wary of me. I had no logical reason to believe it, but I felt it and knew it like only a wife knows. He was afraid of something.

 I tackled him in the bedroom and forced him to find time, to sleep with me more often.I talked about how nice it would be to have children. He was tired more and more, he slept at the sofa, he spent more time at work. I kept insisting.

Ironically, it was the exact opposite of what I wanted. I didn’t want to be the one on top, forcing him in me. I didn’t want a tired husband who consented to have sex with his wife. I wanted him to take me and claim me, to make me his, to force me to bear his children. I craved strength and possession. Often I recalled the way Pablo had held me, like a thing that was his to do with as he pleased. Pablo had left me in the morning, but my brain had pushed that memory into oblivion. I dreamed of once again being a puppet, completely and utterly his. While I made love on top of my husband I imagined being pressed hard under Pablo, being forced to accept his seed deep inside me. It was an escapist fantasy, a way to deal with a reality which had become unsatisfactory.

In the end I couldn’t take it anymore and I stopped taking my pills. I threw them secretly in the toilet when Brian wasn’t looking and I became even more insistent in bed. After two months of this he finally caught me and confronted me.

Or he tried to. The thing exploded in his face. I called him a pussy and a coward and screamed and screamed until he finally gave in and confessed - he didn’t really want to have children. He had always hoped that our life would go on like before, that I was going through a phase, that it would pass with time. He swore again and again how he loved me, how he was sorry and how we were going to work things out.

That night I packed my things and left him. I drove to Los Angeles, where I stayed at a hotel for a week until I could find a place to rent. I needed to clear my head. I had enough money for now - everything I had diligently saved over the years was in my bank account. Because I was saving it all for my new family, I hadn’t realised how much I had managed to put aside. Now that I looked at it, I was almost rich.

 I left myself two weeks to recover, then I hired a lawyer and i sent him to Brian with papers for divorce and a threat to sue him should he refuse. Brian was a coward. He signed.

The same month I began work at a nightclub in the center of LA, an upbeat neon-styled place with lots of customers. Getting hired was surprisingly easy - my numerous part-time jobs had gained me a considerable experience and, more importantly, I was beautiful and energetic. More than that. I was still furious. The divorce with Brian had produced a flaming anger which gave me an energy the manager had never seen before.

So I started working there. I was once again the master of my destiny and I loved it. I had my own money, my own place, my own job. I needed neither my parents, nor my sister, nor my useless husband. I felt at home at the club. I was used to working the night shifts and I got along with the other girls that worked there. I made friends, tried to forget the bad memories and started my life from scratch.

Three months later I met Natasha.

Natasha was a Russian girl, 24 years old, and she was hired to work the night shifts with me. I quickly learned that she and I had a great deal in common.

Natasha had ran away from home when she was 18, had moved to Ukraine, and had hooked up with an American to migrate to the US at the age of 20. She hated her parents and never wanted to return back to Russia. She had worked odd jobs, slept where she could, did what she had to do to get by. And she had succeeded. Four years later she had made her way to LA, on the other side of the world, where she worked as a waitress, bartender or whatever else she was able to find.

I felt an instant connection with Natasha, a deep closeness far greater than I had ever felt with my sisters. Our similar past and attitude undoubtedly played a role, but it was more than that. With Natasha, something just clicked, it felt right, and I knew I could tell her anything. Despite our age difference, I always felt her as my equal, and so did she. Quickly we started spending more and more time together and I gradually learned things about her.

After a month of knowing her I told Natasha that there was no point of both of us paying our own rent, so I invited her to come live at my place at a fraction of what she was currently paying. She agreed without hesitation and the week after her things were packed and ready to move. I came to pick her up with the car and brought her to my apartment.

Life with Natasha was fun and I quickly found myself caring deeply for her. Like sisters, we ate together, dressed together, slept together. When we had time we went shopping or strode aimlessly around town. We talked a lot. We shared things about our past, but there were many things in our past that we didn’t want to talk about, so we mostly talked about the future - about things we would love to do and places we would love to go. We dreamed, we laughed.

 In many ways we were different, which kept our conversations fresh - Natasha was an anarchist, while I didn’t have much of a view on politics; she listened to loud, violent music, while I preferred the pop songs on the radio; she talked about art and I sometimes talked about science. But there was one defining feature that united us in a silent bond, one thing above all that made us sisters, if not in blood, then at heart. Both of us were set on forging our own path. We hated other people deciding for us. And we were vicious about it.

Of course we also kept some of our private hobbies and activities, our sacred personal life. Some evenings Natasha would disappear, and I didn’t press her to know whom she was going out with, or where. At other times I left home, went to the library or a park, just to be alone and to read. Still, those episodes were rare and we were seldom far from one another. After a month or two I noticed a regular gap in Natasha’s schedule.

Somehow she was always missing on Saturday night. Whenever I had a shift at the club, she was never there, and whenever I had a day off at home, she was absent from the apartment. She didn’t call, she didn’t ask me to drive her to work. When I asked her about it, she looked away and said it was just another job she did for a bit of extra cash. I found it strange that she hadn’t mentioned it before, so I pressed her, but she remained silent, avoiding the conversation. Reluctant to get into a quarrel over something so stupid, I left her alone.

A few days later I decided to open up more to Natasha, so I told her about Pablo and the way he had made me feel. This was a topic I had never brought up with anyone and had generally avoided to think about. I wasn’t fully comfortable with the image of young me, exhilarated of being bound and used. It made me feel vulnerable. But I wanted Natasha to know that I trusted her, so I told her. I also told her about my ex-husband and why I had left him. She laughed when I called him a spineless piece of shit.

Afterwards my russian friend dropped the secrecy and told me, if somewhat reluctantly, where she was going on Saturday. It was, as she put it,  “a place where girls went to be tied up and handled roughly”. She liked it, and it payed a lot of money. For a girl like her who had no one, no plan B to fall back on in case something happened, it was the easiest way to secure herself financially. The way she talked made me realise two things about Natasha. First, there was something fragile in her, behind that screaming tough façade; she had spent a lot of time in the streets, in the cold, and deep inside her she feared that one day she would find herself there again. Second, Natasha was not forced into prostitution. Maybe she had sex with men; maybe they gave her money; but there was something in her eyes, something in the way she spoke about whips and shackles and chains that made me realize that it resonated with her on a primitive level, that money was not the primary reason.

Having finished explaining, she looked at me, worried about what I might say. But Natasha’s revelation had made me think no less of her. I hugged her and we moved on, living our daily lives as if nothing had happened. The following month, however, I asked her to take me with her.

The place Natasha took me to was called The Wild Stags and was hidden in a basement, built underneath an expensive gentlemen’s club. For us, the entry was from a crooked staircase through a back-alley, but the guests descended directly from the loges above. Natasha explained all this while she guided me around the dim-lit dungeon. It had a twisting, almost maze-like structure, divided in several sections, each filled with a large variety of constraining devices - ropes, chains, cuffs, cells, and larger nondescript pieces of equipment. I was in awe, discovering a world I never even knew had existed. Having completed our visit, Natasha looked me with a mixture of fear and expectancy and I knew what I had to do. I hugged her tightly, kissed her cheek and went to find the manager. I told him that I wanted in.

The manager, a chubby middle aged man with a bushy mustache, seemed surprised at my proposal, but, after consulting with Natasha, agreed to give me a chance. Through his explanations I learned that there was one performance each week and that that The Wild Stags wanted to distinguish itself from other erotic establishments. Even if they were called performances, what the Stags proposed was an ambience, an atmosphere, an eerie space of debauchery where the gentlemen were free to either observe or participate. In each section there was a restrained girl, sometimes several of them. Encased in a wall, suspended mid-air, the girls served as much for pleasure as for decoration, their eyes blindfolded, their limbs attached to furniture, locked into cages, turned into erotic and sometimes grotesque pieces of art.

 Newcomers were put into corners and sides, places where private meetings and soft conversations were held and where the new girl would meet relatively few clients during the evening. More experienced girls took the middle sections, places where big groups gathered together and where it was common for two or three girls to be assigned together. The closer to the center, the more attention a girl would receive, the more clients she is likely to have, and, of course, the higher the pay.

My first night there they gave me a dark corner in the periphery, close to a discreet table for four. There I was suspended in the air , naked, gagged and blindfolded, a tight web of ropes wrapping around me, putting me in a position as though I were lying on my back, my arms up and above my head, tied together in ladder style rope from the elbows all the way to the wrists. My legs, bound separately, were lifted up as well, slightly apart, at an angle that preserved some discretion of view but still allowed me to be freely touched. The suspension was done masterfully, the whole piece creating the impression as if I were on some invisible bed of air, raising my limbs with a mixture of shyness and eagerness, trying to provoke, to seduce some distant lover but fearing to show too much.

The experience was mind-shattering. I was thrown into a new world, projected in a separate dimension of touch, sound and smell. Originally expecting to be used for sex, I was astonished that, for the longest time, I was left almost unattended, hearing the soft conversation around me, feeling their unseen presence, an invisible barrier around me which was occasionally breached by a gentle touch of my hair, a hand caressing my skin, my bare breasts, a finger passing over my lips. Unable to move an inch, these touches, invasive at first, became flashes of movement in a static world, anticipated, desired. I began fearing the long stretches between them, the silent pauses, the absence.  The waiting became torture. If I could speak I would have screamed, begged to be touched again, to be touched more, to be touched relentlessly.

The the moment came. There were hands, gripping my uplifted legs tightly. There was a warmth when his body pressed against mine. There was a shiver, then penetration. A timeless lapse that I could not describe nor quantify; a hammer that ripped me violently from the dark silent dimension and thrusted me into a red-hot maelstrom of lust. It filled a hole that I hadn’t been aware of and which, days later, was left wide open, howling  hungrily, wanting to be fed.

The following weeks and months fused in a blur, my usual work at the club now a painfully slow timer ticking to Saturday. I bonded even more with Natasha, who was not only my best friend but my sole accomplice, the person who shared both the visible and the hidden part of my life.

 Gradually the manager started moving me from the outer parts of the dungeon and towards the center. Sometimes I was there as an aesthetic piece - torn and twisted in various angles, exposed for all to see but outside their reach, but those were evenings that usually left me deeply frustrated. I craved attention. Desire. Dominance. I insisted to be put in the spotlight. And the manager listened.

I was sent to large groups. I was fucked repeatedly, sometimes alone, sometimes with other girls, often with Natasha. It became an addiction, a necessity I couldn’t live without. It wasn’t just the sex - I craved the dark dimension, the touch of a thousand fingers on my skin, of a thousand hands, of a thousand tongues. I craved the red space, the unbound lust, the sounds of my moans, of Natasha’s, of those of numerous others mixing together in a wild harmony, in a savage symphony of desire.  

Our group became more and more popular, both among clients and performers. Many girls wanted to join us. Same came for the money - and there was a lot of money, but we always sought out those who craved the same things we did, those who wanted their desire to become part of our desire.

Then came the day. It was a special day for me, my anniversary at The Wild Stags, and our group had devised a special celebration.Throughout the whole establishment, all of the other girls were made into decorative pieces, bound in various positions, often in cages, sometimes behind glass, always provocative, exciting, and completely out of reach. In the very center, at a podium, I was alone, my head and wrists bend and bound in medieval stocks, my ass raised high and left exposed, awaiting, pointing at the audience. On it, with large capital letters was written “spanish whore”.

I was completely helpless, left to the full desires of our guests. But it was only after a few people had fucked me that the full scale of the plan came into fruition. With nothing else available to touch, all the other guests started growing frustrated, their excitation spiked both by the numerous bound girls, seductive yet unavailable, and by watching the whore in the center, her pussy spread for everyone, getting fucked again and again. The more people came, the more the others grew excited, until the visitors became a stream, then the stream became a crowd and the crowd became an ocean.  Taking turns,they fucked me again and again, relentlessly, without pause, their lust fueling the each other, echoing, amplifying, transforming the crowd into a massive red beast, a demon that penetrated me without mercy throughout the night. I had never been so excited in my entire life. I was completely helpless, I couldn’t move and I couldn’t help being fucked. Again and again. All over. The crowd, maybe 50 people, might as well have been a thousand, many of them going at me twice, even three times. Unable to see who was behind me, it felt like every guest was Pablo, taking me for his pleasure, using me like a toy. My mind melted into the memory of a now seemingly innocent Lucia that lay tied up in Pablo’s bed, imagining a life of obedience and servitude. The memory multiplied into a million Pablos, a million penises trying to enter me all at the same time, my limits stretching open as wide as possible to accommodate them.

The evening, an unprecedented success for the Stags, became a tradition, a ceremony of initiation that only the braves and most adventurous girls would try. Together with my regular job as a waitress, I made a tremendous amount of money and soon enough I didn’t need to pay rent anymore. I bought my own place and kept Natasha with me. The two of us lived a well-off life but kept saving most of our money for the future. It was a life I had created for myself and i was surrounded by my own choices - the night club, Natasha, the basement, and my own accomplishments - my place, my car, the clothes I was now able to afford and my popularity among certain gentlemen in the city.

Everything changed a few months later, when I ran into Brian. Devastated and trying to rethink his life, Brian had been trying to contact me, asked after me, looked all over and finally tracked me down to this place. He was outraged. He yelled and screamed about how I was able to do such a thing to myself. I told him to fuck off and went to work. The week after he came with Michael and Alejandra.

There was a lot of screaming. It was the most humiliating moment in my life. Not because of what I had done, I didn’t regret a single minute at the Stags. I was humiliated because they all treated me like a child. I was almost 30 years old, I had a right to decide over my own life. We continued to scream at each other. I swore at them. Alejandra slapped me. I called her a bitch. In the end, she threatened to call mother and father and tell them everything.  Somehow I couldn’t bear that happening, a primitive part of my brain shriveling in fear. But the real problem was Brian’s threat. I had come to America as his wife. In the eyes of the law, we were still married, our lawyers framing the divorce as “separation” in order to allow me to stay in the US. If Brian pressed his lawyer to upgrade the separation into a state divorce, I would be sent back to Spain.

I was completely cornered. So I sold my apartment and left with them.

I hated Alejandra’s guts but I was unable to do anything about it. She kept talking about my education and how I was ruining it. We quarrelled. Eventually, Michael pulled some strings and found me a job via a friend at a biotech company in Chicago. So I left California and flew to the other side of the country to settle in Illinois.

This was a difficult period of my life, filled with dark thoughts and despair. The company which employed me was called BioMetronics and represented my first work in my field of expertise. My mind brought formulas and procedures from my dusty memory and forced them into the cold reality. I became a bitter, machine-like person, focused on my work and my dark thoughts. But at least the work was interesting. I developed various new chemicals and ways of treating neurological diseases. I was put in a team which focused on the connections in memory, our project aimed at developing ways to help patients with Alzheimer's or multiple sclerosis to recover their memory.

There was theoretical work and there was field work, but my growing apathy served me fewer and fewer hours behind a desk and increasingly much time with the rats. We first injected them with destructive toxins, corrupting their memory, then we started the various test treatments, recording our results. My position involved mainly routine tasks. It was an easy job for someone like me and the pay was decent. But neither of that helped. It was a place where I was truly miserable.

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my field. It wasn’t that the company was bad or my team was unpleasant. It wasn’t that our project was not interesting. It was that the job had been chosen for me by Alejandra and Michael and I despised them for it. Every day when I injected the rats with BK201 and watched them slowly lose their memories I imagined that it was my sister between my hands and that it was finally I that was in control.

I worked for BioMetronics for a year and a half, slowly grinding my way through a series of sad days filled with hatred for the people I had once loved. So I made up my resolution, packed some clothes, took enough money, and left.

I knew that as soon as they learned that I had left they would come after me, so I moved on the clock, putting as much distance as quickly as possible. My first stop was Los Angeles, where I went to The Wild Stags and found Natasha. We reunited, teary-eyed, and I explained her my plan. She and I spoke to the manager, who pointed us to a few addresses. I wrote them down, thanked him, and left a large sum of money so he would forget that he ever saw me when my sister inevitably comes looking for me. I left most of what I had left at Natasha, because she needed it more than I did. Wishing her a long and happy life, we kissed and said goodbye.

From Los Angeles I took a plane across the border to Mexico City. From there by bus, hitchhiking and sometimes walking I made my way from city to city until I arrived at the port of Tampico. There I found another similar place by the name of Pantera Oscuro and made a deal with Juan, who was in charge. I explained that I needed to disappear for a while. In Mexico this was not uncommon. I didn’t want any money and I only wanted to work in exchange for food, care, clothing, and a place to stay.

I needed to become someone else. To burn all the bridges. That night I, a tourist in Mexico about to become an illegal immigrant, made my way into Juan’s room, showing him my earnest devotion. He agreed to keep me.

Soon enough my talents became apparent and I gained popularity among the local clientele. I admitted to Juan that I had worked at a similar place before and told him all about my experience, and even the stocks. But I always described things with a deliberate vagueness, as if forgetting the details. I mumbled that I had a problem with my memory, that I didn’t remember much and that he shouldn't be surprised if I were to forget things. I wanted to bury my past.

One way or another I earned my place here. I once again became the Spanish Whore, bound in the stocks and ready for anyone. The performances were very popular and because I didn’t take anything for myself, the Pantera prospered.

I worked two nights a week and the rest of the time I had to myself. But I wasn’t lonely. As we slept under the same roof Juan often visited me at night, at first coming to my room, then taking me to his. On the nights off I became his personal plaything, his field for experimentation.  He tested all his new toys on me, stretched my limits, trained me to be his obedient whore. He wanted to see how much I could take. Then he shared me with his friends - showing off my new tricks, like an eager master would do with his pet. This was my new life. I was happy with it, fulfilled like never before. Only one thing remained.

Juan, now you know all of my story. You know of my life and my failings, you know how I was rejected by every man who didn’t want to have me. When I came to you I told you that I didn’t remember much, and that was a lie. However if you are reading this letter it means that it isn’t a lie anymore.  

All my life I’ve been trying to make a leap, a defining step, one point that would turn a new page and start a life of my own. And yet all my life I have had choices made for me, decisions taken and imposed by my family and my cowardly husband. This is way I have taken it upon myself to make one final choice for myself. I am tired of my choices being mended, fixed, taken back by others. This one will me mine.

Juan, as I am writing these final lines, I am naked in your room, preparing to be used by your friends. I’ve taken the two bottles of BK201 that I had brought with myself. Soon enough, my past memories will be completely gone; by the end of the night, as I’m being repeatedly fucked my memories of my former life would evaporate, one by one, until nothing is left and all that I remember is this current life here, with you.

Now I am left in your hands as a toy, as something to use and have fun with, as a girl that will take anything and everything. Whatever you do to me I will accept. Know that whatever doubts you might have about that girl in your feet that doesn’t remember where she came from, I, her haunting past, fully condone any action that you decide to do to her, any pleasure, any torture. She is there for you. I am here for you.

All I ask is that you keep me.

Juan, if you are reading this, you have a choice. Do not show me this letter. Do not tell me of my past. Burn it, forget it, tell no one and keep me for yourself. I know it is not a hard thing to do.

Lucia Carro,

Your Spanish Whore

P.S. Know that I have always wanted children.