I woke up a few hours later slightly disoriented and unsure of what had just happened. I was in that netherworld of half-dream half-awake enjoying the sensuousness of laying in my bed smothered in cool silk sheets. I felt terrific, though had not yet remembered why I felt so good. When I did recall what had happened, I sat bolt upright with a startled jump and stared long and hard at my arms and legs. I was still brown. A very dark brown too. Obviously the lotion had continued working while I slept, pushing me further from my usual identity and skin tone.
A great sense of lethargy descended on me. I was tired from all the excitement and anxiety that had been gripping me for the past few hours and, now, in the aftermath of taking and sending those photographs I felt at ease. Perhaps it was not lethargy, but calmness I was feeling. This whole weird and warped adventure was really about to happen and, for once, it was out of my hands. In some odd fashion, the die had been cast and the big decisions already taken. The whole thing was happening way too quickly. I felt a twinge of anxiety again, but my eyes were drawn to my dark skin and I felt becalmed once more. Perhaps this adventure had already started.
The thought stayed with me as I lifted myself from the bed and I walked to the bathroom to see the final result. Things were already in motion and I had relinquished a certain level of control. None of this had been planned and now look at me! My reflection in the mirror showed largely what it had a few hours ago, only somewhat darker. If I did not know better, I might think the girl in the mirror had come from the somewhere farther south of Mexico. My lips tingled, shifting my thinking elsewhere.
I do not understand why my body reacts quite the way it does. It always seems to start with that tingling in my pussy lips that radiates up to my stomach. I find it hard to breathe as my muscles there tighten and give me that delicious feeling, akin to hundreds of butterflies taking flight. Indeed it is so delicious that I get a nagging sense to do more to prolong it. I guess in the way a junkie fails to find the third or fourth fix to be as nice as the first with the same dosage, I was going to have to take more.
What was wrong with me? That pulsing in between my legs was intense and full. I reached down for some panties and a bra, then the maid’s dress, pulling it back over my shoulders. The fluttering grew yet more pronounced. Then an idea struck me. I looked at the apartment door and the fluttering became a torrent. I reached down for the fake teeth and looked once more at the reflection. I am Marta. I am from Guatemala. I like cleaning. I did not look Mexican……
I ran to the bedroom and snatched violently at the top drawer on my bedside cabinet. I was not thinking. For me to do this, I had to stop thinking. God, if I dwelt even for one second on what I was about to do, I would stop myself. No! I must not worry. Just do. I wrapped a headscarf around my dyed hair, pulling it tight to hide almost all of it underneath. I hid my uniform beneath a long dark coat and, grabbing my purse and keys, stepped to the door. Within seconds, I was in the corridor and the torrent of butterfly wings in my stomach was forming a storm. I am Marta. I am from Guatemala. I like cleaning.
It was not until I had sneaked down the corridor to the service elevator that I had my first panic attack. “What the f**** am I doing?” I screamed at myself. It was mid-week! The apartment bloc could be teeming with cleaning staff at any moment. My heart was about to burst from my chest as the lift reached the basement. I held my breath as the doors parted to reveal………. No-one…. Nothing.
I was not completely insane. I knew by this stage of the day, the cleaners would have finished on the public parts of the building and would be working on the sunning decks or workout center or anywhere but… here….
I stepped out and walked across the parking forecourt. I was in dangerous territory, but just a few yards and I was safely ensconced in my car. I had access to a few cars. Daddy had bought me a sports convertible some years back, which I shied away from using for fear of drawing attention to myself. I also had a car that I used for low-key moments. I giggled to myself. Low-key moments? Did I have this moment in mind when I bought it? Hands shaking, I managed to fumble the key into the lock and open the door. Slumping in the chair, any thoughts I may have had of returning to the sanctuary of my apartment evaporated as the garage suddenly filled with voices and I risked being discovered or spotted in Ms Webb’s car. I caught myself: what a curious thought!
I started the car up, only narrowly avoiding stalling it and drove to the exit and outside into the city. 9.
It is hard to convey just how scared I felt as I drove through what are normally so familiar streets. I must travel these roads every day, but not like this. I am very far from my typically confident demeanour. Instead I am driving like the proverbial old lady out for a Sunday drive. The fear gripping me is intense and deep. It seeps into every pore and crevice of my body and leaves me in a cold sweat feeling slightly nauseous. One thought above all others circles my mind over and over: I must do anything not to be found like this.
Any plans I may have had seem to be dissolving as I tried to recall them. I know I am panicking and, seeing a gap in the cars parked along the side of the street, I stop abruptly to calm and collect myself. My anxiety feeds a stream of potentially dire consequences to cross my mind: what if I get caught? What is someone sees me?
I know the answer to both these questions is to drive somewhere less familiar, somewhere I would not risk being discovered. I sat back and took a deep breath, feeling a little better and kidding myself that I was getting a grip on things once more. It then struck me: The MajorMart! A huge suburban shopping mall! It would take just 20 minutes to get there, straight down the main road. I would not get lost and, best of all, it would provide me with the anonymity I needed right now. I started up the engine and resumed my little old lady act, crawling down the road towards the freeway.
The buzzing in my head, most probably from the adrenalin surging through me, just would not go away. It was not an unpleasant feeling, but it did not relent and would not let me forget for one minute just what it was I was doing. I hugged the slow lane religiously and, after 25 mins of being beeped and harassed by the quicker drivers, finally made it to the mall.
Slipping down underground into the bowels of the mall, I decided to drive as far from the entrance as possible, to find a parking spot in the darkest corner of the parking lot. It felt seedy as I peered out from the darkness of my car into the lighter portions of the basement. I had started this journey in one basement and had entered another. It felt like I was living in the shadows.
My normally sunny disposition was clouded beneath a dark layer of anxiety. But most of all was that indescribable need driving me on again. The need that made me open that box. The need that made me put on the dress and leave the luxury of my suite. The need that made me go down to my car. That need was burning inside of me again, pushing my erotic imagination to look further. This was a safe place to be seen. It would all be ok. I would wait here until late and then return home under darkness, when the building was silent.
I checked my purse for my keys, phone and ID – if I somehow needed it god forbid! I reached for the handle of the car door and stepped out with shaking legs.
As before, I felt like I was experiencing something of an out-of-body experience. Nothing felt real as I headed for the entrance to the mall. As I pushed the doors open, a young mother pushing a buggy walked in behind me, startling me a little. She snatched a quick, cursory look at me. It was not what I was used to. I moved in circles where people virtually worshipped me. More often than not, their jobs depended on me, but, here, now, I was nobody. She did not look again. What did she see I wondered? As the doors to the elevator opened, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The headscarf was still tightly bound around my head, I had to remove it at some point. I would just attract attention walking around with that on. I thought this was an opportune moment to do it. I would gauge the reaction of this girl and then, if bad, I could turn around and go straight back to the car.
Fortunately the lift was slow moving and I had enough time to remove my scarf. I looked at her and smiled. She just gazed at me nonchalantly, not paying attention, before checking the dial to see where the lift was. It was all okay. Her reaction was nothing unusual! I clutched at the buttons of my coat, wondering whether to remove it and show her that I was Marta. A maid. A cleaner. What would she think then? My heart thumped and then….
The lift arrived at the ground floor and the doors opened up.