I hadn’t been working independently very long. I hadn’t long made the transition from brothel to private, and I was still getting into the groove of everything. I’d chopped my hair into a Victoria Beckham bob, I was in a fluoro knickers phase and I was for the first time working from a lovely, bright share-apartment that I was proud of.
Michael* sort of hit me by surprise. I’m not surprised by much but even if I’d only seen him the once, I’d still remember him. He wasn’t nervous, but shy, a little fidgety and seemed to avoid eye contact. But he was courteous, and followed my instructions to shower. He took his sweet, sweet time about it, and then he came back to the room - redressed as he’d arrived, with wet hair dripping down his face. I’m not going to lie to you, I was physically attracted to him. He had a definite Ezra Miller/Brian Molko, dark and effeminate look about him - a ‘type’ I’d had for a while as a teenager.
We didn’t fuck. We instead tore at each others clothes, kissed passionately and touched each other almost furiously. He was quite domineering and he flipped me over and kissed all over my back and my neck. Michael was the one who discovered a couple of my sweet spots, in those first few times we had together. It wasn’t tantric as such, but there was a raw desperation in the way he kissed me and pawed at me. Even just the way he would gaze at me - I’d never felt so desired. He was a very intense, yet mysterious person. I was growing so frustrated about how he wouldn’t have sex with me. The orgasms would flow but I’d stay empty and wanting. It took 5 sessions - I saw him every fortnight - for me to get him to talk about it. It turns out, he was just waiting for me to ask. Doh!! From then on, the needy fucking just added to the intensity of our sessions together. All my girlfriends from the share house came to know who he was, I moved heaven and earth to make sure I was available to see him when he wanted. He was a young student and I had no idea how he was paying for it, but it wasn’t my business.
Michael sort of ended up everywhere I was. He was in the same city I was touring in once, I can’t remember what he was there for, but it had been nearly a year I’d been seeing him at that point. I blocked out the evening for him, even though he always only booked an hour, because I had been so busy and I had wanted to relax with someone familiar. Of course, relaxing was not something we ever did. The chemistry ruled every aspect of us, and we made a royal mess of that apartment. And then, stupidly, I cried. You see, I was married. And even though compartmentalising is a skill I’ve always been proud of, it was failing, and this level of enjoyment had started to feel like cheating.
The thing with Michael was, he had some issues. Not long before we met, he had tried to take his own life. He suffered from chronic depression, and he really couldn’t deal with what I had just unloaded on him. He wasn’t emotionally equipped to handle it, and it was of course absurdly unprofessional on my part. So when I saw him again, back at home, I started to back off. But then, the more I pushed that sexy, tortured soul away, the more he would try to pull me back, in his own ways. He always held my hands so tight, cupped my face, he worshipped every little part of me. He never wanted me to give him any selfish pleasure, he never took, he just wanted to be with me, as close and as intensely as possible, but in a way that never felt creepy, but as if it was his way of communicating.
I never altered the boundaries with him, we respected time, it was always paid upfront and I never saw him out of work. I did my best to respect the boundaries of my marriage and of my job. But it’s funny how things work out. When I moved to Auckland, he moved there at the same time for further study. We didn’t realise at the time, but we both ended up studying at the same college. It made sense, our skillsets were in the same field, though different (he was also insanely talented and an over-achiever) and we began to see each other about. It was exciting, passing each other by with a knowing smile, nothing else, just this rapid heartbeat and an overacted casualness. Throughout this time, a few years have passed, we have continued to see each other every fortnight. All the life changes we had, all the shifts, there he was.
He’d been through a few medication changes in this time. One time, in the middle of one of our crazy, passionate sessions, he cried. He got up and he left. And I cried, I didn’t know what was wrong, if I had done anything… and then the guilt factor of remembering I was married and probably shouldn’t be crying over a client, made me cry even more. But I was sad. I could feel that he was in pain but felt totally helpless. The next time I saw him, he came with smiles and an assurance it was just an issue with his medication. It didn’t happen again.
A few years of this, and we know each other so well. In many ways, we have been through a lot together. I know all the ins and outs of him, beneath and above his skin. We talk movies, games, music, tattoos. We talk school, now we have attended the same one, and we talk about dreams and we also talk about each other. He always tells me what he likes about me, and I always tell him what I like about him. He never believes me though - he always says it’s my job to flatter him.
Then, my marriage imploded. I had to leave Auckland and the sex industry for a while, chasing a dead relationship, and I left everything that wasn’t part of that pitiful quest behind me. I raced back to a city I hate, chasing a man I didn’t like much either, and spent the next 6 months spiralling down a black hole that if I’m honest, nearly completely swallowed me. By the time I emerged from the depths of that hell, separated, and now living in Australia, Michael was on my mind. I hadn’t heard from him in all this time, especially as I was advertising again and easy to find, but he was always so good at acknowledging my boundaries, and I really had made it clear I was cutting off the industry when I left, so it didn’t surprise me that he’d respected my wishes.
When I’d left the industry, I had also destroyed my old work phone and all it’s contacts went with it. I wasn’t really sure how to contact him now. I wasn’t sure what I was going to achieve anyway, after all I was in another country now, and I knew that Michael's capability for romantic relationships was minimal due to the far reaches of his depression. It didn't matter, all I wanted was to reach out and see what blossomed, as now that I could breathe again, I missed him. We went to the same college so I figured he'd be easy to find, so I decided to be a creep and look him up. I knew he wouldn’t mind, we didn’t have secrets, we knew each others names and I knew he’d be happy to hear from me. So I hit up Google.
Michael’s obituary didn’t say much. In fact, it was the fact it didn’t say much that said everything. He had died around the time of my departure from Auckland, ‘tragically’ it said. It hit me so hard that the air escaped my lungs and didn’t come back for what felt like eternity. My heart hit the floor and stayed there. I had spent the last 6 months of my life trying to stitch together the pieces of my heart and now, for a moment, the thread unravelled again. I didn’t know who to talk to. How does anyone understand what it means when a client dies? We are not supposed to feel the way that I was feeling. But this was MICHAEL. And now, waves of incredible guilt wash over me, that I had left him, and that I had only now found out, because I had been too wrapped up in myself to even notice his silence. I grieved, and still grieve, and it’s even now hard to explain who and what he was to me.
It seemed irrational but I wanted to talk to someone who knew him. The only people who knew ABOUT him were a few SW friends, who felt my pain when I told them, they knew to some extent what he was to me. But it wasn’t the same. There were family members listed on the obituary, and as we had attended the same college for a while and our ages were similar, I figured I could pass myself off easily enough as a friend. So I looked up his Mother, Layla* on Facebook, and I sent her a message.
Immediately, she knew who I was. Michael's phone couldn’t be unlocked when he had passed - no-one knew the password, and so she wasn’t able to contact me to let me know he had taken his life. She felt bad about that, but it’s not her fault. It’s technology these days. You see, it turns out, Layla had encouraged him to see me. She had helped with the finances, because she came to see what a difference I made in his life. If nothing else, she saw that I gave him something to look forward to. He had once even seen me (with my ex husband, eep!) at a supermarket and pointed me out to her, and she said I’d seemed lovely. Layla only had positive things to say about me, and about the impact my work had on his life. She’d been aware of the complications between us, and it comforted her to know that someone had really cared for her son. Michael wasn’t exactly sociable, a ‘people suck’ kind of guy, so he, by choice, didn’t have friends. He had his mother, brother, his cat, and me. And that’s how he wanted it.
It has been really hard not to blame myself, and I know it’s arrogant for me to think it could in any way, have had anything to do with me leaving. I do feel though, that I abandoned him, but ongoing conversation with Layla has reassured me that it is noone’s fault. I haven't asked his method of suicide, it feels disrespectful and I don't think I want to know. I figure depression as his ultimate cause of death.
You see, Michael had chronic depression. It wasn’t curable, it was only manageable, and even then, only sometimes. He had tried to commit suicide previously, I knew that, and Layla tells me that every extra day she had with him after that was a blessing. He was never going to make it out of depression alive, and we were lucky to have him as long as we did. Michael was in a lot of pain, and in many ways, it would have been selfish to keep him. And I get it. I’ve been invited to join the family in scattering Michael’s ashes in a place he loves, but for me, to go back to where it all began, and where my marriage ended, it’s still too hard for me. And I do wonder if it’s too much, as theres little solace I can offer for a Mothers grief other than to say again how deeply I cared for her son and that I miss him dreadfully. I hope if anything, there may be some comfort for us in his peace.
There's nothing I wouldn't do to see you
Walk through my door
Put your money on the table and kiss me hello
Book me once more
*Names have been changed.