"Did you feel me lover? Did you feel my arms around you at night as my lips melted into yours, my tongue searching?
Did you feel me kiss your tears away or hear me whisper against your ear my words of a love that would keep you safe and always be with you?
Did you ever hate me for who I was? That I was born one of them?
Did you look up at the blue sky and see my eyes looking back at you from across the pillows and wish it had never been?
Did you see my face in theirs and feel like I had used you, that I was the one that deceived you?
You could never hate me as much as I have hated myself."
I sit here and wait, smoking cigarettes, unfiltered like the ones we smoked back in the cabarets when we thought the Germans would never come into France. If I can't find them unfiltered, I break the filters off and leave them unused in the ashtray stacked like cords of wood. I stare at them thinking back to that night at Le' Monde when you lit my cigarette, your small hand with lacquered red nails holding the lighter, I thought you were so bold, so wicked and it excited me. You asked to sit down and I nodded, then you ordered a bottle of wine, it comes in boxes now, can you believe? Boxes, it tasted smooth and heady like earth and sky. You introduced yourself, then I did the same and we talked and laughed. I felt so mousy next to you with my plain dress of earthy colors and my straight brown hair pulled back like a farm girls, while you had yours curled and you wore a full skirt and jacket, you were always so stylish even when material was hard to come by you were well tailored. You had on that purple hat with the feathers on one side, tipped just over your left eye and the feather had slipped down tickling your cheek so you took it off. Then you asked me to dance and I was afraid, embarrassed really, I was young and naive, women didn't do such things, but you reassured me and promised you would behave like a lady.
The lights went low as you held me close and I prayed that you couldn't feel my heart pounding in my chest. I don't know if it was the wine, the place or the song but it felt right. I put my head on your shoulder drinking in your perfume, it smelled clean like rain, not like the heavier flowery candied scents like the other women wore and I just wanted to stay there in that moment swaying to the music as our bodies pressed together and you whispered the words to the song in my ear.
I was only a girl then all of 19 and like so many others I came to Paris from the countryside to live my dream. I was going to be a famous artist in the city of lights. My family protested a young woman should either marry or become a nun artists were decadent and poor. I arrived a country bumpkin staying with my cousin Simone, she was the one that took me to the cabarets and led me to find you. It was all sinful, the cabarets, the dancing, the art, the absinthe and falling in love with you. I chose to be a sinner.
I can still taste the wine and cigarettes on your lips and how exquisite it felt when you kissed my neck, my collarbone and down my chest. You made me sit on you lap facing you and I let out a gasp when you tugged down the front of my dress and ran your tongue along the top of my corset. It was after you freed my breasts completely and kissed my nipples that the gasp turned into a moan. I had no idea how wonderful it could feel to have someone's mouth licking, sucking and nibbling my breasts, I felt my nipples harden as you flicked your tongue over them and I twisted my fingers in your hair pulling you closer not wanting you to stop. When I felt your teeth start to sink in and then the bite that followed, I felt a shock go from my nipples to my pussy.
"Merde! Vous socie'rie. Cici doit e^tre errone' parce qu'il se sent trop bon."
You pulled away and looked at me with a slight grin, a flicker of mischief showed in your green eyes as you asked me if I had ever done this before. I lowered my head as I blushed and admitted that I had not and that I was still...untouched.
You lifted my chin with your fingers, your face was softer and you looked into my eyes and said, " Then I shall remedy that situation." Gently pushing me from your lap you took my hand and led me to your bedroom, it was dark and you let loose my hand for a moment then I heard a match strike, there was a quick flare and then the soft glow of the lamp. Putting your hand out for me I walked over and you swept me into your arms and kissed me deeply.
Slowly we undressed one another, touching, tasting, exploring, you put my hands on your breasts and joked that I couldn't break them. I measured their weight in my hands, my fingers feeling how soft your skin was and as I ran my fingers over your nipples the softness grew harder as the skin around them puckered and rose underneath my touch. Bending down I placed a kiss on each one before I braved using the tip of my tongue to lick around the raised mounds, swirling and flicking before the desire to suck on them took over and I didn't want to stop. I loved the sounds of your moaning and I silently took pride in knowing that I could make you feel such pleasure and when you took one of my hands, placed it between your legs and I could feel the heat and the wetness I helped to create my own arousal heightened. I let my fingers explore the folds and I painted your wetness onto the soft hair of your pussy, rubbing over your clit and making you lose you balance.
I left your breasts to raise up to look into your eyes, touching my forehead to yours and I remembered back to a crude drawing one of the artists in my class left at my easel. It was of a man and woman having sex, I had never seen such a thing, he drew the man's member in large proportions and it filled the woman's pussy. I was appalled at that time, but at this moment it inspired me and I slid a finger up inside you making you gasp and close your eyes. You wrapped an arm around me and then slid your other hand between my legs and mimicked my movements; below I felt the stirrings of the first of many orgasms that night. The smell of sex grew heavier in the room as we fingered each other, my fingers felt your orgasm and the sudden gush of wetness that drown my fingers as you came, my own thighs did not escape the wetness of my climax as I felt a hot stream trickle downward and end behind my knees.
We eventually made it to the bed where you went down on me, fucking me with your fingers while your mouth enveloped my clit sucking and biting until I came so hard and so loud that I startled us both. You took me over and over again in a kaleidoscope of fucking, licking, sucking, biting and kissing, I felt your tongue everywhere, your fingers probing and pleasing. I learned how to please you and loved how you grabbed my head forcing me to eat your pussy as if it were my last meal on earth, you ground into my face screaming at me not to stop, to suck harder or use my teeth until you came hard and collapsed beneath me.
"I'm going to keep you." I ran my fingertips along your cheek as you lay on your back looking so peaceful and beautiful.
"Oh you are? For how long?" You turned onto your side to face me, one eyebrow raised and a terrible attempt at feigning seriousness.
"Hmmmm? Until three days past forever."
You stared at me for the longest time, your eyes misted and you gave me a simple smile and said, "I love you."
It wasn't only the sex it was everything about you that I loved. You let me be myself, never judging or trying to change me; you supported my art as well as supporting both of us. Then they made you leave your job and I could only paint at night, sometimes by candlelight, but it didn't matter as long as you were there. I worked the days in the factory while you hid in the flat staying silent all day. I would try to bring you things to read or small things to do and I loved that you decided to paint also. I lost the paintings, yours and mine; actually they were stolen from me just as you were.
I waited everyday for the sounds of your footsteps coming up the stairwells, but they were silent. I waited for your hand to touch the back of my shoulder and I would turn to find you standing there apologizing for being late before wrapping me in your arms and kissing me, but my arms never held you again, your kisses became just memories. I would cover my ears at night to block out the whistle of the trains because I knew that's how they took you away. I went through all your clothes and ripped those damn stars off and burned them to ash, why did you register with them, we could have worked out something couldn't we? We could have found someone to forge papers, I know we could have, fuck, why did I wait? Why did I think that you would be the only one they would ignore?
Believe me when I tell you that I did search for you, I went to the various offices and departments trying to find out where they sent you, I didn't know what I would do when I got the information but I would at least know something. I had to be clever and deceitful like them, and so I lied. Please, please forgive me but I told them you had stolen something from me, a family heirloom, they took the information and I waited to hear something. It wasn't until a few years after the liberation that a package arrived containing the ring I gave you, the one I claimed you had stolen. I placed it on my finger. That was the day I became a ghost, floating through life all these years, hoping and praying that by some small chance you had made it through the war. I played scenarios in my head, I imagined you had escaped and had to hide or that you were injured and lost your memory but one day it would return just as you would return to me. In darker times when I just lay around not eating or moving, smoking cigarette after cigarette and downing bottles of whiskey I imagined that you thought I had turned you over to them and you hated me, that was the thought I had when they found me on the floor with blood oozing from my wrists. I heard you then, you were singing to me but I can't remember the words, it was that song we heard Edith singing outside the window, she became famous just like you said she would.
Sometimes I wondered if you were ever real or if I was going mad slowly. The person who changed my life, the one who made me take chances was gone taking all the magic and surprises with her. You spoiled me with all those little gifts and notes that you would pull out from behind your back or hide in my pockets or purse but mostly I loved the flower that would appear on my pillow when you left early for work. My pillow. It still smelled of you and I held it to me every night so I could fall asleep or when I needed to feel you near me. I kept your things where they were so when you came back it would be just as you left them and I re-hung all your clothes after I ripped them from the hangers and buried myself with in them. Even when things were at their worst and food was scarce I set a place at the table for you and talked to you. Not a birthday went by that I didn't forget to celebrate until I had a box full of unwrapped gifts waiting to be opened.
The hardest times where when the snow would fall in those big flakes and all was quiet, we would walk along the river, do you remember that? We joked that Paris looked like a giant cake iced and decorated and you told me if you could you would wrap it up and give it to me. It never looked that way again after you were gone. Then there was the mornings when it would rain and I would remember how we made love so sweetly, my fingers found their way between my legs as I imagined your fingers, your lips, your tongue taking me over the edge again and again.
I had heard all the stories, I visited the places and I saw the pictures, meticulously searching for your face hoping and yet not hoping to see you in them. I questioned those who were there, the ones that survived it all and asked if they knew of you, but to no avail. I showed them the picture of us taken at my birthday party at the Moulin Rouge, I was wearing that blue dress you loved and you were smiling with a cigarette dangling from your mouth and a glass of champagne in your hand clinking against the one I held in mine. We were carefree back then, the Germans were just over the border but we felt safe, they wouldn't dare to come into Paris.
I went to Poland in the early 90's to see the camps with my niece Yvette, I found my family after the war and we reconnected, you would love Yvette she has great spirit and has been my joy these past years. She worried about me going, I was an old woman then but she knew why I had to go and wanted to travel with me. Her husband and children took us to the airport, I was nervous about flying in an airplane but I could not go there by train, you understand.
Yvette handled the arrangements and booked us with a group and a guide that spoke French. She held my hand, they trembled as we walked through the gates and I wondered...no, I knew that you had done the same when you arrived there those many years before me. Were you scared and confused? I tried to conceive in my mind what you endured as I walked through that place of death. Did they shave your head after taking out the combs I gave you, the ones of ivory carved with angels and roses? They belonged to you because I loved how they looked floating in the waves of your chestnut hair, that's how I imagined they would look when I bought them for you. Did they take your clothes and your shoes? Did they strip you of all dignity reducing you to no more than an animal? I imagined that to be so as I walked through the barracks, I didn't go near the gas chambers or the crematoriums.
As I walked the exhibits reading the history, admiring the artworks and writings, and looking at the things they kept, the shoes, the luggage, eyeglasses, all things that were a part of someone, things that identified them as people I saw them. I saw the combs. I knew they were yours because the one angel's wing had been chipped from when you dropped them as you hurried to loosen them from your hair. I loved your hair down and the way it spilled across the pillow and your shoulders when you slept, how wild it looked when you were in the throes of passion and how soft it was against my face as I curled up next to you, my face buried in your neck.
I knew then the awful truth. I knew that you had been there and there was never any hope of you coming back. They stole you from me; they took you away and shipped you here like you didn't matter. Didn't they see in your eyes that you were in love? No, they didn't because they had no souls and only one heart, mine because I gave it to you to keep forever. They took you, they took my heart, they gave you a number stripping you of your name and making you nothing more than an object than a human. You didn't belong to them you belonged to me and they had no right to claim you, Bastards.
Bastards, bastards, bastards I screamed as I hit my hands off the glass case holding the last things on earth that would let people know that you existed. They scraped away your face from this earth, they killed your soul as they killed your body and all because of whom you had been born unto. Did this not make sense to anyone else? Didn't they know how wrong it was?
I wanted them all there, right at that moment so I could ask Him and all his soulless sheep to show me the paper or the tablet of stone where it was written that He had the entitlement to decide who had the privilege to live on this planet and who didn't. I wanted that proof to try to justify how one man's evil could make other men and women believe that it's reasonable to take away the lives of millions because they don't fit the mold of what He believed to be the perfect race.
I had taken a deep breath, filling my lungs with air that may contain a particle of dust that was once you and I could feel the brush of a billion fingertips upon me, all trying to be known again to be remembered, to touch life one last time.
I had collapsed onto the floor and woke up to see Yvette standing over me and patting my hand. She looked into my eyes and knew, she knew that I had found you but you were lost to me again. They drove us back to the hotel and we sat in silence because no words existed at that time. The air was dead.
While Yvette called home to say when we would be arriving at the airport in Paris I pulled out the photograph. As I traced my finger along your face I noticed my hands. They were now the hands of an old woman not the ones of the girl in the picture sitting next to you. I don't remember how I got that way and where the girl was who danced in the best cabarets, walked the along the Seine with you, bought those chocolates from the corner shop when she sold her first painting because they were your favorite. She faded into the background of a painting, a lesser character used only to fill the space, colorless and faceless, part of something but not the focal point. She was the ghost that impersonated a human, blending into the population of a living city but not being able to interact with them.
I sit here and wait, smoking cigarettes and reliving my memories as they curl up and drift away with the smoke. I wait for you to come and collect me so we can finish the cycle leaving behind a fading photo of two people who once shared a love and a life.