It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a mistress. Or something like that. I never went to college though read a great deal. I was born in Marseilles and later moved to Cannes. People commented I was pretty so I thought Cannes might be an ideal place for me. In truth, my prettiness was less special than the stars that congregated on Cannes every year. I lounged in a bar, vodka tonics, and considered my future. I was a waitress at an Italian restaurant and my days off I spent in cafes and bars writing poetry and considering the future.
He walked in on a November day. It was cloudy in Cannes and the sea looked angry. I should announce I had given up on love. I was thirty, still youthful, but jaded to the bottom of my rocky abyss soaked soul. He asked if he could sit with me. I saw his wedding ring. Why not? We talked mostly of Victor Hugo and Camus. He was surprised I was a waitress.
“I can save you,” he said.
I laughed. “No one can save me.”
He laughed too and we roamed the streets for an hour until we stopped in front of his hotel.
“Can I offer you a drink?”
A drink led to sex and sex led to a proposition.
“Be my mistress.”
I could never be good. I was rotten to the core. That’s what my abuser told me at twelve.
“You won’t amount to much,” he had said. I didn’t amount to much. My days were spent working and reading. I did nothing of any value. And now I had a man, older and worn down on the edges, offering me money and travel. Freedom from waitressing. I took it. I packed only a suitcase. At the end of the year, he had dismissed me and there was my suitcase. Designer clothes were now stuffed in it and I went to the same bar and met another man. This man was even older and his sexual demands even more bizarre. He bought me more clothes and I acquired another suitcase. So now I had two suitcases. And he dismissed me. I went from hotel to hotel along the French Riviera. I had my suitcases. I had books on my tablet. I kept reading. One book after another. I read of love and passion. I didn’t read about me. Alone, penniless, with Chanel stuffed in a suitcase, and no man I loved.
It is a truth, universally acknowledged that a woman in search of love and redemption will not find it with suitcases of designer clothes and no home to call her own. I went back to waitressing but was now bored with Cannes. I was bored with life.